How Long Does It Take to Buy And Implement A New HRIS

Timing can be everything when trying to transition to a new HRIS. One question that we get a lot is “Do I have enough time to go through this HRIS buying process?”

Many teams are trying to target a January 1 go-live date to simplify annual tax filing. Others are at the mercy of their renewal calendar and have to make sure the new system is ready to be live when the old one’s contract expires.

The length of an HRIS buying process and implementation is heavily dependent on the complexity of an organization. A 7,000 employee global company will take much more time than a single location 40 employee company to make a purchase.

For mid-sized companies (200-600 employees), the average time to research, evaluate, buy and implement a new HRIS is about 4-7 months. This estimate is based on the averages we’ve seen from clients we’ve worked with. However, If your company is smaller, the timeline can be quicker and if your company is larger, you’ll want to budget even more time.

Without further ado, here are the steps in the buying and implementation process and how long they can take:

1.) Alignment (4-6 weeks)

The alignment stage is, perhaps, the most critical aspect of a successful HRIS purchase. During the alignment stage, HR teams need to get buy-in across their team and at the executive level. Without an appetite for change, the rest of the process will become an uphill battle.

Once the team is onboard with a change, the next step is requirements building. HR teams need to identify what modules they need and what functionality must be included in each of those modules. This can be a very tedious process, and teams may not know what functionality exists, so we’ve created a Requirements Builder to help teams jump start this process.

2.) Shortlisting (1-4 weeks)

Once a team has identified their functional requirements and their high-level buying priorities, it’s time to go into the market and see which vendors look promising.

This process can be a big time sink because: 1.) there are many HRIS providers in the market 2.) nearly all of their websites are vague about pricing and ideal customer type and 3.) most vendors require multiple calls before sharing useful information.

This is another place where OutSail can help HR teams save a lot of time. Since we’re familiar with the market, we can curate a detailed shortlist for clients within a few business days.

3.) Evaluations (2-4 weeks)

Once you’ve identified a handful of vendors that look like a promising match from a size and feature standpoint, then it’s time to dive into the evaluations.

During evaluations, all of the demos are going to end up running together, so we find it’s extremely helpful to build a scorecard. This will allow you to standardize the review process, keep track of which vendor offered what functionality.

A scorecard also has the added benefit of keeping a meeting on track, since sometimes a sales person will spend a lot of time on a shiny new feature that may not be highly relevant for you.

4.) Selection (3-6 weeks)

Once you’ve had a chance to review all of your finalists, then it’s time to start trimming the list and getting detailed proposals from the 1-2 remaining contenders.

With your remaining options, it’s often a good idea to schedule some deep dives with a technical member of that software vendor’s team to ensure the functionality matches your needs. This is especially important if your team has unique HR needs that need to be solved for.

Once you feel comfortable with the capabilities of a certain platform, it’s time to work towards contract execution. This process can involve a bit of legal and executive red tape, so one thing we suggest clients do during this waiting period is start exploring implementation consultants.

Not every team needs to hire an outside consultant for their HRIS implementation. However, many have found it very helpful to have a project manager who understands their goals and needs, interfacing with the software vendor’s implementation team.

5.) Implementation (8-14 weeks)

A typical implementation process will be led by the software vendor and the timeline will be heavily dependent on the availability of the HR team. Having a 3rd party consultant, or internal IT manager, can expedite the process in many cases.

The first step in an implementation is the installation, and most cloud-based technologies can be available almost immediately. From there, the next step is data conversion -- moving personnel information from the old system to the new system. The older the system you’re leaving, the longer this conversion process can take.

Once the data has been migrated to your new HRIS, it’s time to start configuring and testing the system. This is the period where you’ll build dashboards and workflows, and set your automations and administrative controls.

Once the system is configured, then the final steps before go-live typically involve employee training and running some parallel payroll tests to ensure accuracy.

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If you’re thinking about making an HRIS change, feel free to reach out to an OutSail advisor to get an estimated timeline for your team. Due to our vendor knowledge and the proprietary tools we’ve built, OutSail’s free services can cut a month or two out of the process for our HR clients.

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