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interview of Céline Ropartz, Engie

How would you define this issue of HRIS adoption? What does it signify for you?

I would say that, above all, the idea is to do whatever is necessary to enable people to use these tools to support their career development. I am of course referring to a “talent development” information system, not one used for payroll or administration. And for the HR function it must be a means of working faster and better, and of having access to centralized, better integrated information to enhance relations and interactions with employees.

What do you think are the main obstacles and difficulties, whether internal or exterior to your organization?

The first challenge is data quality and management. After all, this is the first thing every user will notice. Data reliability is vital for user acceptance; the HR tool loses its credibility if the data are not good. Of course, there is some reticence to use a tool in a process that is essentially human. What I mean is that people put their heart and passion into their work, they have personal aspirations and so on, so when they are faced with a new IT tool they want it to be reliable, as reliable as a financial system. They are convinced that there is only one possible response and one way of doing things. It is therefore difficult to reconcile the two, and this can lead people rejecting the system.

What systems have you used to drive adoption?

We were convinced that adoption must be promoted by people working close to the end-users and who know them. So we chose a strategy based on a methodology and deliverables that we explained to the local teams in our entities and business units to enable them to understand them and then adapt and apply them to their users.

We also provided a communication system relating to the tool and training videos to help people get started.

We observed that all this generated substantial work that was too much for some of the business units, and some felt that they lacked the feeling necessary for this task. So the level of support was not uniform across the group. On the other hand, we saw some very interesting local initiatives.

Another observation is that most staff do not use our tool every day; some processes are used only once a year. In the first year, when such a process comes to an end, the users understand more or less how the system works. But ten or eleven months later when they need it again, they have forgotten, and to make matters worse the system may have evolved. Therefore to reassure users and local support teams, little inclined to make the same learning effort as in the first year, we decided to integrated a Digital Assistant in the tool (we chose Shortways). We were convinced that a help system providing tooltip reminders would be most efficient if it were accessed directly by users just when they need them – in other words, when using the system.

How do you measure adoption and how often?

During actual deployments we are very present in the field, so we get very practical feedback very quickly. We also have regular discussions on many subjects with our contacts in the business units. And we get valuable feedback through the support people. For performance assessments we conduct polls and then examine reported difficulties and improvement suggestions. Last year we questioned all the users, but to avoid bothering them again we interviewed a smaller panel this year.

What do you think are the key factors for success?

Easy usability of the tool is vital: systems that are more or less intuitive, “appealing” and pleasant to use tend to be perceived as easy. The data must be correct, of course, because if they are not people will lose confidence in the tool and may even reject it. Nominate a “local expert” so that people know who to turn to if they get stuck; provide easy access to online help or information when needed. Having accessible help in the tool is a great solution, especially when the tool does not appear intuitive and the local expert is not around. It’s important that users feel reassured and not alone – even if in reality they do not read the help texts very much. To drive adoption it is also important that people understand the sense of the process and that all communication about the system is perfectly consistent and simultaneous with the communication about the process. The two must be linked.

What are your next steps for HRIS adoption?

We maintain a dynamic posture of continuous evolution. Every year we conduct surveys to try to see how we can evolve the tool and user support. Obviously there are also workshops on data quality. We constantly ask ourselves whether or not the processes implemented in the IT tool are in phase with the group policies and with end-user expectations. As the project progresses we increasingly take user remarks into account in our decisions. For example, before making significant changes to a process we attach great importance to getting the changes approved by a panel of users as representative as possible; we don’t want decisions being made only by “experts”. We need to be sure that what we want to create and configure is well understood by end-users and that we can adapt the support system.

Do you have any new ideas or new ways of driving adoption?

At present it is difficult to assess the efficacy of our approach. Yet we are convinced that it is necessary to have a varied choice of solutions ranging from very detailed process sheets to online help. And of course videos and face-to-face meetings. There is no universal solution because people are all different, not to mention the challenges of working in several languages and countries with different population types and cultures. We have to be adaptive while maintaining our ability to produce and maintain all these deliverables.

No revolution is expected today, at least not on the modules that have been in use for several years. We continue in the same spirit for the new modules we are adding. For example we have a “Learning” module that provides online training within the tool. We are even looking at the possibility of using the tool to deliver training programs

Thank you Céline for sharing this interesting experience.