What are the 10 biggest issues when implementing WFM software and how do you address them?

Dec 22, 2022

This blog post lists the biggest issues when implementing WFM software and how to avoid them. Any software project has its risks, and in the early stages of an organisations relationship with new software, these can be broken down into two key areas: 

  • The choice of solution, and 
  • The implementation project 

If you and your implementation partner or software vendor plan around these issues, there is no reason why you shouldn’t have a successful project.

Workforce Management software normally needs the support of multiple departments within an organisation and often the integration with other systems. It also involves “change management”. 

For these reasons, managers need to think carefully about their approach to implementation and choose great partners to ensure the project goes smoothly.

the 10 biggest issues when implementing WFM software

What is change management when we discuss a WFM implementation?

Before we explore the list of the 10 biggest issues when implementing WFM software, it is important to cover the topic of change management and its impact. According to Wikipedia, Change management is “a collective term for all approaches to prepare, support, and help individuals, teams, and organizations in making organizational change”. With workforce management implementations “Change Management” can mean at least the following:

  • Asking staff to clock in and out for the first time.
  • Changing the processes around time off management.
  • Changing the processes around shift swapping.
  • Requiring frontline managers to manage a new and different system.
  • Changing the processes of the payroll department.
  • Changing the processes of the finance department.
  • Managing new integrations.
  • Training and communication.
  • Creating new policies.
  • Complying with GDPR and other regulations.
  • Automating many of the processes mentioned above
  • Centralising control of some processes or moving them to different departments.
  • Implementing Artificial Intelligence tools for employee management for the first time.

In addition, we find that lots of companies use the implementation of a new workforce management solution to “tidy up” existing terms and conditions. For example, the process of digitising all of the pay rules in a WFM platform may lead to a decision to renegotiate some of the rarely used or most generous rules with the staff. Although strictly outside of the core implementation, it is likely to add to the change management workload.

change management

What are the 10 biggest issues when implementing WFM software?

1. Rushing to a decision when choosing a workforce management software and implementation partner

There is a statistic which is often quoted that B2B customers are 70% of the way through their buying journey before they speak to a sales person. Blog posts like this, along with podcasts and videos, allow potential customers to really dig into a subject before speaking to vendors and before making a decision to purchase.

There is so much great content out there and we strongly encourage you to do your research. We would strongly recommend that all members of your implementation team do some research into the subject. There are articles on making the correct vendor choice, what is involved in the implementation process and what is involved in managing the system post-implementation. 

In our experience, the more the customer’s implementation team has done their research, the better the fit after the selection decision and the better the project flows.

2. Misaligned expectations and a lack of expected metrics

What are you trying to achieve? As the (rarely used) saying goes, “people don’t want time and attendance software, they want improved attendance”.  This phrase means that your objectives shouldn’t be to implement a time and attendance system. Instead, it should be a list of SMART objectives that will allow you to measure whether your implementation has been a success or not. 

In our experience, workforce management implementation projects that don’t have the “north star” of a set of documented and agreed objectives between the project team and the vendor are always difficult to manage and can fail.

3. Lack of support from senior management

As mentioned above, a WFM implementation is all about change management. The CEO and her/his first-line reports all need to be fully behind the changes required. Because this is a change management project and you may need support overcoming resistance and dealing with other challenges and there may be some key strategic decisions to make along the way. In our experience, this is hard to achieve without the full commitment of the CEO and other senior leaders.

4. A badly set up project team

We would suggest that you have a nominated representative from each of the key departments that are involved in the project. For a workforce management implementation, these often include HR, Ops, Finance, Payroll and IT.

Problems often occur when not all departments are represented or key stakeholders aren’t involved in key decisions.

A regular team meeting (at least once a week) involving the vendor or implementation partner, which reviews progress, is also key to success.

5. Lack of preparedness among your employees

Out of the 10 biggest issues when implementing WFM software, adoption from employees is always a crucial part of a successful project. If users see the benefits and reasons behind using new software, they are much more likely to support the project. But this needs to be explained to them and we often see situations where staff are expected to work this out for themselves.

Likewise, if you are going to pilot software in a small sub-section of the business, then make sure those team members are aware that it is a pilot and their role in the pilot. They are helping the business fine-tune the configuration and operating procedures required to implement the solution throughout the business. They should be thanked for playing a key role in the project and encouraged to contribute to the end result.

In our experience, staff are much more accepting of changes to processes during the pilot process and more likely to contribute and provide feedback if they are given a proper role in the project. 

Implementing WFM software

6. Lack of support from the vendor and or the implementation partner.

One of the biggest issues when implementing WFM software can be a lack of support from the provider. Some vendors both sell and implement their software, whilst others require you to pay for an implementation partner to support your rollout. As a first step, it is important to understand what support you are getting when you sign a contract and what limitations there are with the support.

Some packages might include a limited number of hours of support, some might include limited technical support. What happens if those limits are reached before the project is complete is a very relevant question. As mentioned below, a paid pilot where the vendor is incentivised to provide the required support to get the solution live and meet the project’s objectives can help here.

7. Not enough time spent on discovery

This can lead on from point 6. Workforce Management software can be complicated and difficult for an untrained person to configure. The implementation partner needs to fully understand lots about your business and how staffing works for you, this is called discovery and needs to be done before a system is built and configured. 

If either;

  • The implementation partner or vendor doesn’t spend enough time capturing requirements or;
  • The customer doesn’t have the patience to support the vendor with the discovery process fully

Then you can expect a poorly configured system which is unlikely to meet your pre-project objectives and goals.

8. No Pilot or Trial period

We would always recommend you have some sort of break clause in a workforce management contract if the vendor can’t meet your objectives. This might mean a paid pilot or implementation phase, with the contract only being confirmed as a multi-year contract once the WFM solution is up and running. A free trial might also be appropriate for simpler WFM solutions if you can persuade your vendor to provide one. These breakpoints and pilots have two benefits:

  • They keep the vendor very keen and supportive until the system is proven to work
  • You can get out of the contract if you have been sold something that can’t meet the required objectives.

9. Poor or insufficient training

Some implementation packages from Vendors rely entirely on self-service training and FAQs. This can work for a simple system, but not all vendors get this right. Make sure you understand what training you get and have an idea of how easy or hard the system is to operate post-go-live. The more tasks that are required and the less automation within the system, the greater your training demands will be.

10. A drop in staff productivity during implementation

During implementation, your project team and front-line staff will all be getting used to a new system and may still be parallel running the old systems before a final switchover. You should watch out for a drop in productivity during this period. This can be managed with support from your implementation manager, who may offer a managed service and hyper care during implementation to take the burden off your team.

Point 9 regarding insufficient training may also lead to a drop in productivity if staff are not shown how to do complex tasks. 

Now that we have covered the 10 biggest issues when implementing WFM software you still might have questions, below we have picked out related articles;

Still Don’t Know Where To Start With Your WFM Software Project? 

If you require consultation with a specialist before you go ahead and implement a new WFM system simply request a call below.

solutions circle

Want to more about this topic or would like to speak to us regarding anything Workforce Management related? Just get in touch with us below and we'd be happy to help.

Latest Blog Posts