Taking HRSS to the Next Level: Avoiding the Implementation Hangover

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Hirra Pervaiz

The HR shared services (HRSS) experience has been discussed in a variety of contexts, where Employee Self Service (ESS) and Manager Self Service (MSS) have been the focal points of all these discussions. Although the essentials of these services are known by many HR professionals today, their effective roll-out is still open to discussion.

ESS is the collection of services that are designed to provide the employees the access to their own data. And MSS is the integrated application that gives the managers upfront information and process initiation capabilities for their staff. Both the services have become an important requirement for businesses where the employees have computer access. However, in terms of its application, ESS is by far more readily adopted as compared to MSS, due to the prevalent challenges of change management. On the same account the implementation of these services are carried out with enthusiasm however, they don’t reach their required potential due to "implementation hangovers."

It must be realized that like any project, the implementation of ESS and MSS should be done under proper management since the value these services bring to business are immense and from the HR’s point of view, it is the means to establish interaction with the employees and gives the HR department a more strategic outlook.

The implementation of the shared services should be viewed from two perspectives:

  1. Functional
  2. Technical

Where the functional level includes the traditional phases of implementation and the technical level includes the technical dynamics involved in the implementation, including the hardware and infrastructure setup. It is important that both these functions are adopted parallel to each other as the technical side may cause hindrance in the in the ESS/MSS projects. Therefore, the sooner the infrastructure setup is done, the better it is for the implementation.

The parallel phases in implementation:




Determine strategic objective and establish time line



Like any project, it is important to first determine the strategic intent of the project i.e., why is it needed by the organization? Secondly, the timeline should be established in order to prepare the resources accordingly and to have a timely implementation.


The first step requires the procurement of the requisite hardware and to being the installation process. From the technical aspect, it is important that those in charge of the setup are technically sound.


Design & Development Phase


The project is new to the organization therefore this phase requires the most consideration, the design of the portal, the mock-up sessions, the adjustments are all to be done in this phase. It is also essential to engage the end-users in the design phase as it will allow more comprehensive feedback on the design and functionality alike.


The technical requirements include the setup of the development environment and timely initiation of the development activities.


Testing and Training


The testing phase is important before the project is actually rolled-out. It is important to anticipate how new users will accept the change and where and how much training is required.


Training can be integrated with the project as the help text.


Going Live


Start the roll out of the project with a small group to encourage acceptance and gradually implement it organization wide.


The infrastructure is in place and only support will be required to further assist in the smooth roll-out.

Most ESS/MSS project implementation faces pitfalls due to the lack of the vision in the project, i.e. the scope is not well defined and is set too low. Similarly, the lack of guidance can also impact the roll out immensely when the users are not aware of the complete functionality its usage will be minimal. Similarly not evolving the end-user in the designing of the system can also be a cause of hindrance, as there will be reluctance in adopting the change. Moreover, the user requirements will be left attended which will make the system incomplete.

It is important to consider these factors when implementing the ESS/MSS project in the organization. Although the practicalities may differ from organization to organization, the crux of implementation remains the same. ESS/MSS are windows to HR. Therefore, effective implementation can bring value to the organization at all levels.