3 Questions to Ask Before Launching an HR Transformation

Undertaking any significant changes in HR can be exciting — and unsettling. Project failure is a real possibility. In fact, a study conducted by the Project Management Institute shows that only 69% of businesses achieved their project’s original goals, while 15% of projects were classified as failures.

So how do you know whether your HR team is ready to successfully launch a major transformation?

It all comes down to asking the right questions, says Mary Faulkner, senior adviser at Inflexion Advisors and co-chairwoman of the board and a content committee member at HROS. “Be willing to do your research on your proposed project’s impact first, and ask yourself questions regarding scope and strategy,” Faulkner says.

Here are three essential questions to consider before engaging in large-scale change.

What’s Driving the Change? Does It Support Your Overall Goals?

Attempting a major transformation requires a degree of caution. Be sure you have a specific goal in mind, and that the intended change is right for the company’s goals. “Company leaders need to first understand the company goals and culture, and have a clear view of what they are trying to accomplish,” says Keri Ohlrich, CEO of Abbracci Group and co-author of “The Way of the HR Warrior.”

Both Faulkner and Ohlrich warn against forcing a change too quickly, or for the wrong reasons. For example, change shouldn’t be used as an excuse to eliminate existing talent or to pursue the newest management concepts. In order to be successful, transformations must be grounded in clear, concrete goals.

What Investments Are Needed for Success?

Launching a successful HR transformation requires a massive amount of resources — and Faulkner says these shouldn’t be limited to HR. The company overall will be supporting HR throughout its renovation, so assistants for the process should be diverse. Faulkner suggests building an interdepartmental team to set the tone early for a smooth transition.

Take a holistic approach before beginning: Review existing resources (talent and tech), and consider how these may have to change also to create an organic transformation. Maintain open communication with other departments, keeping everyone informed on what’s happening and what you may need from them to make HR’s changes more efficient.

Do You Have a Process Plan in Place?

If not, make one! Faulkner notes that company leaders will want changes in HR to be as smooth and disruption-free for employees as possible, but this can only be achieved if you have a concrete plan for accomplishing your goals. Make sure changes in HR won’t lead to negative impacts on other departments during key times in the business cycle.

Projects often fail from lack of planning and investment — and this means both dollars and time. Invest your time in a strategic plan to make future changes successful. Ohlrich emphasizes the significance of planning ahead. “If you’re not prepared to approach this change strategically and invest in it, don’t do it,” she says.