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How to implement online performance management software

Implementing performance management software

Many of us have expe­ri­enced sys­tem imple­men­ta­tion projects where the end result has failed to live up to expec­ta­tions. Often the soft­ware sup­pli­er or the soft­ware itself is blamed. Whilst this might some­times be jus­ti­fied, the most com­mon caus­es of sys­tem imple­men­ta­tion fail­ures are insuf­fi­cient plan­ning, select­ing inap­pro­pri­ate soft­ware and poor implementation.

So here is our 10 step guide to get­ting things right when it comes to imple­ment­ing a new per­for­mance man­age­ment system:

Step 1 — Estab­lish a project team and pre­pare a plan

Per­for­mance man­age­ment impacts every per­son in the organ­i­sa­tion, so any change in this area should be planned care­ful­ly and treat­ed as a for­mal project with a ded­i­cat­ed project team. In addi­tion­al to HR, your project team should include some line man­agers and employ­ees as they will make up the major­i­ty of sys­tem users so it’s vital to get their input.

Pre­pare a project plan and allo­cate dates and respon­si­bil­i­ties for each task in the plan. Make sure the plan cov­ers the whole peri­od of the project, from plan­ning and soft­ware selec­tion, through to go live and ongo­ing suc­cess measurement.

Step 2 — Define the busi­ness need for the system

For any project to suc­ceed, you need to be clear on your why’. So run a ses­sion with your project team to define what prob­lems you want the soft­ware to solve. What will the goals for the sys­tem be? Then estab­lish what the suc­cess cri­te­ria will be for each of these goals — i.e. how will you know if the goals have been suc­cess­ful­ly achieved?

An exam­ple goal might be Make it eas­i­er for employ­ees and man­agers to com­plete and sign-off their per­for­mance review paper­work”, and the suc­cess mea­sure could be: at least 75% of staff agree that it has made the process eas­i­er”, which you could mea­sure via a post-imple­men­ta­tion sur­vey of a sam­ple of peo­ple from across the business.

Step 3 — Doc­u­ment your requirements

Before you start for­mal­ly choos­ing your soft­ware, doc­u­ment your require­ments for the sys­tem. Again, it’s best to do this with your project team so you cap­ture the per­spec­tives of dif­fer­ent types of users. Split your require­ments into essen­tials and desir­ables as it is unlike­ly that any sin­gle sys­tem will meet every one of your ide­al require­ments. It is impor­tant to con­sid­er both func­tion­al require­ments’ (what you want the sys­tem to actu­al­ly do) and non-func­tion­al require­ments’ (how it should do it). Non-func­tion­al require­ments might include ease of use, intu­itive­ness, look and feel, cloud-based etc.

Step 4 — Choose your software

Once you have defined your require­ments, it’s time to start look­ing at soft­ware. You’ll obvi­ous­ly want to assess poten­tial soft­ware against your require­ments list, but you’ll also want to con­sid­er oth­er impor­tant fac­tors such as:

  • The cul­ture of the sys­tem — is it cen­tred around scor­ing and assess­ment, or does it encour­age more qual­i­ta­tive feed­back and discussion?
  • Is it mobile respon­sive? A mobile respon­sive sys­tem will adjust itself auto­mat­i­cal­ly to suit the size of the user’s screen, mak­ing for a good user expe­ri­ence on tablets and smart­phones as well as computers.
  • Sup­port and exper­tise — is the sup­port based in this coun­try or over­seas? Does the sup­pli­er gen­uine­ly under­stand best prac­tice when it comes to per­for­mance man­age­ment, or are they just a soft­ware sales operation?
  • Sim­plic­i­ty — less is often more when it comes to per­for­mance man­age­ment as you don’t want the sys­tem to detract from mean­ing­ful per­for­mance dis­cus­sions. So beware of sys­tems that have too many fea­tures and options as these can be con­fus­ing for users.
  • Secu­ri­ty — is the sys­tem secure­ly encrypt­ed and is the data host­ed in an ISO27001 com­pli­ant data centre?

Step 5 — Get inter­nal buy-in

To get inter­nal buy-in for your cho­sen soft­ware, it’s help­ful to pre­pare a busi­ness case for senior man­age­ment. This will also help to secure fund­ing if a bud­get hasn’t already been agreed. Here is a tem­plate busi­ness case doc­u­ment that you can use. You also want to get key stake­hold­ers and influ­encers with­in the busi­ness bought into the soft­ware as ear­ly as pos­si­ble, so arrange for them to have a demo of your pre­ferred sys­tem. They will be more like­ly to sup­port it if they are involved at an ear­ly stage.

Step 6 — Con­fig­ure and test your system

How involved you are in the con­fig­u­ra­tion and set­up of your sys­tem will depend on your cho­sen supplier’s approach to imple­men­ta­tion. Either way, it’s essen­tial that you car­ry out your own thor­ough test­ing after the sys­tem has been con­fig­ured. Test a full end-to-end process start­ing with set­ting up a new user and assign­ing their approver, then go through the whole per­for­mance man­age­ment cycle, com­plet­ing all the online forms in full. Check things like approval emails, manda­to­ry field val­i­da­tion, error mes­sages, print­ing and reports. You’ll also want to test any data inte­gra­tion process­es that you have set up to trans­fer employ­ee data from your HR sys­tem. When doing this, test that new join­ers, changes in line man­agers and leavers are all being suc­cess­ful­ly trans­ferred to the per­for­mance man­age­ment system.

Step 7 — Plan your communications

Research into change man­age­ment has found that a mes­sage needs to be com­mu­ni­cat­ed between 3 and 6 times before it is com­plete­ly tak­en on board. There­fore, in the run up to the launch of your soft­ware, you should release sev­er­al dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ca­tions to intro­duce the new sys­tem and how it should be used. Because dif­fer­ent peo­ple respond bet­ter to dif­fer­ent forms of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, con­sid­er using a range of meth­ods such as videos, emails, brief­in­gs, webi­na­rs, newslet­ters, fact sheets and your com­pa­ny intranet.

Step 8 — Set­up sup­port arrangements

If you have cho­sen easy-to-use, intu­itive soft­ware, then you should not need to train employ­ees in how to use it. How­ev­er, you should still put in place sup­port arrange­ments to help peo­ple who are not par­tic­u­lar­ly com­put­er lit­er­ate, or for users who have spe­cif­ic queries or con­cerns about the soft­ware. Cre­at­ing a video that shows the sys­tem in action and which answers the key ques­tions that are like­ly to arise is a good solu­tion. Whilst mak­ing a video might seem like a daunt­ing prospect, soft­ware such as Cam­ta­sia makes it sur­pris­ing­ly easy. It can also be help­ful to train a super-user’ in each depart­ment who peo­ple can go to if they need help with the sys­tem. This will min­imise the num­ber of queries that land on HR’s doors!

Step 9 — Car­ry out a pilot

Before you launch the soft­ware to the whole busi­ness, it is advis­able to car­ry out a pilot test with one or two dif­fer­ent depart­ments. Get them to go through part of the per­for­mance man­age­ment cycle using the sys­tem and gath­er their feed­back on how easy it was to use and whether they expe­ri­enced any dif­fi­cul­ties. You can then use this feed­back to improve your com­mu­ni­ca­tion and sup­port arrange­ments and adjust the sys­tem con­fig­u­ra­tion if necessary.

Step 10 — Launch the software

After all the hard work, it’s time to launch the soft­ware! But before you push the but­ton, run a final check on your employ­ee data and report­ing lines in the sys­tem. Noth­ing under­mines con­fi­dence in a new sys­tem like incor­rect user data. Also check that your IT depart­ment has whitelist­ed the email address that the soft­ware uses to send emails, oth­er­wise emails from the sys­tem could end up in employ­ees’ junk email fold­ers. Not the best start!

Once the sys­tem has launched, take time to go back to your orig­i­nal goals and suc­cess cri­te­ria that you defined in Step 1. Put in place the nec­es­sary process­es to mea­sure progress against these on an ongo­ing basis. On top of these mea­sures, reg­u­lar­ly seek qual­i­ta­tive feed­back from employ­ees about how they have found using the soft­ware, what fea­tures they have and have not used, and if there is any­thing that could be added to improve their experience.

Con­sid­er­ing new per­for­mance man­age­ment soft­ware for your organisation?

Why not check out our own Clear Review per­for­mance man­age­ment soft­ware. It’s used by thou­sands of employ­ees across 15 coun­tries in well-known organ­i­sa­tions like Harper­Collins Pub­lish­ers and Cen­taur Media Plc.

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