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Best Practices for Workforce Management System Upgrades

Best Practices for Workforce Management System Upgrades

In my experience, organizations miss a monster opportunity to accomplish a number of goals when it's time to upgrade enterprise software like UKG/Kronos, PeopleSoft, and ADP.

Let's look at just a few of the opportunities typically missed:

  • Reinforcing and updating training, job aids, and skills.

  • Reviewing actual requirements from the initial implementation and finding the unrealized promises.

  • Improving processes based on fixes and new features.

The Gold Within Your Approach

When beginning the Discovery and Design processes before the Upgrade, an organization should consider collecting and organizing all of the information from previous upgrades, including the initial implementation. Note: This also works for new deployments and optimization processes.

This Discovery phase will set the stage for planning the upcoming work. Once the team approves the output, the formal implementation and configuration processes begin. These tasks can be performed remotely or on-site as best determined by the project team.

Next, it's time to prototype on the TEST environment, including configurations, drive testing, training, change management, and delivering the implementation with approved changes to the application according to the plans generated from the Discovery results.

In this phase, we've found a best practice to be that basic test scenarios/scripts should be built or updated by the entire team and followed precisely. That way, issues are documented and resolved. Consider including the corporate Process and Change Control groups to ensure the work always matches the Requirements Documentation and overall intent behind the change.

Training is an essential part of the Change Management discussion, evaluating the training requirements for every project mission-critical. Ideally, the goal would be to incorporate the completed configuration and user-specific tasks into the training delivery (taking advantage of employee work experience.) This approach ensures employees understand how the application fits into their job responsibilities and how to improve their job performance. It also fosters independence, ownership, and personal growth.

We believe strongly in performing this well. You will find several articles, white papers, and seminars at, which outline this critical area (use the search bar above to see the post you need).

Upon Signoff of Testing of any changes implemented, the final update to Production can be planned and executed. Next, ensure that the solution will be fully operational in a production environment based upon the project scope and the mutually agreed upon Solution Design Documentation. It's essential to finish your project strong. Avoid the temptation to provide knowledge transfer in the form of documentation. Instead, go the extra mile to make sure all team members fully understand the processes assigned to them by providing a continuous learning experience for the project's duration.

If you are a vendor helping a client, please share everything you know — don't hold back! In giving away our unique knowledge during an engagement, we help improve the quality of work done everywhere. An added benefit is that knowledge sharing forces us to grow to stay ahead of our competition continually. Practicing generosity with information sharing also helps clients get out of their comfort zone, tackle new challenges, and develop their vision of everything possible with their software.

Here are the essential steps to implementation success.

  1. Evaluation. This step requires you to build an in-depth review of the Current State and Optimal Future State (upgraded) of the UKG or ADP systems, considering the system’s strategic alignment with other projects in process or planned.

  2. A Discovery Workshop. This step allows you to delve into the demographics of the system and the company. At Improv, we perform as many interviews (Stakeholders, Power Users, Supervisors are typical) as necessary to fully accomplish this task. The data we collect includes:

    - Organization Demographics

    - Hardware/Software Infrastructure

    - Functional Processes & Procedures for Payroll, HR, Finance, and other departments who depend on the application

    - Related Software and Processes

    - High-level configuration understanding

    - Reporting

    - Interfaces and other integration points with related software and vendors

    - Customizations

    - Current issues and workarounds

    - Status of documentation and training

  3. Complexity and Optimization Review. In this step, we extract the existing configuration, fully document UKG/Kronos' Existing State, and map this data to the Optimal Future State post-upgrade. The latter part happens during the V2V Upgrade Analysis. This includes an assessment and validation of Pay Rules, Work Rules, Pay Code Distribution, Shift Rules, and more.

  4. A Team Workshop. This step allows you to review and validate the data collected.

  5. Version to Version Upgrade Analysis. A unique task we perform is a process comparing the existing version (including service pack and customizations) to the proposed upgrade version. We identify workarounds people are using to solve current issues and plan to 'fix' them by:

    - Applying best practices that will help teams migrate to the new version

    - Prepare specific 'understood' issues and resolutions for the Risk & Change Management sections of the deliverables

    - Identify process and procedure improvements available because of the specific version differences

    - Identify and rectify gaps in documentation and training

    - Validate the readiness of the hardware for the new version

  6. Overall Process Improvement Recommendations. Beyond software upgrade-driven process improvements, Improvisations brings many years of expertise in HR/PR/WFM best practices as well as IT and people process optimization expertise. Organizations often express interest in utilizing during the workshop. It's a great way to gain additional ROI for the software.

  7. Validation. At Improv, we validate the readiness of the current plans, the current application configuration, and the organization, which includes an understanding of the coming change and training requirements.

Preliminary Project Plans

It's crucial to develop and provide a base Project Plan for Discovery through Implementation, considering desired improvements in processes that are designed for the project.

Here we identify required resources and propose a budget and timeline for the actual Upgrade. The Project Plan document relates to the Fit/Gap document to create a suggested action plan for the gap and risk mitigation plans.

We also provide a set of Best Practice Recommendations that might include configuration changes, performance improvements, process changes, or even new projects. The final deliverables should include:

  • System Readiness: Validation of the current system state and documentation. This readiness might consist of a Fit/Gap showing where upgrade issues might arise.

  • Cultural Readiness: Validation of training and general organizational preparedness

  • Risk Management: Testing of known issues, conflicts, roadblocks, and concerns

  • Hardware Readiness: Will the existing hardware fit the upcoming change?

There's so much to gain by pausing to assess before rushing into an upgrade. A carefully considered approach to your processes, your system history, and your future goals will produce ROI gold when the time comes to upgrade.

We're in the Biz

Did you walk through a detailed assessment phase when performing your last WFM software upgrade? Or did it just get "slammed in" by IT, and the new features and fixes have gone mostly unnoticed?

At Improv, we've followed this approach with our clients for over three decades with exceptional outcomes. If you are considering an upgrade or implementation this year and this approach is a good fit for your organization, let's talk more.

Implementation Assessment Fact Sheet


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