by Kevin Churbuck
Having had the benefit of being both an Implementation Consultant and an Integration Consultant for Cornerstone OnDemand clients, I know the ins and outs of successful and not-so-successful implementations. The deciding factor in meeting your desired go-live date — aside from setting a realistic date — is the execution of your Integration Projects (Data Loads, 3rd Party Content Integrations, Data Feeds, etc). Here are some pitfalls and best practices to get you to the finish line on time.
- Determining scope and budget
When determining the Scope of Work for your implementation, organizations often go to their wish list to determine what integration projects are necessary for their shiny new Talent Management system. I suggest starting from scratch at square one and building from there by asking the following questions (and in some cases, I’ve provided possible solutions):
- How will user records and organizational data be populated? Manual creation, self registration, flat file data feeds, or web services.
- How will users access the system? With a single sign-on, a login page, or through a mobile application.
- What do I need to load on a go-forward basis to stand up my system? Training content, performance review tasks, goals, competency data, career profiles, job requisitions, etc.
- Will this system be the system of record for reporting?
- How much historical data is necessary to load? And how will it be used going forward?
- Do we have the internal resources and budget necessary to execute these projects?
That last question is often forgotten when planning for an implementation. Meanwhile, you may think it’s a great idea to have single sign-on so users can seamlessly access the system, but do you have the architecture and expertise necessary to implement this technology? How much will it cost to have it developed? What is the internal timeline? Having the answers to these particular questions prior to starting your implementation will alleviate any unnecessary delays that may push out your go-live date.
- Aligning resources
There are many functional decisions that need to be made during your implementation, so having the key players at your organization engaged is essential. Successful integration projects are no different. You need to have leaders with the expertise and availability to execute your projects on schedule. Make sure there is always someone available to make the necessary business decisions in order to have a successful implementation.
Time and resources are typically limited during an implementation. Take the time to delegate and prioritize your integration projects. While some projects can be done simultaneously, most depend on the progress of others. For instance, you cannot load historical records for users if the users have not been loaded into your system. This is why it’s especially important to create a contingency plan in case things get behind schedule. Know which projects are necessary for go-live, and which can wait until Phase 2.
- Start early
As soon as you’ve engaged with your Implementation team, schedule your Technical Kickoff Meeting. I suggest you make this meeting virtual so everyone can easily attend. Trying to get all of your various resources in one room can be more of a hassle than it’s worth — not to mention that technical people are typically very busy.
- Stick to the project plan
This seems obvious, but the small scale of sub-projects within a greater project plan make it easy to miss deadlines. Meet with your internal team regularly to ensure you are sticking to the schedule.
- Do your homework
Cornerstone OnDemand offers clients many resources, including documentation, live virtual workshops on many common integration projects, e-learning courses, and more. Take advantage of these opportunities. The more educated you are, the quicker you can progress, and the better your decisions will be.
- Create your own test cases
Aside from validating data loads and testing the basic functionality of integrations, take some time to think about the real world user experience. Build your test scenarios around this experience to ensure that when you go live, everything is as smooth as you envisioned when you first learned about the system.
- Ask questions
Your Integration Consultant has many resources at their disposal to help you make decisions about how to proceed and can provide you with best practices. Don’t be afraid to ask questions as you go through the process.
- Get to production!
Cornerstone OnDemand’s implementation methodology has you flesh things out and get them right in your test environment and then reproduce in Production. Other software implementations promote integrations and data loads to Production, sometimes on release cycles, resulting in big bang go-lives for all of your integrations. But you don’t have to get stuck in this cycle if this doesn’t work for you. When you’ve executed all of your test cases, move your integration to Production as soon as possible, even if your go-live date is not yet in sight.
- Backlog projects
Start your Integration Projects that may have been pushed to Phase 2 as soon as possible. Your team may be weary from Phase 1, but regaining momentum can be very hard if you take too long a break, and you may lose focus on the purpose of the project in the first place.
- Ongoing needs
Cornerstone OnDemand adds new features all the time and most of them come from their clients. That means you can use the Client Success Center’s Suggestion City forum to suggest new functionality if you’d like. If you have an idea that you want to try to implement right away, work with your Account Manager as soon as possible to have it scoped. Chances are, it may be something that can be built for you.