Implementing a new tool? Follow these best practices

Employers would be wise to create a strategy document that “lays out the high-level aspect of your project.”
By: | June 5, 2020

For employers and HR managers who are working to implement a new tool for their workforce—like a payroll system or other HR technology—De Ann Doonan, executive director of global payroll services at Maxim Integrated Products, has a suggestion for making sure the implementation works well: Know what you’re trying to achieve.

The first step to successfully rolling out a new tool is to define the project strategy and the desired outcome. “Your project strategy is a high-level plan … it is not a task list,” she said.


Employers would be wise to create a strategy document that “lays out the high-level aspect of your project.” It should define the resources needed, like budget, people and assets, as well as define how you will track the project. “It helps the team stay focused on what they are and aren’t going to do,” she said.

“Critically, it will define success,” Doonan said. “It is so important that as a project manager, you define success. If you don’t, then your project is subject to speculation and what others have deemed successful.”

Related:5 things to know about HR Tech

That’s just one of the tips Doonan suggested when rolling out a new system or tool during a presentation this week at the American Payroll Association’s Annual Congress event, held virtually. She also identified four other best practices for implementing a tool:

Have measurable goals and metrics. “It’s incredibly important to measure and monitor metrics as we go,” she said.

Get leadership commitment: “You want them to be behind you in these projects,” Doonan said. “If you have the commitment of your leadership, they can be there when you’re not to state the progress or key milestones.”

Have a realistic timeline. You need to carve out enough time for planning, she said. Don’t rush it.


Create a communication strategy. “Your communication plan can be adjusted along the way,” she said. “It’s going to identify the audience, the timing and a quick tidbit of the message that needs to be delivered.”

Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver. She can be reached at

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