Manage the change to NewPay
Today, Federal agencies use payroll systems that “lack the ability to adapt and address ever-evolving legislative changes” and don’t have “self-service and mobile features readily available in industry payroll systems,” according to the United States Chief Financial Officers Council. Paying people post-shutdown shined a light on the shortcomings in current payroll systems. NewPay is the Administration’s program to consolidate and modernize outdated payroll systems across the Federal Government. Changing the systems that perform functions as important as payroll can be dicey. So, employing rigorous, effective change management practices is critical.
When adopting a new system, whether it’s payroll or any other system that’ll impact the way people work, successful change is about people understanding the change and not the IT system itself. IT transformations are more than a manual, a well-written standard operating procedure, or a training session. They require an ongoing conversation and an environment for discussion about the why, what, when, and how—and what it means to each group impacted by the change. Change communications should be agile to adapt to an evolving implementation environment. The bottom line is: you can’t communicate the change too much.
Here are some important elements of an effective change management regime that can help ensure success with NewPay.
- Leadership must understand and be able to articulate the new system’s “WIIFM”—What’s In it For Me? New systems change how business is done, and the majority of people just want to know how their day will change, what will be required of them, and how it will benefit them.
- Identify system stakeholders early and make sure they have a seat at the table to review policy changes, become change agents themselves, and spread consistent leadership messaging.
- Prepare stakeholders for the business process reengineering they’ll undertake by having them gather current as-is processes. Many will be starting from scratch when they are asked to document how they get the work done today.
- Processes like payroll usually involve more than one system, so understanding the interfaces and who owns processes is key to implementation success. Inform interface process owners early and often about master schedules and any changes to the original plan so that they can prepare.
- Build the agency’s capacity for change by creating strong feedback loops that stay open long after implementation is over and celebrate milestones, team innovation, and improved performance. Stakeholders always want to know if the promises of the new system were realized: Did we save the money we promised? Did we improve or streamline our processes as expected? Baselining performance so improvement can be tracked over time can strengthen buy-in not only internally, but with external stakeholders (e.g., GAO, Congress) as well.
The government has consolidated payroll systems in the past. With so many employees migrating to new payroll systems over the next several years, change management is not just a “good to have,” it’s critical to the initiative’s success. NewPay could be among the Administration’s greatest management successes if it makes change management a priority.
Robert Shea is principal, Public Sector strategy and communications at Grant Thornton, Infor's NewPay partner. Learn more about our NewPay offering.