Paul Rose, Knowledge Manager, Employee Central

“When a project fails, it jeopardizes an organization’s prospects. If the failure is large enough, it can steal the company’s entire future” – Robert Charette


The prevalence of global organizations shifting from On Premise to cloud based Human Capital Management (HCM) solutions is remarkable. Global HCM projects by their nature are inspiring, challenging and complex in equal measures. This paper is focused on identifying seven key reasons why global core HCM projects do not succeed.

1. Lack of a skilled and experienced HCM implementation partner

Many global organizations consider the most well-known and largest partners when implementing Human Capital Management (HCM) solutions. However, the key qualification of an HCM implementation partner is not size or breadth, but that firm’s applicable experience with the HCM application of choice. Customers need conduct diligence when choosing the most appropriate partner with strong application experience. Implementation partners should have an array of impressive references and a strong track record of conducting successful, global projects.

2. Deficiency of skilled customer resources on project

Many customers do not realize the size and complexity of a core HCM project executed on a global scale. Customers need to commit skilled resources to the project, particularly in HR decision-making roles and HRIS specialist resources. This allocation of resources should be supported by the senior leadership team reflecting the commitment of the organization to the overall success of the project. Experienced implementation vendors need be able to provide resource forecasting requirements for the duration of the project. Many project failures are as of a consequence of a limited allocation of customer resources.

3. Absence of a global HCM strategy

Global organizations often operate in HCM silos with countries or regional divisions implementing their own unique core HCM data and process variations. With many international HCM projects, the design is focused on a few countries that are part of the central project team. A global template is needed to ensure wider organization requirements are met. This does not mean localised requirements will not be considered as a sophisticated cloud HCM application will be adaptable to local practices. Collaboration amongst HR and business leaders across functions and regions is essential with requirements clearly established at the beginning of the project

4. Data migration and data accuracy issues

Global firms have consistently struggled with the data component of an HCM project. Organizations are inclined to commit to a global implementation without having considered HCM data accuracy, skilled HRIS and IT resources to complete the data migration task, and accessibility to the data in certain regions or divisions. In many cases, a plethora of legacy applications will add complication to this intricate process. A comprehensive data audit carried out by a group of three to four skilled HRIS resources four to six months before the organization are intending to commence the HCM project is recommended.

5. Integration considerations are not well-defined

Customers consistently fail to embrace that fact that the global roll out of a core HRIS solution will result in the discontinuation of some legacy systems and processes. The integration will ideally flow from the “master source of data” which is the new HCM application. Customers often assume that the new system will integrate seamlessly with payroll, time and attendance and benefits systems that the organizations currently utilize. A holistic approach to the overall business systems portfolio is required so that the scoping is precise and that change management strategies can be implemented.

6. Change management is not applied

Numerous organizations prefer to introduce a new core HCM system “under the radar”. This strategy is typically unsuccessful as key stakeholders are not prepared for the change and end op resisting the initiative. Stakeholders at each local, regional and national level should be kept informed throughout the implementation process. Communication is critical particularly in discussing the implications for each stakeholder group post implementation. Customers should be seeking those implementation partners that exhibit a strong focus on the support phase of the project.

7. Unrealistic Customer expectations

Customers habitually believe that a new system will overcome any current inefficiencies in their HR technology infrastructure. With any HCM solution there are limitations and it is the responsibility of the customer to fully research the solution functionality before committing to the project. Customers must be prepared to commit to HR process changes as well as technology commitments. In addition, the prospective customer must be confident that all of their requirements are determined in the implementation partner contract. Integration and custom reporting are two areas where customer expectations should receive particular scrutiny.


Implementing a core HCM solution across a global organization is a complex and challenging undertaking. While the speed is a vital component of successful system implementation, time and effort in careful attention to requirement definition, project planning and change management can ensure the likelihood of a successful project.