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Article by: Tammy Mueller — View more articles by Tammy Mueller

Posted on: November 2, 2018

Advantages and Disadvantages of a January 1 Go-Live for Your New HCM System

january 1 go live

Is Launching a New HCM System in the New Year the Best Decision?

Congratulations, you’ve made the important decision to implement a new HCM system! Whether you picked it because you liked the HR technology presented at a conference, went through a rigorous vendor selection process, or somewhere in between, to get to a decision has likely been a considerable weight on you and your team. As experts in all things HR technology, but especially HCM systems, we truly understand the gravity of the decision.

But the hard work does not end once you select the system. Some say the hard work starts once you start implementing your new HCM system. Why? Once you start implementation, you're working hard to complete data migrations, learning the new system, re-evaluating your processes, making important decisions, and more.

So, what’s one of the most important decisions when working on your HCM systems implementation? That would be your go-live date. It’s the day when (in theory) the old system is officially done and the new one is activated and ready to go. It’s that day that you’ve been leading up to when you first started investigating changing.


How to Determine The Best Go-Live Date for Your HCM System

When determining your organization’s go-live date, there are always factors unique to your department and company. The best HCM systems go-live date for one company might be the worst for another company. With that in mind, many organizations gravitate towards a January 1 date for the switch over.

But is that really the best decision?


Advantages of a January 1 Go-Live

When selecting a January 1 go-live, many organizations think of it in terms of “new year, new you.” By selecting this date, they ensure that your team has:

  • A full calendar year in one HCM system
  • Previous years are in the old system
  • Gives a clear cut-off for taxes, reports, and W2s
  • No opening balances to manage
Having this clean break from one HCM system to another often feels rewarding and easiest to manage.

Disadvantages of a January 1 Go-Live  

If you feel that a January 1 go-live is absolutely necessary for your organization, be prepared for some significant disadvantages.

As the beginning of the year is the most common go-live date with HCM system vendors, understand that you might have:

  • Limited vendor resources and assistance due to the popularity of new systems implementations
  • Vendors are incredibly busy assisting their customers with standard year-end processing
  • Your team may feel that you’re not getting the attention you need to get through the implementation successfully

What to Consider when Planning an HCM System Launch in the New Year

Hopefully, you realize that implementing a new system is more than flipping a switch. Which means, if you do decide on a beginning of the year go-live, all the key project dates will typically fall during the holiday season. We have seen that this can lead to staff scheduling issues because of the holidays.

Remember: Your department will have competing priorities during year-end, including:

  • Open enrollment
  • Performance reviews
  • Budgeting, and
  • Year-end reporting

When focused on payroll responsibilities, there are workload issues with additional processing and reporting required at year-end. An implementation during this season can be incredibly taxing on your resources, especially time and personnel.

It's also important to remember that depending on how your project team is set up, you might be asking people to be doing three jobs: their standard job, year-end job, and now, the implementation job. That with the holidays might just be a recipe for disaster.

Selecting your go-live date for your new HCM system can be one of the most impactful decisions you can make during the implementation process. Having worked on several HCM implementation projects over my career, I understand the weight that this decision can create. I recommend you take a deep breath, ask for advice and trust it will all go well. If you want some quick tips on selecting the right date, download this free resource.

If you’re looking for more advice on selecting your go-live or using an implementation support partner, we’re here to assist. Willory is the go-to resource to help manage the project and ensure that it’s on-budget, within scope, and of course, on-time.