Rollout HRIMS Key Lessons Learned

I am the HRIS advisor for the Namibia HIV Prevention, Care and Support Program (or the Namibia Associate Award), and we have just completed the Rollout of the Human Resource Information Management System (HRIMS) to 6 more regions in Namibia.  In my earlier blog, I shared with you the feedback from the users of the HRIMS in the 6 regions and the project team.  As part of closing off the project, the Project Team got together and noted the key lessons that we have learned whilst executing the project.

These are as follows:

  • Project Governance: The contract of the chairman of the HRIS Steering Committee (SC) came to an end in September 2009 which was also the month we started with the rollout project.  This presented a problem to us in terms of the sign-offs required from the SC.   However, due to continuity provided by the HRIMS Project Manager, Anna Isaacs (who is a Chief Human Resource Practitioner for MoHSS), as well as the retention of Laticha Walters (the previous HRIS Advisor) as a consultant, we were able to still follow the project governance processes although we experienced some delays at times.
  • MoHSS Management Buy-in and Support: The Directors from the HRM, HRD Policy and Planning, Facilities and Administration, Regional Directors and Management ensured that the relevant people were made available to complete the relevant project activities and manage the highlighted risk areas.  MoHSS staff from the national level did the HRIMS training with MoHSS regional staff, making the arrangements for the venues and catering for the Computer Literacy as well as the HRIMS training.
  • MoHSS Ownership: The MoHSS took ownership and management of this project from day one. They made resources like Project Room, Project Team, and Travelling Advances available and took responsibility for the strengthening of physical security in the regional offices.  They also installed the Local Area Networks in the 6 regions and provided the necessary network equipment.
  • Project Methodology: Having a Project Management office in the MoHSS HRIMS Sub-Division and an agreed Project methodology in place (established during the HRIMS Pilot project), allowed the Project Team to continue with the same proven processes and allowed the planning, implementation, management and control of the Project to continue seamlessly. This was especially usefull to me as a newcomer, and reduced the amount of time usually required to get a project off the ground.
  • Project Management and Team: The Namibia Associate Award built capacity in coaching and training the MoHSS's own staff to plan, implement, manage and control their own Project. This was evident in the way the project manager and team leaders took charge of planning and executing project activities such as computer literacy and HRIMS training, pre- and post site visits to mention a few.
  • Communication: The Project Team did site visits once prior to Project planning and another after the Project went live. Project pogress was shared with MoHSS staff through monthly newsletters where users where briefed on what has happened in the past month, what will be happening in coming month and what is expected from them during these periods. Furthermore, HRIMS Project risks status updates were shared with the MoHSS management team at various MoHSS workshops which kept the MoHSS management team informed of the challenges and of the successes in the HRIMS Rollout.
  • Collaboration between MoHSS, the Namibia Associate Award and OPM: Considerable time was spent during the HRIMS Pilot Project ensuring that all the key stakeholders namely OPM, MoHSS Management and the Namibia Associate Award were aligned. This alignment set the scene and provided the direction and thus allowed the HRIMS Rollout to 6 Regions project to continue, but challenges were experienced to meet regularly with the OPM and MoHSS SLG. We kept key stakeholders informed by sharing monthly reports with them, but would like to focus more on regular formal meetings so that we remain aligned to the overall HRIS objectives in meeting the NDP 3 goals of the MoHSS. The MoHSS IT Division has taken charge of the LANs to be built in all the Regional Management Team offices and some district hospitals which reduced the rollout costs for the 6 regions and allowed us to procure an anti-virus solution for the MoHSS, which was sorely needed as the anti-virus solution they were running was not effective in keeping computers free fromvirus infections.
  • Network and Equipment Planning and Design: During the HRIMS Pilot project the IT infrastructure was designed, built and implemented and further optimized during the HRIMS Rollout to 6 Regions project. MoHSS deployed regional servers to serve as file servers and the HRIMS project team tested whether these regional servers could be used as terminal servers. After tests were concluded successfully, the regional servers were upgraded to have increased processing power, and configured to run as terminal servers as well. This significantly improved the response time for terminal users, as all network authentications and printing is now done locally, freeing up the WAN for application and e-mail traffic. In addition, this further allows the terminal users to access their documents and offline mailboxes, when the WAN links are down.
  • Strengthening of MoHSS IT Staff: Although two of the regional vacancies for the IT Staff were filled, the MoHSS still has an acute shortage of IT staff at the national level. The Windows-based terminal solution, is centrally managed and with the staff complement at the national level that remained unchanged, this is still impacting on the response to user queries. This has been highlighted to MoHSS management as a high risk to the sustainability of HRIMS and we will continue to closely monitor the situation. There is at least one system administrator that have received the required level of competency required to support the VDI solution, but this skill must be transferred to more system administrators in order to alleviate the delays in technical support queries.  We're also looking at assisting MoHSS with a helpdesk system so that requests can be managed and prioritized better.
  • Cooperation and Commitment: Overall excellent cooperation and commitment was at the order of the day for this Project. This ensured the Project was positively enabled to achieve its objectives. Our HR Team Leader, Archie, really showed commitment when he resorted to using public transport to ensure HRIMS training would start on the scheduled date.  MoHSS experienced some challenges in supplying him with transport the day he was scheduled to leave to go to Karas region in the south of Namibia.  This really inspired Anna and myself and allowed us to make alternative arrangements to ensure the training in the other regions started as per schedule.
  • Staff eager to computerize all processes: There is a genuine appreciation from all HR staff for having access to circulars and memorandums in addition to the HRIMS. HR staff expressed a need to have access to the Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) as well and for the HRIMS and IFMS to be linked. This will require further investigation before a formal recommendation can be made.
  • Continuous learning: Some HR staff members expressed a need for refresher courses to be held regularly.  We have discussed this with OPM and hope to use their training venue to have regular refresher courses - we plan focus on providing users the opportunity to ask specific questions and will also have a strong focus on how to use the information from the HRIMS for data driven decision making.
  • Data quality assessment: As part of ensuring that the HRIMS is being used to record staff movements and changes in the core personnel data, we have started doing data quality assessments during our post-implementation site visits and have learned that some static data is not being updated on HRIMS e.g. social security numbers. It is essential that data quality assessments are done regularly to ensure the high level of accuracy and completeness is maintained for the HRIMS data, so that management can place reliance on the HRIMS data. We plan to ensure that these audits become part of the HR Annual Activity plan and would like to see it being enforced by national level with regular feedback to be provided to MoHSS Management.

I hope that by sharing our Lessons Learned with you that they will help you in making a success of your projects!