Project Considerations When Moving from Paper HR Files to Electronic

PHRMA Luncheon Workshop-Paper HR Files to Electronic - Document Locator

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Key takeaways from PHRMA’s January 2019 Luncheon + Workshop: HR Project Success Factors – The Five Factors You Need On Every Project

PHRMA’s luncheon + workshop on January 16 covered some critical elements that are valuable when considering a project to move from paper files to electronic for HR records.  Eric Verzuh gave a very engaging presentation of 5 factors you need on every HR project.  He gave away a copy of ‘Project Management to Non-Project Managers’ which I’m going to get.  Thanks Eric!

One interesting component he described was starting the project by asking the team, what projects have gone well before.  And then diving down into why.  What characteristics made for a successful project before.  And, make a list and keep that front and center in the discussions during the project.  Reminding of prior success can help keep a project moving the right direction.

A project like moving from paper to electronic has challenges because it’s not something you do every day.  You need to put more attention on it than you will on activities you regularly do.  It’s not second nature.



Starting with a clear goal is essential.  Getting everyone on the same page about the goal is not a step to ignore.  People involved may not have the same focus.  Those who will be affected by the project have different needs and interests than those who contribute to the project and those who make decisions about the project.



Moving HR files out of the cabinets creates a lot of opportunity for easier access and reporting.  Get your end users involved in the discussion at the beginning, and during the process as they will have in-the-trenches perspectives.  Give decision makers concrete ideas of how significant the time savings will be for filing and finding resources.  If you’ve put some financial benefits into the plan, it will more likely stay a priority and not stall as a project.



Planning lets you define into chunks that are clear and can be assigned.  Bullet-points are a great way to break down the project, then rearrange into a timeline.  Get crystal clear on deadlines and who the resources are that will do the particular tasks.  You may need to present to management to get resources you need assigned.  This will also let you keep track of the project timeline and if anything is slipping.  Excel may not be the best tool for this type of timeline.  If you have Office365, you may have MS Project which will let you more easily track tasks and timeline in a visual format.  You can see when something starts to slip behind schedule.



Regularly communicate with all involved.  Discuss what is being done and what is next.  Talk about any concerns people have that may be a problem that will need to be resolved later.  If there is a problem coming up, what can be done to find a solution.  If something is behind schedule, what can help bring it back on track.  You need to problem solve, but you also can communicate with those decision makers that may be able to help get resources you need.



Scope changes can hurt the project.  When a task is going well, it’s easy for someone to suggest something extra that’s related.  This really needs to be addressed carefully to make sure there is success on the existing project.  Consider an answer like ‘Yes, and that is outside the current scope.  What is the priority?’  Make it clear what impact the change will have on the existing project.  You want to make sure you have success on one, and then can tackle the next item with the same focus.  Or, if there really is reason to change the project, it’s clear what the choices being made are going to do to the existing project.



Buy-in from someone in management is critical.  If it doesn’t affect their day to day activities, you need to make it clear how the project will have an impact on the company.  You need a champion, a partner with authority, who can help make sure it stays a priority project.  Keep them in the loop with regular updates, and they can help access resources needed to support the schedule.

You can download chapter one at Eric’s website: if you’re interested in more of Eric’s expertise.  PHRMA is the local Portland area chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (  It’s an amazingly active group and you can check out other topics at the monthly meetings and SIGs at

To learn more about ColumbiaSoft and the benefits of implementing HR Document Management Software for your company request a demo today.

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