The Hare and the Tortoise: Why We Need a ‘Phase Zero’ in Workday and Cloud HR Implementations

The Hare and the Tortoise: Why We Need a ‘Phase Zero’ in Workday and Cloud HR Implementations

Mon 6 Nov 2017 | Thought Leadership



The organisational opportunities now available from Cloud HR Technology are extensive, but what HR project sponsors increasingly need to know is:

How can we get the best out of the solution we choose to implement?

Although Workday, SuccessFactors and similar Cloud HR vendors choose to focus on the ‘ease of implementation’ (sometimes phrased as ‘time-to-value’), there remain countless examples of where the technology simply fails to deliver the business benefits initially intended.

To avoid this common trap, organisations must endeavour to deliver the groundwork necessary to maximise the value from their Cloud HR Technology – prior to the implementation starting.

This groundwork – commonly referred to as ‘Phase Zero’ – is a series of activities designed to select the right technology option, communicate with employees and build the foundations for change.

This article discusses in detail how each of these three requirements can be met and delivered against successfully.


How Cloud HR Differs in Implementation Approach

Most organisations will recollect how ERP implementations used to work; decision and design phases took months in a prolonged and arduous process, resulting in a huge investment of time and money.

The introduction of Cloud Technology brought a new streamlined approach to implementation, but came with some very significant requirements needed to ensure the success of the project – some of which are all too easy to overlook and often glanced over in HR vendor sales presentations.

Specifically, because the process is much shorter, organisations need to:

  • make decisions quicker
  • adjust to much shorter design phases
  • prepare data quickly and accurately
  • be responsive to enterprise-wide implications

Organisations which therefore don’t increase preparation time will find that their Cloud HR implementation offers limited opportunities to customise their solution to the way their business works – a difficult situation to navigate when you’re simultaneously required to shift processes from HR to managers and employees.

However, the key gaps faced during the project can be predicted, and the answers prepared, as long as you create a pre-phase – otherwise known as ‘Phase Zero’.


Phase Zero Preparations and Activities

Prior to implementing your Cloud HR technology – organisations need to crystallise the following criteria during ‘Phase Zero’ to increase chances of project success:

  • quantifiable and achievable outputs
  • robust business case
  • genuine stakeholder buy-in
  • an accurate plan
  • adequate resourcing

Not only will this increase the confidence in a successful delivery and implementation, it can reduce risk of scope creep and time delays by up to 35-40%! That translates into a material decrease in the cost of implementation by potentially 20-25% along with increased benefits.



At Hensen Associates, our experience in HR Cloud Technology implementation shows that a task completed in Phase Zero, before you start your implementation, costs as little as 10% of the cost of that same task during the implementation.

In other words, investing in this preliminary phase saves you ten times the amount it would take in the actual programme.

So just like any big task, whilst it’s tempting to dive straight in at the beginning, it’s always best to plan properly to ensure consistent, successful progress – just like The Hare and the Tortoise.  

For expert advice on Cloud HR Technology implementations, please contact Hensen Associates on 01189 901137 or