Short-term + long-term

An 80% solution now is better than perfect solution a year from now, but what if you have to do both? What if you have to pursue a solution now, or you won’t make it to the future — the game will be over before the future gets here; and meanwhile, the real long-term solution has a huge time delay.

Now you have to operate multiple tracks — could be two, could be several — and sequence them in ( = knit their results together) so that they keep the problem under control at all points in time. You get to build two or more solutions at the same time.

Here’s a great example: A client company had a life-changing event and ended up with no HR department, no employee records, and no HRIS — but with several thousand employees in multiple states. Fortunately, the payroll provider (ADP, bless them) worked a miracle and was able to generate a viable way to keep the existing folks getting paid. There was just no way to handle changes — the inflow, outflow, and change of status of employees on a constant, moment-by-moment basis. This in an industry with a history of litigation around employee records.

The long-term solution, of course, is to do it right: design new processes, hire a new HR team, implement a solid HRIS as database of record driving official workflow, and train a distributed organization how to use it. Got this slight problem: That’s a six-month endeavor. And that’s if you’re good.

We decided to use two tracks. We came up with a hack (described below) that one team put in place in a week and kept a second team on the long-term solution. Good thing, too, because it took a month to select the HRIS (and that’s fast) and we expect it to be another 6-8 weeks to get even the most basic first phase up. We expect a huge long-term win many months down the road, but it really is months. So the long-term will be fine.

Now for the short-term hack.

– We put all of the employee onboarding forms in Docusign and tagged the text input fields so they’d be mappable to a database.

– We set workflow in Docusign to handle what the client needed with its distributed organization, e.g. let the manager and Payroll know when the employee  has signed, but send only the confirmation to the manager and all the bank account etc. detail to Payroll.

– We mapped the fields in Docusign over to Salesforce and added a few more workflow items on the Salesforce side to close the loop with other departments and automatically report on joins. Here I want to give huge credit to Docusign for the finest integration to Salesforce I have ever seen: I still can’t believe how well it works. You end up with the perfectly-handled legal docs now stored in the ultimate database and workflow of record, because once the employee is a record in Salesforce you can do anything with that information and control security at whatever level of granularity you want.

How can you build both at the same time? Well, it works because (1) we had two teams, with clearly different tactical objectives, who didn’t confuse each other needlessly, and (2) the Docusign-Salesforce solution was just so fast that it was done and in place literally before we had even selected the HRIS that would be the long-term solution.

Here’s the win: By doing both now, we cover both short-term and long term. In fact, we actually get to the long term faster. But that’s another story 🙂