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Why Pilot Programs Are Important in Rolling out New Features

Would you buy a car without test driving it first? Or purchase a home before walking through it room by room? Conducting a pilot program gives you an opportunity to experience a small-scale version of a larger project before you make a long-term commitment to it. It may seem like an excessive investment up front, but it will be well worth the return.

Pilot programs – also known as feasibility studies or experimental trials – are short-term tests that can help you and your company learn how a larger-scale project might work for you in practice. They provide a platform for you to test logistics and spot any potential deficiencies before you go any further.

  • A pilot program typically begins with a proposal that lists program objectives and details how they will be carried out.
  • Your study should also include a timeline, as well as metrics for measuring progress and determining success.

A pilot program will help confirm you’re ready for full-scale project implementation. It can reveal unforeseen challenges that need to be addressed, giving you an opportunity to fine-tune and make any necessary adjustments in a way that minimizes the impact of those challenges.  Pilot programs are often associated with technology changes such as moving to a new vendor, adopting system upgrades, or rolling out additional modules.  They can be just as critical to successfully implementing other HR initiatives including recruitment process changes, employee self-service centers, flexible schedule options, performance management programs, or cross-training or job rotations for instance. Promoting change in any organization can be a challenge. A pilot program provides the opportunity to smooth the way for organizational change with demonstrated success and experienced advocates right from the start.

Are You Ready for Your Pilot?

Before you begin a pilot program, consider whether you have completed these steps:

  • Assessed your needs and assets.
  • Identified the core components of your proposed program,and hired and trained staff with the skills to roll them out.
  • Selected a pilot test group with diverse backgrounds and skillsets Include those that are excited by the opportunity for change and those that will poke holes and find all of the potential pitfalls.
  • Developed an evaluation plan.
  • Secured the tools to capture data that can be applied to the full project and its success.

Tips for Success

Here are a few tips to help ensure the success of your pilot program:

  • Monitor how well the test is working. You need to solicit feedback, track team members’ activities and outcomes, and record any modifications made in order to achieve your desired results.
  • Implement according to your original plan and then adjust as necessary. Once you have begun your pilot, unforeseen issues regarding full implementation may come to light. Make reasonable adjustments but resist the urge to wipe the slate clean or make sweeping predictions based on these early findings. If you’ve made an informed decision up front, it’s unlikely a complete overhaul will be needed.

The bottom line when it comes to pilot programs is: Protect your organization’s bottom line by completing every step logically, thoroughly and thoughtfully.

If you need additional expertise to ensure you’re moving forward with full confidence, contact the HR Works team today. As a total solutions provider of HR and related management services, we can assist with staffing, training, program development, testing, implementation and measurement to ensure an optimal outcome.

HR Works, headquartered in Upstate New York, is a human resource management outsourcing and consulting firm serving clients throughout the United States for over thirty years. HR Works provides scalable strategic human resource management and consulting services, including: affirmative action programs; benefits administration outsourcing; HRIS self-service technology; full-time, part-time and interim on-site HR managers; HR audits; legally reviewed employee handbooks and supervisor manuals; talent management and recruiting services; and training of managers and HR professionals.