As we move from an era where HR systems were stored under desks, in server closets and in data centers owned by companies that had no business owning data centers to a time when all HR applications are in the “cloud”; there are some major changes needed in the SOP “Standard Operating Procedures” of the HR Process and Technology function (once called HRIS in our ongoing story of change).
We all know that most organizations will ALWAYS use more than one solution to meet the needs of their HR function, their Payroll function, their reporting needs along with many other aspects of the employee life-cycle such as workforce management, user interactions through collaborative technology and storage of policies and procedures. While we would love to use one technology for everything and have it stored in one cloud on a global basis, it will NEVER happen nor should it based on the agility needed by the function. What does this mean to HR organizations and what is needed to prepare?
a) A great understanding of how end-to-end processes need to work through the lens of employees and managers and a tactical approach to determining the best way to deliver this process flow. This is more than HR service delivery and determining Tier 0, Tier 1 and Tier 2 and then let the employee hunt and peck to try to determine how to work within the model. This is a fundamental shift in the way we deploy applications moving away from the “module” approach and moving to the “process” approach. You see, no one cares about modules except software vendors. You should think of a module as an ingredient in creating a succulent dinner for you and your friends. Imagine if they showed up and you had all the ingredients on the table with no explanation, no connectivity, no tools to make anything. While you might have created a new neighborhood craze, you will have not delivered a complete solution to your consumer. We as a HR function havent been delivering complete solutions to our consumers ever and it is time we change that, get away from modules and think process and solutions.
b) We need to think about the “flow” of data. I often call this “follow the data” and like a doctor looking in your arteries for blockage, we need to look inside our activities as a function that we both roll out externally and use internally and look for blockages or leaks that will cause ongoing pain, suffering and the inability to deliver outcome based information to the business. This becomes much more difficult the more databases and data stores we have to look in and connect. As these data stores move out of the walls of our enterprise and into the “cloud”, new technologies and new expertise is required to connect these sets of data and deliver “consumer friendly” information to the enterprise. This is not your HR vendors expertise or their mission. Their mission is to deliver the best damn modules to meet your transactional and strategic needs. Think back to the ingredients on the table, they are delivering the best ingredients for you to prepare your masterpiece meal. Will they ever create the meal for you? Doubtful based on how we all think today and the complex number of ingredients that come from different owners that all compete against each other that we leverage. It is time for a new set of systems integrators that not only implement applications (deliver and wash the ingredients) but also can use them together in ways that HR has only dreamed of to create the masterpiece user experience, process centric approach and intelligence that the business has been asking for from HR for decades.
c) A realization that we must think about our outcomes and success metrics before we start any of the above. It continues to fascinate me that people think they will ever be able to deliver intelligence and analytical information without thinking about where they will collect this information, how they will ask for it to be delivered, who will deliver it and how they will pull it together into something meaningful. This combined with the fact that name, education, employee ID and skill/competency mean something different in each “module” within the organization and the “modules” are implemented as “modules” and not “processes” kill our chances of delivering anything of intelligence before we even start. It is essential to determine your outcomes, what you are shooting for, your short and long-term goals for a solution before you start anything. Once you start, especially in a cloud based solution that is not YOURS, but you are USING – the clock is ticking faster than ever, decisions are being demanded faster than ever and once the clock starts, you forget about your outcomes. Take the time and energy upfront to determine what is success so you can build to it, not hope to stumble upon it once the paint has dried.
Connecting the clouds will be a core competency of the HR function for years to come. There is a huge functional component to this as well as some technology but it is our job as the HR function to understand where connections are needed, how they will work and to partner with our new era of systems integrators (not the old school CSV, XLS, FTP crews) to build a real-time enterprise that will serve as the foundation for HR to build upon for years to come in the future.
As I did on a webinar today with a large IHRIM contingent, I beg you not to waste the opportunity upon us. On the webinar, 97% indicated they believed we are at a tipping point when it comes to HR technology and they are correct. Now is our time, now is our change; don’t waste it by doing things the way we have in the past.
Have you tried connect the dots on the iPad? Pretty cool
Another infusion of knowledge…