Most of the reputable HR systems have continued to improve in functionality and offerings over the last 10-15 years. If one had to compare what they had to offer say 10 years ago, I would be surprised to find anyone arguing that these tools have not become far for attuned to HR operational and strategic requirements.
Yet, time and time again, I hear some HR folk saying their HR system is useless or too complicated to use. I hear statements that “The payroll is OK, but the rest just does not cut it !” ~ why is this, when the general principles around typical HR offerings such as performance management, compensation management, learning, talent etc. have not fundamentally changed over the last decade.
I’ve put together a list of 7 key items that I believe need to be adequately addressed in organisations to ensure value can be derived from HR systems:
- The Maturity of HR : An HR department that has a low level of HR maturity (nothing to do with competency of people, but rather the level of importance of the function displayed by senior and executive management) will find it difficult to use HR systems beyond basic employee bio-graphics and payroll. There will be inherently little support for the use of the other functions, and HR tends to then blame the tool when they are not used. [ACTION: determine your current level of HR maturity and build a road-map to improve this.]
- Alignment to Business Goals: Still a misunderstood area in many HR departments. All to often, HR implements HR tools and solutions without understanding how they will support a business goal. The lack of alignment distracts the organisation and is seen as time wasting and non value adding. HR often use the tool usage or non-usage as a measure of its own success, rather than business success. [ACTION: Ensure that every HR solution can be measured back to a business goal, else seriously question its value.]
- HR Operations & Strategy Split: The inability of many HR departments to create a definite split in the way they deal with operational and strategic activities creates confusion at the HR technology layer. Some of my leading clients have come to realise that the split in focus allowed for better understanding of the respective HR solution requirements [ACTION: Ensure you HR operational activity is managed/housed separately. Your HR org design should reflect this]
- HR Systems are a Mirror: A difficult one to sometimes swallow, but its true. HR technology solutions cannot be your saviour. If your HR operation is poor, then you will have a poor HR system – no debate! [ACTION: Be bold enough to assess your HR competency and take action where required.]
- Dedicated Technology Ownership: Although it’s improving, most HR people tend to see technology at the opposite end of their psychology framed minds. Although I don’t agree with the sentiment, it is a strong reality. This sometimes manifests itself as “techno-phobic” behavior. HR also need to own their system implementations, rather that leaving it in the hands of the IT department. [ACTION: Hire people into HR that love technology and HR (they are around) and give them accountability to ensure the technology integrated into everything HR does]
- Think Solutions! : Performance management, recruitment, on-boarding, compensation, learning etc. are not business solutions – they are HR tools. Organisations needs HR solutions that combine effectively to provide positive outcomes for their business goals. [ACTION: Define HR business solutions and build your HR structure to support this eg. If your organisation is big on Acquisitions, then your HR CoE’s should align to this eg. an HR CoE focused on “Merger’s and Acquisitions” and not for example the traditional “Comp & Benefit” CoE.]
- Change of Attitude: Most HR software solutions will never be a 100% fit for your requirements. If you have between a 70-80% then that is good enough! – HR often nitpicks and uses the lack of 100% suitable as an excuse to not change. HR has got loads of room to change and improve as they align to a more business oriented way of servicing their organisations. [ACTION: Be prepared to change they way things are done in HR. This becomes apparent when implementing a real HR Business partner role]
Dealing with these 7 issues can be a challenge and somewhat painful to get through, but it is a journey that is necessary if you want to get real value out of your HR solutions.