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Old systems, new world

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29th Dec 2014
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Today’s new breed of fast-growing, global businesses often find themselves held back by systems that were designed for a slower-paced, more predictable world.

Modern workforces now expect access to information and systems whenever and wherever they are. Moreover, managers need accurate and consistent information so they can see how their organisations are performing, as well as the necessary tools to undertake routine tasks to make them more productive.

Nowhere is this more evident than in HR, where many incumbent systems do little more than keep an often, incomplete record of paperwork. Many international businesses we’ve spoken to have inadequate HR systems and are being held back through lack of automation, poor integration and inflexible reporting. Inefficient paper trails, error-prone Excel spreadsheets and fragmented data are all too common.

These outdated systems constrain the ability to recruit, manage, reward and retain the best talent to meet organisational goals.

The introduction of a comprehensive, fully integrated, global, cloud HR management system (HRMS) can solve many of these problems. Having accurate, consistent, reliable data and processes throughout the employment journey can make a significant difference to effective talent management strategies.

However, many organisations hold back from upgrading their HRMS and realising the benefits due to perceived implementation challenges and hurdles, such as:

1) Lack of company buy-in, at all levels

Employees can often offer great resistance to change, especially if the design and usability of a new systems fails to acknowledge the employee experience and employees fail to appreciate the context and purpose of the system. Resistance to change leads to lack of enthusiasm and co-operation in successfully implementing new software and processes.

Solution: Achieving successful buy-in requires organisations to answer three key questions: Why is the system being implemented? What are employees expected to do when using the system?  And how do employees use the system? Designing training and rollout plans that speak to this “Why? What? How?” model - in particular ensuring the “Why?” and “What?” are clear - will maximize the success of the implementation.

2) Getting the technology installed and operating

This is one of the biggest factors in prolonging the implementation of a new system. IT resources are always under pressure and in many organisations, it can take months just to requisition new hardware and then physically install the application software.

Solution: With a multi-tenant cloud application, these delays are non-existent since the technology is already up-and-running in the provider’s own secure data-centres. This reduces time to implement and the associated risks and costs.

3) Writing new software code

Writing new code that has to be tested and de-bugged each time it changes can dramatically increase the length, and consequently the costs, of an implementation project.

Solution: Today’s cloud applications are modified by configuration, which is managed by clicks not code. In many cases, this is a simple matter of selecting pre-tested options from checkbox lists or menu selections. Unlike traditional software, there’s no need to code or recompile the application to check the effects of a change. It’s also easy to reverse or reconfigure changes, speeding up the implementation process even further.

4) Transferring existing data

Transferring data from an existing database to a new system also has to be managed carefully, even more so if this is being manually entered from paper files or across multiple excel spreadsheets. 

Solution: Data being transferred can be collated and checked in a standard template, prior to implementation, and carefully validated. 

5) Serving people across different geographies

It’s usually beyond the IT resources of most organisations to implement the necessary security, administration and network infrastructure to deploy a single application across several different countries or continents.

Solution: With an established cloud provider, global capabilities are already built-in. Right from the outset, people can contribute to the implementation from any location – and it’s instantly possible to deploy the HRMS anywhere in the world.

6) Lack of integration

This is cited as a key restraint in 100% of companies we speak to, as our research shows. Most companies have multiple applications that aren’t connected and may hold multiple versions of the same data.

Solution: It’s vital to select the technology that can integrate and operate as a key master data source, with two-way functionality between the platform and a company’s critical applications, such as payroll and benefits. What’s needed is a HRMS that’s been built as an integrated system in the cloud; one that means new employee data doesn’t have to re-keyed from the recruiting system into the HR system.

7) Cost and disruption of a lengthy upgrade process

Many enterprise HR systems take 12-24 months to implement. A lengthy implementation process not only incurs costs but also prolongs the daily drain of resources tied up in inefficient paper processes, data consolidation and systems management. Furthermore, no one wants to see key people tied up for a year, or more, as part of an implementation project team. And, a changeover that takes over 12 months can disrupt important events such as performance reviews and fiscal year-end.

Solution: Lengthy implementation timescales can be overcome with the combination of a rapid implementation processes together with deployment of a global architecture, where installing a single, shared system to serve employees across the world is achievable. It’s now possible to have a next generation global HRMS in operation in 90 days under these conditions.

In summary, delivering a modern HR management system that’s fit for an ambitious, growing business demands dedication and focus but it doesn’t have to take forever. There are really just three essential success ingredients that will help ensure you have a short and successful HR implementation: a clear and pressing business case, the appropriate technology solution, and finally an efficient project implementation plan. And, don’t forget a dash of perseverance and commitment for a smooth implementation and rewarding final result.

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