John Bromilow, Chief Information Officer at Rendall and Rittner gives examples on how to effectively implement HR technology using four key business system elements.
Implementation of a new HR solution can represent an opportunity to drive efficiency and deliver multiple benefits within an organisation. It can also be a significant cost, with many risks and potential disruption to the smooth running of the business. Taking a business systems approach can maximise these benefits and reduce risks.
A business system is a combination of process, technology, people and data which come together to deliver a business outcome. When considering the implementation of a new HR solution it is necessary to consider the business outcome which is trying to be achieved; for example that may be the efficient recruitment of high-quality talent. With that business outcome firmly in mind consider how the 4 elements of a business system come together to achieve that outcome in the most optimum manner.
Let’s look at each of these 4 elements. The current process needs to be well-documented end to end and then reviewed. Each process step should add value to the delivery of the business outcome, looking to remove low-value activities where possible. Look for activities which are candidates for automation, with artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA) being more common within HR systems the opportunity for automation is greater than ever before. The technology should be considered as an integrated part of the process, rather than a separate consideration. There may be new ways of achieving the same business outcome which technology makes possible, making individual steps or even whole sections of the process irrelevant. Do not constrain the technology to slavishly follow old fashioned processes.
The phrase ‘data is the new oil’ is very apt in many ways. Like oil, data needs to be cleansed and refined to ensure it is of good quality and enables the smooth running of the system. It also needs to seamlessly flow throughout the business system, not just within a specific IT platform. What data is required to achieve the business outcome, how is it managed and what other systems need to connect to share the same data are all important questions. The security and privacy of the data is also paramount and data transfers achieved by email or spreadsheets should be eliminated where possible.
How people interact with the system will be critical to how well it will be adopted by users both inside HR and across the whole company. Careful consideration needs to be given to the user experience, ensuring that the system is intuitive and easy to use. While it is important to make sure that all users are adequately trained, the system should minimise the need for this training through a simple interface, on-screen prompts, bite-sized tutorials and other ‘point of need’ guidance. Manage the change through regular communication, explaining the benefits and how the change will impact individuals. Adoption of new systems is a very personal thing which needs focus and investment from the organisation to ensure the potential of new business systems are achieved.
Taking a holistic business system approach and considering these four elements equally and in tandem will ensure that HR solutions are implemented with the maximum chance of success.
John Bromilow is speaking in the interactive panel discussion “Finding the right technology fit – how to effectively navigate the HR technology landscape” on 12 June 2019.
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