(File this post under extremely obvious but in the absence of things to write about, the obvious seems like the best choice.)
I’m sure you’ve been approached by IT and even people at the executive level to start managing your employee files electronically. After all, other departments are doing it. The company probably has invested tons of money in upgrading your ECM from on-premise to the latest ‘cloud’ version. On the surface, it sounds like a wonderful idea. Leverage existing ECM or document management technology or, better yet, leverage the investment in your HCM system and attach documents to each employee record. Genius!
Slow down there. Let’s understand what we’ve just suggested. To get paper employee files into your existing ECM or HCM system, you’ll need to find resources (or hire temps) to prep, scan, and index employee records. Then, the resulting images need to be classified and imported into some logical structure in the ECM or manually attached to each employee record in your HCM. Most people actually skip classifying the documents because it’s hard and the value isn’t realized (probably because HR isn’t running the project). What ends up happening is that each employee record is created as one big ‘blob’ of documents. This seems logical; create a folder for each employee or use the existing one, load the blob of images into the folder, done.
The paper is now gone, right? Well, maybe but you certainly aren’t more efficient. Actually you might be less efficient plus you’ve introduced risk into your organization. Let me explain.
Why is it inefficient? While most of the HR functions are people-centric, most of the HR processes and requests are document-centric. This means that satisfying audits, litigation requests, and maintaining corporate compliance are all done at the document specific level. Therefore, having a blob of unclassified documents provides little insight into the documents an employee has for legal compliance and sharing those documents out, for audits, litigations, or for whatever reason, means the entire blob will be shared providing access to more information; never a good thing. Think about how you might solve that, print it? Come on, get real. Additionally, granting access to employee documents for business uses (reviews, payroll, etc.) is impossible.
Why is it risky? Well, think about who manages the existing systems in your organization. Is it IT? Is it someone besides HR? Do you think anyone outside of HR should have access to employee data? Sure, they tell you they won’t access that information and you’d like to trust them but the honor system doesn’t fly during an audit, right? Lastly, existing systems more than likely do not have the capability to manage retention policies to ensure compliance and satisfy legal requirements. Sounds like a host of risk to me.
After all that, is it any wonder why HR is still managing paper employee records? Nope, I didn’t think so. Find a solution that allows HR to manage digital employee records at a document level, provide managed access to support other business functions, eliminate paper by using e-forms, and provide corporate compliance monitoring.