By BJ Johnson
I recently attended the largest event for Human Resource professionals, the annual SHRM conference which was held in Washington DC. While employee engagement, recruiting, talent retention and professional development were top themes at this conference it was clear HR professionals were focused on improving efficiency by eliminating administrative work. Of course, in today’s mobile, “always-on” work culture what business professional isn’t looking for ways to do things better, smarter and faster.
HR professionals have been facing challenges over the last few years that are becoming common in all departments in many organizations. The increased use of technology combined with challenges eliminating paper from workflows creates fragmented processes. The HR department in a large company could have as many as seven systems including (but not limited to): onboarding, applicant tracking, background screening, performance appraisal, and benefits.
A company will also have an HRIS (Human Resource Information System) which is the employee system of record. While the large players in the HRIS space have tried to incorporate many of these technologies into their offering, there continues to be many standalone systems used by HR that don’t talk to each other. HR technologies do what they were designed to do very well, but if they don’t talk to each other the same information has to be keyed into multiple applications. When you add in all the paper-based employee files, which based on feedback from SHRM attendees continues to be common in most companies, and it becomes apparent that there are information silos causing inefficiencies and disconnected processes.
Consider something as simple as a manager trying to review training and performance review documents for a team member. These documents could be scattered across numerous systems and some might be in paper employee files. Chances are, the manager doesn’t have easy access to any of these systems or files so a request is placed with HR who starts a scavenger hunt to locate all the documents requested. The end result is laborious, administrative work for HR and a frustrated manager who can’t get quick access to information when and where he or she needs it. This leads to bad practices like managers creating their own personal “shadow” files or HR printing digitally born documents to create a complete employee file.
What about sharing documents with people outside of the organization like auditors and litigators? First you have to find all the required documents; next, all the documents must be securely shared. This typically involves scanning paper documents, downloading digital documents and putting both on some sort of encrypted media like a portable hard-drive. Again a burden for HR and if the requested documents or information is not provided in a timely manner the company could incur big fines or penalties.
Progressive HR departments have created a checklist they use when selecting new technology that every department should follow. Solutions deployed should:
Integrate or interface with existing systems. This allows information to flow from one technology to another without rekeying information. As HR departments quickly move to document management systems to eliminate paper files these systems must be able to interface with other systems managing all documents no matter where or how they originated. The document management system must compliment other technologies by providing tools for secure sharing and managing retention.
Be intuitive and easy to use. We’ve become accustomed to apps that we download and begin using with no training and employees expect that from technologies they use at work.
Be fast to deploy and easy to manage with little or no IT involvement. Organizations want to reap the benefits of technology as quickly as possible and not spend over six months implementing a solution. IT organizations in most companies are maxed out managing the company’s infrastructure and don’t have time to deploy and manage solutions for departments.
Adhere to industry-standard security. The company providing a solution must go through the right type of SOC or ISO audit each year. Data encryption in-transit and at rest is also a mandate.
Responsive design. BYOD is here to stay and the number of traditional desktops and laptops deployed continues to decline. Applications that aren’t designed for mobile devices don’t fit in today’s work environments.
While this is an HR checklist for new technology these characteristics should really apply to any solution deployed in a company. A solution that does not have these features could quickly become outdated and may not adequately help an organization become more efficient.