HfS Network
Steve Goldberg
 
Research Vice President, HR Technology and Workforce Strategies 
Learn more about Steve Goldberg
Don’t Look Now but Payroll Services Providers are Embracing Digital -- and their Sexiness
April 13, 2017 | Steve Goldberg

 

A product strategy executive at ADP recently told me ”employees generally spend more time picking out a color TV than they do selecting their Benefit plans.” At that moment I knew the conversation would be different than any of my previous chats about payroll services. After all, I’ve never known an organization that cited a well-run Payroll operation as a major source of competitive advantage. In contrast, achieving only modest (e.g. 4%) upticks in employee productivity, perhaps from focusing more on improving employee engagement, can be a pretty big deal. The math: A 2,000-employee company that goes from $150,000 revenue per employee to $156,000 (or a 4% improvement) generates $12 million in new value ($6,000 x 2,000 employees).

Payroll Services in the digital age is where “intelligent automation” and the constancy of innovation empowers and enables all participants and customers – ergo, makes them more engaged and productive. And for newer readers of HfS fare, we basically define intelligent automation as moving from legacy technologies to a more on-demand environment that enables (as warranted) plug and play solutions/services, cognitive/AI elements, impactful analytics, highly engaging user experiences, mobile taps over mouse clicks, etc., often based on design thinking and always involving genuine customer advocacy.

To cut to the chase, my new Blueprint Report “Payroll-as-a-Service: 2017”, being published this July, will delve deeply into how Payroll Services are being transformed based on the best that intelligent automation has to offer. The Report will examine where this market is today and where it’s going, include actionable guidance for services buyers and providers, showcase innovations that are driving real business value, incorporate customer perspectives from around the globe, and of course, utilize our “As-a-Service Winners’ Circle” evaluation framework to separate market leaders from high performers and high potentials – replete with service provider analyses.

Readers wanting to see who offers great pricing for tax filing and reporting services should look elsewhere, but for those interested in digital capabilities in the form of impressive chatbots (for maximum responsiveness), benefit plan cost/benefit optimization and financial wellness support at the individual level, other types of “personalized value adds,” predictive and prescriptive guidance for managers, and other capabilities which take routine tasks out of the daily life of Payroll staff and its internal customers, we will have you covered.

Bottom Line: Payroll Services providers are jumping on the digital bandwagon with gusto, and the results belie that long-time characterization of Payroll not being sexy.

Placing HCM Stewardship Where it Belongs: Outside of HR
March 29, 2017 | Steve Goldberg

In retail, capturing data in real-time at the Point of Sale (POS) leads to better stock replenishment and more informed customer interactions and experiences. Now take that same concept into business operations with HR and employees, where transaction or event participants similarly have the biggest vested interest in achieving maximum data accuracy and transaction processing speed.

The principles of real-time data updates and logical transaction ownership led to a lot of new Employee and Manager Self Service functionality in the early days of HCM systems. Let’s also remember, though, that self-sufficiency -- as in not having to deal with the occasional black hole that some HR Departments are identified with -- is also directly correlated with stakeholder or customer satisfaction.

All of this “transactional mumbo jumbo” can be boiled down to one phrase: Human Capital Management stewardship … and also perhaps one question: Where should primary HCM ownership lie? The “HR as necessary interloper to keep the company out of trouble” model hasn’t really endeared itself to many outside of those running professional HR organizations. So why keep “workforce management activities to drive enterprise value,” aka HCM, strictly in the hands of the HR Department?  No reason. It’s a stupid waste of resources – both financial and human.

 

HR adds the most value, by far, when it enables line managers to be effective stewards of HCM  

How do you as an HR professional accomplish this?

(1) by truly understanding the business of your internal line manager customers
(2) by being a trusted advisor when it comes to HCM-related opportunities and risks (both -- not just risks!)
(3) by syndicating best practices, tools, standards and innovations related to HCM across the organization … whether an HR-borne idea, an internal customer’s idea or something learned at a professional HR organization’s conference.

Business leaders don’t just have P&L responsibility. They interact with their teams every day, in all situations, and they ideally have the “HCM acumen” to know what will drive employee engagement, retention and productivity … or conversely, what will impede these outcomes and how to mitigate those impediments.

Bottom Line: HR Departments must place a huge emphasis on line manager enablement, thereby shifting HCM stewardship to where it belongs – to team leaders, department managers, and senior executives. HR Departments should enable, or get out of the way.

Saba's Acquisition of Halogen Software Helps Their Customers Achieve the Illusory 'A' Word
March 10, 2017 | Steve Goldberg

This roughly $300M deal, expected to close end of June, doesn’t only have the potential to positively impact the HCM agendas of 4,000 combined customers worldwide between the two talent management players. It also has the potential to lift the HR Tech domain overall. How can this deal possibly achieve something that the much larger HR Tech deals done by SAP and Oracle didn’t?

For one thing, SAP buying SuccessFactors and Oracle acquiring Taleo were motivated in large part by accelerating a transition to the cloud, and secondarily, by the ability to leverage best-in-class Performance Management (SuccessFactors) and Recruiting Technology (Taleo) at the time. Elsewhere, IBM acquiring Kenexa gave it a nice beachhead from which to eventually launch other HR services and solutions. In short, these deals arguably benefited vendors more than they helped customers achieve better HCM-dependent business outcomes.

The Saba - Halogen Software deal opens new routes to HCM optimization

We suspect many forward-thinking HR technology customers will want to take advantage of the combination of a world-class LMS (Saba) and a top-tier Performance Management solution (Halogen) in ways that extend beyond performance review and coaching outputs feeding employee learning and development plans. These talent management “meat and potatoes” capabilities are there. The “kicker” is the combined ability to address today’s unprecedented rate of change, the explosion of corporate social tools, and just-in-time learning.

And this leads to the often-illusory goal of “organizational agility.”  

Saba + Halogen together could enable a bottom-up, employee-owned and initiated way of quickly addressing whatever performance, behavioral or skill gaps are most relevant at any point in time. Saba has robust capabilities around informal learning and social collaboration tools (even social network analysis functionality). Put it together with Halogen Software’s flexibility to support many different performance management models, and you go beyond that “meat and potatoes” passing of performance management process outputs to actionable learning plans. It’s a whole new level of execution that ties together professional development, employee engagement, individual / team performance and business results that include improved organizational agility.

Take the example of a mid-level professional being moved from an individual contributor role to one of managing a project team, add-in that the vacancy was unexpected, the project is behind schedule, and there aren’t many other resourcing options. The new project manager can immediately start marshaling peer and team member feedback, coaching and mentoring, broader community or social network support plus other internal and external resources to make this resourcing dilemma a much more manageable issue. Now multiply this unexpected, unplanned scenario by dozens company-wide.

When you can mitigate risk to sustain momentum on key initiatives this way, you have the essence of organizational agility.

Bottom Line: This new pairing of HR Tech players might be the answer for many organizations that are too often held back by their lack of organizational agility.

3 Reasons Why You Should Care About Our New Blueprint Market Guide: “Predictive Capabilities in HCM Systems”
February 22, 2017 | Steve Goldberg

When HfS Research community members check back here later this week they will have access to my first major research effort for HfS since joining late last year: “Predictive Capabilities in HCM Systems”. This Blueprint Market Guide includes trends, themes and related implications for both buyers and solution vendors, an evaluation of these capabilities within 9 HRMS or HR System of Record vendors, what to watch as this emerging area continues to evolve, and – of course – our recommendations for driving business value and ROI from these capabilities.

 

The aforementioned 3 reasons are:

  1. Surprising trailblazers … such as some of the HRMS players blazing the trail for other vendors to follow (aka our High Performers group) are probably not who you’d expect; e.g., none of the top 3 rated vendors on these specific capabilities are in the top 3 from a market share perspective.
  2. Insights … as well as market intelligence that will likely make you say to yourself “Hmmm, I haven’t thought of that.” As just one example, there are very logical reasons why a number of the 9 HRMS vendors covered selected ‘predicting flight or retention risk’ for their initial foray into this product investment area, but also some not-so-obvious reasons. Among the latter ilk, the “consequences of being wrong” are probably not as severe as with a number of other examples of predictive HCM use cases (actual and hypothetical) highlighted in the Report.
  3. Recommendations … including why investments from both vendors and customers in this exciting product innovation area should arguably be ratcheted up, and ways that both parties can do that and start reaping corresponding benefits while proactively managing risks and costs.

Bottom Line: This first-of-its-kind industry research from HfS will shine a bright light on one of the most promising advances to hit HR Tech since on-premise, client-server deployments went the way of the dinosaur

Yes, the costs to hop onboard are not insignificant, but you can perhaps start with an economy ticket (modest investment) and then go further into this realm when business impacts are obvious. In time, HfS believes they will be, and early adopters often hold onto competitive advantage once they have it.

Why the Time is Right to Evaluate Predictive Capabilities in HCM Systems
January 31, 2017 | Steve Goldberg

 

Every CHRO focus group or survey these days identifies “enhancing analytics capabilities” or “crafting a people analytics roadmap” as a top initiative. This, of course includes analytics of a predictive nature, as these generally have the highest impact. It’s now time-critical for both HR execs and HCM solution providers to think about what type of technology capabilities are needed to support these initiatives, which, if successful, clearly help make the case for HR having that proverbial seat.

So we’ve decided to put a stake in the ground and evaluate what most enterprise software vendors are describing as their “early” capabilities and customer experiences in this area.

Many HRMS (employee life cycle) vendors cut their predictive analytics teeth around the retention risk area. Some of those providers have progressed to predicting potential to succeed in different roles or factors that impact employee engagement and productivity. A few now forecast labor and skill set gaps and use that intelligence to optimize work schedules. One or two HCM solutions now even highlight potential compliance risks and recommend training to mitigate those risks or offer other examples of prescriptive guidance.

Is this the bulk of what HR leaders are looking for? Hardly, as any HR Tech vendor will tell you: “They are just getting started!”

One HR tech vendor exec we spoke with for this research said, “the ultimate vision here is to predict all employee-related outcomes that materially impact business performance, understand why the outcome is likely, communicate why this insight matters, and determine and pursue the key actions needed.” As a destination point, it’s probably better than most.

2 key indications the time is now for getting this research out there:

  • A few of the larger HCM solution vendors weren’t in such a hurry to discuss their predictive capabilities. Yes, this can happen with emerging technology areas; plus getting a read on “customer and market readiness” perhaps requires soothsayers as much as product managers.
  • HR buyers’ interests seem to be out in front of what a large swath of the HR tech vendor community is delivering when it comes to these capabilities. This is not a dynamic observed very often. Vendors have historically done a lot of the pulling in this relationship.

Finding the “homeostasis point” where HR tech customers and vendors can both see and derive business benefit from moving the ball forward on HCM predictive capabilities keeps us moving forward with this research, underlining its sense of purpose -- and urgency!

Bottom Line:  The value of predictive capabilities in major HR tech platforms, and understanding how providers’ plans are meshing (or not) with customer needs, will be covered in this first-of-its-kind research to be published in mid-February. We at HfS look forward to generating some lively discussions.

HR Best Practice? Yeah, Right
January 25, 2017 | Steve Goldberg

A memorable exchange I once had with a former HR colleague went like this:

Me:  “When Workforce Planning accounts for cascading gaps because you filled some jobs from within, that’s commonly viewed as HR best practice.” Colleague:  “Oh really,  Well I think best practice is simply the practice that works best!” 

Borrowing a line from the classic movie Cool Hand Luke … his statement “helped get my mind right.” 

So one suggestion coming out of my initiation into the world of practical HR thinking: Whenever you hear someone say: It’s “HR best practice”, perhaps you should ask if they’re following a blueprint crafted specifically for their organization and business context. And if they’re not, odds are that particular practice will come under some scrutiny soon, and perhaps shortly thereafter, the individual that architected the practice.

Many of us were a bit taken aback when we heard highly regarded Zappos was generously paying new hires to quit if they were dissatisfied, and not just because it was likely deemed more cost-effective in the long run.  It was mostly because the company’s brand is totally about “best customer experience imaginable” and this is so much more than a tag line.  One of countless examples is that their customer service reps never use scripts.  Genius, common sense, or both.  You decide, but also think about whether this would work for a phone company.  Fat chance as they say.

 As With New Employees, Best is Mostly About Fit

Elsewhere, a number of well-known large companies including LinkedIn, Virgin America, Best Buy and Netflix have started experimenting with unlimited paid time off. The rationale: time away from the job helped with employee productivity; e.g., by avoiding burn-out. Beyond that benefit, trusting employees not to take advantage of the company can make them feel – and therefore act -- like part owners of the business.  This practice worked for these employers, particularly when employees and managers discussed adequate coverage for key duties in their absence, but clearly it’s not a universally great fit. Consider the impact on an impending re-start of a nuclear power plant if even one senior-level nuclear or safety engineer was in urgent need of some downtime. “Adequate coverage” is in the eye of the beholder. 

Outside the realm of potential life and death consequences, however, innovative crowd-funding company Kickstarter abandoned its unlimited vacation policy when they thought it was sending some type of message (subliminal?) to employees to take less time off. So a creative HR practice designed to minimize burn-out was actually burning people out!

As in the aforementioned exchange with that colleague, best practice does indeed come down to what works in a particular business context; and when you’re talking about a new HR practice under consideration, desired corporate culture might be the #1 element to focus on. In high-tech startups, a very informal, “we’re one family” culture and typically doling out some equity are used to attract top talent. Arguably it’s also to compensate for a lower salary initially. By way of contrast, when was the last time you saw someone’s canine companion taking a stroll inside a blue-chip investment advisory firm?

Bottom Line: HR practices are “best” when they support both a company’s culture and its workforce strategies designed to create a great customer experience.

Let’s not be wedded to any particular best practice within the HR / HCM domain, as best practices are really tools to effectively manage an ever-changing operating landscape.

 

ADP Crosses the Transactional HR/Payroll (Branding) Chasm in Acquiring The Marcus Buckingham Company
January 18, 2017 | Steve Goldberg

Maximizing team performance and improving employee engagement are both winners in their own right as HCM themes to focus on. Solutions that focus on either are correlated with better business results. ADP and its clients can now play in this arena with the strategic acquisition of The Marcus Buckingham Company.

By many accounts, including mine, ADP's past acquisitions of companies like Workscape, Virtual Edge and The Right Thing, while accretive to revenue (not necessarily a game-changer on a base of over $10 billion) and enabling a more diversified solution and customer portfolio, didn’t fully detach the company from its long-time transactional HR / Payroll branding. Yes, Workscape did bring cool technology around total rewards and portals, but ADP also talked a lot about their new benefits admin outsourcing capability after that acquisition.

The bold move of adding The Marcus Buckingham Company could pay off nicely for ADP, and in “multiplier effect” ways that, by definition, are much more consequential than incremental revenue or adding some new strategic customers.

Just as SuccessFactors was a clear catalyst in SAP’s embracing of the cloud, TMBC could do the same for ADP; not in terms of the cloud as ADP operates there already. The story here is adding a disruptive HCM solution, one that weaves together technology and services elements to help customers solve issues many HR tech products will never tackle.

Among other things, TMBC’s flagship technology StandOut distils the complexity of a team leader’s job into two fundamental questions: “what are my team members’ priorities, and how can I help them?”. As this will entail a new way of approaching the job for many team leaders, the transition is helped along by targeted and expert coaching, TMBC’s other strength that ADP plans to tap into.

TMBC’s technology and complementary coaching bring self-awareness to the performance management and career development process

Self-awareness/self-discovery is often the missing link in feedback and performance management models and systems. You could say that one exception is when an employee is told their self-ratings are very different than how others see/rate them; however that is “being told” rather than learning it through a guided process. Coaching is also advocated by more and more companies, but most aren't consistently adept at it enterprise-wide.  ADP customers can now benefit from Marcus Buckingham’s proven approach, one centered around individuals fully leveraging their strengths (motivating and energizing) vs. addressing their performance gaps (often de-motivating). The model also clearly fits organizations wanting to pursue a “learning organization” strategy and corporate culture.

While a talent management solution offering the type of capabilities TMBC brings can be ahead of many smaller company's adoption or strategic interests for some time, this acquisition should allow ADP to finally break free of its transactional HR/ Payroll branding constraints.

The Bottom Line:

The Marcus Buckingham Company found its mother ship to reach the next stage in its journey to greater revenue and broader market influence/impact; and ADP likely jumped on an acquisition that will put it on the broader HCM brand trajectory it’s been longing for. The pairing should bring even more value to ADP and TMBC customers, and broaden ADP’s strategic HCM footprint in those customers, over 600,000 strong worldwide.

Change Management in HR Tech Deployments – Lessons from the Trenches
January 11, 2017 | Steve Goldberg

 

My preoccupation with change management can be traced back to when I realized that success on HR Technology initiatives was perhaps more a function of the organization being “ready, willing and able” to change (in the form of leveraging new technology) than anything else, including the virtues of any particular system. Now before some folks in the vendor community or others fascinated by shiny objects yell “blasphemy”, let’s remember that:

  • Any HCM system (aka HRMS) that‘s been successfully deployed in hundreds of similar organizations likely provides at least 80% of the major process-enablement capabilities a typical customer needs, plus many innovative people management features as well.
  • It’s unlikely that any HCM system will 100% match a buying organization’s business requirements, let alone their future vision around managing talent for competitive advantage.
  • Much of the gap between 80% and 100% can often be addressed through a combination of configuration tools, influencing the vendor to address in an upcoming release or product update (more frequent updates with cloud delivery) or inconsequential process workarounds.

Successful HRMS implementations are more linked to factors outside the chosen technology, and the #1 factor is (internal) customer-centric change management.

It took me some time to have the above epiphany partially because senior management and project sponsors at my first few employers generally assessed project success based on the system being delivered on-time, on-budget and stable. End-user adoption and business case realization were rarely on the project charter in those years. You could say this was fairly helpful to my HR Tech career at the time, but not so helpful to those particular organizations as a whole. 

As a result of inadequate attention to change management in the first few rollouts, very few folks outside the HR Department used the system at these companies, and worse, most line managers maintained their own spreadsheet with HR data and related update processes. They simply trusted their own, personally crafted low-tech data repositories more. These dynamics can cost companies millions annually. (Post a comment below if you’d like to see the math!) What was missing? All future end-users needed to be “ready, willing, and able” – a framework used by many change management experts.

"Ready” suggests the impacts of the change are understood, and sources of resistance and associated mitigation steps identified. “Willing” relates to the case for change being widely syndicated, tailored to stakeholders as needed, and reinforced through communications programs and executive support.  Finally, “able” suggests that relevant skills, competencies, performance measures and even corporate culture aspects are being put in place to execute and sustain the change.

Ready-Willing-Able: A Success Story

In one of my later HR Tech involvements, we went beyond understanding process automation requirements and spent considerable time with line managers discussing people management (not process management) issues that kept them up at night, how real-time access to high-value data would help them, etc. This time, we put “empathy for the customer experience” first. We also worked to overcome (beginning with acknowledging!) some long-standing disappointments with HR on the part of many consumers of HR solutions, services and programs. This was Design Thinking before the term was widely used, although empathy had been around for eons.

The team also figured out creative ways to give end-users (mostly line managers in this instance) a sense of control and ownership over the system and its data. One example involved hitting a “challenge button” about any data that line managers suspected of being incorrect. That opened a dialogue box for comments and auto-generated an email to an appropriate HR administrator requesting research and resolution. Quick turnaround was ensured through an associated SLA (service level agreement) process. 

The “black hole” of trying to resolve data issues with HR disappeared! 

That prestigious bank’s Chairman came into my office for the first time ever to congratulate our team on the crowning achievement for the HR Department, not just that year, but any year in his memory.  He heard that people outside HR were using the system, and regularly.

Combating Employee Disengagement from all the Change

Multiple generations at work with different personal drivers, automation changing the nature of work, achieving more with less, and the frequency with which businesses tweak their operating models or totally re-invent themselves are dynamics that won’t be changing anytime soon. These dynamics can lead to employee disengagement even without adding new “HR / People Systems” to have to learn and use. And disengagement can bring down even the best run companies. Investing in employees in ways that resonate certainly helps with the employee disengagement challenge; but empathetic change management is absolutely essential when the change is represented by something very tangible, like a new system.   

Bottom Line:  When end-users genuinely feel their work lives and perspectives are taken into full account, due to proactive change management, the prospects of broad HCM system adoption and even a stellar ROI are significantly higher.

Cognitive Computing in HCM: Walking the Line between Cool and Creepy
December 20, 2016 | Steve Goldberg

Cognitive computing generally refers to having a system mimic the way people think, learn, solve problems or perform certain tasks. In HCM systems specifically, the system leverages what it knows about us -- including our job, social network, and interests – to yield solid benefits in areas such as social recruiting and social learning.

We are also seeing take-up of some newer entrants into using NLP (natural language processing) in the form of chatbots and intelligent agents. Examples highlighted in my recent POV “Intelligent Automation in HR Services and Solutions” included an employee having a conversation with the system about an error on their timesheet that the system had the wherewithal to resolve … or the HR technology platform proactively pre-filling a timesheet based on items in the person’s calendar and previous timesheets.

So far, generally no controversy surrounding these type of cognitive capabilities … efficiency gains and better customer service without any apparent downside. But what if a near-future incremental step in the cognitive HR tech journey goes something like this:

Employee: Hi there, kindly initiate a PTO time off request for me for this Thursday and Friday after confirming that I still have the 2 PTO days to use.

HR System: I can certainly do that sir, but are you sure you want to take 2 days off this week given you have a major project deadline next Monday, the project seems behind schedule, and as you know, you were late on your last major project deliverable?

Can we say C-R-E-E-P-Y?

The norms regarding leveraging these capabilities in the HR/HCM realm will likely not be established anytime soon. We probably need a few high-profile lawsuits to be the catalyst, followed by consultants developing practices as quickly as they did for Y2K. In the absence of this, it’s reasonable to assume companies will start to get feedback from employees and job candidates that they were put off by the intrusive nature of their HR system interaction.

Until such time, here are four cognitive capabilities in HCM that go beyond (or way beyond) intelligent HR agents and chatbots. Some may still become standard HR systems capabilities and practices in the months or years ahead. For the time being, this is arguably a matter of weighing business benefits (ranging from efficiency gains to improving employee satisfaction/engagement) against potential liabilities that could include a total distrust of using the HR system -- for anything!

  • Upon “clocking out” late one evening, the system notices that excessive hours have been worked by that employee in the last 2 weeks, and auto-emails the person’s supervisor a suggested communication advising the employee that … “the company values work-life balance, and they may want to consider getting back to a more normal schedule.”
  • The system recommends internal or external training courses to look into, or even a personal development coach, based on formal or informal feedback received (the latter from corporate social collaboration tools).
  • The system alerts a business unit head that a certain employee has initiated the processing of a leave of absence or early retirement, and identifies key “institutional knowledge” they possess (again based on formal or informal feedback) that should be transferred to other colleagues at the earliest.
  • A personalized, auto-generated on-boarding communication from soon-to-be team members who let the new employee know they have some things in common … e.g., school attended or outside interests or reside in same part of the city or birthday … and also expresses how excited they are to have them as a team member. (Of course, in this example, the “sender” would receive it first and have a chance to modify.)

Bottom Line: Cognitive capabilities within HCM systems will keep pushing the envelope, perhaps until lawsuits, governance issues or perceived creepiness get in the way.

 

It’s a Database, So Why Not Keep VALUABLE HR Data In It?
December 14, 2016 | Steve Goldberg

The range of information managed in HCM Systems is quite impressive, and in most leading platforms, encompasses data relating to the 3 legs of the proverbial (HR data) bar stool: Administrative, Transactional and Strategic data. Administrative covers what’s needed for policy and regulatory compliance and core HR process support (on-boarding, payroll and benefits admin, etc.). Transactional covers the events in an employee life cycle (changes to job, organization, supervisor, compensation, etc.) or personal life event updates that impact employee benefits for example.

Strategic data covers … hmmm … maybe just see Administrative and Transactional.

Is this HR heresy?  Is it a yearning for the simpler days of Personnel Management when key business strategy decisions often excluded HR executives, HR/HCM systems largely weren’t used outside HR Departments, and Talent Management was a term reserved for Hollywood? No, it’s only a lead-in to a question I’ve asked myself over the years, namely: Are we missing something when we point to data tracked on HCM systems like performance ratings, compensation and job progressions, training courses taken or competencies displayed and say this allows us to be very strategic in managing human capital?

Yes we are probably missing something. It seems the data we track in these technology assets, while broadly useful, might sometimes be obscuring the real mission at-hand: The need to manage and provide ready access to WHATEVER people data enables a highly engaged and productive workforce, and the proactive management of business risks and opportunities … thereby creating and enhancing sources of business value and competitive advantage.  

So What Needs to Change?  

For one thing, let’s not forget the aforementioned mission at-hand. Let’s also not forget that employee engagement, retention, productivity – and business innovation and agility – are all HCM-related themes but they are NOT HR processes with routinely defined steps that can be system-tracked or enabled.  Perhaps just as important, these themes rarely have a single process owner with a budget (for enterprise software) that solution vendors can sell to. The main implication of this is that while HR Tech circles continue to espouse moving away from being too process-centric, and being more ‘desired business outcomes’ centric in our systems design and usage, the HR/HR Tech disciplines can perhaps be faster on the actual uptake of this.

3 Examples of (Non Process-Centric) HR Data Worth Tracking

  • Employee Value Indicators … present a broader picture of the employee’s value to the organization, far beyond performance ratings or competencies. These dimensions or data points might relate to referring candidates who became top employees, serving as a mentor to new employees, suggesting ideas that led to new revenue sources or operating efficiencies, or forwarding personal contacts that were great sales leads and became customers.
  • And speaking of competencies, how about Latent Competencies … those that employees possess that might be invisible to the organization, and therefore not leveraged, because they are not relevant to an employee’s current job function. These would be pretty handy when a major shift in business strategy is considered which has implications in terms of re-tooling the workforce. Also Competency Value Trajectory (or “CVT”) would be a simple way to note on the system which competencies are becoming more important to the organization due to impending business undertakings.
  • And finally, one that arguably qualifies as not seeing the forest through the trees, all the valuable data that could be tracked around Career Goals … including how an employee’s goals change over time, progress toward achieving them, and what the organization has done to support them. This way of driving employee engagement could fly by the positive impact of employee surveys or various (non-sustaining) forms of employee recognition for 2 reasons: Employees perceive their needs/interests as being important to their employer; and management decisions about leveraging their people better align with those needs/interests.

Bottom Line: HR Tech'ers should not forget about the virtually limitless potential of these platforms to house strategic, and often non-process centric data

A focus group I conducted a few years ago with a dozen CHRO’s addressed where HR Technology was -- or wasn’t -- making a difference in their organizations. The consensus was that managing the potential fallout from downsizings, or the people aspects of M+A's were areas where HR Technology was not playing a major role ... both obviously more about potentially game-changing events than defined HR processes.

As HCM system configurability and extensibility capabilities have achieved new heights in recent years, addressing these perceived (historical) system shortcomings have perhaps become a matter of customers doing a better job of defining decision support needs and related data capture processes, and simply leveraging their HR Technology assets better in general.