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.