State of HR Systems Market Europe 2016 Sierra Cedar Survey Results

For the last 19th years, Sierra Cedar have been conducting a survey on HR System adoption.  This demonstrates admirable commitment to a market that ebbs and flows like the form of our star strikers in the European Football Championships (who are only on their 15th edition).  The survey is an invaluable resource to those working in the HR Technology ecosystem – the report can be downloaded here.  In this article I wanted to share some of the findings that caught my eye, but mainly to ask you to complete the survey for your organisation, before 8th July, so that this report is even more valuable next year!

The Big 2 still dominate – I am not talking about the Germany and Spain duopoly in Euro 2016, who have won most cups with 3 each.  In European HRMS adoption, the ‘Big 2’ tech providers, Oracle and SAP, dominate with 83% of the market.   SAP (HCM plus SuccessFactors) make up 52% and Oracle 31%.   ADP, Kronos and Workday make up 25%. This might surprise delegates who were at HR Tech World Spring 2016 in London, for example, noting the highly visible presence of CoreHR and Workday.  The ‘Big 2’ have their legacy customers, the onus is on the many challengers to prise them away and build their market share.

How much does this software cost? For large companies (with more than 10,000 employees), the average license cost per employee per year, is $116 (or €102).   For smaller companies with less than 2,500 employees, this cost is much more at $394 (€348).  This excludes implementation costs.  Now for this amount, you might even get you a ticket to one of the group stage matches in France.  In fact, why not spend the money on football tickets instead, your employee engagement scores will surely increase? *nervous laughter*.  When you have such highly paid employees on your payroll as Cristiano Ronaldo, who has a salary of €21m per year apparently, you want to get the most out of them.

Could wearable technology give us insight into players’ performance? 55% in the survey think using wearables will “increase workforce productivity”.  16% of organisations in the survey are using or evaluating wearable technology at the moment.  According to this article we might see Wayne Rooney cavorting around Old Trafford wearing a tracking device.

The most common pathway to an HR Technology Transformation, with 26.5%, is “Rip & Replace” which is basically moving everything all at once to the Cloud.  This is like selling your 3 most reliable players in a winning team – a tactic that is a bit risky!

Contrary to reading the industry press, not everyone is in the HR Cloud yet, it is estimated that about 50% of core HRMS is still on premise.  This might have something to do with the residual customers of the Big 2 taking their time on the upgrade path and working out options, and a rump of organisations where moving to the cloud brings more security and privacy issues.   One thing’s for sure, whichever country’s team wins in Paris will be in Cloud 9.

As you read the survey report, bear in mind the results are based on an adoption and do not represent market share.   In my view, it’s always useful to read these surveys for good background context.  This survey also highlights some of the trends the analysts are seeing and refers to useful frameworks used.  If you are considering making changes to your HR Systems, always go back a step to understand what your business really needs from HR and how this will support your HR Operating model. This article might also be useful – How to Earn your HR Cloud Tattoo.

Finally, make sure you complete the SURVEY before 8th July and good luck to your team in Euro 2016!

This article was a guest post on HRN Blog

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BPaaS Rising HR Outsourcing in the Cloud

BPaaS Rising HRNWhat is the impact of SaaS on HR Outsourcing?  I have written how BPaaS (Business Process as a Service) might provide a “Silver Lining for HR Outsourcing”.

One of the pioneers of BPaaS is OneSource Virtual, who are well known in the US as one of the largest Workday implementation partners.  They recently opened their Derry European Service Centre in Northern Ireland and plan to create 290 jobs by the end of 2017.  This is great news for Derry and also for prospective and current Workday customers in the UK and Europe.    I am delighted to share a conversation I had with Wesley Bryan, President, COO and Co-Founder of OneSource Virtual, who will be at HR Tech World in London next week. 

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Wesley Bryan, President, COO and Co-Founder of OneSource Virtual

Tell me a little bit about how One Source Virtual came about and what you do?

OneSource Virtual supports the automated delivery of Business Process as a Service (BPaaS) and supports the delivery of solutions exclusively for Workday. We empower organizations of all sizes by providing Workday deployment, consulting, training and in-application payroll services, benefit administration, finance and accounting outsourcing, and application management services.

It is exciting news about your new Customer Centre in Northern Ireland, why did you choose Derry?

Because we knew the next phase of our business was to launch our UK HRMS and Payroll services, we knew it would be strategically beneficial to have a service centre in that area.  After a long selection process, we finally settled on Derry because of its labour market, stellar talent, and the positive relationship its government has on businesses. The talent and workforce in Derry is absolutely unbelievable. We certainly haven’t regretted our decision.

What services will you be providing in the UK this year?

OSV provides UK AMS Consulting, Workday Deployment, UK Payroll and Tax Services, and will be launching an Employee Service Centre that will assist with Workday Helpdesk, Workforce Administration, Benefits Services, Document Management and Administration Services. In the latter part of 2017, we will also be providing AP Processing in the UK.

HR Outsourcing gets a mixed reception due to some tricky relationships in the last 20 years, is BPaaS less risky for organisations?

Absolutely. When BPaaS is used to outsource, we don’t have to go into a company’s system and takeover the maintenance of the software like a traditional BPO.  Through BPaaS, a company is able to outsource services within their system of record. This makes it less risky to the customer because their system is already in- house.  A customer can decide at any time to bring an outsourced service back in-house and we can make that change without altering their structure.

You have done 870+ Workday projects (initial deployments and add-on engagements). What is the no.1 tip you can give on a successful implementation?

Don’t underestimate the complexity in deploying the software. It is imperative to bring in a partner that can help you design and think through how you will utilize and configure the software.

At what point in the HR software buying/implementation cycle would an organisation consider BPaaS?

Typically and ideally during the buying cycle. The BPaaS delivery model is very different from your traditional BPO service model and if you want a true BPaaS offering, you have to be careful to choose a true multi-tenancy SaaS provider who can deliver a range of services that can be standardized across a variety of customers and ultimately be more cost–effective. If that is important to you, it should be discussed during the buying cycle.

Finally, what do you think is the most exciting trend in HR Tech in the coming years?

What excites me the most is the way systems are being built today.  It isn’t uncommon to see various platforms sharing information in real time. For instance you can log in to one platform by using your Facebook credentials. The possibilities with that type of technology are endless because you’re not limited to the information that is only in your database.

This was a guest blog for HRN Blog, "BPaaS Rising – HR Outsourcing in the Cloud"

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HR Robots: Transformers in Disguise?

Transformers-Robots-In-Disguise-San-Diego-Comic-Con-2015-Exclusive-Trailer

At HR Tech Europe last year I was fortunate to meet a very nice robot, called Oscar, who works for Oracle.

In ‘speaking’ to the Robot, I noticed it’s intelligence was limited by the human who was hiding behind the conference stand using a microphone.  It dawned on me that it passed the Turing Test, but in reverse.  As you know, the Turing Test, is a test of a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour indistinguishable from that of a human.  So, the reverse Turing Test, is a test of a human’s ability to tell if a robot is really human?

According to McKinsey, the automation of Knowledge Work will have an economic impact of between $5 to $7 trillion dollars by 2020.  (see  “Disruptive technologies: Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy”  which is an excellent 176 page PDF report)

In their book, ‘The Second Machine Age  – Work, Progress and Prosperity in a time of Brilliant Technologies’ McAfee & Brynjolfsson, explain that the ‘first machine age’ gave rise to the modern discipline of management; companies hired armies of managers to co-ordinate the workers who operated the machines, and to organise supply chains and distribution systems.  The ‘second machine age’ will reconfigure the discipline: much of the work of bosses, from analysing complex data to recruiting staff and setting bonuses, will be automated.  The impact on society of this and the age of “peak-jobs” is one for the economists, futurists and gulp……..politicians.  (see for example  “Intelligent” robots threaten millions of jobs warns Ed Balls )

However smart machines impact us right now.

Google’s “human-performance analytics group” uses algorithms to decide which interview techniques are best at choosing good employees, and to optimise pay.

Robots in literature and movies have been used to project our greatest fears. Karel Capek’s R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) (1921) – is credited with coining the term “robot”, which in its original Czech, “robota” means forced labour, and is derived from “rab”, meaning “slave.”

In the context of the automation of work, the visceral fear is not having a job or livelihood, but what we are talking about here is not so much CP30, but rather the general adoption of “smart-machines” replacing traditional white-collar work.

So what is the impact of Robots on HR ?

Firstly, the ongoing transformation of the workforce enabled by technology means our HR strategies are looking increasingly out of date.  We can guess that there may be less workers, probably different contracts of employment and definitely different skills required.  So our annual performance reviews and engagement surveys in a workforce full of freelancers, working 24 X 7 across the globe is looking very last century.

Secondly, even more HR transactional work itself has the potential to be automated.

When we talk about Robots in HR, what we really mean is Robotic Process Automation (RPA).

What is RPA ?

Robotic process automation (RPA) is the application of technology that allows employees in a company to configure computer software or a “robot” to capture and interpret existing applications for processing a transaction, manipulating data, triggering responses and communicating with other digital systems.

What does RPA really look like?

RPA in practice covers process automation, IT support and management and automated assistants.

An ideal set of circumstances in which to apply RPA are rules-based, repeated and standardised work activities.

So in HR, RPA lends itself well to core HR data administration using a central ERP system, payroll, on-boarding and off-boarding.

I have written about the impact of cloud technology on HR and the need for HR to standardise its processes to utilise new SaaS Technology,  “Will HR in the Cloud kill HR Outsourcing?” and Phil Fersht followed up with his slam dunk article, “HR in the Cloud: It won’t kill HRO, but it may kill what’s left of dysfunctional HR”.

There is a trend of reducing HR work, particularly transactional work, and I see RPA as a continuation of this trend.

When we review a HR function, we look at all HR work activity with different lenses.  So for HR work that is not subsumed by HR in the Cloud, we now look to see whether we can eliminate, automate or outsource – and now RPA can play a key role here in automation.

What are the benefits for HR ?

Howard H Nelson, Founder and Managing Director of Honhr Ltd, writing on the Genfour Blog,  suggests the following :-

“RPA will initially make significant in-roads into the transactional HR activities and eventually become the feeder of business intelligence into the higher-end activities and will impact all processes.  Robotic costs are already massively beneficial when compared to equivalent full-time employees (£2,000-3,000 of robot power can displace £20,000-30,000 of employee costs) the maths of the new proposition have already made a paradigm shift. “

See also my interview with Hayley Lange at Genfour, "Where does RPA sit in the wider HR transformational landscape?"

The term ‘Robot’ is probably not helpful, and may fall by the wayside after a few years.  However RPA will fill a gap in current HR Models until we all move to the promised land of HR in the Cloud with easy to use HR Technology.

The implication for HR and future Operating Models is that we often look at areas of HR which are core and strategic; those that need to be kept in house and those areas which could be outsourced.  Now we have a new string to our bow – which activities can we give to robots?

Maybe robots will turn out to be better guides than your humble consultant, but surely that’s taking it too far !

Get in touch and let me know what you discover @AndySpence and #HRTechWorld, and I will hopefully see you in London or Paris in 2016!

This post was orginally posted on the HR Tech Europe Blog as a guest post.

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Workday Service Partners – Overview of European Market

Workday Service Partners Europe

The Workday Rising Europe 2015 roadshow is kicking off in Dublin this week – a melting pot of existing customers, prospects and Workday partners.  One things for sure there will be plenty of HR Technology craic.

This article looks at the European Workday Service Partner ecosystem, provides some independent analysis of the market and some useful links for those thinking of moving to Workday.

So, why am I writing this article?  I have been involved in over 20 transformation programmes in the last 15 years, and nearly all of them involved HR Technology.  My particular focus is to help organisations develop smarter HR Operating Models aligned to business goals.  New waves of technological innovation has meant for the first time business needs are lagging technological capabilities.  See my article for HR Tech Europe Blog – “HR in a Time of Brilliant Technologies”, however when assessing the impact of new technology on HR, we sometimes get dazzled by the ‘glare’.  Workday has been a real catalyst for transforming HR.  One feature of selecting Workday as your HR technology system is that you have to work with an authorised Workday Service Provide, although there are good reasons for this, we think “how you implement” and “who with” should be a major consideration when selecting HR software.

To start with, we should say, we like Workday and what it has achieved in helping to transform HR. However, it’s role as a HR transformer is not because the functionality of the software blows away earlier generations, but also because it has risen on the wave of technological changes such as mobile, cloud and better integration.

There are three other reasons, we think why Workday is a true HR transformer.

1 – Workday’s main success has been to pitch successfully to the C-Suite.  By raising enthusiasm for great people management, HR has had another go at making the case for workforce transformation after some patchy results in the last 20 years.

2 – Implementing major new software usually requires a business case to the Board, and this has led to HR having to provide assurance that HR has an operating model that is fit for the future.  A new system has often triggered a review of what we do in HR to support the business, the structures, skills and ways of working. 

3 – Every Workday customer gets the same software, and this has forced HR to simplify and streamline processes.  The upshot has been that after making the case to invest in our people management infrastructure, HR has been able to focus more on business priorities whether that is developing talent, sales effectiveness or productivity.

 

In going through the process of choosing the best HR system to suit the requirements of your business, you will have considered some of Workday’s competitors :- SuccessFactors, Cornerstone, Meta4, Fairsail, FinancialForce.com, ADP, Ceridian, Oracle and MS Excel (joking!)

Whichever software you select, a key consideration is choosing the right implementation partner, in terms of cost, quality and risk management and ultimately successful business outcomes.   In our post, How to Earn your HR Cloud Tattoo, I shared some tips to consider when implementing your cloud-based HR system.  This included “Make sure you check out suitable partners before you select the software as this will significantly influence the pricing for your project.”

Once the HR Technology selection decision has been made, the next step is to find an authorised Workday Service Partner.  This is not necessarily a problem, but buyers should line up their preferred partner before signing the Workday contract.  This is important as the success of your Workday implementation will depend on the quality of the service partner, and it is worth thinking about this before you sign the contract.  We have also noticed it is harder to get good independent advice for buyers.  Analysts, well they analyse…Consultants provide advice, but also have big Workday practices – they know the product but have a clear vested interest, and Workday themselves are trying to create a healthy service partner ecosystem.  This involves supporting new entrants into the market and ensuring the quality of deployment is high. 

Anyone who has earnt their “HR Cloud Tattoo”, knows “putting in a HR system” doesn’t “transform HR” or improve the “workforce capability” despite some of the sales pitches I have come across.  Improving workforce capability will only start once the system is stabilised, the new operating model is working and leaders confidently empower managers to manage effectively.  This can take years, not a few months.

A view on the European Workday Service Partner market

For those who have selected Workday, your next step will be to choose one of the official Service Partners.

For customers, this is generally good news.  On the one hand you can be assured that service partners work to a stringent standard, that the software will be deployed using consistent service standards and every consultant is Workday certified.

On the flipside, you have a more limited group of service partners to choose from.  Also, although each partner is reputable, it is more difficult to get independent advice within this context on scope, commercials, programme management issues with Workday. To be blunt, some of the service partners, as you will see below, rely 100% on Workday for their revenues – they are not going to bite the hand that feeds them.

The market for certified Workday consultants is hot!  There is high demand from customers, but a low supply of experienced certified Workday consultants.  As the Workday sales machine does its thing, competition for consultants will increase and so will salaries – potentially pushing up the implementation bill for customers.

Workday is growing fast, but is still not profitable.  The cost per employee per year will not be going down, even if the competition mentioned above come snapping at their heels.  

The market is changing all the time and will evolve in the next few years which is very important for Workday’s long-term success.  As you can see the Workday European Service Provider market has some familiar names, and some more you will not have heard of.  We have characterised the 17 European providers into 5 different sections :- from the Big 4 and Tech Titans, HR Heritage providers, to the general Cloud experts and Workday specialists.  We will continue to see M&A activity in this space.   The Big 4 and Tech Titans (and outsourcers) will make a move for their smaller competitors as the best way to acquire certified Workday consultants and buy a chunk of market share.

I would also expect one or two of the US focused providers to enter the European market. For example, one of the largest Workday Service Providers in the US, OneSource Virtual, has recently opened a centre in Derry, Northern Ireland, so will be growing its capability in Europe.

I could plot the Workday partners on a 2 by 2 matrix with ‘completion of vision’ against ‘ability to execute’ and show you how many certified consultants each provider has, but I not sure this will help you find the right partner given your requirements and the maturity of this market.  Instead, I would characterise the market into 5 segments.

The Big 4

Well I am not sure if its Big 4 or 5 these days, it doesn’t look like Ernst & Young are a major player in this space for now anyway…

Accenture – 2nd largest service partner globally according to HfS, in terms of certified consultants.  Can take on the larger, more complex programmes

Deloitte – with 120 Workday customers, it is probably the largest service partner globally

KPMG –  showed ambition by buying Towers Watson’s Workday practice this year

PwC – have over 200 Workday professionals globally

Pros – they have big pockets and seem committed to this market.  They have a breadth of offerings in technology and consulting, and their Account Manager probably plays golf with your CIO and CFO.

Cons – they can turn any project into a massive industry fuelled by an expensive army of fresh-faced analysts.  Relatively expensive, and unless you are Unilever you will not be at the top of the queue for the best consultants.

Question to Service Partner – “Your sales director is *very nice*, but please can I interview the actual team I will be working with?”

The Tech Titans

Like the Big 4, the Tech Titans are well known and survivors. They can work on a mega scale and all keen to develop longer-term outsourcing solutions. (not sure whether Accenture fits in here or Big 4…)

Cap Gemini – European tech giant with HQ in Paris

CSC – A global leader in providing technology enabled business solutions and services

HPE – Hewlett Packard Enterprise, who recently split with HP Inc

IBM – recently bought Meteorix, probably the 3rd biggest SP in terms of Global Workday certified consultants

Pros – they will be on your short-list if they already run some of your tech infrastructure, so you will know how they work to some extent.  If you are thinking of implementing Workday then outsourcing or considering BPaaS then I am sure the tech titan will be interested in negotiating.  (see my article for CIPD on Will the Cloud have a Silver Lining for HR Outsourcing? )

Cons – not usually a great fit for smaller organisations as you will be down their pecking order, but some are trying to build up their practice quickly so worth considering if they are keen. 

Question to Service Partner – “What do you mean you can’t come to a meeting in Berlin because of your Q4 travel freeze!?”

 

HR Heritage

So these guys have been doing your pension and benefits admin since 1953 and know everything about HR and have some very good consultants.

AON – showed their commitment to this market by buying Kloud this year, also big player in HR Outsourcing

Mercer – one of the smaller Workday SPs, with a wealth of knowledge in pensions, investment and workforce

Pros – depth and breadth of HR knowledge.

Cons – Towers Watson had their Workday practice bought by KPMG…wonder whether Mercer can compete with the Big 4 and Tech Titans?

Question to Service Partner – “Can we talk about your Benefits plans? (only joking!)”

 

The Cloud Specialists

These two are regarded as expert at cloud implementations.

Appirio – very experienced with 900+ enterprises moved to the cloud with Salesforce.com, Google and Workday

Kainos – 750 staff with 150 global customers

Pros – both have good reputations and know their cloud deployment techniques

Cons – will have less breadth of offerings as Big 4 and Heritage HR

Question to Service Partner – “How do you stop your team being poached by the Big 4 and Tech Titans?”

 

The Workday Specialists

These service partners live and breathe Workday and have a symbiotic relationship with the mother lode.  Some have local payroll expertise.

Ataraxis – based in Belgium and know European payroll

Cloudator – A cloud-based multi-country payroll system for the Nordics

DayNine Consulting – European clients include Cambridge University Press, TIP Trailer Services and Global Blue

EverBe – Based in Paris.  HR and local payrolls for France, Benelux, Italy and Spain

Realright – specialist with focus on the German market

Pros – might fit your niche perfectly e.g. German/Nordic payroll and probably cheaper than the Big 4.

Cons – they are specialists so less able to provide broader technology and consulting services, also good candidates for takeover by bigger fish.

Question to Service Partner – “So tell me, how many share options do you have then?”  

This was a short overview of the main players which you might find useful, and some tips and to consider before choosing your Workday Service Partner, but if you have decided to use Workday here are some of the considerations when selecting a Workday Service Partner:-

– Consider the fit with your organisation and team – if you have 1,700 employees you will be way down the pecking order for the Big 4 and Tech Titans who might send their intern down to meet you for scoping meetings!

– Are you considering outsourcing, or BPaaS as an option?  Then it’s worth sticking with the same partner through the whole process if you can and evaluating the vendors outsourcing capability up front.

– It’s important to consider and see their proprietary Tools and Methods developed.  The winners in this market will develop the best tools that consultants want to work with and give best results and customer satisfaction.

– Workday will often recommend a particular service partner to work with, this is worth listening to, but their interests (keeping the ecosystem healthy) might be different to yours, so also prepare a shortlist to evaluate.

– It’s crucial that the consultants working on your project have a good understanding of the particular regulations in your geographies.  This could mean for your organisation, the 20 deployments in France and Belgium are more important than the 200 deployments in the US.

– Make sure you meet the actual implementation team.  As well as Workday experience, look for broader HR/consulting experience.  Will they get on with your team?

– Sector experience – Workday is building up its credentials in different sectors in Europe but isn’t there yet….check the Service Partners understand your industry?

– A general point, from our experience the cloud service partner can probably get the system up and running quicker than your organisation can make the required business decision and adapt to the change.  Make sure you have good governance, programme management and excellent change and communications skills in your team.

– Ask to speak to at least 2 or 3 customers in your industry/geography for references.

If you have already earnt your HR Cloud Tattoo, then please share your experience in selecting a Service Partner.  I would also welcome any tips and suggestions from Service Providers themselves, directly or on Twitter @AndySpence.

If you would like this article in a nice PDF format, then let us know and we promise not to charge you $1,295!  And enjoy Dublin if you are at Workday Rising this week!

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How to earn your HR Cloud Tattoo

HR in the Cloud Tattoo - Copyright Glass Bead Consulting

The relentless move of HR to the cloud is ongoing, with over 2000 organisations now using or moving to the Big 3 software providers.

And HR software in the cloud is not just for larger organisations, for example in the UK, Moorepay currently serves over 8,000 SMB businesses in the cloud for payroll, HR and compliance services.

The good news for HR is that the HR technology industry has accumulated a useful body of knowledge for those about to embark on this journey.

From my perspective having worked on over 20 different HR change programmes, HR in the Cloud, is a major catalyst for transforming HR.

Organisations have been forced to standardise their processes and procedures so they can use the software, as there is no customisation with SaaS (Software as a Service).  This brings simplification and focus on more valuable HR services.  Also, making the case to the Board for investment in HR software requires a well thought through business case, and gives confidence that the HR Operating Model is fit for the future.

So if software is forcing HR to rethink how it operates (the tail wags the dog) – who cares if we get positive outcomes?

It is crucial for HR to get this transition right, collectively we have plenty of scars to show after some painful ERP implementations in the last 20 years.

As an industry we need to ensure we pass on our learning and experience to others, and conferences like the HR Tech World Congress, this year in Paris, provide a good forum to do that.

With organisations moving to the cloud we should learn from those who have “been there, done that, got the Cloud Tattoo”.

If you are a HR leader, thinking about moving or in the process of moving to the cloud, then this article is meant for you.

Once you have selected the software, now comes the hard bit – planning a successful cloud technology implementation.

Here are some tips that you might not hear at the vendor pitch.

1 – It’s the people, stupid…

You might be putting in a new system, but to be successful you will need people to work in a different way.  The more thought you can put into the project  team, future HR team, new skills and relationships the better.  Sounds obvious, but it’s easy to lose focus with contracts, Board presentations and enthusiastic account managers to deal with.

The project team needs to have a good mix of people who understand the new technology, those with a vested interest in a successful implementation, and those who have a good understanding of business needs and nuances.

Do you have the right skills required for the project and if not, how will you fill the gaps?

The skills needed to manage HR are different to the skills needed to transform HR.

You will need storytellers, analysts, designers, trainers, pragmatists and optimists (contact me for this job description!)

Work out how you will facilitate knowledge transfer between the technologists and your operational team.

Ensure that when you set the budget and select the programme team, there are enough resources allocated to communications, change and training expertise – but you work in HR, so you know this right?

Do you have a business sponsor?

This is essential to provide guidance, support and credibility to the changes you are making.  Preferably the business sponsor is someone who stands to benefit from the change, and doesn’t work in HR.

William Tincup and Jeremy Ames, give some advice  “Catalog the ways in which your users will “love” the new software”

Do you have a group of fans who “love” the proposed changes?

These people will be crucial, so nurture their enthusiasm and lavish them with early reviews, and benefits.  Customer user groups should be established up front and this will help you with #2 Decisions, Decisions, Decisions (see below).

One tip from Michael Custers, SVP Strategy & Marketing at NGA Human Resources,

“apply some design thinking around ’employee experience’ – the cloud greatly improves the user experience of HR self-service applications. This is an opportunity to improve the touch points between employee and employer and puts the user/employee at the heart of your HR service delivery ‘engine’.”

You may have selected and costed the software, but have you done the same for your implementation partner?

Make sure you check out suitable partners before you select the software as this will significantly influence the pricing for your project.

With system integrators, insist on meeting the team who are being proposed for the project. Having worked on both sides of the client/vendor fence, I know scheduling pre-contract is tricky.  It is sometimes very difficult to say which of your team will be working for which client before the contract has been signed.     However, your project should not be a glorified training course for expensive ‘green-beans’ !

Have you taken the IT Director out to dinner yet?

The way we deliver HR is being revolutionised, and it’s similar in IT.  With SaaS, we might not have to worry so much about the hardware, but it does throw up a whole load of other technology issues e.g. data security, existing infrastructure, mobile access and support that will require you to have IT on your side.  The relationship between HR and IT is changing, but working together you can be even more effective in instigating change.

2 – Decisions, decisions, decisions….

You have made THE big decision – which software to buy. Now you now need to create the right environment to be a ‘decision-making factory’.

As Peter Drucker said, “making good decisions is a crucial skill at every level”.

Why? At this point the last thing you need is any delay, with deployment consultants on the project – every delayed day burns money.

As you get into delivery, you will have to make a number of decisions along the classic project management triangle of ‘Time vs Scope vs Cost’.

For example what happens if the implementation budget is cut or there are time delays?   Ensure you have a robust governance framework agreed from the onset with a Business Sponsor to help iron out issues, decide who will be on your Governance Board and what their role will be.

In my experience, the big time consumers are not always the big technology decisions, but changing the working practices, rules and processes and the hundreds of smaller decisions, such as ;

– How will recruitment approvals be made in different parts of the business ?

– How will workplan harmonisation work?

– The finer details of the revamped intranet design?

The list goes on…..it’s worth keeping some kind of decision log so you can go back to the original vision and review design principles if needed (see #4 below Is your operating model fit for the future?).

3 – Don’t let the software sales team pitch to YOUR customers

Well of course they will, but you need to be very clear about the expectations that are being set with your internal business customers – this is your job, not theirs.

Worst case scenario? A demo with a short film showing smiling, happy software users – like a scene from the “Truman Show”.  What the software vendors say will of course be true, but they might not (have time to) explain the effort, broken bones and cost to get to that dream state!

Make sure you manage YOUR customers expectations NOT the software account manager.

4 – Is your HR Operating Model fit for the future?

Make sure everyone is clear on why you are making this change, and how it supports your organisation vision. If it doesn’t – then STOP.

HR Operating Models are developing rapidly driven by technology, changing workforce demographics plus the insight that moving to a pre-defined model will not work. See these articles for more context Is Your Operating Model Fit for the Future?.

We need to apply our OD skills to deliver a HR model that works for our organisation, the system should support this.

Ensure the Board approve the vision and a simple set of design principles.

Develop the elevator pitch, to motivate and train up new team members.    Unfortunately, for large global projects, by the time the system is fully operational, the HR Strategy, and HR Operating required to support it might have changed anyway.  The new system will need to support future workforce needs and future HR structures whether you have Business Partners, Shared Services or use outsourced providers.

In this article from Diginomica, Gerard Hussey, VP HR Transformation at pharmaceuticals giant GSK (GlaxoSmithKline), mentions,

All the issues we had post go-live were around the end-to-end service model. So if you only focus on the technology, you’re dead.” 

 

5 – Build out your road map

By now you will have your trusty project plan, but you will also need something that moves beyond the duration of the project. When the project is over, the transformation is only in the early stages, how will you embed the changes into ‘business as usual’?

Jeremy Josephs, Sales Executive at HP for Workday and Outsourcing, gives some advice, “it’s essential to keep the momentum going after the first 90 days post go-live, make sure you have a plan in place to manage ongoing support and to reinforce the transformation goals.”

You will need the planners to be aware of the bigger picture, such as what other projects/programmes are going on that might impact your change?  What are the ongoing activities you need to plan around, for example, operational peaks and troughs, holidays?

The IT team will focus on the technology change, but how will old processes be phased out, as you introduce new HR services?

With cloud technology you can implement more quickly than in the past, sometimes the pace is above your organisations ability to change.  Try and factor this into your planning and expectation management.  Make sure you control the pace of change, not the technology provider.

Understand the known barriers before you start, there are plenty of lessons learned out there so make sure you can reel off the obvious ones and find a friend who has gone through the pain and earned their “Cloud Tattoo”.

 

Finally, clear your diary

You will have a project team and leader in place, but given that you are the HR Director, and know a lot about #1 “the people”, your expertise will be in demand.

You will have thought about how your organisation will make decisions effectively, but this will introduce just a little bit of process, meetings and review time.  Your management of the change will require you to sell the change to your managers, so if you are the evangelistic type of leader, you will be on the road a lot.  So clear the diary in the usual way.

Remember the 4 Ds – Drop, Delay, Delegate & Do

Finally, I hate to break it to you but even on successful implementation things will go wrong, sometimes really wrong.

So build up as much emotional and mental resilience as you can – you will need it!

As some old hands will realise, many of the considerations mentioned are not to do with Cloud models per se.   My point is that we should not forget the collective lessons learned and wisdom of past technology implementations.

For those who have been there, please share your tips and experience!

Tap me on the shoulder at HR Tech World Congress and I will show you my scars if you show me your cloud tattoo ðŸ˜‰

This article was originally published on the HR Tech World blog as a guest post.

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HR in a time of Brilliant Technologies

We are indeed living in a time of ‘Brilliant Technologies’.
 
I studied Cognitive Science & Artificial Intelligence back in the mid ‘90s. The multi-disciplinary researchers dreamt about natural language comprehension and powerful AI computing power.  Fast forward 20 years and they would be delighted to meet ‘Miss Siri and Mr Watson’.  

I am passionate about the impact of technology in organisations and have written about the role of automation in a HR Tech Europe blog article, ‘HR Robots: Transformers in Disguise?’ 

However, when assessing the impact of new technology on HR, we sometimes get dazzled by the ‘glare’.  The biggest impact of living in a time of ‘Brilliant Technologies’ on HR is not the cool tools, but the way technology transforms our economies and societies, changing the workforce skills needed in a globalised economy.
 
In our workforce we now see:
 
• Five generations working together in an ageing workforce – in 2020, nearly a third of the UK workforce will be over 50
• Freelancers working 24 / 7 across the globe – Harvard Business Review estimates 1.3 billion people will work virtually in the next few years
• The continued automation of knowledge workers – wiping out swathes of middle managers
 
There is a relentless push for organisations to survive and flourish in this competitive environment.  Since 2000, 52% of the Fortune 500 has disappeared, Professor Gary Hamel makes the prediction that 50% of the Fortune 500 today will no longer be with us in the next 10 years.
 
“Management 1.0 at its core is a mash-up of military command structures that go back thousands of years layered with the discipline of industrial engineering, which goes back maybe 120 years,”
 
He argues that survivors will need to move to Management 2.0.
 
“…a reboot where Values & Transparency replace Rules & Hierarchy and Fear.”
 
If our management structures are not suited for a digital age, the same principle applies to some of our HR people management practices.  For example, our annual performance reviews and engagement surveys in a workforce full of freelancers; working 24 / 7 across the globe is suddenly looking very ‘Management 1.0’.
 
We can now provide employees with better technology to manage their teams more effectively, such as tools that provide real-time feedback on performance and goals.
 
In this new digital age, people management practices and HR operating models will also be revolutionised.   Josh Bersin argues that ‘People Management is replacing Talent Management.’  
 
“Talent scarcity is still a problem, but engagement, empowerment, and environment are now the real issues companies face.”
 
What does this all mean for HR Technology?
 
“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”
Peter Drucker
 
In his speech at HR Tech Europe in 2013, John Sumser took the historical perspective – he noted that we are at the end of the HR enterprise software era.  The HR Technology industry has done its job well, and provided automated solutions for most HR processes.   In some cases we have calcified these obsolete management and HR processes from the last century.
 
We see the benefits of the cloud, mobile, analytics, robotic process automation and collaboration tools.  The adoption of HR Software in the Cloud in combination with mobile technology is a catalyst for HR to empower managers to improve workforce productivity.  
 
There is a steady move to migrate HR systems from on premise to SaaS (Software as a Service).  Along with the required HR process standardisation; this technology will reduce the total HR transactional effort with less HR administration support required.  Savings can be reallocated to strategic goals such as developing talent, with learning solutions and collaboration tools.  The new systems also allow better data quality over time and enable us to move from descriptive analytics, to predictive and prescriptive analytics where we can predict not only ‘when’ an event might happen, but also ‘why’.  
 
So the way we deliver people management is changing, driven by workforce, new business models and technological innovation.  HR structures, organisation, policies and processes are also in need of a review to ensure they are fit for the future.  The CIPD recently curated a series of 10 articles from leading thinkers such as Josh Bersin, Dave Ulrich, Ed Lawler, Nick Holley and others, on ‘Changing HR Operating Models’, which is worth a read.   
 
What can you do to determine whether your Technology and HR Operating Model is Fit for the Future ?  
 
Start by asking the following questions:
• Do your current HR practices deliver your organisational goals now and in the future?
• What will your HR model (services, skills, organisation) look like in the next few years and will your HR technology support this?
• What tools and solutions does your changing workforce require to achieve their goals?
I believe we are indeed living in a time of  ‘Brilliant Technologies’, but don’t be dazzled by the glare!
 
What will I be looking for at HR Tech Europe?
 
I am looking forward to the insightful conversations and presentations at the HR Tech Europe conference and aim to find examples of organisations that have found more agile ways of supporting engagement and improving performance to report on.
 
I am also really interested in hearing about the journeys that organisations have gone on to adopting “Brilliant Technologies” and capture the lessons learned.
 
Get in touch and let me know what you discover @AndySpence and #HRTechEurope, and I will hopefully see you in London or Paris in 2015!
 
This post was orginally posted on the HR Tech Europe Blog as a guest post.
 
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HR Tech Europe 2013 – Big Data, Robots and Cycle Paths

 
Andy Spence discusses Future of HR with a Robot at HR Tech Europe 2013
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I have always found Amsterdam an inspiring place to be.   As you walk by the canals you experience the artistic and technological ambition of its residents with its rich history as the hub of a global trading empire.
 
The reason Amsterdam is still a thriving global hub in oil, diamonds, flowers and ideas is not because of its location or wealth but to it's engineering excellence and vision.  
 
Nearly one-third of the Netherlands is below sea level and prone to floods. In the 1950s, a series of dams, sluices, locks, dikes, levees and storm surge barriers were constructed to radically reduce the change of flooding. The American Society of Civil Engineers called it one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.
 
Just like the engineers who enabled Amsterdam to survive, and flourish, many delegates at the HR Technology Europe Conference have goals to provide the technology infrastructure required for their organisations to thrive.  They provide the right technology and tools in candidate selection, training, collaboration, productivity or basic workforce management.
 
The conference chatter and tweets was about psychopaths, psychos on cycle-paths (a hazard in Holland!), robots, the jargon of behavioural science, big data and predictions about the future of work.
 
Some facts and figures :-
 
• 1439 delegates attended
• 42 nations were represented
• 1 cute robot attended
• 8,245 tweets using hashtag  #HRTechEurope
82 tweets by myself plus 125 mentions – not bad as I was in listening mode this year – thanks to HRMarketer for the analysis
• 57%  of male vendors wore brown shoes (Thanks to @AndyHeadworth but you should always check your data source!).
 
Whether you were there or not, Download Presentations from HR Tech Europe 2013 and View some fantastic photos from Heather Bussing and others.
 
As I have written before, in Why HR Need to be Technology Champions, this is an exciting time to be working in HR, Technology and Org Development.  There are some important strategic choices to be made about the future of technology in our organisations.
 
Here are some themes for buyers and vendors of HR Technology that emerged for me in conferences sessions, conversations and tweets.
 
Its all about the strategy 
In Professor Costas Markides session, “Make your Strategy process democratic” he demonstrated why the first stage of the development of ideas needs to be democratic.
A question for HR Directors, is how widely did you cast your net for ideas into your HR Strategy ?
As Naomi Bloom outlined in her keynote,"Poirot's Order And Method: Making the business case for HR Technology" the starting point for any business case should be “what is the vision, metrics, value targets that matter?”
 
There is no point buying HR Systems that do not support the HR Strategy that in turn does not support your business strategy and goals.  Naomi in a later session also provided some useful historical context of HR systems and data requirements which have changed completely over the years. Put bluntly, the code and data structures that supported our organisations yesterday will not do so in the future.
 
The end of the HR enterprise software era
John Sumser took the historical perspective further in his session, "Re-engineering The Human Resources Function" in his view we are at the end of the HR enterprise software era, in terms of maturity.  The HR Technology industry has done its job well and provided automated solutions for most HR processes and in John’s view we should not expect much innovation at this phase.
 
However, very quickly we will move to a new exciting phase which will include integration of new data sets from outside HR from aggregate health care data, labour market data and actual work measures.  This really has the potential to transform workforce management, and provide competitive advantage to organisations who adopt early. Imagine the possibilities of predicting peaks and troughs in employee performance by merging HR and performance data with health indicators?  Of course there would be a few privacy concerns to iron out in this brave new world.
 
Talent minus Big Data = Unsubstantiated Rubbish
On the topic of data, there was lots of talk of Big Data, Nick Holley from Henley Business School gave a very interesting presentation on “Talent minus Big Data = Unsubstantiated Rubbish”  and also won the prize for best session title.  Nick gave good examples of using data analysis to solve business problems and told delegates that one of the most successful talent tactics is to identify and manage out the narcissists & psychopaths in your organisation.
 
Josh Bersin, in his session “The Datafication of HR” also demonstrated how HR Analytics could smash some organisational myths such as “people from top universities with good grades are high performers”.  Josh illustrated how HR has been evolving big data solutions for years and presented some great pointers in building this capability into your HR Operating Model.  We need to look at the current capabilities we have in HR and recruit people who are comfortable with data. 
 
One of the iHR Award 2013 finalists, MacroMicro, showcased a tool that sits on top of your HR data providing visualisations of your organisation (just don’t let the CEO get their hands on it until you have done a bit of data cleansing).
 
Visualising and playing with data is fun but this all needs to link back to your strategy, we need to start with the Business Problem we are trying to solve.
 
HR Technology Buyers are at a crossroads
‘61% of HR Professionals are changing their HR Technology in the next 18 months’ – with all the workforce and technology changes out there, there is understandably some hesitation in making long-term buying commitments.   In his presentation to industry analysts the day before the conference, Adel Al Saleh, the newish CEO at NGA HR (used to be Northgate Arinso)  gave his view that ”More HR Technology options has created inertia as organisations take time to review their technology and services landscape”.
 
I can understand why, and demonstrates why this is a good time to ask yourself, “Is your HR Operating Model Fit for the Future?”.
 
Congratulations to Appical who won the iHR Awards 2013 with a successful product and an innovative pitch.  They made the case for turning onboarding new employees into something much more fun with cutting-edge technology and social media.
 
The industry behemoth, Oracle, intends to continue to invest heavily in HR Solutions according to Mark Hurd at Oracle.  Mark also brought along his robot, Oscar, who is seen in deep conversation with myself about the future of HR.  After a couple of cocktails, Oscar confided that he planned to deliver a session next year on “The new field of Robotic Resources – RR”.
 
Finally, looking into my Google HR Glass (John Sumser predicted 10% of delegates will be wearing these at the Conference in 2014)  there will be lots of HR Tech contracts signed in 2014.  
 
I am looking forward to the HR Technology Europe Conference in 2014 and seeing how this group of  Workforce Visionaries will be building the technology infrastrucure for our future organisations to thrive.  And through my Google HR Glasses, I will also be watching out for less organisational psychopaths, psychos on the cycle paths and robots doing more HR and the odd keynote speech.

 

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Why HR Need to Be Technology Champions

This has to be the most interesting time to be working at the intersection of HR, organisation development and technology. 
 
There is a lot of buzz around technology as a driver for change in areas such as talent identification and development, or workforce productivity.  From working out which candidates are most likely to be our top future sales performers, to providing tools that enable a manager to monitor performance of a global project team.  At the same time we have massive changes in our workforce from the rise of the freelancer economy, to skills shortages and demand for 24 X 7 collaboration.
 
With this techno buzz comes heightened expectations on HR from shareholders, employees and the Executive.
 
HR technology solutions and HR strategy are intertwined, so that every HR Director needs to know the opportunities and challenges of new and emerging technology.  In 2010, Professor Ulrich said HR must master 6 competencies, including being a Technology Proponent.  In other words, HR needs to be a Technology Champion in our organisations.
 
Not necessarily understanding the nuts and bolts of configuration, but ensuring that the solutions will ultimately delivery our business goals and then successfully embed into the organisation.
 
With this in mind I am excited about attending the HR Technology Europe Conference in Amsterdam next week to see some of the technology solutions we will all be using in the next few years.
 
 
Now this may get the HR Technology Sales Teams excited, but not necessarily for HR Directors who do not want to go through the pain, and expense of divorcing their current HR Technology.    What we don’t want is – a lengthy courting process (i.e. sales pitches), where you show your colleagues the new 9 Box Talent Grid, only to realise that your HR Tech spouse is not quite what you signed up for.  For some large global projects, by the time the system is fully operational, the HR Strategy and HR Operating Model required to support it might have changed.  
 
We increasingly need to be looking at the HR Operating Model required to deliver our HR Strategy now and in the future.  A key part of that future HR Road Map is Technology.   So before you make technological changes, ask yourself – “Is your HR Operating Model fit for the future?”  
 
There is another very real reason why HR need to be Technology Champions – a staggering 68% of Technology Projects Fail.  However we define that failure, be it over budget, over time or outcomes not delivered, my belief is HR has valuable skills to prevent this failure.  HR has experience in change management, training, communications plus sourcing the right people to Avoid the HR Technology Bogeys  
 
Any technology that can give us predictable behavioural measures, can be a potentially powerful transformative tool. For example look at How Google Uses Data to Build a Better Worker.  However, for most organisations the reality is we do not have Google’s capabilities.  Research by Josh Bersin shows that only 14% of organisations have done any significant “statistical analysis” of employee data at all.
 
Let’s face it most of us struggle with the challenge of reconciling headcount data with Finance reporting! 
 
To make the most of ‘Big Data’, we need ‘Big Hypotheses’ from HR driven by our Business Goals.  Technology should not be about the art of the possible but the art of solving specific workforce problems.
 
….and talking of art….
 
For all those who like to combine cutting edge new technology with old Dutch Masters, another good reason for visiting Amsterdam is the reopening of The Rijksmuseum following a 10 year refurbishment programme, yes 10 years!  Hopefully your HR Data & Systems won’t need a ‘10 year refurb’ after this conference!
 
I will be blogging and tweeting as part of the Blog Squad at #HRTechEurope, so hopefully will see a few of you Amsterdam!   There are tickets still available with a special discounted rate for HR Transformers, so do get in touch for what promises to be an engaging event.
 
And follow @AndySpence and #HRTechEurope next week.
 

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Top HR Transformation Articles from October 2012

The HR Transformer Blog is back – we have been trawling the web to pull out the best HR Transformation related articles from October 2012.
 
There have been two big HR Technology Conferences either side of the Atlantic this month, filled with talk of ‘big mobile gamification in the data cloud’, or something similar.  After being initially dazzled for a moment, I rubbed my eyes and remembered, “It’s all about the People” and found some great articles on managing change.  I’ve taken a brief look at HR’s past and it’s future, finishing with some useful tips from HR Metrics to running your HR Shared Service centre like a Gordon Ramsay restaurant (but obviously without the expletives!).
 
Big mobile gamification in the data cloud  – and other disruptions at the HR Technology Conferences
The HR Technology Conferences in Chicago and Amsterdam made a big splash online. The jargon can get a bit confusing, so XpertHR have provided a very helpful guide for those who only dabble in HR Technology. The industry is buoyant after record conference turnouts, the successful Workday IPO and a flurry of takeovers including; SuccessFactors, Taleo and Kenexa. According to the press releases, new services in SaaS, mobile and big data will transform the way we manage people in organisations. The fact is many large scale HR Technology programmes do not always deliver intended goals. At a Technology Conference, funded by the technology companies – this is unlikely to be a theme with the speakers and bloggers.
 
Which begs the question, where are the unbiased, independent voices to support HR buyers of technology and services?
 
It is well known, that some analysts work for both the buyers and the vendors. According to an article by analyst, Mark Smith, Industry Exposé: Technology Vendors Skew Analysts and Influencers
“The dirty secret is that some of the largest technology vendors have forced industry analyst firms to contractually agree to the right to review, edit and approve any written research that references their name or products before it is published.”
 
With nearly two out of every three IT projects failing, I think there should be more focus on good governance, solid requirements and the people elements involved in change. See our article on How to avoid HR Technology Bogeys, inspired by the Ryder Cup.
 
“Nice interface, it even looks a bit like Facebook! Great, I can view on my phone. But how will this really help my organisation achieve its goals?”
 
Charlie Judy reminds us that “it ain’t a HR Strategy without technology” in a good post with some useful tips. HR Strategy should determine your HR Tech requirements, not the other way round, so don’t let the Tail wag the Dog.
 
A development I think will make a big impact is Salesforce’s entry into the market, with Work.com. If this sounds strange, read this excellent article by Appirio The Future of Work : Employees as Customers showing the parallels between HR and Marketing. I will be watching this develop with interest over the coming months.
 
For the visual thinkers, this caught my eye, HR technology on Pinterest from Deb Maher, spotted on #HRTech hashtag on Twitter.
 
Talking of Twitter, we have recently updated our lists of HR Transformers on Twitter for you to use, so let us know if we have missed anyone, and connect with me @AndySpence
 
People first
One of my mantras is that for technology investment to be worthwhile, we need to focus more on the people who will use it, these two articles on Change Management were clear and insightful.  Ten Reasons People Resist Change from a true teacher, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, and a golden oldie with some useful lessons, from Harvard Business Review – The Hard Side of Change Management.
 
HR Operating Models – Ulrich Model 2012
The evolution of HR operating models over the past two decades has been slow in some areas.  In the article, HR's Future Looks Strategic—or Does It?  University of Southern California professor Edward Lawler has tracked the amount of time HR managers spent on working as a strategic partner since 1995. He recently released the results of his latest research, from 2010, and found nothing has changed.

"When we ask them: 'What is their role in developing business strategy for their companies?' we're getting the same answers as we've always gotten," Lawler says.

Why is HR no less strategic than in 1995?

My view is the move to a simpler Ulrich model has generally aligned HR better to organisational goals, focused more on the customer, enabling economies of scale and economies of skill.  However the transition to this model has not always been successful and the interpretation of HR roles such as the Business Partner have not been wholly successful. 

Which leads me to an interesting article Has the Ulrich model narrowed HR career paths?   
 
My observation is that we have some great HR Specialists in Reward, Pensions, OD, Learning – however we are slowly losing those who have the big picture of the HR Strategy.  This is retained with those with more of a generalist background – currently in leadership positions, but I have concerns about succession when they retire. 
 
Another question for HR Operating models related to demographics,   in 2020, one third of workers will be over 50, so how will this impact HR?  We ask the question of the Impact of the Ageing Workforce on HR.
 
Ulrich’s original work on HR Operating Models was influenced by what was going on in other functions such as Finance and IT.  I was interested to read that there are similarities between HR and IT in the challenges the leaders face. (e.g. struggles for the CIO to become a true partner to their business  –  sound familiar?).  Time for the CIO to jump on the wave of change from Outsourcing Magazine.
 
Some other useful articles for HR Transformers
HR Shared Services: What works well for a restaurant could help HR Shared Services function. Simon Brown, writing in SSON, suggests Restaurant-style Service (Tier-0 and Tier-1) “Tier 0 – to ensure your menu is well laid out, easy to search, navigate and read.” Great article, but be careful with following Gordon Ramsay’s style too closely!
 
HR Metrics of Note: Revenue Per Employee VS. Profit Per Employee  A good example of using HR Metrics that matter, in this case to the investor community, who use Revenue per Employee to analyse retail giant Amazon. Who else could this come from but the HR Capitalist?
 
Powerpoint use and abuse – Few pieces of office software have simultaneously been so used and abused even causing ‘death by PowerPoint’. Find out about Cognitive Dissonance, Noise & Overload from Donald Clark.
 
The Top Social Tools For 21st-Century HR Humans, communication, work etc, makes HR the ideal spot from which to harness changes in work habits for the benefit of the company – good read from FastCompany.
 
And finally, Live language translation. Now this is a disruptive technology! Remember Babel Fish from Hitch hickers Guide the Galaxy.  I did a Masters in Cognitive Science in the mid-90s and some of these technologies are starting to emerge – very exciting developments indeed! Hat-tip to Graeme Codrington for this link on Twitter.
 
We hope you enjoy our latest HR Transformation articles, a big thank you to those who contribute with fresh ideas and suggestions to share with the HR community. Do keep in touch with any of your future articles and suggestions @AndySpence on Twitter.

 
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How to Avoid HR Technology Bogeys

It’s only a week after we were gripped by a great sporting comeback in the Ryder Cup in Medinah, Illinois and once again our focus is back in Chicago, this time for the HR Technology Conference and Expo, which starts on Monday 8thOctober.

There is talk of “disruption” in the way we manage the people in our organisations led by new tools and technologies. Plus there are exciting developments with HR in the cloud, Social in the Enterprise, Analytics (including Big Data) and of course, Mobile Technology.

The HR Technology industry is in ebullient mood after some big trophies have changed hands in the Wall Street clubhouses. These include :-

SAP purchasing Success Factors
Oracle buying Taleo
IBM procuring Kenexa
Plus of course, Workday launching its IPO

But back on the fairway, away from the conferences, the analysts, and the business press – implementing HR Technology successfully does have its challenges. Selecting the right technology platform with the right functionality is hard enough. Guessing where your business and your workforce will be in the next 5 years and then persuading your sceptical Line Managers that this will help them in their job is even harder. If in doubt, see how well you get on with this useful list of HR Technology Questions from Naomi Bloom.

But, for every perfect delivery there is a bogey.

It is all too easy to get bedazzled by exciting innovations and disruptions taking place, whether in the clouds or by ‘belly putters’. The fact that 68% of technology projects fail, because companies forget their ‘basic swing’ hitting a few unexpected Bogeys along the way! The good news is that HR have crucial skills to bring on the people side of the project that are so critical to success.  HR can lead projects with confidence, avoid the bunkers, and ultimately become Technology Champions. (see article on Why HR Need to be Technology Champions)

Although I can’t make the HR Technology Conference Expo this year, we here at Glass Bead Consulting, have played a few tough rounds over the years in the HR Transformation Cup. Here are some reflections from the HR Clubhouse we have come up with to help with your handicap and ensure project success.

1  Agree how decisions will be made during the technology implementation

So the first big decision went OK.  At the beauty parade, the software company wheeled in their best salesperson and your Finance Director and Technology Director were impressed enough with the pitch to go with your recommendation for Fusion/SAP/Workday/other. You didn’t really have to revert to your evaluation criteria and weightings, but they still gave the right answer. First job done – now comes the hard bit…

As you get into delivery, you will have to make a number of decisions along the classic project management triangle of ‘Time vs Scope vs Cost’. Often there will be competing demands on your budget, resistance in unplanned areas and resourcing conflicts. At this point the last thing you need is any delay, with 10 expensive Fusion/SAP/Workday consultants on the project, you’ve calculated their burn rate on the train to work (but didn’t tell anyone).

It is critical to spend time up front working through how decisions will be made on the project, who will make them and what the escalation path will be. Governance is key in any substantial project. Make sure a clear governance structure has been agreed up from the onset, and ensure there is a business sponsor to help iron out issues.  Decide who will be on your Governance Board and what their role will be.

When you get going, on occasions you will hit the ball into the rough, and will need to have some difficult conversations on scope, timings, budgets. You will want to remind everyone the terms they agreed at the beginning of the project.

2  It’s the People, Stupid

Start thinking about the change strategy right at the beginning. The Technology Account Manager will make the deployment sound so easy, if mentioned at all. However, think carefully about all your stakeholders, what they need from this change, what their concerns will be, start rehearsing your messages and arguments because you will need to start them soon.

In our experience, to develop an effective change strategy is a canny mix between the high-level, for example, ensuring the change is couched in your organisational goals, and the low-level, getting out a monthly project update, keeping the intranet portal up to date and so on.

Ensure that when you construct your budget and programme team, you have allocated enough resources to communications, change and training expertise – but you work in HR, so you know this right?

3  Agree the goals of the project

Then ‘tattoo’ them somewhere strategic, well at least get them printed on some nice mouse mats or put some posters up. There are many reasons to put in a new HR System and different stakeholders will have diverse drivers and see the benefits in different places. Irrespective if this is to deliver a transformational change in people management, consolidating different systems of records, or to enable employee self-service. Get consensus up front on the goals of the project, show how these goals links to your overall organisational strategy and your HR Strategy.

The new system is ultimately there to delivery HR goals and ultimately make the organisation more successful.

When you get into the project, a few shots will inevitably be hit in the bunker, and there will be crunchy decisions to make, but make sure you can revert to a compelling vision and goals for the project. Also ensure your sponsors agree with these and communicate them widely.

And finally, make sure that ‘the tattoo’ is temporary.

4  It’s still the People, Stupid  – Identify what skills you will require

The skills needed to run HR are not the same as those needed to transform HR. Review how you will get the skills and experience required in programme management, process design, technical skills, support knowledge, change management. Then work out when these will be needed and for how long those skills are needed. Do a skills audit and work out the gaps – but this should be easy as you run HR.

You will need to fill the gaps, identify all the team members, considered the progression of roles, procured any external contractors or consultants and developed training courses.

Remember, your project team capability has the biggest impact on success not necessarily the software.

5  Define your HR Operating Model and HR Processes

It is important to know what flavour of operating model your new technology will be supporting in the future. Will there be changes to what you expect Line Managers, your workforce, your HR Business Partners to do? What is the scope of the HR shared service centre and how much might be delivered by 3rd parties in the future? It is vital that your new system will support this.

At Glass Bead Consulting, we have developed a HR Process Inventory which details every HR service, and who should be doing what in the new operating model. We found this tool really helps our clients stick to what it really needed in terms of requirements. A HR Process Inventory helps flush out ownership and interface issues at a process level, before it becomes a problem for the System Design.

It is easy to forget that typically a new technology system might not deliver real benefits for many months or years, once you have completed an eye-watering amount of data cleansing and trained the Line Managers to use the technology correctly. Unfortunately, for large global projects, by the time the system is fully operational the HR Strategy, and HR Operating required to support it might have changed anyway.

By clearly articulating your HR Operating Model and HR Process Model you can reduce the risk that they system is not fit for the future.

Finally – don’t let the Tail wag the Dog. The biggest mistake of technology projects is to let the system lead the process you will be delivering to your customers!  Our firm belief is HR has valuable skills in Change Management, Training, Communications, sourcing the right people and resources to drive any projects, including IT system implementation. Increasingly, HR also need to be Technology Champions to avoid those expensive bogeys.

It would be great to let us know what you think, or share lessons learned, on the blog or #HRTechConf

Your loyal HR Transformation caddy,
@AndySpence

 

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