At Dovetail, we are very often asked to consult with clients who are building their HR Shared Services team. In many cases, this will include an HR helpdesk function and human resources case management software. This usually includes human resource reporting and human resources analytics, as well as physical and functional setup. While my focus with the team is usually on the HR reporting side, there are a few lessons we’ve learned when it comes to HR service delivery that apply almost universally.
First, make sure you have the right people on the team. There is a myth that if your system is built correctly, you can staff your HR help desk team with entry level call center employees, and they need no experience with HR case management software or functionality. The truth is while our software may make the onboarding time shorter, having knowledge of your organization and culture are essential components of building an effective human resources help desk. We’ve all had the experience of calling a utilities or credit card company, only to encounter call center operators with no more knowledge than their system gives them. Having a human resources service delivery team that is new to the organization leaves you at risk for providing an equally poor experience. The difference is that when you employees are frustrated, they can be more costly to you than a disgruntled customer. Even with a great HR knowledge base at their disposal, you need to make sure your team has been exposed to your HR practices and your company culture. Your decisions should be supported by a great HR case management system, of course, that is built for the needs of the HR helpdesk function.
Second, take the time to include the right human resources metrics from day one. We quite often are handed report options with simplistic measures that mean nothing on their own, like headcount and turnover. Important, but not actionable. Meaningful HR metrics can be established, but are complex and require time and effort to build. Not having access to the report builder leaves you at the mercy of your IT partners to get around to your data needs. Your HR shared services software platform, whatever it is, MUST include a reporting engine and allow you to build and configure your own HR metrics. Otherwise, you risk flying blind or, even worse, reporting the wrong metrics and not being able to change them as needed. That can drive the wrong behavior and be worse for your operation long term. If your HR shared services team is left to the mercy of IT for reporting, you’ll always be in danger of seeing the wrong information or, worse, being unable to react to changes in the business requirements.
Third, think long and hard about what tasks your HR shared services team will take over, both short and long term. Just as in building a project pipeline, it is important to think about getting quick wins for momentum, short term gains for credibility and long term gains for sustainment. Have a 3, 6 and 12 month plan for building up your services portfolio, including the HR metrics and HR reporting that will support the work. Planning ahead and being ready for growth from day one will go a long way toward making your HR service delivery team a viable career path, as well as providing your employees with the best possible experience. That means building on a system that allows you complete control over configuration, that eliminates customization and the need for workflow to be built by your vendor or special functionality that may not be fully supported long term. If your HR case management software doesn’t offer you complete control, you’ll probably regret it sooner rather than later.