Sustainability in HR

It’s not just about energy conservation

These days sustainability is usually about renewable energy but with Dovetail’s Employee Engagement Suite (EES) we also have a cool story about sustainability as it relates to HR service delivery. EES is our integrated suite of tools for managing HR service delivery and it includes an employee portal, case management, and knowledge management. All together, these tools help our customers achieve outstanding levels service to employees, year after year…in spite of rapid changes to their businesses. I realized this a while ago and it’s a subject I love to talk about with prospects and clients. The general idea is that beyond helping HR organizations achieve their immediate service goals, we are also leaving them in a position to remain agile and capable of real change and improvements over time. To continue delivering high value services for the long term, practically and affordably. The key point being that it is practical and affordable. It’s not that you couldn’t do it before, but the cost was usually in the stratosphere.

With Dovetail the value equation is much different.

I think most organizations buying a new enterprise app go into the project with an expectation that they’re going to (1) meet most of their business requirements (the reasonable ones) and then, (2) have some long term overhead costs for keeping the application as current and relevant as needs change (maintenance). The reality is that overhead costs and complexity often turn out to be much greater than expected, which forces compromises. I’ve witnessed a range of outcomes from blown budgets to users of the system just letting it die a slow death, becoming less and less relevant and valuable to the operation as time passes. Generally speaking, most systems fall somewhere in the middle with long change cycles and elaborate workarounds the business must suffer through in order to get work done.

With the EES value equation, long term maintenance costs are much smaller and more predictable. HR organizations no longer have to wait for outside agencies to make changes to the system because they can do it themselves, usually quite quickly by non-technical staff. Plus Dovetail routinely delivers new functionality through our automated updates. This is the real deal…true SaaS, where customers no longer have to worry about managing upgrades or waiting on IT to do them. And all the tailoring is done through in-app configurations. There are no customizations that can become unwieldy, fragile and expensive to maintain. The result is that your organization can unleash their Continuous Improvement efforts and really start to drive forward in delivering meaningful and timely value to the business in a sustainable way.

So how do we do it?

It’s easiest to break it into two areas. There is what Dovetail does in managing the “back end” system and there is what customers can do in tailoring the setup to meet their operational needs on the “front end”.

Back End – The DEES Architecture

Out of the gate the system had to be reliable, fast, secure, scalable. Those are musts for any new SaaS application and we got it done. But we also invested heavily in making sure the architecture would allow us to make enhancements quickly, with minimal service disruptions. This has been a game changer for our customers who are now getting valuable new features on a regular basis and they no longer have to worry about doing their own upgrades or whether they’re falling behind on upgrades.

Front End – Configuration vs. Customization

Another key design idea for the system was to maximize flexibility in how EES is configured to specific customer needs.  In the years prior to creating it we built up extensive experience working with large scale CRM systems that could be customized practically without limit. We saw first hand the value these fine tuned applications could bring to companies who chose to do it and we knew this was important. But that capability needed to be achieved without giving up on upgradability and scalability.  So we invested heavily in the in-app configuration capabilities for EES to a point where, for all practical purposes, it is just as capable as some of the most customizable systems available. Configurations of the system can be created and managed by non-technical staff and they are not affected by the upgrades Dovetail does. So you never have to worry about your setup breaking after an upgrade.

Wrapping up

The regular addition of new functionality via Dovetail’s regular and non-disruptive upgrades combined with your ability to make your own configuration changes whenever you want are why the value equation with EES is so much different than with other enterprise apps. HR organizations who run EES are using the opportunity to ramp up their CI programs and dramatically expand the services they to offer their employees as well as to strategy meetings in the board room.

One Last Thing – Environmental Sustainability

Our infrastructure partner for all EES systems is Amazon Web Services who is hard at work in achieving their goal of 100% renewable power for all AWS data centers. There is a great article about their program and its status at With Dovetail EES you can feel good about doing your part for the environment while also taking your HR department to new operational heights.



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