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HR, Still the “Ugly Step-Child” When it Comes to Technology

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the HRSSI Conference in Atlanta. The conference is a Human Resources (HR) Shared Services event for HR Executives and Jim Scully has done a nice job of marketing to that particular audience with content rich in information without the SALES pitch of other HR Shared Services shows.  It is appropriately named the HRSSI Shared Service Institute Executive Retreat. I came away from the HRSSI retreat with a few new friends and some valuable insight on current trends, challenges and what technology solutions are prevalent in HR Shared Services today. Many of the scheduled presenters had solid metrics that they were willing to share and discuss. I left with a burning question though…why are so many of Fortune Top 500 Companies forced to use their  IT Departments CRM solution/technology to manage the complex HR and employee interaction facing HR Shared Service organizations today? A logical person might surmise that better economies of scale can be achieved by piggy-backing on a previously paid for (IT) solution that has been somewhat customized to handle minimal HR requirements. And that may be true BUT what about the more complex or sensitive HR requirements needed for employee relations (ER) issues?  Perhaps, perhaps not if it doesn’t afford the organization full integrated HR case management functionality. Wouldn’t human resources be best served with a product that was developed specifically for HR with dynamic workflows and the ability to handle complex requirements within a confidential environment?

 

The companies that attended were for the most part all brands you and I are intimately familiar with and ranged from retail and manufacturing to high-tech B2B solution providers. In other words, they covered the map with regard to the types of organizations in attendance. As you might expect, they all used a variety of HRMS Systems everything from WorkDayPeopleSoft/Oracle, ADP, and SAP the list goes on and on. And yet, there seemed to be one common thread with many of the attendees, “we use XYZ for our case management because we’re forced to by the powers that be”. Hmmm.

 

I understand we had a market downturn in 2008 and have since been struggling to get back to  where we were but when I think of some of these brands, I don’t picture them working on the cheap. So why is this theme still proliferating today in organizations that spend millions of dollars on technology? And why does IT still worry about not owning the HR piece of the puzzle? And worse yet, why is Human Resources still taking it? I heard stories of “we put in a change request and are lucky if it’s included in the monthly product update”. How can that be the norm in today’s SaaS world, where configuration rules the world and your tools (rules, workflows, events, and notifications etc.) should adapt to the ever changing business needs of your HR Shared Service Center? Is it as simple as HR is still the ugly step-child? Or is it something more? I’d be interested in your take on it.

 

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