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H.R. Information Services, PeopleSoft and all that . . . .
How Technology is Changing Human Resources Management

Contributed by: DuMonde Solutions, Inc.

 

WHERE TO START

One effective approach, whether you are considering selecting and implementing a new Human Resources Management System (HRMS), are in the process of doing so, or have just completed an implementation is to conduct a project assessment or audit. Depending on your organization’s circumstances, this can take various forms and may require a higher level or more in-depth view, but the most important aspect is that the process can provide you invaluable knowledge and assist you with leveraging your investment. This approach provides you with the ability to be more effective with your HRMS implementation projects and assists you with planning your project, determining if you are on time and on budget, or to ensure that you have maximized your current HRMS configuration and functionality, and are positioned to deliver enhancements to your user community.

The goal of an assessment is to provide your organization with a short to mid-range (12 through 36 month) road map to identify where you are and where you are going, and the associated costs (or guidelines about how to determine the associated costs). An assessment generally starts at the top of the organization and works it’s way down to resources who actually use or are planning to use the HRMS. Depending on an organization’s unique circumstances an assessment may include:

  • Identifying an organization’s current Mission, Values and Business Drivers

  • Documenting any anticipated changes to the above including growth (through hiring or acquisition/merger) or reduction in force

  • Understanding Human Resources’ role in an organization’s Mission, Values and Business Drivers and any anticipated changes

  • Considering the current HRMS’s ability to address or meet the above and any anticipated changes

  • Conducting a business and technical inventory of current HRMS systems and interfaces

  • Identifying a technical inventory of environments, platforms, server capabilities, etc.

  • Assisting with determining the interdependence of operating systems and application software upgrades

  • Evaluating databases, applications and interfaces

  • Recommending solutions that leverage current HRMS and enhancement technologies

  • Proposing new approaches, applications, systems and / or technologies

  • Recommending specific improvements based on a configuration audit

  • Identifying opportunities for business process improvements

  • Analyzing the ability to extract data (reporting) from applications and recommending changes, where applicable

  • Helping determine organizational readiness to upgrade from a business and technical perspective

  • Identifying what resources are available to support any recommended changes

  • Determining a desired time line and phasing of any recommended changes

  • Assisting with identifying what funding, if any, is required to accomplish the objectives

With the documented assessment at the appropriate level of depth, it is easy to layout a road map and for you to have the ability to see what is required to best meet your objectives.

RECENT TRENDS IN HRMS / ERP

Some recent trends in the HRMS literature that have been confirmed by our recent work with clients, is a potential key to understanding the current capabilities of your HRMSs and considerations for the future.

Human Resources as a Strategic Business Partner

Over the last several years there has been an increase in the HRMS literature that refers to Human Resources as a “Strategic Business Partner” rather than a monitoring and tracking organization. In the 1980s and even into the early 1990s, often times HRMSs were used primarily to feed demographic data to payroll and to accomplish compliance reporting. In the 1990s and into the 00s, we have seen that Human Resources is increasingly becoming a more strategic business partner - assisting senior and mid-level managers by providing critical data on which to make business decisions. With the high cost of benefits alone, having quality data from which to make business decisions is critical. Another area that receives a significant amount of press, in general, is mergers & acquisitions. Quality Human Resources data is critical to strategic planning in this area. As many of us are aware, it is no longer business as usual with international workforces and e-commerce adding yet other factors that may significantly impact Human Resources’ ability to provide strategic support.

International Workforces

As the world is becoming smaller and corporations and workforces are becoming more multi-national, Human Resources often struggles with managing data relative to in-country nationals, United States ex-patriots, other country ex-patriots, and matrixed headcount reporting across organizations and national boundaries. Meeting these business requirements is taking place concurrently with HRMS applications becoming more complex from both processing and reporting perspectives. Your HRMS and enhancement technologies (e.g., intranet self-service and manager self-service web applications) can assist you with managing your international work force by crossing borders, meridians, and organizational structures. Some of the recent relevant applications we have worked on include international recruiting in multiple languages, and salary administration that takes into account multiple currencies, e.g. an ex-patriot’s home currency for salary and country-deployed currency for bonuses.

Web Enablement

In general, there is a significant amount of news about e-commerce and web-enablement and the HRMS literature parallels it. However, there seems to be a misconception that to web-enable your HRMS, it needs to be on client / server or some other 1990s technology. Whether you have what was a cutting edge system in 1976, e.g. an internally developed mainframe HRMS, or a bleeding edge technologically sophisticated HRMS launched in the 00s, you do have the ability to change your presentation to your user community through a new GUI (graphical user interface) via the use of web enabled technology. In general, the back-end of a Human Resources’ web enabled application is a database, whether it is on an IBM Mainframe, a mid-range platform like AS400 or client / server applications installed on Oracle. You can make your 1976 - 1990s HRMS look like new technology to your customers. In addition, we are starting to see more push technology - pushing data out, rather than pulling it in - through the deployment of self-service applications. For example, compensation and performance appraisal data as well as standard reports are being pushed to a manager’s portal.

Custom Development / Customer Service

Parallel to web-enablement of employee and manager self-service applications, which is one way for Human Resources to add value to an organization, we are seeing a real focus on customer service as Human Resources becomes an increasingly effective strategic business partner. The wave in the late 1990s toward packaged implementations and using the “best of breed” application software to standardize and define business processes is giving way to more custom development to meet increasingly complex business requirements and to deliver better customer service. In our recent experience, this is often reflected in employee self-service applications such as online pay advice information and benefits statements as well as online benefits enrollment and modeling.

Database Integration

In the 1990s PeopleSoft HRMS was often selected as a best of breed HRMS over Oracle, SAP and J.D. Edwards and other similar packaged software. For those organizations that were early adopters of HRMS client / server technology, we see that PeopleSoft and other similar packaged applications are starting to become legacy (old) systems. We are seeing a re-thinking in selecting best of breed over integration with other organization-standard software (financials, distribution, manufacturing), and some movement toward integrated solutions, even if it involves giving up some HRMS functionality. It is assumed that this has to do with Information Technology areas rethinking the cost of maintenance now that Y2K issues are more-or-less resolved. There seems to be a reallocation of resources towards web development and a desire to standardize on supporting fewer applications.

New HRMS

We are thinking of implementing a new HRMS and don’t have the qualified resources to know which direction to go. We wonder if it is better to be a late adopter of well-proven technology such as client / server or to look at a more web enabled application.

Based on various factors, some think that the heyday of client / server and PeopleSoft has come and gone, and the wave of the future is web-based applications. While the statement appears to be true, it may not be necessary to implement a new HRMS to leverage new technology. Regardless of your current HRMS, the solution is generally driven by database architecture regardless of the GUI presented to your clients be they employees, managers, business partners, vendors, or others. You may not need a new HRMS to leverage web-based technology, but instead may be able to leverage your current HRMS by integrating older and newer technologies to meet your business goals and objectives.

Leverage HRMS Investment

We implemented a new HRMS to survive Y2K and are now wondering how to leverage our investment. We have so many business requirements that have not been addressed and are unsure of the approach to take at this time.

Many organizations took the most cost-effective and expedient route, by implementing the basic functionality of PeopleSoft HRMS or similar packaged software applications with the idea of deploying additional functionality in phase 2. Your organization is not alone if phase 2 never came to fruition due to various factors including lack of resources or knowledgeable resources, employee turnover, or other business priorities. Often, deploying additional complimentary technology was slated for phase 3 in HRMS implementations. It is likely that if phase 2 did not come to fruition that phase 3 may not even be on the radar screen. Unless you are planning to implement another primary HRMS soon, it is not too late to determine the current business priorities and how your HRMS can be leveraged incrementally to meet your business goals and objectives.

Mitigate Expectations

We implemented a new HRMS, but it has not lived up to our expectations relative to reducing headcount, increasing functionality, decreasing processing time, deploying employee-self service, and supporting our internal and external customers. We are not sure what approach to take to meet our objectives.

Generally, there are disappointments with every software application implementation. Contributing factors may include a lack of proper configuration, effective education and communication, proper rollout, initial training or training relative to employee turnover. Sometimes all the functionality desired could not be deployed such as self-service. Often the business and even technical functionality is present and simply needs to be implemented and deployed based on current business priorities. Again, as in the case above, it is not too late to assess the situation and determine how to effectively leverage or integrate your current HRMS to meet your business goals and objectives.

Inability to Report

We put data into our HRMS, but getting data out is difficult and the results are not always reliable which makes our corporate reporting questionable, at best, and are trying to figure out how to improve the situation.

In addition to compliance issues, for most organizations there are a significant number of drivers that make the data contained in a HRMS and other related applications critical to the business. Some of these include monitoring and reporting of compliance-related issues, managing headcount, determining the cost of benefits, paying employees accurately and on time. They may also include monitoring such things as health & safety or assisting with succession planning, or determining resource skill sets and deployment to specific project-based areas. Most important are the strategic decisions that are made based on HRMS data. There are several potential solutions to address getting data out of a system including additional in-depth training on reporting tools, implementing additional and more robust reporting tools, or establishing a data mart or warehouse. Other considerations in this area my include information or report distribution.

Obviously, depending on your organization’s circumstances, there is no one right answer or solution. There are many ways to leverage whatever HRMS applications and related technology you have in place.


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