More articles on software success

An interesting article appeared today on Computerworld about the success of the Department of Defence’s PeopleSoft implementation. I feel it is great to see HR/Payroll implementations making the mainstream IT press, however items that are more positive would be nice. This one along with review on the Federal Government’s success both seem to leave me feeling that things are fairly bleak. However if I do a search on Computerworld about the DOD it seems this is just one of many items the press are digging into.

There seem to be many stories of success to be found when looking in the HR press, I hope the mainstream IT press might find these as well.

Fired for blogging?

I read Jeremy Zawodny’s blog for several reasons, none of which typically has to do with HR or HR software or even the usage of technology within HR so I was interested to find his entry on someone being fired for blogging. I followed his links to read the story from the lady in question. Overall an interesting situation, I am sure it is not the first and will also not be the last. Although it has had me think, what I have written…..

I wrote briefly about this in July when talking about blogs in business although I did not go into the details of firing an employee because of what they wrote. People are fired for releasing confidential information all of the time, the issue now is that blogs make it very easy for someone to put their thoughts and opinions online for millions to read. The entry is then indexed and cached by search engines like Google and remain in the public domain for a very long time. Unlike the casual conversation at a BBQ on the weekend.

I guess the issue needs to be addressed by a more comprehensive Internet/Electronic communication policy. Most organisations have something, but how long did it take to develop? I remember the topic was very big in 1999/2000 and I even heard it discussed in 2002, several years after mainstream usage of the Internet at work begun. Hopefully organisations can move a little quicker this time.

Single Sign On (SSO)

I published in July a listing of trends from 2001, here is my first recap.

This trend is certainly becoming reality, and is the most requested feature from our HR clients and the most miss understood. We all know the pain it is to remember multiple passwords, and we have all probably forgotten our far share as well. There are numerous methods to try and combat this problem some people standardise on a single password for all systems, others write them down, some just forget them we all have our own methods. The promise of SSO is that once you have entered your password once you no longer need to enter them again.

There are several approaches that we have taken with clients depending on their IT infrastructure. The first and probably simplest is to try and enable password syncronisation between our system and another, however this does require the systems to either store passwords in plain text (not recommended) or employ the same encryption mechanisms for password comparison not always possible.

The next would be to have, what I call, true SSO, where once the user has entered their password for the computer/network then they have access to the HR systems in the same manner as the user does with Outlook. The down side of this is there is no, explicit authentication on our application. This type of arrangement can be acehvied easily when working in an environment with Windows servers, such as NT, 2000 or 2003. Due to the lack of explicit authentication most clients do not like this approach, understandably.

The third method that is used is via LDAP. LDAP or Lightweight Directory Access Protocol which while allowing us to authenticate the password also provides numerous other features and benefits for organisations. The down side of LDAP is we still need to store the relationship between an employee id/payroll no and the user id used within the organisation. Many times this has not been established and the implementation of a Portal or Employee Self Service application is the catalyst within the organisation. As part of the implementation someone needs to own the relationship between the data elements, the question is should it be HR or IT? In reality it does not matter as long as the relationship is established, and maintained in a timely fashion.

In an early draft of the Cedar/AHRI HR technology survey I was lucky enough to review (no more info, you will have to wait for the survey) also highlighted that this is still a big area of growth and interest.

Workforce analytics (WFA)

This is a follow up post from before HR Week. The results and benefits of a WFA project are directly related to the quality of the data that you have. You can have the sexist technology and the biggest servers, most number of metrics, but without good quality data you will fail.

WFA is not new, it has been around for over 20 years under different names. Ever since the first HR/Payroll system was deployed people have been trying to extract value from their data. I find the whole hype around WFA very worrying, most organisations are still struggling to use the systems they have purchased effectively, and now we (as I am part of the software industry) want people to purchase more.

WFA has been called many things, DSS, EIS and data warehousing. All slightly different but at a high level related. There is a wonderful quote from the Butler Group which I feel sums up everything “The data warehouse can only be of benefit if the data in it is converted into information”. The marketing hype seems to miss this point. Another fact missed is most organisations do not have one single system, and in fact with the growth in ASP’s an organisation’s data is spread even further. Therefore there is an initial activity to get all of your data into a common data standard before you can report on it.

I would be interested in any thoughts from others on this subject.

A random thought

Well another random thought. I think I might remove the HR side of this blog as I seem to post about lots of other things. Maybe more thought is required. I am currently sitting in Qantas Club at Melbourne Airport waiting for my flight home. Strangely I have been trying to book my next trip (NZ) using the Qantas web site and it is down. They have a very nice message telling me that I could call to book, but I will wait.

Talking of Qantas on Thursday night I went to a Market Research session which happened to be about Qantas, they wanted to know what we thought of Qantas. We spent 2 hours looking at pictures trying to determine which picture looked most like Qantas and which looked like Virgin Blue. Basically we determined that Qantas looked like and Virgin looked like. This fact now really concerns me, because I am sitting in the Qantas club and most people do look like little Johnny. What does it say about me? Further feedback to the researcher was basically that Qantas needed to undertake a massive cultural change within it’s organisation (ahh an HR topic finally), the researcher was not prepared for this and kind of statement that it was all too big. However, during my current trip I have observed the people who work for Qantas and their attitudes, most seem to not to want to be at work.

Further thinking has lead me to 100% agree with our feedback on Thursday a massive program of cultural change is required at Qantas. I can only hope my colleague from Nortel Kevin Brown can pull it off without getting caught up in too many other issues. Well it seems the web site is back up so I am off to book my flight.

Whale’s in Sydney Harbour

Ok, this post has nothing to do with HR or technology.

I have just spent the last 5 minutes whale watching from my office at King Street Wharf! For those of you who do not know where King Street Wharf is, it is opposite the Maritime Museum, near the Aquarium.

There were 2 whales having a swim just outside. They stopped our little piece of the harbour for about 15 minutes while they slowly left. I tried to get some pictures with my phone but they really did not come out that well.

HR Week wrap up

Yesterday I spent several hours of my day at The Westin in Sydney at HR Week, we started late due to Sydney’s rail network (again).

The Boral presentation had a couple of learning points for me. The first was that they did not implement call logging and call centre type technology on their phones. Maybe it is just me but this should be a MUST HAVE piece of infrastructure when deploying a service centre in a large organisation. A positive learning, that they have found more success in hiring call centre people and then training them in HR/Payroll than the other way around. However the biggest surprise was their approach to Employee Self Service. It was seen as a secondary aspect and almost 4 years after the project began, 2 years from the first payroll going live employees still can only apply for leave online. While this is a significant step in payroll reduction there are far more benefits that can be realised. To their credit they are looking at the roll out as a secondary project, and depending on the culture of the organisation this might be the right way.

This is very much unlike EmployeeConnect’s approach (yes this is a small sales pitch, but I promise it is only small) and my personal belief of Employee Centric HRIS. Focusing on the end objective up front reduces the overall cost of implementation, in contrast to running two seperate projects focused on two different customers and objectives.

HR Week

Welcome all to HR Week, I hope everyone gets a chance to attend a session.

Over the last several days I have been preparing for my part of the HRIS SIG’s session on Workforce Analytics. I will be sharing the stage with John Macy and Linda Cameron to discuss the different aspects of WFA both locally and internationally. My section is in the implementation and the major issues that an organisation might encounter during their WFA project. One of the interesting apects that I have focused on is the history of WFA, looking back to the 1980’s when is was called DSS and EIS. Unfortunately time is not going to permit me to cover all of the details, I might post some notes here after the session.

HR Week in Sydney is being held at the Westin the same location as last year.