Generation Y

Over the last couple of days I have been listening to a 3 part series from CIO Live on Generation Y in the IT industry (1, 2, 3) based on interviews with Foster Frontier’s Stuart Guest-Smith, a good listen. The last episode touched on several issues organisations need to be addressed to attract Gen Y’s.

One of interest was Stuart’s view that given the relative short lengths of employment Gen Y tend to exhibit, compared to other generations, we need to reduce the cost of recruitment. Makes sense. This means sorting out the poor and time consuming recruitment practices which scares many Gen Y’s away. The trick is to ensure the organisation’s needs are meet, like hiring the right person, and at the same time trying to make the process attractive to the candidate.

One idea Stuart proposed was to replace the early phase formal interview with a coffee discussion between the manager and candidate. This allows both sides to explore the benefits of working together. This should not be an all too foreign idea for recruiters as it happens at the the very senior levels all the time.

WordCamp Melbourne

James Farmer, edublogs.org fame, is organising a WordCamp for Melbourne on Saturday 17th November.

He has secured a sponsor, Eight Black, who incidentally are support lots of activities down in Melbourne, so if you need any form of online marketing campaigns check them out! Got a venue WaterMark Bar, and a program that looks good.

The only thing we need now are a few more participants.

If you are in Melbourne and have anything to do with WordPress come along and join us.

Felt like blogging, but the feeling passed

It is interesting the change Twitter has made to my mindset on blogging. I basically I think of something, think can I express the idea or even a portion of the idea in 140 characters. If yes it goes to Twitter, otherwise I turn to the blog.  Once I get to the blog I find the whole medium difficult to come to terms with.

Not sure why, but blogging feels all formal now.

So many people seem to be focused on the With vs Because of blogging. It seems more people want to make money with blogging vs making money because of their blog.

Just a thought that didn’t fit in 140 characters.

(Oh also the fun of Facebook seems to be reducing, by 2008 there will be something else new.)

Free the internet

For the last few years I have wanted to setup a free community access point, but not been able to find the right way to do it. Earlier this week I read about Lachlan Hardy using Meraki Mini’s to do just that in Sydney and then his bold idea to do a bulk order for Sydneysiders. He has answered many questions on his blog, so check it out.

Basically you plug them in, quick config and then they operate as a mesh WiFi network allow both public and private access to the network. You get to limit overall bandwidth allocated to free users, ban users that abuse the system, but you cannot a download limit by users.

But the benefits are huge.

But consider this, the true benefits of a mesh network don’t lie in making a sexy little hardware system for your personal use. The benefits come when you convince your neighbours to do it too. And then you and they convince their neighbours. And before you know it, you have free wifi network access at that cafe on the corner or that park around the block with the cool bench. That’s just the start of the vision Mark Pesce was talking about at Web Directions. That’s just the start of everything that’s coming

Convince your friends. Convince your families. Buy them for friends’ birthdays. Talk to the folks in the local cafes, restaurants and community stores. Give one to your grandma. Tell the user groups you belong to

Check out their web site for more details.

I kind of missed his order but still want to do the same thing. So if you are in Melbourne and want one, drop me a line by 25 Oct and I will add you to my order. Each mini costs $US49, and if I get an order for 10+ we should be able to get the shipping down to a reasonable level, say $US12-15 per device vs $US30.

How important is user experience?

Very! Critical!

I have always believed that user experience is one of the most critical aspects to all products and services, include software. Which is why when I purchased my Gapingvoid cards a couple of weeks ago I picked this design.

A positive user experience makes not only initial deployment but also ongoing support of an application easier. In summary benefits of a positive user experience are:

  • Less training
  • Less resistance to using new tools
  • Less ongoing support
  • Happy users, managers, executives, support teams and project teams

As if we needed further that the user experience matters the CedarCrestone 2007–2008 HR Systems Survey, 10th Annual Edition found that organisations that took the time to improve end user experience actually had a higher operating income growth over ones that did not. Only 22.5% of survey respondents had specific plans to improve the user experience within their HR application environment. I suspect there is no direct link between the two but it further highlights that organisations who are thought leaders in their HR practices have higher revenues.

Bottom line user experience matters!

The new wild west is your Second Life

Keen observers will have noticed that Second Life is a growing phenomenon with lots of opportunities in all sort of areas. The initial inhabitants of Second Life are/were pornography and gambling, gambling has recently been baned. Recently (last 12 months or so) corporations have been trying things out in Second Life, conferences have been run and a general process of learning what can we do with this new world.

However like the early internet (say pre 1998) you need to be careful. Cam Reilly from The Podcast Network explains his recent experience with regard to land rentals.

About three weeks ago, I rented my first land in Second Life with the idea of experimenting to see how TPN could use it to spend more time with our community. I rented the land from an avatar called Rich Bulloch (who also apparently goes by the avatar Dog Fargis).

All was fairly good until:-

This morning I found out that Rich Bulloch, who was renting the land himself from a Gigs Taggart, is behind in HIS rent and as a result, I’m getting evicted from my island. Gigs claims he hasn’t heard from Rich is over a week and Rich is way behind on his rent. So Gigs is evicting us! We can rent the land ourselves from Rich but he wants US$114 a MONTH. Remember I’ve already paid Rich about US$150 for SIX MONTHS. That’s a pretty big rental rise and way more than I had budgeted for.

This highlights how unregulated Second Life really is and that people and organisations wanting to get involved need to do their homework. Cam admits he did not do too much research as he wanted to learn by doing, but how many other corporations can afford the same process?

Another example of how wild Second Life is, Australia’s government owned broadcaster ABC had their island was destroyed by hackers earlier in 2007.

Calendar synchronisation

Long time readers will know I have been searching for the ultimate calendar synchronisation system to keep my Corporate calendar, sync’d with my mobile device (now Palm Treo 750), with my Google Calendars (multiple). This has become more important now as one of the Google Calendars is being used to coordinate who is looking after our son since the separation.

Currently my Palm Treo is set up with Exchange synchronisation for all of my email, tasks, contacts and calendar items, when I connected via USB my Notes are also synchronised. During business hours things are keep update every 5 minutes, outside business hours once an hour. (A note to Microsoft why can’t I syncronise my Notes over the air like everything else, is this a factor of ActiveSync, Outlook, or Exchange?)

What I want is my second Google Calendar synchronised to my device, and then back into my Outlook.

I have previously tried ScheduleWorld and found issues with timezones, which is a big issue given all my work meetings are across multiple timezones. ScheduldWorld is also a bit over the top for what I needed, basically it wanted to become the hub for my calendar data, sorry that is my Treo.

Over the weekend I started testing out GooSync a complete “over the air” synchronisation service, I even paid the £19 for the full service option, but there is 30 Day money back deal. The installation was easy, my only issue was I screwed up the subscription purchase and seemed to have got my Visa card banned by some security service, this might not be such a bad thing!

Overall it is working nicely. I have been adding appointments in all 3 places and they are appearing correctly in the other locations! My only complaint is GooSync can’t do automated sync’s.

Hidden costs of software projects

Today I have been writing content about selection and implementation of HRIS systems. One area where I have spent a bit of time, probably too much, is around identifying costs and benefits.  Many for HR professionals the implementation of an HRIS is the first time they have been involved in a software project, and therefore are sometimes not aware of these things.

Software implementation projects tend to have many hidden costs that you need to ensure are captured as part of you business case, and managed during the project. Example hidden costs are:

  • Lost of productivity during implementation, such as re-training
  • Lost of productivity through poor user support
  • Opportunity cost of management
  • Pilot costs
  • Internal resources working on the project
  • Internal marketing costs
  • Change management
  • Data conversion/Data cleansing costs
  • Tech-“savyness” of HR
  • User support both technical and business issues
  • Ongoing software and hardware maintenance

Getting me to help you recruit

Using LinkedIn for recruiting is not a new idea, actually using any social network software for recruiting is not new either. But I wonder what the success rate is? I suspect low.

I have received lots of notes over the last few years from recruiters wanting to connect or looking for applicants, most I ignore.

Today is a little different as I received a note, not a connection request, from a recruiter that I am actually responding to.

Why? Because of the approach.

  • First it was targeted, they are looking for a “Director of Technology, Human Resources”, which was the subject line and immediately got my interest.
  • Second the first words were “Please excuse the intrusion”, an acknowledgment that they were taking time out of my day.
  • They went on to give a quick background of the job in 2 sentences, then stated why they contacted me, cause of my background essentially sucking up.
  • In the end an offer to send me the briefing document to forward to possible interested parties and then thanked me again for my time.

Personally I find that this approach works well both in email and over the phone, more than likely I will bite. The steps are simple:-

  1. Acknowledge that you are taking time out of my day
  2. Make it relevant, the more targeted the contact the higher the chance of success
  3. Flattery gets you everywhere
  4. Accept if I don’t reply it is that the contact is not relevant enough or I am just too busy

The opposite, trying to randomly connect in the network, a “hey can you help?” or “are you available?” note, just does not work.

Educating HR on metrics & technology

As I mentioned a few days ago I have been asked to help re-write a topic in AHRI’s Professional Diploma of HR looking at measuring and reporting on the effectiveness of HR and selection and implementation of HRIS systems. Over the last few days I have been re-reading lots of books and articles I have floating around to develop the content.

One of the first areas I have begun looking at is Return on Investment, or ROI. ROI is critical for both understanding the effectiveness of an HR organisation/program and critical to justifying expense on an HRIS system.

This lead me to dig out an old book of mine, “Third Wave Project Management” by Rob Thomsett, written in the early 1990’s much of the content is a bit dated but still a very good read. I was looking for references to Gane & Sarsen’s software development methods from the late 70’s. In the book Rob works through how to use Cost Avoidance, Improve Service and Increased Revenue to measure value when building business cases.

By the way Improving Service, which is what lots of HRIS business cases are built on, should always have a secondary benefit of  avoiding costs or increasing revenue.