Agile talent management software – Your survival plan?

I read with interest this morning Dr John Sullivan’s article looking at how to survive in such turbulent economic times, his concept seems to be a play on the software development process Agile. To quote Wikipedia Agile software development is:

Agile software development refers to a group of software development methodologies based on iterative development, where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing cross-functional teams.

I am very interested in John’s views next week as he shows us some of the attributes he sees within an agile talent management strategy. In the meantime let me provide some of my own thoughts.

Last month I sat through a demonstration of a top end talent management system that ticked all of the boxes from a feature set, which as a buyer of software is important. However during the whole presentation I could not help but think “wow this would require a large structured project to implement in even the smallest of organisations”.  To start with a massive project would be required around defining competency frameworks, then career paths, development plans, capturing employee information, etc. Ongoing the process of ensuring performance management information is collected, development plans are kept up to date, compensation plans managed would overload many an HR department.

Most systems and their vendors today still follow something that closely resembles the waterfall model of software development. Again from Wikipedia:

The waterfall model is the most structured of the methods, stepping through requirements-capture, analysis, design, coding, and testing in a strict, pre-planned sequence. Progress is generally measured in terms of deliverable artifacts: requirement specifications, design documents, test plans, code reviews and the like.

Where as agile processes produce completely developed and tested features every few weeks. Today the consumer web is a very fast moving and dynamic environment that can change almost overnight, for example 18 months ago MySpace was the place to be, now it is Facebook. This has lead to most consumer focused web development teams, and some corporate, to use agile processes to quickly deliver new features to their customers. To this end a host of light weight tools have entered the market to help support these teams, for example Pivotal Tracker and Agile Zen.

Today most corporate IT environments are the exact opposite to agile. They have enormous governance models designed to stop “cowboy software development” and ensure that all stakeholders, including the board, internal customers, and in particular departments such as finance, have the necessary input into the decision making process. These governance processes have been required due to the complexity created within an organisation’s IT environment from years and years of short term planning and projects where only “phase one” has ever been deployed. Ok yes there are exceptions I admit, but ask the employees of most organisations what it is like working with their IT team and they will roll their eyes at you.

Enter Agile.

Just as Dr John Sullivan is suggesting you bring agile practices into your talent management strategies, how about you bring them into your software projects as well?

ATC Social Media Conference

We are coming to the end of the early bird discount period for the joint event between Inspecht and ATC Social Media: A Recruitment Revolution. while the early bird discount is good, register 2 or more delegates and you get an even better deal.

So why attend?

  1. Listen to Australian case studies from Ernst & Young and Atlassian
  2. Hear from Futurist Mark Pesce
  3. Participate in workshops on social recruiting strategies, digital branding and the use of social networking for sourcing
  4. Watch the debate between Stephen Collins and Jake Andrews, from SEEK, on “Do you need a job board when you have social networking?”
  5. Put forward your own ideas and thought in the World Cafe session
  6. Listen and interact with your peers in the special unconference session where you get to control the agenda

This event was inspired by the ERE Social Recruiting Summit so I caught up with Paul Jacobs from Tribe HQ a New Zealander who attended the event with me to find out why he trekked all the way from Wellington New Zealand to San Francisco. (These are definitely NOT Oscar winning performances but we had fun.)

Finally if you are a member of Recruitment 2.0 APAC you could win a free ticket to attend

PageUp People: Integrated Talent Management

What is Integrated Talent Management (ITM)?

Well that was the question posed at this morning’s breakfast briefing session run by PageUp People to launch their new white paper, “ITM – The Evolution”. Their answer:
Workforce
Credit: Lumaxart

ITM leverages the same data, process, workflow management, security model, user portals, and reporting and analytics tools across all applications.

My answer would be very similar.

The white paper quotes heavily from people such as Thomas Otter, Jim Holincheck, CedarCrestone and Leighanne Levensaler with PageUp People offering their own conclusions on the research which in turn lays out a product roadmap for the PageUp People platform.

Within the white paper reference is made to three stages of ITM evolution:

  • Stage 1 – Today, multiple vendors, disconnected systems, a lack of analytics, and limited executive buy-in.
  • Stage 2 – Reduced number of vendors as each widen the breadth and depth of their offerings, tighter integration, initial workforce analytics, and growing executive buy-in.
  • Stage 3 – The holy grail a fully integrated talent management platform with predictive analytics and high levels of executive buy-in.

What stood out to me was the strong emphasis being placed on workforce analytics, the topic for the rest of this post, as a key indicator of a stage 3 ITM environment.

For well over a decade workforce analytics have been discussed and predicted to come of age many times, and again we have a major talent management vendor still predicting that workforce analytics is in the future! So when will the future become today?

Over the years workforce analytics has been a keen interest of mine, in 2004 I co-presented on the topic and AHRI’s HR Week. During the presentation I referenced work conducted by the Butler Group in 1995 on the issues around data warehousing little things such as; Availability, Understanding, Accurate, Consistent and Predictability, and Privacy. I firmly believe many of these issues need to be resolved before any form of workforce analytics can be confidently undertaken by an organisation.

My co-presenter 5 years ago John Macy referenced work from the Meta Group in 2000 on the 5 categories of workforce information management, the top level being predictive modelling! John went on to discuss trends from the Meta Group, which had vendors incorporate contextual analysis into their products by 2005 and in 2006/7 Leading organisations will develop & fine tune predictive models. I guess the Meta Group was wrong!

Now back to talent management, last year Dr John Sullivan discussed why Talent Management Analytics is still failing, I added my two cents worth as well. Let’s look at Dr John’s list again:

  1. HR Skill deficiency
  2. Lack of business knowledge
  3. Expensive tools limiting deployment
  4. Lack of quality data
  5. Complicated nature of talent management
A system will not solve all the items on this list, other than item 3. This point was emphasised in the PageUp People white paper when they looked at the People and Process implications. A broader organisational change activity is required to succeed in a strategic context with workforce analytics.

Google Wave and the Enterprise

Google Wave

With a fair bit of fanfare on May 28th Google pre-released a brand new tool/suite/ concept/framework for collaboration called Google Wave. I am not going to cover all the technical details, you can see them over at http://wave.google.com. But you do need to understand that Google Wave is actually three things all in one package.

  • The Google Wave product (available as a developer preview) is the web application people will use to access and edit waves. It’s an HTML 5 app, built on Google Web Toolkit. It includes a rich text editor and other functions like desktop drag-and-drop (which, for example, lets you drag a set of photos right into a wave).
  • Google Wave can also be considered a platform with a rich set of open APIs that allow developers to embed waves in other web services, and to build new extensions that work inside waves.
  • The Google Wave protocol is the underlying format for storing and the means of sharing waves, and includes the “live” concurrency control, which allows edits to be reflected instantly across users and services. The protocol is designed for open federation, such that anyone’s Wave services can interoperate with each other and with the Google Wave service. To encourage adoption of the protocol, we intend to open source the code behind Google Wave.

Think of a wave as the combination of an email and instant messaging but on steroids! Google describes wave as being equal parts document and conversation, which sounds very strange, essentially it is a fully integrated collaborative communications framework. Technically the tool is amazing; for example real time edits of a wave appear on all participants’ screens immediately and the ability to “replay” edits of a wave to see how the wave developed. The only part missing from the wave product is a VOIP client, but given that Google has open sourced the core of wave and the extremely flexible API framework a smart engineer should be able to hook one up very quickly.

Within an enterprise Google Wave, or at least the concepts behind it, have the ability to revolutionise the way people work! The flexible streamlined approach to communication and collaboration is both amazing complex and simple at the same time.  For example:

  • Real-time foreign language translation allows everyone to easily collaborate naturally in their own language.
  • Real-time updates on waves allow teams to create documents wiki style at a rapid pace.
  • Changes that happen while you sleep can be replayed using the play back feature so you can see the context that trigger comments, suggests and ideas to be added to the Wave.
  • Drag and drop images, and in the future other media types, allows fast real time collaboration of prototypes and ideas.
  • The open API allows full integration of other products such as production schedules, or CRM tools.
  • The protocol allows you to federate with other organisations for collaborative purposes.

Now this revolution will not happen overnight given the massive investment organisations have made on Microsoft Exchange and Sharepoint over the last few years. So initially I would predict Google Wave being picked up by smaller organisations and freelancers who need to collaborate with different people on projects across multiple locations.

A word of caution given Google’s track record of letting services die off time will tell if Google Wave becomes the next Gmail or Google Base.

HR Technology Trends

The Future
Credit: Flickr dbilly

Last month Watson Wyatt released their 2009 HR Technology Trends Report. So I grabbed my credit card and laid down US$45 to get a copy so I could see what they had to say.

Some thoughts:

  • The report is very hard to compare with their 2007 HR Technology Trends Report as the format has changed.
  • Intranets are still the most favoured method of communicating with employees 72%, with newer technologies making an entrance such as social networking 13%, Blogs 11% and podcasts 6%.
  • Organisations are still use manual processes when it comes to some core areas of talent management; succession planning (53%), career development (48%) and workforce planning (55%).
  • However 56% of organisations are planning to increase their use of talent management technology over the next two years. With leveraging existing ERP’s being the primary approach, 29%, integrated talent management systems are next with 27%.
  • Across all talent management areas organisation have a higher satisfaction with external solutions than internally developed ones.
  • However internally developed systems have a higher satisfaction than outsourced solutions in the areas of Recruiting, Compensation Administration, Annual Pay & Bonus Delivery, Succession Planning, and Workforce Planning.

So what next?

  • Technology vendors who have best in class succession planning and workforce planning solutions have the potential for growth over the next two years as organisation move to automate these processes.
  • Outsource providers in compensation administration, succession planning and workforce planning need to clean up their act otherwise they may see business dropping off.
  • Emerging technologies will continue to grow in usage within organisations to streamline communications with employees.

Using Twitter for HR and Recruiting

If you had been watching my to do list for the last 18 months you would have seen an item sitting there and just not getting done. It was important but never urgent so never touched.

Write an introduction document on Twitter for HR and Recruiting. 

There have been lots of documents/posts/articles on the subject in the last 6 months and for a while I thought the world did not need another one. Well in the last 10 days I have decided different. So in the interests of my memebership in the Cult of Done, I present my document on Twitter for HR and Recruiting.

The document covers:

Can you do the #splits?

There are several interesting services taking shape on Twitter to help the recruitment industry; such as HashJobs, JobFeedr and now Splits.org.

Splits.org allows recruiters to share both jobs and candidates and splt the fees. Now Split networks are not new but this one is. Splits.org comes out of the new Recruiting Blogs Labs (does everyone have a lab these days?) and allows Twitter users to hashtag either jobs or candidates they are willing to do splits with.

The system works as follows:

  • Recruiters who are willing to do splits in general put out a Tweet using the hashtag #willdosplits
  • If you have candidates that you are willing to split with you reply to @have and use the hashtag #splits
  • If you have jobs reply to @need and use the hashtag #splits
  • A very simple search tool has been built at http://splits.org to allow you to search the data

Right now there are a few recruiters and job seekers in Australia testing the waters, some being @Mentaura, @robsmithxp and Emily_Wheeldon. I am not sure how the system can be “secured” from job seekers “spamming” the #splits hashtag with their own resume as if it takes off this will certainly happen.

Great idea, and starts to build the concept of semantic web into recruitment. Personally not sure it will scale but you never know and we need to experiment more to find ways of connecting candidates and recruiters.

Social Recruiting and Social Media ROI

It is said in business you measure what matters.

The same can be said for the implementation of social recruiting/social media. Basically its use is designed to positively impact your business. The only way to ensure that this is in fact the case is through clear and focused measurement.  Measurement also allows you to adjust your approach along the way. Spending too much time in one area without a positive return? Then measurement will help you understand how to make changes. Finally measurement is part of reputation management, as the only way to understand your online reputation is to measure what is being said, it’s also the only way to really manage your corporate brand online.

The measurement process does not need to be complex. However it does need to allow you to understand the impact on your business.

I also believe there is no right way of measuring the return on investment for use of social media in business. Why? Because the objectives for using social media are different. 

Lets look at Quantitative Measurement.

Quantitative measurement is required when you are looking to measure hard numbers such as increases in candidates or sales, site traffic, speed to hire, reduction in calls to your customer service staff. To measure the results you will require tools and services that provide you information on your program success.

As part of regular business operations you should have tools to measure your sales, time to hire etc but what about measuring your activities online and your reputation?

Here are a eleven free tools to get you started:

  1. Post Rank
  2. Post Rank is a free service that measures social engagement on online content produced in RSS feeds such as blog posts or news stories. This is done by measuring the type and frequency of your audience’s interaction with the content, for example bookmarking, commenting, blogging about the post.

  3. FeedBurner
  4. FeedBurner is an essential free RSS distribution service that provides detailed blog readership measurement and engagement metrics. Using FeedBurner you can measure the number of subscribers to your feed, gain an understanding as to which blog posts are popular and also measure users who have taken action based on your content.

  5. Google Analytics
  6. Google Analytics is another essential tool for any web site. Google Analytics provides sites traffic trends, search keywords, conversion measurements, time spent on your site and the number of pages viewed. Google Analytics provides a professional level of information for free in an easy to use and understand layout.

  7. Xinu
  8. Xinu measures the status of your site in several search engines and social media sites. It also provides some simple diagnostic tools to allow you to improve your site.

  9. WordPress Popularity Contest plugin
  10. If you are using WordPress as your blogging tool of choice installing the Popularity Contest plugin by Alex King is highly recommended. This plugin measures views, comment etc are tracked and provided point values to determine popularity.

  11. Google Alerts
  12. Are email and RSS updates of the latest Google results based on your specific watch list words or topics. You can subscribe to each alert through email and RSS. The alerts track blog posts, news articles, videos and even groups. Set a “comprehensive alert,” which will notify you of stories, as they happen, for your name, your topic, and even your company.

  13. Technorati
  14. A free blog search engine that amongst other things allows users to create custom watch lists of words of topics. When one of your terms appears Technorati will add it to your customer RSS feed for that watch list.

  15. Yahoo Pipes
  16. A free service from Yahoo that allows users to build very complex aggregation tools, called Pipes. The Pipes can be either kept private or shared publically. Yahoo Pipes is a very comprehensive tool, however I would not recommend it for someone without significant technical skills.

  17. TweetBeep
  18. A tool that reviews the content of public Twitter updates, Tweets, and based on your key words will send you an email either hourly or daily as people discuss your keyword. If your business is locally focused the alerts can also be restricted to specific locations so you do not get overloaded with irrelevant information.

  19. Social Mention
  20. A free search engine that aggregates information across many different user generated contact sites such as blogs, comments, photos, voting, tagging and micro-blogging. Users can subscribe to the watch lists by either RSS or email.

  21. BackType
  22. Most of the above tools do not allow you to see the comments left on sites that might mention your terms. This is where BackType can help. BackType allows you to receive updates whenever your terms are mentioned in a comment, once again subscribe via email or RSS. 

Another tip, all of these tools can be used to source candidates, plug in a keyword and “automagically” you get feeds of potential candidates. More on how to manage that information flow later.

Inspired in part by Jim Durbin’s post yesterday on Sodexo’s activities.

Update: Here are 3 more tools Radian6Techrigy, or Spiral 16 

Workplace policies for Social Media

There has been another little dust up over at Telstra, all due to a satirical Twitter account called Fake Stephen Conroy. (For international readers Stephen Conroy is the Federal Communications Minister.)

In summary Leslie Nassar Telstra employee had been running the account for a while providing hours of entertainment. A few days ago Leslie was outed (or he outed himself I am not sure) and this is when things got messy. It seems the left hand of Telstra did not know what the right hand was doing. The media got involved and things got messier.

But what I want to focus on is workplace policies for social media.

A few weeks ago Michael Park from Deacons law firm provided a fantastic overview at the HR Futures conference I have uploaded the presentation for all to view (with permission from Deacons and Michael of course).

Essentially you need to cover the 5 following areas:

  1. Provide rights for the participants and define their equitable treatment
  2. Protect the interests of all stakeholders, external and internal
  3. Define roles and responsibilities for implementation and operation
  4. Define integrity and ethical behaviours of participants
  5. Cover disclosure and transparency

With the 5 main messages for your policy depending on culture:

  1. Stop & Think
  2. Use your loaf
  3. You can always disclaim, but you cannot hide
  4. Keep it real
  5. Respect the channels

Want or need to learn more I have a half day workshop for organisations to help their HR departments come to terms with Web 2.0 and social media. Interested? Contact me for more details.

Four quick thoughts

I have been meaning to write an earth shattering post here for a while, but I guess that will have to wait a bit longer. In the meantime here are four quick thoughts to keep you going:

  1. Honesty in a resume is important even when your brackground is not the most attractive, Drug Smugglers Resume.
  2. Want to quickly monitor your personal brand? Here are three tools to help you get started.
  3. Work in a large company? Then follow David and Gareth on their quest for the perfect ERP.
  4. Finally when a mainstream consulting firm like McKinsey starts using hashtags to discuss Web 2.0 you know you need to get involved.