HR Technology Landscape

eliminate_the_paper_messI have been thinking a lot about how complex the overall HR technology landscape has become in the last five years.

Traditional time and attendance vendors now do all things (Kronos), applicant tracking vendors now do performance management (take your pick of vendors), learning management vendors now do compensation (Plateau ) and competitors are now the same organisation (Micropay and WageEasy ). This doesn’t even start to look at the large ERP’s trying to play in the 50 – 100 person marketplace!

It is not difficult for an organisation with 1,000 plus employees in Australia to still have a maze of systems and dataflows, check out this example I pulled together today. Yes the flows miss performance and development data but I ran out of room and time to clearly demonstrate. Nor I am saying that every organisation is like this, or heavens forbid that this is any target architecture! More that if you were to sit down with the HR and Payroll team in many midsized organisations in Australia you would end up with a maze of some sort. Very few have a clean architecture.

So it is not surprising when we start to ask questions about workforce analytics, integrated talent planning, sources of hire etc a majority of HR departments just roll their eyes. They have no way of knowing how to get this data!

Some questions I ask clients to begin clarifying just how big a mess they are in are:

  • What is your master data strategy?
  • What are your data standards with regard to people data?
  • Which system(s) is the source of truth?
  • How to communicate data with external providers?
  • How many different vendor’s tools do you have?

The answers are usually not surprising, but they are not good either.

However the challenge is not just to purchase a system that provides a nice integrated framework. That bit is easy! The hard part is part data conversion, cultural change, process re-engineering and IT development.

To get a master data strategy you need everyone to agree on data standards and ownership, only then can one begin to assess the conversion/cleansing/migration effort to get to the new world.

To reduce the data flows you need to have a clear picture of who is using your data, and now just officially using it. How many spreadsheets are manually loaded into other systems? How many IT developed interfaces exist to manipulate and represent your data to email, finance, facilities management systems? Who’s data fiefdoms are you going to destroy in the process? How many forms need to be changed? How many processes need stream lining and upgrading?

It is never as simple as just installing a new payroll or talent management system.

(Please if you are a vendor do not comment to say oh we can solve these issues, this is not the point of the post. However feel free to add to the discussion. Thanks.)

Workforce Analytics: Following the employees

I ran across an interesting post from the LinkedIn blog, via Steve Barham from LinkedIn, entitled Where did all the people go from the collapsed financial institutions?. The post was looking at the flow of employees between five major financial services companies:

  • Barclays
  • Credit Suisse
  • Citigroup
  • Bank Of America
  • JP Morgan Chase

LinkedIn Data - Financial Fallout Graphic

This image shows the amazing amount of data that is available from LinkedIn both via public searches and as a premium paying member, to quote the post:

To be specific, other than two acquiring companies (Bank of America acquired Merrill Lynch and Nomura acquired Lehman Brothers’ franchise in the Asia Pacific region), Barclays was by far the biggest beneficiary, scooping up 10% of the laid off talent, followed by Credit Suisse at 1.5% and Citigroup at 1.1 %.

While an interesting look at talent movement it got me thinking.

A couple of questions came to mind:

  1. Do you use external talent movement data in your workforce planning/sourcing strategy planning?
  2. Does your workforce analytics program allow you the same sort of analysis?

I would suspect most companies would answer No to both questions. The cynical might also ask why would you want this information. So let’s look at a couple of examples:

Example 1: Your organisation is experiencing rapid growth in one particular area of the business, so you need to recruit more employees. Access this information would allow you to target the “usual suspects” for new talent but you could also look to see if there had been a major exodus to other organisations that may not be on your “usual suspects” list. These organisations may not be prepared for an all out assault on their talent.

Example 2: Can you produce graphs that show where each division of your organisation is getting is best performing employees, covering both internal and external movements? Not a purely LinkedIn example but highlighting similar talent flows.

A final note there is no reason why your HR/Payroll/ERP/People Management/Whatever System should not be launching these sorts of features. For example LinkedIn opened its API up to developers almost 6 months ago.

10 things to do in 2010

While we are still in the first few weeks of the new year I through it would be good to look at come of the things you should focus on during 2010 to.

In no particular order here is my list of 10 things to do in 2010:

  1. Have an HR/Talent Management/Recruiting application blueprint
  2. The IT environment in many organisations is complex and needs constant management, even in the smallest of organisations. To help with managing the complexity ensure you have a strategy/roadmap/blueprint to follow.

  3. Learn about Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  4. It seems finally organisations are starting to take note of the value that can be achieved from a decent career’s web site. While content and design are critical understanding a bit about SEO can help your jobs appear in the elusive number 1 spot of search results. Even if you do not have a career’s web site having your personal brand appear in search results can be a great thing.

  5. Implement a workforce planning program, with a foundation around competencies
  6. The recent CedarCrestone HR Technology survey found that organisations who were using workforce planning and competency management tools had significantly higher sales growth than those that did not. While they say they are not suggesting causality but over the last few years there has been stronger linkage between sales growth and these areas.

  7. Think beyond Facebook and Twitter when looking at social media
  8. With so much talk about Facebook and Twitter I feel people have forgotten that social media is more than just these two sites. Remember social media is about user generated content, including blogs, images, video, audio, ratings, reviews etc.

  9. Focus on high quality hires, never settle for less
  10. This should always be the best line of your hiring decisions. Period.

  11. Ensure your HR/Recruiting function is metrics driven
  12. Related to workforce planning is being metrics driven and I am not talking just about lists of headcount either. Gaining a deep understanding of your business and it’s drivers is critical to success. Do you know the best performing source of talent? What about the performance of your succession plans? But do not create an environment where you have an over reliance on benchmark based data as this basically turns the measures in to commodities by assuming what works for one organisation will work for yours.

  13. Don’t be afraid to experiment
  14. This one is for the Australian’s out there, experiment and fail!! As a population we tend to be afraid of failure. Do not be afraid. Organisations that experiment and fail regularly then to succeed.

  15. Learn about Web Squared
  16. You might be asking web what? Web Squared is the next evolution of the whole Web 2.0 idea. Web Squared builds on the idea that everything and everyone in the world cast “information shadows” or data. This data when leveraged provides extraordinary opportunities to organisations.

  17. Begin to think how you can bring real time into your operations
  18. The first part of web squared that you can bring into your organisation today is leveraging real time data. Look at real time data as key signals that form part of your business processes.

  19. Never ever forget about change management
  20. One of the biggest reasons for projects, of any sort, to fail is a lack of acceptance in the final outcomes being sort by the project. This can be alleviated through an effective change management program.

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.