Five Tech Tips for Better HR

Feature Article | February 18, 2013 by Susan Galer

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(Photo: istockphoto.com)

Globalization is a major growth driver for businesses and economies. However, less than one-third of corporate leaders have the business acumen and cultural understanding to achieve their company’s global goals, according to the 2013 HR predictions report published by Bersin by Deloitte, an Oakland, California-based HR consultancy. The pressure is on human resources (HR) to address these and other challenges by becoming more strategic to the business. Here are five ways to tackle this issue.

1. Globalize talent practices.

Identify current talent capabilities and understand how they fit into short and long-term business plans. Anticipate, assess, and respond to cultural and performance differences by region, country, or department. “HR has to extend itself into specific markets to better manage skill development in the context of how work gets done in a particular geography,” says Paul Belliveau senior principal at Infosys. Talent is so rare in certain industries, Paul advises HR to create a virtual global talent base and use tools such as video conferencing and social technology to provide more sensory cues. Future advancements include holographic technology for meetings.

2. Replace gut feeling with quality, integrated, predictive analytics that reveal data the entire organization can use.

HR professionals are understandably people-oriented but technological acumen is also important. The SuccessFactors workforce analytics engine is especially stellar, according to Belliveau, because HR can look at performance within the organization and see how it relates to other business domains. “Companies can access the value of training within the context of sales, the supply chain, and operations,” he says.

In fact, people expect to run HR just like supply chain or customer relationship management, says Josh Bersin, founder and principal of Bersin by Deloitte. “Companies now have the quality data to answer questions like how many people have been hired, who are the high and low performers, what do we know about them, and why are some leaving?” he points out. With real-time data, HR can better manage talent in the face of an aging workforce, rising health care costs, and changing regulations.

Read next page: Steps 3-5: Choose an integrated platform, go mobile, and use social

3. Choose an integrated platform that hides HR application complexity behind the scenes.

Bersin believes vendors with solutions on an integrated platform, such as SAP, can provide a compelling, easy to use, employee-centric experience. “This makes it easier for HR to spend time on strategic issues.”

Stefan Haenisch, SVP, LoB & Industry Offerings at SAP, says that SAP’s rapid-deployment solutions give customers the flexibility of an integrated, modular portfolio that’s adaptable to their unique business situation and timeframes. It’s available on-premise and in the cloud. “If you’re just starting out, we provide easy entry points to get up and running quickly with core processes like personnel administration and organizational management, employee and manager self-services, and mobile capabilities,” Haenisch explains. “These pre-packaged solutions based on best practices give customers predictability in terms of cost and business value.” Companies with existing tools can expand into new areas such as SAP’s cloud-based talent management solutions, while maximizing current ERP system investments.

For example, SAP ERP HCM Integration to SuccessFactors rapid-deployment solution enables customers to integrate on-premise and cloud-based employee, compensation planning and workforce analytics data. Faster, automated processes with more accurate data help companies lower costs and increase productivity for overall performance improvement.

4. Go mobile.

Bersin’s research reveals high demand for mobile HR tools for an always connected workforce. “Most of the HR professionals I talk with say they’re frequently asked for mobile access to all the HR apps because employees are living on their phone. Data like the employee directory also belongs on a mobile phone,” he says.

Belliveau agrees there’s an incredible appetite for mobile software that offers real-time access to everything from timesheets and talent analytics to first-responder communication for disaster recovery. He describes how hospital emergency rooms use mobile apps to make life-saving staff scheduling decisions. “Having all this information can help every sector — retail, utilities, government — accurately predict which workers are needed when disaster strikes and every day.”

5. Use social HR to collaborate productively.

Social software for business is emerging as an important tool with company-wide benefits. One example is SAP Jam, a collaborative platform that embeds social technology into a company’s business processes. Employees and their managers can create and share performance and development goals collectively for faster and better alignment and completion. Jam communities can lower training costs and improve retention with videos, screen recordings, wikis, blogs, and polls. New hires can work together on onboarding activities, and receive support from experts across the enterprise. Managers can provide job-specific training and content, assign tasks, and monitor progress. Over time, onboarding managers can use analytics to help monitor employee engagement and flag at-risk employees.

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