It’s been said that companies have one main asset: their people. If true, the logical conclusion is that attracting and retaining top talent is the most important task that management faces today. That makes human resources (HR) the linchpin of success, regardless of a company’s purpose, size, industry, or location. According to Paul Belliveau, managing director at AVANCÉ – Human Capital Management, companies expect HR to play more of a business-strategy role than ever before.
“HR needs to think more like a businessperson than an HR person,” says Belliveau. “They have to become much more strategic because of how fast digital natives are impacting the economy through their behaviors and impatience with old processes.”
Talent Management: Technology is key to success in HR
Just like every part of the business, HR needs evidence that it’s doing the right thing, knowledge of where it is now and where it needs to be, and the ability to measure progress at any given time and easily adjust course as needed. Not surprisingly, technology is a crucial part of the equation.
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For over 125 years, South Dakota-based Black Hills Corporation, a wholesale energy provider, has navigated countless transformations, including its latest burst of internal growth and acquisitions. Now it has turned to software from SuccessFactors, an SAP company, to make sure it continues to have a highly trained workforce in the face of an aging population and the projected retirement of experienced, long-time employees.
“Over the next seven years, 24 percent of our workforce will be eligible for retirement” says Bob Myer, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer. “We are determined to be prepared for this transition and stay on top of employee development and succession. With the information revealed from the SuccessFactors Analytics tool, we are now armed with the knowledge we need to address this issue − before it can impact our business and service levels.”
SAP software provides broad spectrum of tools
In addition to implementing most of the SuccessFactors Business Execution Suite modules, including Performance and Goal Management, Compensation, Recruiting Management, and Career Development Planning, Black Hills has also deployed the SuccessFactors Workforce Analytics and Planning solutions. This has allowed the company to model several turnover scenarios to quantify the impact of the impending retirement surge. With knowledge from “what-if” scenarios, Black Hills put together plans to proactively address the issues. “The SuccessFactors Analytics Module enables us to quantify and document the need for talent management strategies,” Myers explains.
Equally important, using SuccessFactors Performance, Goal, and Compensation Management software, the company has been able to create a more seamless performance management cycle. Managers no longer struggle to give employees timely performance reviews with goals and competencies aligned to specific job roles, and the company has a better structured pay-for-performance system.
Greta Roberts, CEO of Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Talent Analytics Corporation, notes that optimizing performance has become the top priority for HR in the last five years, bringing advanced analytics to the forefront. “The economy has required companies to get more lean and many have implemented talent management solutions without a return on investment. Now that management has the foundational infrastructure in place, they’re turning to analytics to help predict future performance,” she says.
Software helps HR to find optimal roles for employees
Like many business leaders, Roberts believes that software plays a tremendous role in performance optimization, and she uses SAP to illustrate her point. “There’s no way to pull data together without software. For example, SAP’s solutions are core to collecting data across all aspects of the organization, allowing companies to find correlations between information such as errors on orders, sales performance, and customer service scores. They can use the patterns to figure out if there are certain kinds of employees optimal in certain roles, and move people where they’re predicted to perform well.”
Next page: The challenge of going digital
AVANCÉ’s Belliveau agrees that seamless integration is crucial to making sense of mountains of data. “Talent management can be seen as one ecosystem, including performance management, employee development, training, career-pathing, and succession planning, that needs to be interconnected. SuccessFactors has the most complete inventory of interconnected parts available today that I’ve seen for a complete human capital management and talent management program,” he says.
One of the major challenges for HR, which by definition is all about people, is how to make the leap to the digital world. Roberts urges the industry to embrace technology expertise. “Allocate head count for data scientists who can also learn the discipline of HR.”
Taking advantage of the opportunity to make HR powerful
As companies enter new markets, develop new products, and deliver better services, HR’s role is increasingly valuable for workforce planning and talent management. While the focus to date has been on the process and technology for the transformation of HR, it’s important to remember that people and their mindset require transformation as well.