Technology Resolutions

Image courtesy of Flickr/Kevin Dooley

The start of a new year often represents the act of trying to break bad habits and initiate good ones. So by now, with the second month of the year already underway, most of our New Year’s resolutions have already been broken.

But when it comes to human resources technology, there are plenty of prospective resolutions that are worth working to keep — and, in most cases, keeping these will result in a lot less sweat and trips to the gym. 

Know your systems.

I don’t necessarily mean to know every system inside and out. Rather, know what or who you are using. Sounds simple, but in my IDC survey of HR buyers, just 2 percent didn’t know what was in place for human resources information systems.

That’s low enough to be acceptable, but this number goes up to 16 percent for compensation planning. Then there are background checks, COBRA processing, tax filing, etc. — it can get dizzying with the number of systems and services in play.    

Why is this important?

Interactions across your various functions, services and systems are vital to keeping the proper flow of information. Compliance is a risk all companies face. If one system is out of compliance by being out of date or otherwise compromised, then the whole structure can fall.

Have an inventory that everyone can access. Keep the version and release numbers up to date.  Include the name of the primary co-worker who manages that process and vendor relationship. If something fails, it will save you time in getting proper remediation.

Know your weak spots.

Once you know what systems and services are in use, make an effort to find out what is working well and what is not working well. The co-workers in charge of the different systems are the best resources for giving you a regular pulse on how things are going. Find out the likelihood of changes in any system for the next 12 months.

Why is this important?

There are a lot of moving parts, and if one thing changes, the ripple effect may be far-reaching. If something is not meeting the needs, it could get changed without any central consensus gathering. If this happens, systems that feed the replaced system or systems downstream may fail. Other systems and their owners need time to prepare.

Having a pulse on what is likely to change also allows for more cross-functional planning. Several systems or services could be acquired from a single provider, where multiple providers are in place today. Simplification is a good thing.

Understand what’s in it for all.

Systems often are selected by a small group of hardworking folks who are all engaged in the day-to-day administrative aspects of whatever function is closest to the purchase. This function’s interest and knowledge, while important, doesn’t offer a complete picture.

When we choose systems this way, we have one happy constituency — the power users — while the rest are left out in the cold. Instead, we need to broaden our sources of input to include the end users and casual users. Managers and employees may access a system rarely, but we need to consider what’s in it for them. They otherwise may not use it, lose their passwords, complain or just call HR directly.

Why is this important?

There is rightfully a new emphasis on the employee experience and this carries over into any and all systems they use. At the same time, many vendors are beefing up and consumer-proofing user experiences, including the employee and manager experience. 

When looking at new systems, consider how your managers and employees interact with HR systems. If they are happy and getting something they need, HR’s job will be that much easier.