[I posted the original version of this on 9-12-2011, just in time for last year's HR Technology Conference. Now here we are again, in frantic last minute preparations, but so wanting to be sure that our conference plans are focused on the important HRM delivery system issues that we're facing. So I thought it was time for a thorough update.
And what a difference a mere year makes in our world. Oracle's acquired Taleo, released Fusion, and gotten cloud religion. SAP's acquired SuccessFactors, gotten true SaaS religion, and gone in-memory. Workday's en route to an IPO, and they've had true SaaS, cloud and in-memory since their first release nearly seven years ago. And there are more new vendors, new releases, and new people in our space than any of us can track.
With so much going on, I thought I'd refresh this post in hopes of helping some of you do your final prep for the conference -- and for the European HR Technology Conference in Amsterdam later this month -- and to stimulate your questions for my "ask the expert" sessions in both Chicago and Amsterdam. As always, in the spirit of full disclosure, presume that I'm working with many of the major vendors in our space whether they are mentioned or not and that my thinking is certainly informed by the smart people with whom I work across the vendor community.]
Unlike my good friend and fellow Enterprise Irregular Ray Wang, there are no Naomi clones. Just this solo consultant trying to save the world from bad HRM and HRM delivery systems. And while I’m a pretty productive and hard worker, there aren’t enough hours in a lifetime to support every HR exec who comes calling with their always interconnected HRM delivery systems issues. So I refer a lot of business to capable colleagues (among whom there are some big developments afoot), suggest useful reading/conferences/discussion groups/etc., and help as many as I can directly.
Having studied my methodology for strategic HRM and HRMDS planning, I thought you might now enjoy my list [updated as of 10-4-2012] of the HRMDS issues that give rise to so many of these requests for assistance. Some combination of these issues is almost always the impetus for that first call/email/DM/whatever from a global HR executive. Unfortunately, it usually takes a broader planning effort to make sure that sir/madam isn’t playing that loser’s game of whack-a-mole in resolving these types of issues. You know that game: no sooner do you put one issue to rest than two more rear their ugly heads.
So what are the issues? In no particular order:
- Can we afford to/should we upgrade our licensed, on-premise ERP/HRMS?
- Can we afford/manage the integration of separate talent management applications?
- Are we better served by getting our talent management capabilities already integrated with our system of record’s (SOR’s) foundation from our SOR’s vendor that piecing together/layering on a variety of separate talent management applications, no matter how integrated they may be?
- Are the so-called integrated talent management capabilities from our SOR’s vendor truly integrated or are they in some stage of being interfaced and given a more or less common user experience?
- Does our system of record’s (SOR’s) coding structures/data granularity/data accuracy/data-entry style self service support talent management at the level we need?
- Are the right capabilities available in our SOR and/or have they been implemented properly?
- How can we bring our data entry-style self service into the mobile and social world?
- If we’re running on an ERP/HRMS, should we upgrade in place, implement that vendor’s next gen (when it’s ready), mix and match?
- Will our smaller/weaker core HRMS vendor(s) be able to make needed regulatory, architectural and functionality investments in their products?
- Lots of our vendors are describing their latest products as SaaS. How would we know if that’s true? Why should we care?
- If our current vendors aren’t true SaaS as Naomi has defined it, are they likely to be viable long-term? Are there other workable definitions that make sense for some vendors?
- Is it time to make the leap to a newer, SaaS generation of HRMS, like Workday or Ultimate (with more coming every day, to include from Oracle and SAP), which are building out talent management functionality very quickly?
- Should we stick to our older on-premise ERP/HRMS and add one or more talent management applications on top? With what approach to interfacing and/or integration?
- What types of social technology capabilities should we consider for HRM? Across our organization?
- Should we be looking for social tech within the foundations of our HRMS/TM unleashed where we want it or looking at specific social apps?
- Is it better to provide social technology capabilities that are specific to an HRM process or to provide broad access to those capabilities across HRM?
- What policies are needed to balance the value of social technology with protecting our intellectual property, personal data privacy, and organizational productivity?
- Should we be looking for mobile capabilities within the foundations of our HRMS/TM unleashed where we want it or looking at specific mobile apps?
- Is it better to provide mobile technology capabilities that are specific to an HRM process or to provide broad access to those capabilities across HRM?
- What policies are needed to balance the value of mobile technology, including “Bring Your Own Device” (so BYOD) with protecting our intellectual property, personal data privacy, and organizational productivity?
- Are there obvious HRMDS targets for outsourcing?
- Are there areas within the HRMDS that just don’t make sense to do any way other than via outsourcing?
- What impact would outsourcing specific HRMDS components have on our ability to present an integrated view of organizational HRM data?
- What impact would outsourcing specific HRMDS components have on our ability to provide embedded, actionable analytics?
- Are there areas within the HRMDS that just don’t make sense to do any way other than via tightly integrated components?
- What impact would using best-of-breed solutions for specific HRMDS components have on our ability to present an integrated view of organizational HRM data?
- What impact would using best-of-breed solutions for specific HRMDS components have on our ability to provide embedded, actionable analytics?
- What are the characteristics of an HRM process that lend themselves to either tight or loose coupling with our core SOR?
- Our ERP/HRMS is described as licensed/on-premise, and we’re paying 22% of retail in annual maintenance. Are we getting enough value to justify those annual payments?
- Will our vendor’s next generation be free to us because of those annual maintenance payments?
- Are there alternatives to making those payments? Are their other sources for basic maintenance, especially if we’re on an older release?
- Will our talent management software vendor(s) survive and prosper? What’s at risk if we’ve bet on a vendor that gets acquired?
- With all the consolidation going on in talent management, how can we determine if our vendors will be acquirers or be acquired? Does it matter?
- Is it more important for us to get talent management right than to invest further in our administrative HRM foundations or will poor administrative foundations cripple our talent management efforts?
- Do we really have to build/maintain the whole data warehouse apparatus just to get obvious analytics? To support actionable analytics at the “point of sale?” So embedded in employee and manager self service?
- Why can’t our payroll provider (yes, we outsourced that years ago) support the variety of workers, work roles, work schedules, total compensation plans, and other practices that we’re now using or need to use? What are our options here?
- What about our global payroll requirements? We’ve got large populations in a few countries and very small populations scattered everywhere else? Should we handle this ourselves?
- Are there truly global payroll providers whose capabilities are integrated and priced well?
- And what impact will the coming changes in health care, talent management, social learning, globalization, HR technology, workforce diversity, executive compensation caps, government austerity programs, [you name the issue] have on our aging, too many moving parts, never implemented well and/or too expensive to maintain HRM delivery system — and on our ability to deliver the HRM outcomes our organization expects?
- We seem to have a disconnect between our administration and strategic HRM data — could that be the result of disconnected systems, data definitions, organizational responsibilities, HRM business rules, etc.?
- What changes should we be making in our HRM policies and practices to support a more social, mobile and global workforce? Won’t our software vendors provide these?
- I keep hearing about social/mobile/global/embedded analytics/the importance of integrated talent management/[you name the hot topic here], but these capabilities seem to be add-ons at added cost etc. from our primary vendors. Is that right?
- How do I push more and more responsibility for HRM to managers and to the workforce without having a whole range of compliance/productivity/decision-making problems? How do I provide these users with enough embedded intelligence to enable effective decision-making? To enable correct and timely HRM transactions?
- Every time I ask for a briefing on the current state of our HRMDS, my eyes glaze over from the complexity and detail. How do I know if we have more moving pieces than we need? If we have the right pieces? If we’re spending the right amount to achieve our needed outcomes?
- How can we keep all the pieces well playing together? How much bailing wire and chewing gum does it take to keep everything running?
- Our CEO asked me if we have the HRM capabilities we need to help the organization deliver business improved outcomes. Frankly, I haven’t got a clue.
- How can I find enough resources to invest in strategic HRMDS components when everything’s being starved because of the black holes of administrative HRM, including compliance, which really don’t drive business outcomes no matter how well-done they are?
- Cloud/smoud — my CIO is deadset against it but all the hot newer software is built for it. What do I do?
- I know we need analytics, but which ones? My team has proposed 217, all of which sound interesting and potentially relevant, but what I really need are the half dozen that would tell me how we’re really doing?
- Social sourcing sounds wonderful, and everyone’s doing it, but is it really applicable to our need for [place your scarce KSAOC list here]?
And now for a few of my personal favorites, just for laughs.
- We bought the software, signed up for maintenance, and have it loaded on our computer. But it seems to sit there waiting for us to tell it what to do. Is that right? Doesn’t it come loaded with “best practices?” We budgeted for a “vanilla” implementation on that expectation.
- My global head of talent is telling me that we must get all of our applications from the same vendor in order to get the deep process and data integration that he tells me integrated TM requires. If we do that, buy everything from a single vendor, will it really truly scouts’ honor be fully integrated?
- The last guy who’s able to maintain the extensive COBOL code we used to create our highly customized Cyborg/Genesys/Tesseract/Integral/MSA/[put your favorite truly over-the-hill essentially payroll but now doing everything imaginable application brand here, and with full knowledge on my part that all of these brands are getting some level of quite sincere regulatory support and other updates from their current owners] has gone out on emergency long term disability, and we never did get him to document that code. Help!
- My predecessor insisted that we needed an enterprise-level ERP/HRMS. Four years and millions of $$ later, we’re not implemented, the SI (systems integration) leader (the new one, his precessor was promoted) tells me that we don’t have either our organizational structure nor our jobs defined right to meet the analytical requests I’ve made of the system, the release we’ve been implementing seems to have been overtaken by the vendor’s newest release (and that’s the one that has the improved user experience that we really need), and now my new golfing partner (he’s a partner at another SI) suggests that what we’ve selected is gross overkill for our 500 person, entirely US-based call center business for which our financials are moving “into the cloud,” whatever that means. When I told a trusted HR exec colleague about all of this, she said I might need some help and suggested I call you.
All laughs aside, these are really tough questions, all of them, when you put them into the context of any specific organization, and they are worthy of our best efforts to educate end-users as they “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” to developing their own answers. If you are facing any of these questions, I hope you’ll bring them to this year’s HR Tech Conference, to my “ask the expert” session there, so we can tackle at least some of them together. Without your questions to shape this session, we’ll just be staring at each other — or I might decide to lead the group in singing 60′s protest songs.