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UPCOMING
Predict and Prepare sponsored by Workday 12/16

PAST BUT AVAILABLE FOR REPLAY
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #171, 2/15
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #160, 8/14
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #145, 1/14
Workday Predict and Prepare Webinar, 12/10/2013
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #134, 8/13
CXOTalk: Naomi Bloom, Nenshad Bardoliwalla, and Michael Krigsman, 3/15/2013
Drive Thru HR, 12/17/12
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #110, 8/12
Webinar Sponsored by Workday: "Follow the Yellow Brick Road to Business Value," 5/3/12 Audio/Whitepaper
Webinar Sponsored by Workday: "Predict and Prepare," 12/7/11
HR Happy Hour - Episode 118 - 'Work and the Future of Work', 9/23/11
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #87, 9/11
Keynote, Connections Ultimate Partner Forum, 3/9-12/11
"Convergence in Bloom" Webcast and accompanying white paper, sponsored by ADP, 9/21/10
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #63, 9/10
Keynote for Workforce Management's first ever virtual HR technology conference, 6/8/10
Knowledge Infusion Webinar, 6/3/10
Webinar Sponsored by Workday: "Predict and Prepare," 12/8/09
Webinar Sponsored by Workday: "Preparing to Lead the Recovery," 11/19/09 Audio/Powerpoint
"Enterprise unplugged: Riffing on failure and performance," a Michael Krigsman podcast 11/9/09
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #39, 10/09
Workday SOR Webinar, 8/25/09
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #15, 10/08

PAST BUT NO REPLAY AVAILABLE
Keynote, HR Tech Europe, Amsterdam, 10/25-26/12
Master Panel, HR Technology, Chicago, 10/9/012
Keynote, Workforce Magazine HR Tech Week, 6/6/12
Webcast Sponsored by Workday: "Building a Solid Business Case for HR Technology Change," 5/31/12
Keynote, Saba Global Summit, Miami, 3/19-22/12
Workday Rising, Las Vegas, 10/24-27/11
HR Technology, Las Vegas 10/3-5/11
HR Florida, Orlando 8/29-31/11
Boussias Communications HR Effectiveness Forum, Athens, Greece 6/16-17/11
HR Demo Show, Las Vegas 5/24-26/11
Workday Rising, 10/11/10
HRO Summit, 10/22/09
HR Technology, Keynote and Panel, 10/2/09

Adventures of Bloom & Wallace

a work in progress

Reprise — An Open Letter To HR Executives

 

There But For The Grace Of G-d Go Us!

[The original version of this post was published here in January, 2012, but a call I did last night with a magazine editor reminded me that we must emphasize just how important it is to start any HR technology project with a well-grounded strategy. Far too many HR leaders (and CFOs, line of business leaders, and more) are still playing whack-a-mole with a laundry list of automation, process, business rule and/or business outcome pain points.  They tackled those pain points as they arose rather than settling down to do the strategic planning that would have put them in front of those damn moles and equipped them to win the battle, once and for all.  In case you forgot what those damned moles look like, here’s a good list with which to get started mole hunting.  And please note that when I do a reprise, it’s not a reposting as is but a fresh review of an old friend, editting/updating as I go.]

Dear Sir/Madam,

We may not have met, but I’ve got your back.  I’m on your side when it comes to using effective HRM practices and business rules to drive improved business outcomes in your organization.  I know how hard it is to draw those lines of sight from needed business outcomes, like faster time to market, lower costs of higher quality customer service, greater insight into customer profitability by market segments, and greater organizational capability to support global growth, to the specifics of what HR does to improve HRM.  And I know absolutely that information technology is not the answer but rather just one of the critical tools in your arsenal when it comes to attacking your toughest challenges.
 
Information technology can be a real power tool, providing enormous leverage when used well.  Or it can cut you and your career off at the knees when mishandled.  And all too often, through ignorance, benign neglect, delegation to whoever leads comp and benefits, or knee-jerk subservience to the IT powers that be, you’ve been cut off at the knees.  One only has to read the latest headlines about failed HR technology projects to confirm your worst fears about undertaking one.
 
Help (which is just one letter off from hell, so we can’t afford to wander) is on the way.  But there’s a fair amount of work ahead if you’re going to take charge of how, when, at what cost, against what objectives, with what redesigned processes and business rules, using what types of high quality data, with what governance, etc. you deploy the power tools of IT to the benefit of your firm’s effectiveness in HRM and, more importantly, to the achievement of needed business results.
 
First up, you need to get comfortable with the idea that technology per se is not the answer to any important business question any more than 42 is the answer to “what is the meaning of life, the universe and everything?”  There just aren’t simple answers to important business questions, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t answers.  And where technology is concerned, driving business outcomes via effective HRM is much more about knowing what effective HRM would look like, knowing what practices applied to what parts of the organization would generate the most overall benefit.  Once we understand what’s needed in HRM to drive those business outcomes, we can figure out what combination of technical tools, deployed how, with what functionality and so forth are needed to support those practices.
 
For many years I’ve used the metaphor of “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” to describe the thought process that takes us from well-defined business outcomes to well-defined HRM practices/organizational designs/business rules/analytics/etc. and right on to the design and delivery of the needed operational capabilities, the HRM delivery system, needed to conjure up your own Emerald City.  You can read about that approach at your leisure using the links at the end of this letter.
 
After you’ve slogged your way through all of that, and having cured any insomnia from which you may have been suffering, I’d like to suggest that, with the help of a select team of business, HR and HR technology/delivery system leaders, you begin work ASAP to refine your HRM and HRM delivery systems strategy.  But how and where do you begin this journey?
  1. Gather all of the organizational strategy, current state HRM and HRMDS information you can find.  Read it all through the lens of strategic HRM, looking for the specific impacts on business strategies and outcomes that must come from well-executed strategic HRM.  See the patterns in those strategic HRM requirements and design HRM policies etc. to deliver them.  Then prepare to update your HRM policies, practices, and operations to support converged HRM and HR technology.
  2. Assign someone to inventory your current HRMDS, including all the “informal” components. What software are you using — brand/module/release — and what is it costing, including both direct and indirect out-of-pocket costs as well as the associated (and often much more important) opportunity costs?  What outsourcing are you doing — provider/scope of service — and what is it costing, including both direct and indirect out-of-pocket as well as those pesky opportunity costs?  What spreadsheets, Word documents, private databases, and even paper files (gulp!) are you depending on for some of your HRM processes?
  3. Learn all you can about the differences between poor, good and great HR technology, and about what the market offers — continuous learning needed here because the goal line keeps moving. There’s a ton of material on my blog (here, here and here are some good starting points), and an absolute must is attendance at a major HR technology conference.  I’ll be speaking again this year at the big Kahuna of such conferences, LRP’s HR Technology Conference  (and honored to have been a speaker at every one of these amazing conferences since their inception except when a hurricane threatened our home and a sister by choice lost her son).  I will also be speaking at the newer but rapidly growing European HR Technology Conference.
  4. Clean up your HRM data — including organization data, people data, competency models, business rules, and data granularity — to support converged HRM and converged HR technology. Start with the most important roles, organizations, KSAOCs, whatever, but you really can’t do anything decent with analytics unless your data is sufficiently reliable, granular and properly structured.
  5. Insist upon detailed product roadmaps, with dates, against which to evaluate vendors and providers for evidence that they’re on top of converged HRM and converged HR technology — and do probe for their strategies around all eight convergence themes mentioned in the blog post on this you will have read in step #3 above.
  6. Determine what components of your current HRMDS platform are serving you well, which are not, what needs to be upgraded/enhanced/replaced, what can remain as it is (but keep an eye on this as all components “age”).  Design your future HRMDS to deliver those strategic HRM requirements and then make your HR technology decisions.  Be disciplined and methodical in evaluating potential HRMDS platform component changes, or changes in people and process, and don’t be a victim of vendor “promises.”  Weed out/de-emphasize vendors and providers who can’t take you to a converged future — and run away from those that don’t even know that the converged future is coming.
  7. Do not judge the needs of tomorrow’s workforce or HRM by yesterday’s standards, but do judge your own responsibilities and their results in terms of driving business outcomes.

You obviously don’t have to do all the heavy lifting yourself; there’s a ton of staff work discussed above that’s properly delegated.  But it’s important that you get just as comfortable discussing — and then making “bet the farm” decisions about the technology-enabled aspects of HRM as you’ve become (or been expected to become) discussing and making decisions about the financial aspects of HRM.  And there’s not a reputable MBA program of any substance that leaves out any of this — IT, finance, HRM, and operations management — which is why I’m so grateful for mine earned in the distant mists of HR technology history.

We may not have met, but I’ve got your back.  Sincerely yours, Naomi Bloom 

Follow The Yellow Brick Road Part IV/Finale: The HRM Delivery System!

If you feel like you’ve been stranded along the way or that we’ve (or you’ve) been off on various scenic detours, my apologies for not providing the final installment of our Yellow Brick Road travelogue as quickly as I had hoped. Life just keeps happening; we keep up as best we can. And if you’re just […]

 Follow The Yellow Brick Road Part III: HRM Strategies, Outcomes And Design

My apologies for the long detour from the Yellow Brick Road while I attended to heavy business travel, client deliverables, more shoulder rehab, and the final business details for closing on M/V SmartyPants. More on SmartyPants in a later next post, complete with pictures. For now, we’ve got a lot more work to do along […]

 Follow The Yellow Brick Road Part II: Vision, Strategy And Outcomes

In Part I of our journey down the yellow brick road to great HRM and HRM delivery systems, I set the stage in terms of the environment in which our organizations must operate and what they must do to be successful. By now you should have decided for your own organization – or will do this shortly […]

 Follow The Yellow Brick Road Part I: Business Environment And Challenges

In my 2/9/2010 post, I announced that I would be publishing my strategic HRM delivery systems planning methodology on this blog, so I thought I’d better get started. Although there’s a very geeky set of materials to guide me on these projects, I call the version of my methodology intended for clients, “follow the yellow […]

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