Unlike my good friend 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, 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 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/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 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?
- 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 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 you’ve defined it, are they likely to be viable long-term?
- Is it time to make the leap to a newer, SaaS generation of HRMS, like Workday or Ultimate (and there will be more), which is 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?
- What types of social technology capabilities should we consider for HRM? Across our organization?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- Will our talent management software vendor(s) survive and prosper? What’s at risk if we’ve bet wrong?
- 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?
- 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 not 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 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.