How to select the right HR tech partner

HR folks agree that choosing an HR technology partner is no cake walk. One has to tread the path with utmost caution. Here is the checklist

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HR without technology is unimaginable today. New technologies are being developed and upgraded that make life easier, not just for HR but also employees

The complexity however lies in selecting the right partner for these technologies, especially when there are several players in the same domain claiming to be different and having an edge over the competitors.

“How flexible is the technology’s ability to adopt new trends in HR and also incorporate the experience gained from clients over a period of time?”

Reena Wahi, SVP HR, tecnology & sustainability, Tata Realty and Infrastructure

Reena Wahi, SVP HR, technology & sustainability, Tata Realty and Infrastructure, shares that the first thing she considers while selecting an HR technology partner is whether the new technology product can integrate into already-established systems within the company and at the same time has the potential to expand as per the organisation’s needs.

She also stresses on the importance of finding a partner with an efficient customer service as that could help mitigate many of the operational problems initially faced during such a transition.

is the question that needs to be answered, says Wahi.

Core HR tech & HCM

In the last few years, most organisations have migrated from human resource management systems (HRMS) or human resource information systems (HRIS) to human capital management (HCM).

Core HR functions such as payroll, employee recruitment scheduling, internal relations, benefits management, employee training and compliance and safety measures are dealt with by HRMS and HRIS. Between these two lies the HRMS, which offers an additional talent-management system.

The upgraded HCM system is a much wider platform vis-à-vis HRMS and HRIS. For one, HCM is used as a bucket term for a variety of business functions that treat employees as assets, managing them the way an organisation would manage money and capital equipment.

“Organisations should look at a progressive system rather than a contemporary one,”

Sharad Sharma, CHRO, Pramerica Life

However, the biggest advantage of HCM is that it provides a more malleable structure, which can integrate with the existing system and also adapt as per the organisation’s specific needs. Human capital management is an automated process and comes with an integrated software. Apart from collating employee records in core HR and talent-management systems, it also includes subsystems for recruitment, performance and compensation management.

Sharad Sharma, CHRO, Pramerica Life, believes that it is important to assess one’s needs and then select the HR tech product accordingly, instead of just following the herd.

What he means is that organisations need to be vigilant of the gaps in their current system and make sure the module they’ve chosen is progressive, and can adapt with the changes in the organisation.

Specialised modules

Among the new automated modules offered by an HCM system, talent management seems to be the most complex one. It is responsible for bringing people with the right experience and potential into an organisation, developing their skills, motivating them, assessing their performance, compensating them, retaining them or ensuring a smooth departure.

“The ‘plug and play’ approach most companies embrace doesn’t allow for a flourishing culture to form. A talent-management programme should maintain a constant rotation allowing people movement up the ladder and exposure to different roles. This will ensure well-rounded leadership, which, in turn will mitigate the risk of collapse,”

Devarshi Deb, CHRO, Asahi India Glass

Devarshi Deb, CHRO, Asahi India Glass is of the opinion that for a talent-management software to be effective, an organisation must have an already well established and efficient talent- management strategy.

Deb also urges companies to look within and build a talent-management programme, internally.

Service-delivery systems

HR service-delivery systems are essential for digitising the human-resource department. Most HR service delivery systems come with either of two options – employee self-service (ESS) and manager self-service (MSS) systems.

In an ESS system, organisations allow employees to update their own information, but only those which are important for the former. For instance, employees can update personal information, submit leave requests, retrieve salary slips and benefits information, and submit expense claims.

On the contrary, an MSS is specifically designed for mid-level managers. It provides them with access to employee information, and also allows them to prioritise and complete tasks and functions applicable to their employees.

Manager self-service system is a more complex system that allows for a full range of applications. It makes it possible for tasks, which would usually take days to complete, to be completed in minutes. For instance, sanctioning a vacation could be done in no time because of its ability to show department-wide work schedules, all while maintaining the same level of privacy and security as in-house systems.

Many HR practitioners are of the opinion that ESS doesn’t work smoothly on mobile phones, and that it requires an investment on specific on-site hardware to realise its full potential.

While an ESS does allow users to perform basic tasks on mobile phones, at the same time, it also requires larger screen real estate such as shop-floor tablets, break room computers and point-of-sale systems to the best of its capabilities.

Sharma also warns companies to evaluate the tech savviness of the workforce before making the transition to vast technology overhauls.

Making sure that the technology is mobile friendly and can be accessed on the go, is vital.

Advanced HR tech

Human resource technology is a constantly evolving industry as is the role of the human resource department. To keep up with the ever changing nature of both, HR tech companies have been making strides to offer the best user experience to their customers.

Implementing artificial intelligence programmes capable of spotting patterns in the system and making apt predictions on the same can help companies make better decisions pertaining to recruitment, hiring and development of new talent. Security measures such as blockchain technology help make the data stored in the database essentially permanent and hack proof. Remote process automation “bots” (RPA) can execute common HR responsibilities, such as benefit selection and expense reimbursement, as well as fast and efficient sorting of resumes.

Even while adopting an artificial intelligence (AI)-based HR system, companies need to move ahead with utmost caution.
The first mistake that most companies make is to believe that AI can run completely without any human intervention. However, that’s far from reality as of yet. Also, there are still several trials and errors before an effective AI-based HR system can be fully operational.
Human resource leaders also stress on why organisations should carry out thorough background checks of their prospective HR tech partners, to make sure of their intentions as partners.

As the HR tech industry is still young, there is a lot of money still to be made. For that very reason, many tech companies are either selling out midway through their contracts or merging with bigger players, who may not have the same commitment to the organisation as the previous company did.

It is advised that companies seek out established HR tech firms and work closely with them to create the best platform customised as per their HR needs.

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