Why it is time for SMEs to embark on the journey to digitise HR

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Despite the challenges in adoption, implementation and optimisation of digital HR solutions, SMEs cannot afford to miss out on the benefits of having one in place.

An employee is an employee, irrespective of whether an organisation is a large multinational with sizeable sections of the workforce spread across geographies, or a smaller firm with a lesser headcount. Whatever the business size, employee experience is something that cannot just be ignored, because at the end of the day strategies alone cannot help, as businesses are run by its people.

Now, while large organisations are believed to be boosting our economy, it is the small and medium enterprises that actually form the backbone. The surprising fact here is that these SMEs together employ over 106 million people – a good 40 per cent of India’s workforce—next only to the agricultural sector. With such a large chunk of the labour force, the sector undoubtedly faces challenges with regard to efficiency in human resources management. However, the adoption of and awareness around strategic HR processes and digital HR suites is still remains significantly low.

Growing at a fast pace and constituting a major chunk of our GDP, CII suggests that SMEs in reality occupy a staggering 95 per cent of the total industrial units in the country. The sheer size and scale of the industry and the working population it consists of, are reasons enough for SMEs to digitise their HR processes to ensure a seamless employee experience, if they seek to really grow further.

However, there are challenges that prevent SMEs from actually benefitting from outsourced digital HRM solutions. Cost constraints, lack of awareness around existing suitable HR solutions and the technologies they use, difficulties in implementation and adoption, vendor management complexities and top-management buy-in, are some of the issues most companies face, when it comes to getting a digital HR solution on board.

While there may be challenges in adoption, implementation and optimisation of digital HR solutions, SMEs cannot afford to miss out on the benefits of having one in place. In fact, it is not just about adopting technology in HR but getting accustomed to using tech-enabled platforms, in general. This is because, once use of technology begins internally, it helps workers get their customers also to adopt their tech-based offerings, if any. Some of the companies that have really been able to bring about a difference in their work-lives and productivity, through the use of a digital HR suite, are as follows:

Ezetap Mobile Solutions: This Bengaluru-based banking financial services company, with 170 employees, required an objective key results (OKR) framework for performance and goal management, to provide a seamless and superior employee experience. While implementation time was a major concern, the Company was also particular about strategic alignment between business needs and HR execution. Ease of configuration to identify and bridge gaps and follow best practices and performance optimisation through automated, end-to-end workflows were also some of the expectations the Company had.

Kalyani Nadikatla

With the deployment of OKR framework, employees and managers have a 360-degree view of their performance data, helping them focus on leadership and effectiveness. The solutions will enable our aggressive growth plans for the future.

As a resolution, Ezetap implemented SAP SuccessFactors, using its rapid-deployment methodology. It configured the OKR framework for SAP SuccessFactors Performance & Goals and customised it to the existing performance-management process, with a role-based user experience to ensure better user adoption.

As a result, Ezetap observed two times better user experience with a 40 per cent faster performance-review process. The platform allows anytime, anywhere access on any device, with a 360-degree view of personalised performance data for managers and employees, to better track performance and productivity.

Kalyani Nadikatla, HR head, Ezetap Mobile Solutions, says, “The deployment went much more quickly than we expected. Now employees and managers have a 360-degree view of their performance data, helping them focus on leadership and effectiveness. The solutions will enable our aggressive growth plans for the future.”

This is not a one-off story. There are many more out there that have benefitted from digitising parts of their HR frameworks. When a singular HR process digitisation, such as performance management can help HR strategise its role to such a large extent, one can imagine how the strategic mind space, with a full suite of HR operations, will free up for HR professionals.


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Subex: A 25-year old telecom solutions provider, helping telecom companies prevent fraud through security and analytics, Subex has businesses spread across 90 countries, with over 900 employees. The organisation gave huge importance to employee experience and looked to switch from transactional automation to transformational automation for its HR processes to be able to provide a great employee experience.

Mohan Sitharam, chief people officer, Subex shares that since the company already used ERP solutions from SAP, SAP SuccessFactors became a clear choice to digitise and transform their HR processes as well. Being an on-cloud solution, it further ensured seamless employee experience irrespective of location.

Mohan Sitharam

Hiring at Subex was earlier done in silos and was debatable, whether it was an HR issue or a delivery issue, which actually is both. With SAP implementation, the process improved tremendously, as the earlier two-day long on-boarding routine turned into a quick three- minute task. 

With SAP SuccessFactors’ full suite of solutions covering recruitment to on-boarding, then compensation, performance and even employee exit, the Company was able to enhance the entire employee journey beginning from being a candidate to becoming an alumnus of Subex.

Sitharam says , “Hiring at Subex was earlier done in silos and was debatable, whether it was an HR issue or a delivery issue, which actually is both. With SAP implementation, the process improved tremendously, as the earlier two-day long on-boarding routine turned into a quick three- minute task. Additionally, SAP SuccessFactors ensured same visibility to all stakeholders, allowing easy and anytime progress tracking, making the processes more effective.”

“With SAP SuccessFactors, we could streamline performance management and continuous feedback sharing, which is one of the biggest concerns for most companies these days. With new generations, new ways of thinking and changing philosophies, performance and goal management have become more complicated. However, SAP SuccessFactors helps us get ahead of the wave,” Sitharam adds.

Moushumee Basu Roy

Through our interactions with MSME businesses, we observed that in addition to management buy-in and awareness around the benefits, cost, implementation duration and support were some of the major challenges they faced in terms of automating their HR processes. Taking cues from this and keeping these concerns in mind, SAP and its partners have decided to offer the same suite of solutions that most large conglomerates have benefitted from, for a special price, to mid-sized companies as well.

With companies such as these having seen tangible outcomes, it goes without saying that it is high time SMEs adopted tech-enabled HCM. With cost concerns being one of the biggest hurdles standing in the way of organisations wanting to deploy an HCM, there are enough and more case studies to prove that the benefits certainly outweigh the cost.

Keeping this concern in mind, SAP SuccessFactors is offering its full suite— which has a no-fuss implementation duration of 21 days—at a reduced price, exclusively for mid-sized businesses.

Moushumee Basu Roy, head-SAP SuccessFactors Sales, SAP India, says, “Through our interactions with MSME businesses, we observed that in addition to management buy-in and awareness around the benefits, cost, implementation duration and support were some of the major challenges they faced in terms of automating their HR processes. Taking cues from this and keeping these concerns in mind, SAP and its partners have decided to offer the same suite of solutions that most large conglomerates have benefitted from, for a special price, to mid-sized companies as well.”

SAP SuccessFactors can enable organisations digitise their core HR and performance management, making the performance review processes up to 40 per cent faster. This requires HR professionals to spend 67 per cent lesser time to access core people data, and allows 40 per cent overall improvement in data management. This leads to an overall 10 per cent HR efficiency with 80 per cent higher visibility of employee data for managers.

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