Technology on tap

Sumathi V Selvaretnam 06 Nov 2012

Technology advancements have opened up new possibilities for HR, enabling them to explore different and more effective ways of working. Leading the way is the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or “on-demand” software model, which enables HR software to be hosted at a central location on the cloud.

Research by Deloitte points out that 84% of surveyed companies are either transforming or planning to transform how they handle their HR. Primary motivators are cost savings and greater effectiveness. According to Deloitte, SaaS has the potential to accelerate HR transformation and capture greater value at a faster rate.

“A mid-sized company can implement a full cloud-based HR system in two weeks, compared to three to four months for an on-premises system, says Dinesh Saparamadu, CEO of hSenid, a software development company.

HR on the cloud

With a cloud HR System, most administrative HR functions will be automated, allowing HR to focus on the bigger picture. Less expensive than on-premises HR software, cloud solutions are suitable for both small and large organisations. “Without the concerns of IT infrastructure, smaller organisations can invest their core competency in business development while bigger organisations can focus their resources on strategic assignments,” says Karen Lee, Business Development Manager, UNIT4 Prosoft.

Another key benefit of cloud solutions is their scalability. “It provides flexibility for a company to scale up and down; it allows HR to focus on the main strategic issues and not have to worry about the availability of the system or the potential IT investments involved if there is a change of business directives,” Lee says.

For companies that are geographically spread, a cloud HR system can provide a central view to the business, says Saparamadu. It can connect various HR initiatives and technology across the organisation so that HR service delivery is consistent. A cloud system also enables to HR to observe how HR services are reaching the end-user, especially in areas such as payroll, performance management and recruitment.

But how stable and user-friendly are such systems? The key to success in a cloud HR system is the user-friendliness. Saparamadu says any system needs to be intuitive. “It must provide online video and self-based learning tools.”

Lee agrees. “The cloud provider is in the business to provide infrastructure and maintenance; the stability and performance of the system will be agreed before the service engagement.” Such solutions are definitely user-friendly as they reduce the reliance of inter-dependent applications, thus companies can just focus on the suitability of a single application, such as the HR system, she says. “This translates into cost and time savings on internal training and sourcing for other supporting applications. Also, with the advances in technology employees are often tech-savvy, and can easily pick up web-enabled solutions within a short time frame.”

Eye on talent

Cloud computing has helped HR to make significant inroads in the area of talent management. In older methods of performance evaluation, managers were only allowed to look at surface performance data, and quite often did not know the real contributors of these performances – be they good or bad, says Cher Chan, Head of Marketing, APAC, Lumesse. “Software solutions allow evaluation to take place on a shared-platform via interior domains or SaaS, meaning that managers and employees are granted equal accessibility to the exchange process.”

Talent management solutions on the cloud provide a real-time, self-managed, shared and interactive platform to employers and employees in the sharing and updating of career information. “This ‘permeable’ characteristic of solutions platform allows the assignment and dedication of corporate goals to employee,” says Chan. Going forward, it supports the collection of employee performance data against progress in real-time, or any time, making the action and reaction transparent and quantifiable, she adds.

The bird’s eye view provided by talent management software also helps prevent silos in performance measurement. This is critically important as most companies tend to overlook the influence of appraisal silos, Chan says. A 2011 study by Lumesse showed that almost half (49%) of employees considered their appraisal to be of little or no value. “This figure is worrying as it reflects that many companies don’t even know how to take the first step to engage employee,” she says.

HR talent software generally offers an analytics function that can identify skills gaps that deter a staff from performing, Chan says. “Even more powerful is that the solution is able to predict future needs of the staff member to fulfill their role. The integrated platform is actually opening a learning gateway to the employee to adopt new skills for now and future.”

Managers can also immediately analyse and compare talent data from performance, skills and competencies, and progress in learning, to understand the involvement of an employee to their job. “Combining an organisation charting function, managers can make sure the redeployment of a single staff member to a new position won’t interfere with the overall stability of the organisation,” Chan says.

Talent management solutions are constantly evolving to meet new needs in the market. As smartphones become more ubiquitous, HR serviced providers are moving solutions to mobile platforms enabling users to access functions from job seeking to e-learning. “Mobile talent management platforms will be able to harness the attention from job seeking candidates and employees, and maximise the user experience throughout the talent lifecycle. Nowadays, a lot of the recruitment work can be done on the go, enabled by mobile apps,” Chan says.

Key benefits of cloud computing

•          Scalability

          The ‘pay-per-use’ structure allows expansion or contraction of employee sizes

•          Flexibility

          The solution has a minimal one time capital investment, allowing companies to forecast the predictable costs.

•          Fast speed of deployment

          As the infrastructure is supplied by the service provider, if the solution is right, deployment can be arranged instantly

•          Promotes work-life balance

          Cloud HR solutions can be accessed anytime and anywhere. This offers more possibilities for flexible working arrangements.

 



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