What are some things that you should ask before buying an HR technology solution? What are some necessary capabilities that need to be leveraged? And how should you decide which technologies to have in-house and which ones to outsource? At Converge 2016, Yashwant Mahadik, Executive Vice President and Global CHRO, Sun Pharmaceuticals spoke about some key lessons on HR technology reflecting on his own career in a session titled “Demystifying the myth”. Tracing the journey of early HR systems three decades ago, he pointed to a time when the talk around HR technology revolved on mechanical punching machines about three decades ago, the quality of which depended on whether they could be tampered or not. From there on, facilities, payroll, learning, access management and control have been some processes that are under the purview of HR technology. Today, about 80 -90 percent of the administration of these technologies are taken up by the IT department and 100 percent of the ownership rests on the quality assurance team. While the top most technology solution that organizations use is payroll, the second best bet has been Learning Management Systems (LMS). HR professionals working in different segments of the function would do well to understand the suite of solutions that are available as well as understand the possibilities that the IT infrastructure in place can enable.
The focus of the modern enterprise is on the employee experience that digitization enables, as Josh Bersin notes “Digital isn’t new technology, it is new ways of behaving”. This shift requires HR to think of the various ways in which the function can bring about the necessary cultural change. However, there a few things that HR needs to remember while acquiring new technology.
- Articulate the need: This is a necessary first step. For example: At Sun Pharma, a company that was started by first generation entrepreneurs, the payroll service that was already implemented when Yashwant joined the company was a system that was not only cheap in terms of the cost per employee, it also had a record of having zero defects. In this situation, it just did not make sense to acquire new technology. It is necessary to have conversations about why a certain technology is required as a leadership team.
- Focus on the IT architecture for superior experience: The pillars of the IT architecture are i) Speed: Information should be available real time to give a true understanding of what is happening as it happens and ii) Quality: Drive the necessary business intelligence or analytics. Also, strengthen statutory and legal compliance.
- Choose systems that need to be in-house: In the age of cloud-enabled technologies, it is important to be wary of the problems of licensing. So, it is worth investing in some server space in your own organization. According to Yashwant, business intelligence and analytics, HR operations, Employee demographic data and organizational structure data need to be on-premise, while HR CoEs such as recruitment, learning, talent management, performance and total rewards could be hosted on the cloud.
- Match processes to technology: There is little or no use of technology if there is no process in place. It is critical therefore to assess whether a technology is addressing a pain area and leveraging data to solve a problem.
- Assess capability: There are four capabilities that an organization needs to exhibit to determine the efficacy of the use of HR technology. These are 1) process, 2) people, 3) technology – the existing technology infrastructure and 4) culture.
The success of the use of any technology depends invariably on the impact that it can have on the business. It is important for the HR function to take an active role in assessing or diagnosing a technology solution and also in identifying ways of implementing analytics – whether these are predictive or prescriptive, the impact lies in the translation of the intelligence to strong business metrics.