While HR departments were once viewed as predominantly transactional, today, HR is more often relational, exercised almost as if the department were a solutions-based consultancy. No longer are employees viewed as cogs in a machine or even a replaceable means to an end; they are increasingly seen as vital assets integral to a company’s overall success. They are worthy of continuous investment.
Anne M. Mulcahy, former chairperson and CEO of Xerox puts it this way: “Employees are a company’s greatest asset — they’re your competitive advantage. You want to attract and retain the best; provide them with encouragement, stimulus, and make them feel that they are an integral part of the company’s mission.”
Modern HR departments are undergoing transformation not only due to this mindset shift but also because of an explosion in innovative technology designed to support overarching strategy and optimize HR operations. However, many HR teams struggle to navigate the wide variety of technologies available to solve organizational challenges. For the sake of ease, teams tend to opt for the most comprehensive tools that bring payroll, benefits, and other key functions underneath one software umbrella. But for most teams, this isn’t the best solution. Below, I explore alternatives to the one-size-fits-all model, and how to identify and implement the right technology solutions for your organization’s needs.
Witnessing the Evolution of HR Tech
HR technology refers broadly to the software and hardware aimed at streamlining a swath of human resources functions. The increasing ubiquity of these technologies — combined with advancements in tech at large, spanning the realms of automation, data and analytics, and AI, among others — have further reimagined HR’s role in the workplace.
By integrating both core and new HR services — from payroll and compensation to workforce analytics and culture management programs — with the latest in HR tech, organizations are positioned to improve top-line business performance.
Tackling the Growing HCM Market
Shopping for HR software can be a confusing process. The market is flooded with new products offering everything from one-size-fits-all solutions to unique, modular customizations, each promising to transform and optimize your HR Department. While many products offer attractive features, most organizations still struggle to determine what they really need.
Unsurprisingly, with so many new products on the market, investment is pouring into HR tech from various sources, with venture capitalists leading the charge. VC firms invested $1.741 billion in HR tech companies in Q1 of 2019, followed by $1.448 billion in Q2.
Continued investment in the sector evidences the ongoing demand for new solutions. It’s become increasingly apparent that not everyone is thrilled with the “one-size-fits-all” solutions on the market. New players armed with more tailored HR solutions are popping up left and right while existing vendors continue to release new software and periodic updates in an attempt to keep abreast of the market.
A Solution Based on Your Unique Needs and Goals
The HR approach adopted by any given organization depends on a number of internal and external factors. The size of the organization, its mission, and specific departmental needs will all figure into the types of solutions they choose. As an example, size may play a key role when determining an approach. Enterprise-scale organizations may be operating on legacy systems or custom-built solutions that they are either keen to maintain or ready to phase out. Integrating or displacing legacy technology will then become a priority when adopting new HR tech solutions.
For many organizations, navigating the different offerings of a multiplicity of vendors can be challenging, even with a honed focus on the department’s specific needs.
While some organizations will seek an HR solution that encompasses all of their core services, from succession planning and payroll to benefits management, many others will require a tailored approach, shopping only for tools that address specific problems.
Determining the Right HR Tech Integration Approach
Once an organization has pinpointed its specific goals, it is likely to take one of three common approaches to adopt new HR tech solutions:
The organization knows that a change is needed, but need help identifying what that change should be and how to execute it. With the right partnership, the organization can identify its needs based on an evaluation of its current technological footprint and desired outcomes. The partner gains a deep insight into the organization’s overall vision and goals in order to design a custom HR tech solution that aligns with the overall corporate strategy.
The organization has already chosen a tentative course of action. A partner is needed to validate the approach and help implement the solution effectively and efficiently.
The organization has already researched and validated a specific HR tech approach. A provider is employed to implement the solution optimally or carry out an upgrade or specific customization.
A Partner You Can Trust
While it is not always necessary to take the Greenfield approach, organizations often find that customized HR solutions offer key competitive advantages. Custom HR platforms can scale alongside the companies that deploy them, able to meet new demands and offer wider configurability than their all-in-one counterparts. Superior customized solutions also provide valuable support to HR associates by adapting internal forms and user interfaces to fit their needs.
Whatever approach you decide is appropriate for your organization, implementing a successful HR tech solution depends on finding a partner you can trust. Instead of approaching your HR department as problems arise, organizations should proactively select a provider who understands their operations, goals, and needs from a holistic perspective.
By taking your unique views into account, a provider can become a partner, working with you to derive an actionable direction that aligns HR needs with the broader mission and objectives of the organization.
At SEI, we view all clients as potential partners. We apply a “people first” strategy that prioritizes both the achievement of top-line business objectives and the establishment of lasting, valuable relationships. We begin the HR tech collaboration process by gleaning a deep understanding of our clients — from the inside out. We carefully examine what is working and what needs improvement, and align our findings with market offerings by selecting the products that are the best fit for the client, not just the trendiest products.
Crucially, we know that HR tech is an ongoing investment. When selecting HR solutions for our clients, we constantly assess the costs and complexities of deployment and maintenance. We keep an eye on whether HR investment strategy aligns with long-term business strategies. Most importantly, we work with our clients’ teams collaboratively and commit to delivering the best possible results via custom-built solutions.