HRMS and HR cloud solutions have paved the way for HR to become a more efficient, streamlined and credible function. Akankasha Dewan talks to Alysson Do, the vice-president of human resources, APAC and emerging markets, at Pitney Bowes, about how to leverage on these technologies to ensure HR fully recognises its own potential.

The diverse advantages of using technologies such as human resources management systems (HRMS) and HR cloud is the main reason why organisations now are much more agile when implementing new enterprise solutions for meeting their latest business challenges.

With no hardware and software maintenance, low costs, flexibility, high-speed implementation and simplicity, HRMS and HR cloud solutions have made operations in the function much simpler to manage.

“HRMS and cloud technology have indeed transformed the human resources function,” says Alysson Do, the vice-president of human resources, APAC and emerging markets, at Pitney Bowes.

“These tools allow companies to streamline the entire HR life cycle of an employee – from talent acquisition to benefits and payroll to talent management.

“Companies can seamlessly integrate all their HR processes into one system that is accessible anywhere in the world. HR teams can be geographically dispersed or centralised in one location and deliver transparent services and value 24/7 to their workforce. HR is no longer attached to a filing cabinet of information that may not be accurate, up to date, or even complete.”

Dynamic versus static data

But blind usage and dependence on these technologies can, in fact, lower their efficiency quotient.

“Technology is only as good as the diligence that was done to set-up the system,” Do explains.

HRMS systems can only provide data based on what the parameters, rules and information collected, but you will always need to validate that data.
Do gives an example on a time she worked on a project to identify a new site location for her business. They took the approach of looking at the demographic markers of their successful employee population to help identify another location with similar demographic markers.

“The data provided gave us 10 locations, which we scheduled for site visits. Once we visited, we found other data points that were critical for making that decision that never came up before. The qualitative validation is always necessary to put the quantitative data in context,” she said.

Relying simply on the data gained from these technologies is, therefore, counter-productive if one wishes to make strategic business decisions.

“The data gathered from HRMS systems is generally based on static modelling. Your organisation is dynamic.

“In this competitive global economy, HR needs to combine both the insights from that data with experience/wisdom to make the best decision for the business. In any given situation, you will never have a perfect answer, only the best answer given your organisational readiness, talent and resources.”

Knowing your technological readiness

Being aware of one’s organisational readiness involves not only knowing the company’s business strategy and resources, but knowing how well the company is prepared for using these technologies in the first place.

This is mainly because implementing a HRMS system requires change management because employees across the board must learn new ways of doing things.

“There are multiple stakeholders involved: the employees who now must take responsibility for their own information; managers and leaders who now can be measured; and even HR whose work must transform beyond the operational.

“HR must have a holistic understanding of the entire organisation because it requires interdependency with multiple functions across the organisation and the ability to negotiate with people with competing priorities. Furthermore, HR needs to understand how to derive insights from the data and deliver practical business solutions.”

Hence, she advises that before selecting a HRMS solution, it is important for HR to identify its business needs, processes and short and long-term goals because these elements will impact data adoption versus data abandonment scenarios.

With great power comes great responsibility

Because HR is no longer a massive information storage function, its influence and impact on crafting business strategies has increased significantly.

“As HRMS systems have matured and become more sophisticated, they have allowed HR to use predictive analysis to proactively manage their employee population,” Do says.

“HR can get ahead of the curve and provide real-time insights that allow their leaders to make better business decisions about their workforce.

“These technologies also eliminate the low value and time-consuming operational work and allow HR practitioners to spend more time with the business on strategy and execution.”

However, the benefits of using this technology also gives the HR function added responsibilities.

“A single, global HRMS with standard self-service functions for all employees, irrespective of location, creates a global internal brand and organisational identity. Every employee is working for the same employer and not a local company that happens to share one logo,” Do says.

“HRMS systems can be powerful when they are incorporated into an overall talent management programme because organisations can create transparency for career development opportunities and allow HR to assess information on their talent workforce.”

The future of HR technology

Essentially, as technologies evolve and as platforms develop, capabilities increase and business needs change, including those of the HR function.

“HR is known for being ‘soft and fuzzy’, but this is our time to step up and show that HR can be analytical, disciplined and a contributor to the top line also. At the end of the day, the business wants to understand how best to maximise its talent to deliver the best for its clients.

“We should let the data speak for itself.”