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September 12, 2019

The Digitalization of Human Resources: 7 Key Steps

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The number of companies that have decided to embark on a path towards digital HR transformation has been steadily increasing over the past few years.

Choosing the right HR platform to implement constitutes a fundamental step in this complex and delicate process, which must be preceded, accompanied and followed by careful planning, training and analysis.

To ensure a successful outcome, an HR digitalization process should include the following steps.

Identification of goals and priorities

An HR transformation process will be successful when it has the purpose of solving not only the problems of the HR department, but also those of the employees.

Indeed, it is the employees who are the real beneficiaries of this transformation.

The goals of the project can be simple or complex, depending on the level of detail which one aims to reach and the initial situation.

A simple goal might be allowing employees to enroll autonomously in corporate training courses, while a more advanced one would be allowing all recruiters to know whether a candidate they are considering is already a part of other selection processes.

For companies which are undergoing an HR digitalization experience for the first time, it is advisable to start with simple goals, proceeding one area at a time (recruiting, organizational chart, training, evaluation, attendance monitoring, etc.).

The goals should be ordered by relevance (impact on processes) and difficulty (in terms of time and money). In the choice and implementation phase of a technological system, it will be necessary to give priority to high-impact operations which require less resources. Acquiring a digital platform that fulfils 90% of the company’s needs is relatively inexpensive, while requiring deep customizations to meet the remaining 10% will not be as cost-effective.

Identification of key figures

Just like employer branding requires collaboration between the HR department and the Marketing department, an HR transformation project cannot work without cooperation between Human Resources and the company’s IT department.

In addition to being involved at the design stage, the IT department should also bring its contribution to the phase of selecting the provider, by intervening in the process in order to analyze its more technical aspects.

Furthermore, the personnel chosen to oversee the HR digitalization project must have enough time and resources at their disposal.

To make it even more efficient, the HR management platform should always be customized to the needs and processes of that particular company. Therefore, this is not merely a one-way process, but rather an exchange of data and information that requires committed effort from both the provider and the client company.

Establishment of project specifications

After establishing the objectives and priorities, it is important to have the technical design specifications available, meaning the detailed list of functional features that the solution must possess in order to achieve the set objectives.

This crucial aspect is often overlooked by those who work in the Human Resources field and are not familiar with choosing a software solution or planning a digitalization project. The risk is that the choice might end up being made in a superficial manner, for example on the basis of aesthetic elements or as a result of the salesmanship skills of the representative for one particular solution.

At this stage, the support of the IT department is essential: they are the ones who have the experience and technical know-how, and who have knowledge regarding the company’s current technological setup. At the same time, the HR department must maintain control, ensuring that the technical project remains aligned with the goals.

Choice of the right provider

Once the goals have been drafted and the internal resources have been enlisted, it is time to choose the right vendor from a field with many strong players.

First of all, it is necessary to make a number of basic decisions.

Cloud-based or On-premise?

Up until a few years ago, most companies were still pondering this question, but nowadays it is very rare for them to choose a solution that is not cloud-based.

The economic and technological advantages of cloud-based solutions have been solidly established: no license costs, no installation, maintenance or backups required, continuous and free upgrades, ability to use them from anywhere, etc.

Furthermore, the increased focus brought by such solutions on issues of security and compliance, particularly regarding the GDPR, is making it necessary for companies to choose providers which offer the highest standards on these issues, thanks to their technology, their tried-and-tested procedures, their properly trained personnel and their support for cutting-edge IaaS platforms.

Centralized or Self-service?

Some companies still prefer to maintain a centralized management for Human Resources, with platforms that do not give the employee the opportunity to access, view and modify the information and processes that concern them.

This approach is now considered outdated.

The self-service approach offers a number of advantages for all parties involved.

  • The HR department has less data entry to perform and can track the results of the work of each employee.
  • Managers have better control over their team.
  • Employees are more involved and can perform operations autonomously for which they previously had to wait for the intervention of the HR office.
  • The data is more transparent, clear, accurate and up-to-date.

In addition, it must be highligted that the storage and distribution of documents in a digital and self-service manner (payslips, employee evaluation forms, interview forms for candidates, the vacation plan, etc.) reduces paper usage, which represents savings for the company and a benefit for the environment.

Integrated or Specialized?

Human resources management software can be classified in a number of different ways. One particular classification identifies three main categories:

  • Payroll software
  • Leave and attendance management software
  • Talent management software (Recruiting, training, evaluation, etc.)

Some solutions on the market include all three functions in one product suite, while others, such as Altamira HRM, bring together attendance management software and talent management software on a single platform, and other solutions are dedicated only to particular areas.

Choosing one type of software over the other has both advantages and disadvantages.

On one hand, choosing a single integrated platform for multiple HR functions speeds up the learning curve for the tools, requires less data entry, strengthens the synergies between the different areas with the updating of the data in real time and gives the ability to create comprehensive reports.

On the other hand, specialized software can be selected and replaced independently, goes deeper in its respective area of specialization and is updated more often.

The choice is often dictated by the size of the company, and thus by the budget at one’s disposal. An integrated suite does not require extra resources for integration, and is therefore accessible to everyone. However, in case the resources available are more substantial, one may choose the best-of-breed products in each category and then proceed to integrate them.

Other questions

After these questions have been resolved and the products that fit your needs and business objectives have been chosen, it is always a good idea to inquire about:

  • The timing and manner of providing customer service and the SLA of the platform.
  • Experience with similar projects or companies.
  • Compliance levels.

Pilot project (optional)

After the provider has been chosen, in the case of complex projects, it is advisable to start with a pilot project, limited to a sample that should be as representative of the workforce as possible. Accordingly, it is better to choose one particular team or one business function, and not restrict the testing phase to the managers alone.

After the completion of a successful pilot project, one may expand the use of the HR technology to the whole company.

Employee Training

The coming novelties must be presented to the employees in a timely and positive manner.

Then, it is necessary to proceed to train those who will be the most active users of the platform: the HR professionals and line managers.

The training is normally performed by the provider of the software solution, who also provides the documentation of reference for the use of the platform.

Aspaen - Altamira

As an example, see how Aspaen Colombia has prepared their employees for the introduction of the Altamira software suite

Project review

Some time afterwards, a survey should be conducted among the various stakeholders to verify the level of satisfaction with the implemented solution and to collect feedback on possible changes and improvements.

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