The benefits of treating HR systems as products

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HR doesn't subject its systems to as much scrutiny as it does more visible products. Perhaps it should

One of the words that gets bandied about in HR is “products.” Our services are products. Recruiting is a product. Compensation is a product. Organisational design and development are products. We treat them like products; we research new innovations for these products. We look for new ways to deliver them, and we try to inculcate the newest research to ensure that these products are up to standard. We lean towards innovation with these products.

Which all brings me to a question: why don’t we treat HR systems the same way?

What I mean is: I don’t know if we subject our HR systems to as rigorous scrutiny as we do the products that are more visible. Because I believe the only reasons we don’t look at HR systems as products is because they’re not as visible to the client, and as long as they’re working, why bother?

But the answer is: because by treating our systems as core products with which our services are offered, we stand the chance of innovation. Not just innovation for innovation’s sake, but truly groundbreaking delivery systems that can propel the profitability and productivity of our companies forward.

For those of us utilising core HR systems that allow for manager and employee workbenches on desktops, have we considered evolving this into an app? Instead of desktop, think ‘remote workstation'. As the workforce evolves to more flexible schedules and remote geographies, this could make an incredible impact on your management team.

The same goes for recruiting. Do you use Skype for interviews? Can candidates complete aptitude tests in the cloud? Can interview scoring be done via virtual apps? Again, recruitment is a product, and the way we deliver it can evolve. What would enable your managers to see interviews and onboarding as a seamless process? How can you create faster engagement time to secure new talent? These are where HR systems can propel your team into the next generation of delivery, and your company will profit along with these advances.

These are just a couple of examples. But stop to think about the systems you utilise, whether it’s one centralised platform with many modules or it’s separate systems that must speak to each other.

How can payroll be improved? How can compensation become more agile? Can organisational design be advanced via a more sophisticated interface with the centralised database of employees? What about succession planning? Systems deliver all of these products, which makes the system a product in and of itself. We must consider the impact these systems have on the quality of the products they deliver, and we must always be thinking about how these methods of delivery may be improved. R&D isn’t just for computers. Product enhancement isn’t just for consumer packaged goods. Our products – and that includes our systems – must be held to the same scrutiny.

Rita Trehan is business strategist and former CHRO at Honeywell and AES Corporation

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