The Wedlock of HR Technology and Shared Services

Contributor:  Hirra Pervaiz
Posted:  04/01/2011  12:00:00 AM EDT
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The old adage “sharing is caring” applies today to the new wedlock of Human Resources and technology—where the latter vows to be there in good times and bad, share the worries, and to make the bond as successful as possible. But, the question is: is technology really performing to support HR?

Technology surrounds us everywhere. With its advent in the field, the scope of HR has broadened and has new horizons have opened for human resources to look beyond its traditional administrative tasks. The technological advancements that we see today include the Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS), online recruitment systems, HR portals and now: shared services. With such advancements happening, we may be convinced that technology has kept all of its vows and has made the performance of the Human Resource Department (HRD) a lot more efficient.

The question still remains of how effectively technology has positioned HRDs to operate efficiently. HR has shifted roles from back office to front end operations, and now to the management's table where HR assumes a more strategic outlook. This is majorly attributed to the technology that supports it. Sharing the load is one thing, but numbers speak louder than words. Technology has granted the space and room for HR to think and work beyond words and move onto more strategic issues such as talent management, organizational development, making or buying decisions, etc.

The shared services model has further enhanced the strategic share of HR in organizations as it unchains it from traditional administrative tasks and provides the opportunity to pursue endeavors with more business impact. There are a few main reasons that organizations are adopting the shared services model: cost reductions, increase in efficiency of service delivery, and the engagement of the HR subject matter experts to more value-added tasks.

Adopting the shared service model is no easy task and does not come without its own complications. An organization adopting this model often tends to focus more on cost reduction and task streamlining. Some important areas can easily be neglected, such as: defining of new roles and responsibilities; re-evaluating the performance management approaches; maintaining the service level with a leaner HR department, etc.

Believing that technology can replace the human touch without much effort is a misguided assumption. Implementing a broadened spectrum of HR in form of shared services requires much more effort for an efficient service delivery. With the implementation of shared services, HR needs to focus on the following areas:

  • Identifying and defining clear job roles and responsibilities at all tiers of the shared service, along with a clearly defined performance management approach, where Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Key Deliverable are clearly defined and communicated.
  • Rigorous training on HR policies, cultural awareness (in global or regional context)
  • Constant review of the Employee Self-Service(ESS) and Manager Self-Service (MSS) portals to ensure the information is up-to-date and easy to access.
  • An assessment of whether the HR shared services have managed to deliver the intended purpose; a thorough assessment of HR’s role as to whether HR is addressing the more strategic issues after the implementation of shared service and is, in fact, contributing to the bottom line.

Implementing a new model or technology is not an easy task, and implementation of shared services is not the end-all solution. "Human" HR effort is still required in the change management process and to make a productive roll out of a broad approach. To reap the best benefits of the shared services model, the wedlock of HR and technology must adhere to the old adage: “Until death do us part.” HR and technology have a long road to navigate together as the HR shared services model continues to evolve— and with it, the scope of HR will continue to broaden.

Hirra Pervaiz Contributor:   Hirra Pervaiz

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