Human Capital Management

HR: Blog Series 2: The Race to Cloud – Ditching the past

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I am not an expert on non-HCM processes so not sure whether this problem is unique to HCM, but as someone who has worked in this profession for nearly 30 years I am constantly stunned by the increase in protectionism around HCM processes. In 1993, alongside a few colleagues we were able to implement a whole new pay structure, an integrated HR and Pay system and a new set of HR Processes all within nine months. This wasn’t a small to medium enterprise but a regional community health service, done with union agreement. Over 20 years later I know that wouldn’t be possible again, partly as political change has reversed the changes with new regulations. It appears to be more difficult even as technology becomes basically easier.

Stuck between the demands of procedure and regulation with the added expectation of increased demand for information, systems have become heavyweight machinery rather than light and fluffy. How do we as HR professionals break the complexity chain? Perhaps the solution lies not in ‘it’s what we’ve always done’, but more in ‘Let’s see what everyone else is doing’. You can’t always compare with others but you can learn from ways of working. Cloud brings the opportunity for change, not in a Cinderella way, but in the opportunity to switch to simple. I spent an afternoon recently trying to understand a bonus calculation for a client and was left at the end still not getting it. I am sure the calculation itself has relative merit to the client but if a compensation expert struggles to understand the formula, you have to ask yourself what the employee thinks.

Complexity exists for a myriad of reasons but it doesn’t mean it’s good or desirable. It’s time to take a sledgehammer to the chains of the past and consider how the same can be achieved with less. Employees and unions can be suspicious of change, but a simple process can be explained simply and if we as professionals are good at our job then we shouldn’t be nervous of the challenge. I take my example back to 1993. The UK health service is as rigid and structured an environment as you are every likely to come across but we still made the change with not a single day lost in industrial action.

HR professionals, as do all, see value in audit and regulation and these are often essential to an organisations ability to exist and succeed but there are often better ways and by asking the right questions, new ways can be discovered.

Cloud won’t answer everything, certainly in the short to medium term, but it shouldn’t hold back the opportunity to do something differently and ditch the past.

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