HR Technologies Are Following the Social Landscape

Karen Crone - Chief Human Resources Officer @ Paycor, Inc. | The HR Tech Weekly®

Today our guest is Karen Crone, Chief HR Officer at Paycor – a leading provider of intuitive, cloud-based HR, payroll and timekeeping software.

Karen spent over 15 years in senior and C-suite positions in HR in leading companies such as Convergys Corporation, Kendle Corporation now INC Research, American Modern Insurance Group, and currently Paycor.

Paycor is a trusted partner to more than 33,000 small and medium-sized businesses. Known for delivering modern, intuitive recruiting, HR and payroll solutions, Paycor partners with businesses to optimize their people management.

Paycor’s key areas of specialization include Payroll Management, Human Resources Solutions, Benefits Administration, Time & Attendance Solutions, Tax Filing & Compliance, Workers’ Compensation and Employment Screening Service.

The interview is hosted by Alexey Mitkin, Founder, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, The HR Tech Weekly® Online Media Co.

  1. Hi Karen, and first of all thank you very much for this interview with The HR Tech Weekly®. Recently you told us about HR predictions in terms of employee benefits in 2017. What do you think this year will bring to us in respect of HR technologies?

HR technologies are following the social landscape in many ways. For example, smartphones have become the human body’s external central nervous system. They relay information from every facet of our lives – news, entertainment, calendars, email, text messages, phone calls and so on. We have come to expect fingertip access to real-time information that integrates our personal and professional lives. From my perspective, mobility will continue to be the top trend. This is especially critical as the work itself becomes more fluid in terms of when, how, and where it’s completed. Mobility also supports the dynamic of collaborative and virtual teams that group, disband, and regroup as the work requires. HR technology must be mobile-friendly to be relevant.

Another trend is analytics and guided insights through dashboards and reports. For example, a young professional with a 401(k) does not just want to know her account balance, but also her performance relative to their peers. Is she saving more or less than peers? Is she using similar investment strategies? Lastly, she wants to know what to do to maximize her savings. The same concept applies to organizations. For example, employee retention data in the aggregate does not provide insights into critical talent segments like first year employees, top talent, or Millennials. You can take this further and look at industries, geographies, peer groups, and so on. HR technology must not just present data, but also interpret it, benchmark it and guide an outcome.

Lastly, as consumers, we appreciate curated products and services that match our interests. Amazon and Netflix are great examples. This same concept is shaping learning. We want to be served the highest impact content, in any format, which helps us close a learning gap. We also want that content to have our peer groups’ stamp of approval. For example, a sales person wants to be shown the best example of a product demo or the best script for overcoming objections. It must also be accessible on the smartphone or tablet, bringing HR technology full circle.

  1. You have extensive experience in managing Human Resources for over twenty years. How has HR management evolved since you started, and what are the tips for 21st century from your perspective?

HR management today is about keeping business leaders and managers tuned into the voice of employees and removing obstacles to their performance and development. Engagement at the grassroots level is critical to a healthy organization. You must cultivate candid, two-way communication – and really listen. Today’s business moves too swiftly and has too many complexities to rely on just the executive team for all the answers. That’s probably the biggest change – the power of the people, and the need to embed HR at the front-lines of the business. Your best ideas, your biggest innovations, and your efficiency ideas all reside at the grassroots, and HR can help surface them.

  1. It is a kind of standard to consider that Human Capital Management (HCM) solutions are designed mostly for the corporate business. How it’s important for small and medium businesses and why?

HCM solutions are even more important for SMBs. SMBs often run fairly lean, yet they face the same business challenges and to-do lists as larger companies, with fewer people to handle the load. HCM solutions create capacity by automating data collection, data analysis, work flows, reports and so on. For every task you automate or put at people’s desktop through employee or manager self-service, there’s more time to spend on the customer experience, new product ideas, recruiting top talent, or a host of similar business issues. HCM solutions create capacity for SMB leaders and their teams to work on the stuff they love – making a great business.

  1. What is the role of a Chief HR Officer (CHRO) and why it’s important for them to have a voice at the leadership table?

The primary role of the Chief HR Officer is to be the coach, counselor, sounding board, and voice of reason for the CEO and senior executive team when it comes to leadership team dynamics, the leadership of the executive’s team or function, and his or her personal development. Another role is to be the physician to the company’s organizational health and culture. It’s better and easier to practice preventative care than to address neglect. One example that illustrates this is an empty succession pipeline. It’s important for CHROs to have a voice at the table to keep people matters front and center in the context of business strategy. Businesses without a solid “people plan” are missing a leg of the stool. CHROs facilitate and guide that important, most often strategic, dialogue.

  1. Employee engagement is a hot point in HR discussions. Very often it seems that it’s mostly addressed to new hires (and new generations) while it’s important from “hire to retire”. Could you share some tips from your practice please?

At Paycor, we are more sophisticated in segmenting the workforce and in personalizing services. As an example, we learned that our 4-6 year tenured sales professionals were sliding in their connection to the company. No surprise there, as you noted in your question. In a high-growth company like Paycor, we focus significant energy on onboarding new associates. We started action planning at the segment level, which in this case resulted in a Chief Sales Officer roundtable, more career consulting, a HQ visit, product training, and so on. Segmenting by life events is another way to personalize engagement. For example, how can you make recognition of a baby or a wedding, or your response to a serious illness memorable? When you get personal, you strengthen the connection and ultimately engagement.

  1. What companies of all sizes should consider when evaluating HR technologies?

When evaluating HR technologies, it’s critical to start with the end in mind, what problems you are trying to solve, and how you want the business to run in the future. That helps prioritize the features, functions, and types of technology needed. Next, consider the relationship you have with the providers. There will be hiccups along the way. Think about who it is you want and trust to be by your side. If your partner listens to and responds during the sales process, it’s a signal that the customer experience matters. Lastly, consider the voice you have in shaping the future of the technology. What role does the customer play in identifying and influencing new releases? The technology must grow with you.

  1. What are the upcoming challenges for you as CHRO of an HR Tech company and Paycor as an HR Tech vendor?

As the CHRO of Paycor, it’s about scaling our people practices in support of rapid growth and reinforcing our strong culture across an evolving geographic footprint. Growth creates first-class challenges! The HR tech space is intensely competitive when it comes to hiring the best and brightest engineering and product management talent. As CHRO, I stay vigilant on the state of hiring and on internal mobility. A healthy talent pipeline is one signal of a healthy company. Finally, for Paycor as an HR tech vendor, we are monitoring the ripple effect of the new Presidential administration. Our customers expect and want Paycor to help them navigate compliance complexities and business opportunities. Finally, our hallmark is service. We want to keep improving the customer experience and make employee management even easier.


If you want to share this interview the reference to Karen CronePaycor and The HR Tech Weekly® is obligatory.

2017: The Year of Employee Engagement

2017: The Year of Employee Engagement

Saddle up, 2017—we’ve got a lot to catch you up on!

First thing’s first: there’s a new Twitter-wielding President in town.

Second on the agenda: We lost too many noteworthy artists and influencers in 2016; so it’s on you to knock that off.

Third: there are these things called “millennials”—yeah, I know, nobody really has a firm grasp on the meaning. But you, my young, doe-eyed 2017, are all about getting this generation engaged and excited, pushing them to their limits!

Are you ready, 2017?

Because millennials are.

But they’ve been the ire of bad publicity for their job hoppiness and perceived disconnectedness from work.

…even after the office installed its fourth swirly slide.

The audacity.

But the nice thing about hindsight is that we can all look back and laugh, and maybe weep a little, at all the resources wasted on ball-pits, nap rooms, and arcade parlors.

Because, in hindsight, we can see where the problems emerged. Like, for instance, how it’s a bit insulting to spend money on frivolous niceties instead of the hired talent.

That’s where YOU come in, 2017!

Millennials WANT Professional Development Opportunities

Can somebody hand me a megaphone? Because a lot of management teams are dragging their feet on this.

Ahem… MILLENNIALS WANT PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES.

Sorry for the yelling.

But it’s so very, very true.

A recent Gallup poll found that 87 percent of millennials, in fact, say development is important in a job. This factored highly into their attitudes toward retention too. And though they are practically yelling from the rooftops for growth opportunities (more so than any previous generation, mind you), most organizations simply aren’t listening.

In their defense, it is tough to hear over the sound of drills fastening bunk beds to walls (a huge liability).

But here’s the thing: the millennial workforce has matured. They simply aren’t quite as interested in “perks” as once believed. Forbes recently examined some Millennial (and Generation Z) workplace expectations and, under “workplace environment”, found that the majority wanted workplace flexibility.

Meaning they didn’t even want to be there all the time to utilize those really cool slides.

This really shouldn’t be shocking news. There are some very strange myths about millennials floating around cyberspace, but Forbes, again, dispels them using Occam’s razor.

In this Forbes article, you won’t find any nonsensical, conjured up perks to attract and retain millennials. The maturing workforce finds value, instead, in employee development and principles on which the organization was built.

In short: ensuring millennial employees are given the tools to excel each day, with potential for leadership nurturing, is a huge win for any management team.

How Should Organizations Increase Millennial Engagement?

Glad you asked, 2017!

In the past five years, there has been growth in employee development, however the oversight is lacking. Depending on the source du jour, professional development occurs informally at a rate somewhere between 70-80%.

The issue arises that the training millennials are receiving is not on track with the organization’s goals, growth, or principles in mind. And without context, millennials—and employees at large—are less likely to find value in any training mechanism.

Employee development starts with the foundations from which the organization was built. Take, for instance, the employee development strategies of Balance Point, a company that “prides itself on providing excellent customer service.”

In understanding this, their team collaborated in sessions to “hone in [their] people skills and… boost camaraderie and overall morale.”

Tailoring professional development to the organization’s foundations allows employees to focus on “the big picture” while strengthening the required skills to meet those goals.

But it simply cannot end there.

Technology to Keep Millennial Engagement Thriving

The near-constant evolution of Human Capital Management systems (HCMs) now emphasizes the employee’s journey as integral to the successes of the organization. Formal training and development opportunities are found in most HCMs, and should be integrated into the employee experience for greater engagement and retention.

The number of organizations implementing formal, streamlined training mechanisms will likely rise throughout 2017. The Employee Engagement Series conducted by Kronos, courtesy of Yahoo Finance, found that 95 percent of HR leaders admit that employee burnout is negatively impacting the workforce.

To counteract this disastrous figure, organizations will push for more ways to engage and retain talent, particularly millennials, who have raised their collective hand to its importance. It is time for management to heed the call and give them what they truly want.

Professional development may seem like another waste of resources (some organizations say, while on the phone with an espresso machine service technician) but the impact on retention, employee satisfaction, and leadership development will likely pay dividends.

If millennials are asking to be developed, the only logical solution is to give them precisely what they want.

Ok, 2017. Did you get all that?

Now take the ball and run!

And don’t you dare even think about touching a single angelic hair on Betty White’s head.


If you want to share this article the reference to Todd Giannattasio and The HR Tech Weekly® is obligatory.

A day in the life of an HR

A day in the life of an HR

All those familiar with HCM applications agree that an HCM application has a varied set of users i.e. the employees, their managers and the HR power users with different access levels.

We will peek into what an HCM solution offers its power user group in today’s post.

So today we follow Tina, an HR professional who could be employed in your organization or mine, Tina uses an HCM application at work, I will pretend her organization has implemented Workday, you can pretend she uses PeopleSoft HCM / SAP HCM / Oracle HCM.

How would Tina wants to begin her day, she would like to have a quick glance at the tasks and transactions that require her attention, tasks could include a report to be sent across the manager, a direct report to be reviewed for performance, an open job opening for which Tina has to interview candidates, transactions could include processing requests submitted by end user employees like address changes, marital status updates etc., making updates to employee data like initiating a transfer, processing a hire, termination etc. Life would be a breeze if all pending tasks and transactions be visible at once. Well it is possible and life can indeed be a breeze if Tina can sign into her HCM account in the morning and access a Dashboard (also referred to as WorkCenter or Operational Dashboard) configured for her use. The Dashboard is made of individual widgets (or pagelets as they are also referred to) which can display tasks that require attention, pending transactions, notifications from the manager, announcements from the organization at large, birthday and anniversary reminders etc. And the best part is that Tina can click on a task or transaction requiring attention and she will be transferred to the relevant page where she can proceed with further action. Now isn’t that fabulous.

Tina is a woman on the move, and so is her HCM solution. Most of the contemporary HCMs are designed with smartphone compatibility as the focus, also some even tailor their screens and pages to be rendered seamlessly on iPads.

Now what if Tina wants to run some HR Analytics, all she has to do is make use of the near to Business Intelligence reporting features offered by most HCM solutions, some HCMs like PeopleSoft have built-in Pivot Grid like reports and lets the IT team create new one as per business needs. And for more advanced HR Analytics, HCMs can be interfaced with Business Intelligence solutions. And Business Intelligence tools have the flexibility wherein Tina can create reports on her own without help from the IT team.

So a day in the life of an HR person using HCM is breezy and exciting, don’t you agree…


If you want to share this article the reference to Bhuvana Rao and The HR Tech Weekly® is obligatory.

Learning from SAP SuccessConnect: Driving the Shift to Digital HR

SAP SaccessConnect 2016 Vienna

In this transformation era, most of companies want to lead with better financial results and with more customer engagement, satisfaction and experiences. Every organization wants to have success before their peers. The transformation is already taking place, mainly starting with Human Resources within the Organizations and Digital HR plays a vital role whether in standardizing and streamlining processes or in helping organizations to transform their HR practices and employee experiences.

SuccessConnect 2016 Vienna has definitely provided the opportunity where one can spend time with people who are successfully navigating through these changes. Learn why they began and how they are proceeding through the journey, including value and results they are achieving.

For those who are not aware of SAP SuccessConnect events, the premier event for human resources (HR) professionals. World’s leading HR executives, business professionals, industry experts, and thought leaders gather who are shaping the way companies are transforming businesses in the digital economy.

Definitely recommended if you want to know how, why and where you need to start the journey to Digital Transformation. Here are some of the recents and upcoming ones.

Join us for SuccessConnect around the globe!

Let’s now share our experiences recently from Vienna, the latest SuccessConnect event. What is important at this time is to know over the experiences, knowledge and challenges in the transformation with Digital HR from the organizations who are already leading their journey.

There are lot of feedback and knowledge sharing from these leading organizations at SuccessConnect. Keynote address with SAP SuccessFactors President Mike Ettling, “Simply Human Show” has provided such experiences of the journey from UCB, Swiss Re and Erste Group Bank.

Franck Cohen, President, SAP Europe, Middle East and Africa, and Mike Ettling, President, SAP SuccessFactors discussed over leadership and diversity. Highly motivated thoughts and styles from two leaders from SAP.

Main Stage SAP SuccessConnect 2016 Vienna

There are other interesting Keynotes, one with Niki Lauda is one of the best Formula 1 drivers and one of the most fascinating personalities in sports and other with Stefan Ries, member of the Executive Board of SAP SE and CHRO and off course Women in Leadership Luncheon, a really good initiative from SAP for sure.

The one with Thomas Otter and Dave Ragones, both group vice presidents of Product Management at SAP SuccessFactors, is definitely under the surveillance from SAP Partners, Vendors and Customers as a whole. They discussed the future directions and trends shaping the SAP SuccessFactors suite of products, over the new product innovation and newly added functionalities. Which are surely the driving points of the transformation for better customer experiences and results.

There are huge numbers of breakout sessions from SAP, partners and customers, sharing their experiences and capabilities. Not easy to attend all of these but the below ones are definitely interesting especially when one is looking for a proper answer, roadmap and guidance for your transformation journey.

From Partners and Customers:

38167: Lufthansa: Side-by-Side Model with SAP SuccessFactors Solutions

38254: Power and Value of Developing an Actionable HR Strategy and Road Map When Transitioning HR

39184: Transforming Global HR – Is There Any Other Way to Work!

38953: How to Support Company Growth and Organizational Change with SAP SuccessFactors Solutions

38149: Kontron: Full Implementation of SAP SuccessFactors Solutions Based on SAP Rapid Deployment Solutions

From SAP:

40390: Introduction and Road Map for SAP SuccessFactors Extensibility

38121: SAP Success Factors Employee Central: Core HR Road Map

38173: Enabling HR Shared Services in Your Organization: SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central Service Center

38077: Overview of SAP SuccessFactors Learning and Road Map

38164: Introduction and Roadmap for SAP SuccessFactors Intelligent Services

We personally enjoyed the below session where SAP come over the road maps and options for Payroll in cloud and on-premise.

38128: SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central Payroll: Where We Are, Where We’re Going, and How to Get There

The only comprehensive choice and solution for global payroll
Slides are taken as pictures from SAP during SuccessConnect 2016, Vienna

SAP clearly indicated that choices and solutions for Global Payroll are totally depend on the customer’s perspective of their current situation. SAP is offering with 4 options currently where the preferences are clearly indicating to SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central Payroll or Managed Payroll. There are a lot of debates going on for these last two options and it is good to know that SAP makes clear indication that those customers who are happy with their current SAP HCM Payroll solution (so far the best option) are not need to move to cloud in hurry.

Why transition (SAP ERP) Payroll to the cloud?
Slides are taken as pictures from SAP during SuccessConnect 2016, Vienna

Transition of Payroll to cloud totally reciprocal to the customer’s satisfaction with their current situation. SAP has also provided two different choices to Payroll delivery for Employee Central,  currently the best choice for Core HR on cloud from SAP.

Payroll delivery options for Employee Central
Slides are taken as pictures from SAP during SuccessConnect 2016, Vienna

So now it’s upon to the organizations who need to decide their own choices from their current situation and their own future roadmap. Further reading on this is recommended from Diginomica.

SAP’s Mike Ettling on the cloud ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’.

There are off course lot of other interesting sessions and there are a lot to discuss and share but we surely need dedicated contents for them. But it is always good to be a part of the most debatable topic, which we have share.

Another interesting best recent announcement from SAP is SAP SuccessFactors Process Library,  the process library for SAP SuccessFactors solutions provides a unique and specific body of knowledge created and maintained by SAP. The process library supports the transformation of HR based on the leading cloud solution for HR and enables customers to drive standardization and fast adoption.

SuccessConnect from SAP is a great place for valuable networking as it is dedicatedly provides the opportunity in driving Digital HR for a Digital Transformation journey.

Meeting Experts, Global colleagues,  Ex-Colleagues, Friends, Social Media Connections and lots of Partners/Vendors at the same place and during the same time is not at all a bad option for sure, specially when the area (Human Resources) of all innovation, thoughts and experiences are the same.

Meeting experts specially SAP Mentors is very common and expected in event like SAP TechEd but SuccessConnect is neither a bad option especially if you are looking for mentors/experts on SAP HCM and SAP SuccessFactors solutions. It is a big plus for any attendee for sure.

Some of the SAP Community folks and Mentors on SAP HCM ERP and SuccessFactors in Vienna
Some of the SAP Community folks and Mentors on SAP HCM ERP and SuccessFactors in Vienna

Now if we come to vendors and partners there is a big list of sponsors in SuccessConnect. It’s great to get collaborate with many of them, grabbing their experiences with other customers, partners and knowing future solutions from SAP which could be a  a great step to know why, how and where to start the journey to Transformation.

Very impressed with NGA HR, who are one of the leaders in Payroll Services and HR Outsourcing. Actually so far they are mainly known for the Payroll and Outsourcing services. But it’s good to know over their Digital HR services as well where they are also leading HR Technology Consulting, HR Transformation Consulting and AMS services.

In this year, SAP has announced over SAP APP Center for customers, there are already more than 1200+ apps in the HANA Cloud Platform from SAP. NGA HR also announced about XtendHR, the future-proofed HR apps. The apps – built on the HR HANA Cloud Platform – help organizations to deploy, roll out, configure and manage SuccessFactors Employee Central faster, safer, better and cheaper. Will be available to anyone easily in this mobile world, where people spend most of their time in APPs onlys.

Similarly Accenture HCM Software is also doing a pretty good in boosting productivity on the SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central and SAP on-premise HCM platforms with their own solutions. Similar engagement is also supported by EPIUSE with their own solutions.

All of these three vendors are the premium partners from SAP and there are lot of expectations from the organizations and customers from them who are leading in helping customers in their transformation journey.

Apart from big names it was also interesting to know about some new and potential partners who are doing a fantastic progress with their innovative thoughts and engagement. We are really impressed with IngentisiProCon, TalentTeam, iXerv , WalkMe, Launch … and many more, and some of them are even founded and leaded by SAP Mentors and SAP Alumni.

We are also happy to share our collaboration idea with many of the partners especially on disruption on HR and driving Digital HR for transformation. We were especially engaging with lot of potential startups who are really promising with their innovative solution on HR Technologies. We will be happy to get engage with more and more startups, partners and helping organizations and customers in their transformation journey as well.

Please see our DisruptHR section on our website, you can find some of them, still many to get engage.

DisruptHR

Overall it is a very successful and impressive conference we attended recently so far. There are a lot of potential for most of the organizations as the journey has just began.

We are thankful to SAP and all the sponsors/partners and hope to continue our journey in this Digital Transformation era as well.

About the Author:

soumyasanto-sen

Soumyasanto Sen — Blogger, Speaker and Evangelist in HR Technology who try to think Out of the Box!

Professional Consultant, Manager, Advisor, Investor in HR Tech. Focusing on Strategies, Mobility, Cloud, Analytics, UX, Security, Data Protection, Developments and Integration in HR Technology & Digital HR.


Source: Learning from SAP SuccessConnect: Driving the shift to Digital HR – HRTechCon

Streamlining the Employee Experience with an HCM

Employee-Advocates-e1392214604918.png

Ah, the “employee experience.”

It’s a popular phrase tossed around by growing businesses. As more candidates are needed for steady growth, small and mid-sized business owners feel the strain to keep a firm grip on compliance while ensuring employees receive efficient and thorough transition into roles, up-to-date information and certifications, performance review procedures and follow-ups, job satisfaction, and so, so much more.

When your company is climbing from 20 to 50 to 100 employees, the need for true Human Resources can easily sneak up on you. Before you know it, you’re rushing to find answers to HR problems you hadn’t considered — and why would you? It’s not your area of expertise. And Google only helps so much…

When you add to the mix that millennials have officially overtaken Generation Xers as the largest generation in the U.S. labor force, organizations are scrambling to find, nurture, and retain top talent — and some demands must be met to preserve millennial employees.

But it’s not all nap-rooms and foosball tables.

As millennials reach professional maturity, they’re looking less for a “fun-zone” and more for a professional “safe-place” — that is to say, a workplace that understands their unique concerns, fears, motivations, and needs.

Organizations focusing on the employee experience are embracing their workforce in ways rarely seen in generations passed, a precedent that will undoubtedly play a much larger role as emerging generations build on this empowered foundation.

However, these same organizations are quickly finding snags along the way. From recruitment processes to off-boarding, ensuring employees receive professional value, satisfaction, and leadership nurturing add heavy workloads to an already hectic schedule.

We recently spoke with Pete Luciano, co-founder of Human Capital Management (HCM) provider Balance Point, about the pains most often discussed with clients about their processes. As Pete puts it, “Employees are your best assets. If the best talent for your organization is hired, trained, and given opportunities to succeed — and even fail productively — you’ll see growth before you know it.”

HCMs offer simple, cost-effective management solutions for these growing problems — but ultimately, the wealth they provide is up to the organization’s unique approach to the software.

Recruitment

Organizations are spending much more on recruiting top talent. Keeping a constant flow of viable candidates is difficult to manage, but an HCM remedies this time-blockage by continuously cataloguing candidates — even if organizations aren’t hiring at that second.

A potential candidate simply navigates to the website, uploads her/his resume, and fills out an application. From the organization’s perspective, managers can perform online applicant searches and track applicants throughout the hiring process.

Onboarding

As Pete says, “using an HCM to automate onboarding processes is administratively more sensible.” In days of yore, HR was responsible for collecting employee information and manually entering it into the organization’s system. With HCM software, the candidates are in control of their own information.

Prior to the start date, W4s, I-9s, employee handbooks, and other documents are accessed and filled out electronically. Giving new-hires access to their own information promotes transparency and trust within the organization — important standards for young people entering the marketplace.

Performance Reviews

Currently undergoing an evolution, performance reviews provide key insight into the successes and coaching necessary to successfully grow employees.

As mentioned in a recent HR Tech Weekly article, “Employees and their managers can work together on creating performance goals annually or bi-annually and track the progress and closure of the same with feedback and ratings as relevant.”

But every organization has a unique approach that speaks directly to their bottom lines.

HCMs automate performance reviews through tiered processes, measuring competency, goals, and the organization’s core values. Of course, HCMs are customizable in this way, giving each organization the opportunity to tailor performance reviews to their specific needs and standards.

HR, Time & Labor Management, Payroll

Giving employees access to their information, documents, pay grades, calendars, and benefits relieves HR of the time it takes to retrieve this information. Because HCMs are known for their simple, user-friendly interface, minimal training is needed to get employees up-to-speed and editing their information when necessary.

Building these workflows individually, without an HCM, takes time and can be cumbersome to navigate. Having everything located in one place makes it much easier for everybody, from leadership to employees, to manage and maintain.

Off-boarding

Employees retire, quit, or are terminated for many different reasons. Exit interviews offer insight into organizations through the lens of an employee who underwent the entire employee experience. Where are improvements needed? What can make the employee experience more appealing for future candidates?

What is done with the information gathered is ultimately up to the organization. However, HCM off-boarding processes ensure the organization gets its property back, terminates benefits, and ensures that nothing falls through the cracks. When it comes to Benefit/ACA reconciliation, people coming and going from the organization’s health insurance can either save or squander funds.

For small and mid-sized businesses looking for efficiency throughout the employee experience, an HCM provides cost-effective solutions to each facet of the employee’s journey while ensuring compliance, simple management, and real-time reporting.


If you want to share this article the reference to Todd Giannattasio and The HR Tech Weekly® is obligatory.

Why HCM

Ever wondered why do companies invest top dollar in HCM applications and then spend on maintaining them, what is the value it brings to an organization, why use it all?..

To tackle these questions and to understand why HCM, i.e. Human Capital Management applications, are basic blocks in the architecture of any organization’s IT landscape, let us look at the features that makes a HCM application what it is and how it empowers employees and HR personnel alike in an organization.

Why HCM

Ease of use: Feature rich and in some cases widget rich HCM systems come fitted with a simple user interface, imagine having to struggle to use and navigate through an application, no one wants that kind of negativity in their lives, the screens always meander towards simple, intuitive and an easy to use and navigate layout. The buzzword here is User Friendly.

Manage a global & dynamic workforce: Organizations are spread across continents with countries having varied tax regulations and rules. HCM systems provide features that support taxation, statutory deductions and year end processing of various countries. Also when employees get deputed and move on to foreign shores, a HCM system enables tracking such movements and related details.

Accommodate industry standard HR processes: Along with the obvious ability to hire employees into the organization, maintain their personal & employment data and record changes as applicable and then process termination on employee exit, HCM systems also enable calculation of periodic benefit deductions, calculation and payment of bimonthly/monthly salaries subject to the home country regulations, payouts of AdHoc bonuses. And employee data from the HCM system of an organization is published to other enterprise applications like Finance, Supply Chain Management etc.

Another group of HR processes that target employee talent management enable recording job related competencies of employees, detect gaps in the employee competency profile vis-à-vis the employee designation and track bridging of the gaps through a structured learning and certification path, HCM systems can also help map and track career plans for employees in an organization and if required create and monitor succession plans as well.

Employee work hours and In and Out times used for billing purposes can also be recorded, monitored and maintained in the HCM application.

Employees and their managers can work together on creating performance goals annually or bi-annually and track the progress and closure of the same with feedback and ratings as relevant.

Employees can also update changes in address, changes in martial changes, child birth/adoptions, view pay slips, view benefits offered by the organization and make choices and even see deductions as they happen, etc.

Anytime anywhere access: This happens to be a very important value-add, mobility is almost a way of life as evident in the past few years, people want the option to access data, approve requests and extract reports while on the go, so a HCM system is smartphone and tablet compatible has a definite edge in the market.

HR Analytics support: As your organization grows and accumulates data, analyzing this data to identify patterns and trends is an all-important activity, HCM systems provide text & chart based reports to support decision making and also ability to interface with external business intelligence tools if your organization uses them.


If you want to share this article the reference to Bhuvana Rao and The HR Tech Weekly® is obligatory.

SaaS Economics, Competitive Moats, And Interrogatory Configuration | In Full Bloom

Written by Naomi Bloom | Originally published at In Full Bloom on October 22, 2016.  

[You may also enjoy the Firing Line with Bill Kutik® episode on this.]

warren-buffett-castle-and-moat-metaphor-by-ben-bartlett

There’s been a lot of discussion across the enterprise IT and financial analyst community about the long term economic viability of the SaaS business model. And the enterprise IT community continues to debate the merits of the various flavors of SaaS architectural and infrastructural models. These discussions have ranged over the:

  • fundamentals of profitability in enterprise software;
  • reality that many to most so-called SaaS vendors (both faux and “Blooming”) are not yet profitable;
  • landrush by SaaS vendors to grab market share and to grow as rapidly as possible;
  • spending by SaaS vendors of sometimes huge sums on customer acquisition against a revenue recognition requirement that expenses those acquisition costs on the front end but only allows revenue recognition over the life of the contract; and
  • much more.

If the economic viability of your so-called true or faux SaaS vendors matters to you — and well it should — read on.

When you contemplate further the economics, significant future profitability appears to emerge for those vendors which are able to meet the following challenges:

  1. Reduce dramatically the cost of customer acquisition, from marketing to sales to contract signing;
  2. Reduce dramatically each customer’s time to production and, therefore, time to revenue for the vendor;
  3. Reduce dramatically each customer’s ongoing implementation costs and time as they take up innovation delivered by their vendor and revisit existing capabilities as their organizational needs evolve and change;
  4. Maintain very high customer satisfaction rates — see #3;
  5. Maintain very high customer retention rates, which I do believe are related to but are not the equivalent of very high customer satisfaction rates; and
  6. Achieve very low operational costs and error rates.

Doing all of this at the same time produces IMO the secret sauce of true SaaS economics and, in doing so, creates an enormous competitive moat for vendors who can’t achieve this. Enter Interrogatory Configuration, my recommended approach to creating this moat and the really important and related benefits for both vendor and customer.

Interrogatory Configuration (yes, I know that’s lousy branding, but I’ve never claimed to be a clever marketeer) addresses the first three challenges very directly and has a positive impact on the last three. That’s why I’ve been pushing these ideas — some would say harping on them — since long before the beginning of SaaS in HR technology. Frankly, I was pushing these ideas from the late 80’s, long before they were possible to execute as they require very specific architectural foundations which, until recently, did not exist within enterprise HRM software.

So what is interrogatory configuration? Interrogatory configuration is easy to explain but VERY difficult to do, at least for complex HRM software. Basically it’s a piece of software (think TurboTax) which poses questions to the client ‘s business analyst (who could be a 3rd party, including the vendor’s implementation services person or that of a certified partner), provides a context for those questions along with the implications of selecting from among the available answers (e.g. explaining what types of organizational structures use what types of position to job relationships and why), and then, based on the selections made (and all such are of course effective-dated and subject to inheritance where appropriate), it does the configuration of the base application without manual intervention of any kind. Interestingly, Google filed a patent for a VERY limited example of this in 1997, which was awarded in 2001, in which they make clear that you can’t do this unless the underlying architecture, the software to be thus configured, is composed of objects that can be manipulated dynamically.

Highly configurable, metadata-driven, definitionally developed, true HCM SaaS is a wonderful thing. But even in configuration, all of the available choices have to be analyzed, selected, tested and implemented, individually and in combination with other choices. And this must be done with care and a deep knowledge of the downstream implications of various configurations, not only during the initial implementation but also every time business needs change, software upgrades are applied (even when applied as SaaS mostly opt-in updates), regulatory rules appear and/or change, including retroactively, new executives bring new perspectives, etc.

More Talmudic than Socratic, this question/answer dialogue continues, with each exchange doing one set of configurations while setting up the next set, until the customer has implemented fully the set of capabilities/business rules/coding structures/workflows/etc. that will be their implemented software as of the selected effective date. An interrogatory configurator is designed to work prospectively, so that you can see how a partially to fully configured application will look and behave before committing those configurations to take effect. For those configurations that are permitted to be changed retroactively, with the attendant retroactive processing once they are approved for implementation, the interrogatory configurator is also intended to work retroactively.

Without interrogatory configuration, every time those hand-done configurations must be changed, all those choices must be re-evaluated against the needed changes, and then new choices made, tested and implemented. Furthermore, the implications of each configuration change for downstream processes must be analyzed and actions taken to at least inform users of those implications. So, while we may be able to eliminate most of the programming implementation work by having great configuration tools delivered with our HRM software, without interrogatory configuration we have by no means reduced the business analyst time, effort and expertise needed to keep things running properly. And great HRM business analysts are really scarce, perhaps even more so than great HRM software developers.

Now imagine that the interrogatory configurator is an integral part of the marketing to sales cycle, allowing for a high degree of self-provisioning, at least for less complex organizations (notice I didn’t say small or quote headcount). And even for the most complex organizations, imagine how much configuration could be done with data gleaned during the sales cycle so that a usefully configured application could become a sales cycle tool which blends seamlessly into the actual implementation once agreements are signed. To the extent that SaaS vendors proceed down this path, the whole dynamic of the sales to implementation processes, not to mention the role, staffing and economics of the systems integrators (SIs), are changed substantially, to the benefit of both the customer and the SaaS vendor.

Customer satisfaction and retention rates are driven by many factors, from having wonderful and useful product capabilities to having a very sticky user experience, and there’s a lot of room here for unique approaches by different vendors and/or for different market segments. Running a brilliant operating environment means building tools for everything from provisioning to payroll scheduling, tools which cannot be bought “off the shelf” and which are themselves complex applications. So one thing I advise all buyers to consider is how far along their proposed SaaS vendor is in having industrialized every aspect of operations, for much of which you must have the right SaaS architecture in the first place.

When I see cost comparisons between on-prem and true SaaS, it’s almost always done on a TCO basis from an IT cost perspective.  But that doesn’t value not only having new functionality but also having it delivered almost continuously. It doesn’t value how much more effective vendors can be in meeting customer needs by aggregating data on feature usability and usage so as to inform their product roadmaps. And it certainly doesn’t value the ability of true SaaS vendors to aggregate benchmarking data which can then be fed right back into their interrogatory configurator, if they’ve got one, and into the analytics-rich, decision-making capabilities of their applications. So there’s a lot more here to consider than just TCO unless your business is so stagnant that you really don’t want or need agility or innovation from your systems.

There are SaaS vendors in our space that have architectures which can’t scale operationally, SaaS vendors which don’t have great operational tools, SaaS vendors whose agility is more about fixes than innovation, and so on. But I think we have some good to great SaaS vendors which will be quite profitable (or already are) because they’ve approached this new business model with the right stuff. And I would add that prospects/customers should be running for the exits from any SaaS (or so-called SaaS) vendor which isn’t well down the path of being able to meet successfully my six challenges above.

The bottom line. Reducing dramatically the elapsed time, complexity and cost of HRM software sales and implementation, not to mention ongoing configuration, is an important enough response to the six challenges above for HRM SaaS vendors and BPO providers — and creates a big enough competitive moat — to justify building interrogatory configurators. Doing this requires having the right underlying software architecture, one which enables effective-dated configuration without writing any procedural code. It also requires the product’s designers to know and be able to express the patterns of good practice in a whole range of HRM areas, from organizational designs to hiring practices, and the good practice combinations of same. And there’s an enhanced opportunity here for incorporating all manner of exogenous data, from salary surveys and hiring patterns to commentary on which organizational designs are common in specific industries — and why. If your vendors aren’t pretty far along on this, it may be too late for them to get started — or their underlying architectures just won’t support this. And if you’re a prospect for new HR technology, be sure to find out if your short list vendors are far enough down this path to ensure that they will remain viable and that your needs will be met. I’d also you’ll watch my Firing Line with Bill Kutik® episode on this.

About the Author:

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Naomi Bloom is a leading independent voice, business and platform strategic advisor, market influencer, blogger and speaker about enterprise HR technology and outsourcing. After many years acting as a change agent and HRM delivery systems strategist/coach for global corporate clients and as a consultant on business strategy and product/service design to several generations of HRM software vendors and HR outsourcing providers, Ms. Bloom now limits her consulting practice to strategic advisory roles with vendors whose management and products are market movers and as a provider of competitive insight and due diligence to the investment community. Naomi built the only vendor-neutral HRM domain model and application architecture “starter kits.” Licensed across the industry from 1995 through 2013, Naomi’s IP has been considered to be not only the state-of-the-art but also a primary contributor to many of today’s best practices in HRM enterprise software.

Naomi is a formidable advocate for the HRM and HRM delivery system end-user community, focused entirely on achieving breakthroughs in organizational performance outcomes through effective HRM enabled by great HR technology. She is well-published, to include via her blog InFullBloom.us and is a much sought after, compensated speaker/author for her thought leadership, presentation effectiveness, clarity of vision, and humorous delivery. Naomi has been a general session speaker at the annual HR Technology Conference since its inception in 1989, a main stage speaker since its 2nd year at HR Tech World Congress, and is the author of Human Resource Management and Information Technology: Achieving a Strategic Partnership, which was published in 1984. In 1995, Ms. Bloom’s industry contributions were recognized with IHRIM’s Summit Award, and in 2011, Naomi became a Fellow of the Human Resource Policy Institute at Boston University. Ms. Bloom is a member of The Enterprise Irregulars and founder/chairman of The Brazen Hussies of HR tech.

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Source: SaaS Economics, Competitive Moats, And Interrogatory Configuration | In Full Bloom

Epicor to Showcase Cloud ERP Solutions at GITEX 2016

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Dubai, United Arab Emirates, September 19, 2016 — Following the successful rollout of its cloud-first strategy in the Middle East, Epicor Software Corporation, a global provider of industry-specific enterprise software to promote business growth, today announced it will showcase its flagship ERP (enterprise resource planning) solution at GITEX Technology Week 2016. Epicor can be found in Hall 7, Stand B7-35.

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“At Epicor, we are committed to helping our customers grow and offering them a choice of deployment as central to this commitment.” – Hesham El Komy, Senior Director, International Channels, Epicor Software

Available in the cloud, hosted or on-premises Epicor ERP is built on the five principles of collaboration, mobility, choice, responsiveness and simplicity. The modern ERP solution provides a wide breadth of industry-specific functionality that supports business growth, reduces complexity and streamlines how businesses interact with ERP systems.

“At Epicor, we are committed to helping our customers grow and offering them a choice of deployment is central to this commitment,” – said Hesham El Komy, Senior Director, International Channels at Epicor Software. – “Providing customers the choice of running the same product in the cloud, hosted or on-premises, coupled with industry-specific features that are designed to address the needs of different industries with little to no customisation, we can continue to offer solutions that local customers can rely on to support business growth.”

In addition to Epicor ERP, Epicor will also showcase Epicor iScala, a dedicated ERP solution for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and Epicor HCM, an intuitive, functional, and adaptable Human Capital Management (HCM) solution that automates everything related to HR in a single system, enabling organisations to track, manage, and analyse all data for the employees, from application to retirement.

To show how easy the products are to use and highlight some of their benefits, the Epicor team will be conducting live demos on Stand B7-35.

“Over the last few years, we have witnessed strong growth in the Middle East and today boast more than 650 customers and over 30 channel partners. To support this growth, we have made significant investments in the region both in terms of resources and products and our presence at GITEX is in line with that commitment. GITEX gives us an unparalleled platform to continue to build our brand, showcase our latest solutions, create mind-share with partners and our industry peers and most importantly, help customers choose an ERP solution that will serve as the backbone of their business processes and a platform for growth,” – concluded El Komy. 

About Epicor Software Corporation

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Epicor Software Corporation drives business growth. We provide flexible, industry-specific software designed around the needs of our manufacturing, distribution, retail, and service industry customers. More than 40 years of experience with our customers’ unique business processes and operational requirements are built into every solution―in the cloud, hosted, or on premises. With this deep understanding of your industry, Epicor solutions manage complexity, increase efficiency, and free up resources so you can focus on growth. For more information, connect with Epicor or visit www.epicor.com.

Epicor and the Epicor logo are trademarks of Epicor Software Corporation, registered in the United States and other countries. Other trademarks referenced are the property of their respective owners. The product and service offerings depicted in this document are produced by Epicor Software Corporation.

Contact:                       

Vernon SaldanhaVernon Saldanha

Procre8 (on behalf of Epicor Middle East)

+971 52 288 0850 | vernon@procre8.biz

People you hire will be pivotal in shaping business culture and maintaining success!

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Today our guest is Mr. Sabby Gill, Executive Vice President (EVP) International at Epicor Software.

Sabby Gill brings more than 20 years of international sales, operations and enterprise software industry experience to Epicor. In his role, Gill is responsible for operations including sales and professional services with a focus on accelerating company growth throughout Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) and Asia Pacific (APAC).

Prior to Epicor, Gill was Senior Vice President of International Sales for IGT. He has also held executive management roles with leading technology companies including HP, CA Technologies, Oracle, PeopleSoft (acquired by Oracle), and DEC.

The interview is hosted by Alexey Mitkin, Founder, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, The HR Tech Weekly® Online Media Co.

  1. In your recent article you have told us about how as companies grow and expand, there is a tendency for employees to be disengaged in the workplace due to heavier workloads, pressures, and deadlines. You explained how investing in the right technology can help companies manage this growth. What other drivers can you point to for ensuring employee satisfaction, engagement and wellbeing?

As your business grows you need your team to be strong, so the people you hire will be pivotal in shaping its culture and maintaining its success. Ensuring that your employees are happy and fully engaged is also vital. Take for example a traditional business that acquires smaller, nimble entrepreneurial entities to gain a competitive advantage but find the newly acquired talent assets that the company paid highly for start leaving the company. This is a common mistake made by many companies that are growing through acquisition but failing to consider the wellbeing of, and engage effectively with the organisation’s new employees.

Another important aspect for companies to consider is the influx of Millennials in the workplace. I would argue that it’s even more paramount for organisations of all types and sizes to create workplace environments that nurture the free-thinker and their entrepreneurial spirit. But where do organisations start? To begin, they need to understand the characteristics of entrepreneurial teams and what motivates them. You can almost forget about traditional incentive plans; when dealing with entrepreneurial types, “challenge” trumps traditional notions of compensation/rewards, because if the work environment isn’t challenging enough, they are likely to leave. They need to understand what the entrepreneur works for (and what they live for): The vision, the dream, the challenge – it’s their oxygen. To fully engage, entrepreneurs must buy into the vision.

As companies grow and with it create entrepreneurial teams, larger organisations may need to rethink placing talent in the constraints of the traditional hierarchical structure. These teams may be more effective when they are free to look at projects holistically: to craft a vision and define how problems will be solved. Remove as much process, structure, and bureaucracy as is feasible; as they prefer working without walls, and that includes traditional “job description” boundaries. 

  1. What do you expect from HR Managers delivering to the change management initiatives?

Employee ‘buy-in’ is the cornerstone of any change initiative and the onus often falls on HR to manage this process. Changing business processes can have an impact on employees’ familiar work routines whether or not they are directly involved in the project, so this process must be managed for the entire workforce. Employees need to be gradually introduced to new processes and job roles over a period of time so that they can accept and familiarize themselves with these developments. Neglecting this aspect or putting it off until later on in the project may result in organisational resistance to the new system, even to the point of operational risk. 

  1. Do you observe any distinctions when people from different industries, functions, and maybe regions, implement new software? For instance, what scares HR professionals more comparing with other business roles?

Change is never easy and most people are averse to change – this is true regardless of culture, industry and job function! HR’s challenge, given where it sits in an organisation, as opposed to other business roles, is helping employees, navigate and embrace any changes made in the organisation. 

  1. What are the core advantages Epicor®Human Capital Management delivers to HR and business when their demands and expectations grow toward self-service, engagement, micro-learning, and people analytics solutions? 

Today’s economy needs HR to adopt a more proactive and strategic role. To add to this, managers and employees are demanding direct access to human resource (HR) systems and information. Epicor Human Capital Management (HCM), delivers this and more, helping HR departments better manage a dispersed workforce, improve human resource processes, and make HR an integral part of an organisation’s strategic planning.

Epicor HCM is an intuitive, functional, and adaptable HCM solution that helps HR departments to spend more time managing talent than data. With Epicor HCM, HR teams have the ideal tool to manage their organisation’s most valuable resource—the workforce, who are pivotal maintaining a company’s success.

Epicor HCM automates everything related to HR in a single software system, enabling the organisation to track, manage, and analyse all data for the employees, from application to retirement. Through automated workflow, Epicor HCM allows organisations to improve efficiency. With powerful reporting and analytical tools, HR teams can gain a complete picture of the company’s workforce to enable better strategic planning.

  1. What technological trends will influence ERP and particularly HCM vendors in the nearest future, in your opinion?

The Cloud has without a shadow of a doubt been one of the biggest drivers of change in our industry. Organisations across the globe are beginning to realise the benefits of moving to the cloud, specifically:

  • Compelling connectivity — the ability to collaborate in real-time across remote sites, mobile employees, and trading partners
  • Enhanced operational efficiency — seamless operations, unparalleled scalability and flexibility, upgrade management, and business continuity
  • Improved security — higher level of security, network monitoring, and disaster prevention
  • Smart economics — the opportunity to achieve lower total cost of ownership (TCO) and positively affect the bottom line
  • Better resource allocation – improved ability to focus resources on core business activities and applications

These benefits are magnified when it comes to HCM because HCM has always been viewed as a non-critical, labour intensive function. By moving HCM applications to the cloud, organisations can make sure their HR teams focus on more business critical activities, reduce operational costs, and, most importantly, stay connected with an increasingly mobile workforce. 

  1. You have proven C-level experience in business development and managing people within global technological companies in EMEA, Asia Pacific and Latin America. What do you recommend to managers who strive to build their careers at the international markets?

My number one recommendation for managers is to be understanding and respectful of the various cultural differences. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach when it comes to dealing with people across markets. What works in the US might not be the right tactic for China, but sadly too many C-level executives take this for granted.

Secondly, “Be as good as your word – do what you say you’re going to do.” The idea of following through on commitments and being held accountable for your plans and actions is vital. It helps build trust and comfort with the people you deal with knowing that you bring credibility and will ensure that things get done. You want to be that person who others can rely on. People buy from people and your future is in the hands of what they say and what they do. When you enter a relationship, which is what we do when we implement ERP solutions, you need to care about the job you, and everyone else, does for that customer. Everything reflects on the promise you make to your customers, partners, investors and employees. Whichever way you look at it, their emotions, personal ambitions, etc., all play a part in the business at hand.

Thirdly, be an advocate of change and look for excellence in everything you do. Do not dither. C-level positions demand, as well as offer, respect. People expect answers and directions from those in these positions in a timely and articulate manner. Think about a driver of a high-performance car; with a professional driver behind the wheel you can obtain strong performance and look to break lap records. However if you put a novice behind the wheel, you will struggle to get the same results. You need to grow into the expert that people want to rely on to drive the business forwards.

Finally, I would say, continue “to reflect”. What I mean by this is always take a step back when you find yourself in a difficult or complex situation and reassess what it is that you are trying to achieve. Too many times we get fixated on finer details and can’t see the forest for the trees. Taking a step back can help us see the wider picture and realign our focus.


If you want to share this interview the reference to Sabby Gill and The HR Tech Weekly® blog is is obligatory.

HR Tech Is So Dynamic and Still Has Very Much a Work in Progress

Interview with Bill Kutik

Today our interview is with Bill Kutik, one of the top four HR Technology influencers in the US, and the industry’s leading producer of shows – live and online.

For 19 months, his independent broadcast-quality video series called Firing Line with Bill Kutik® has featured monthly interviews with leading HR tech thought-leaders on YouTube.

Since 1990, he has been monthly Technology Columnist for the US trade magazine Human Resource Executive (you can read his columns at Human Resource Executive Online®).

But he’s probably best known as founding co-chairman (sometimes called “The Father” or even “The Godfather”) of the magazine’s famous annual event, the HR Technology® Conference & Exhibition, the world’s largest held every October in the US. He began it in 1998 and stepped aside for new leadership in 2013.

The Bill Kutik Radio Show®, his previous online talk show with industry leaders, has suspended new shows but many people are still listening to its 183 podcasts in the archive at HRE Online.

In 2012, the magazine named him one of the “10 Most Powerful HR Technology Experts.” He previously wrote for The New York Times and has a BA degree from Harvard University.

The interview is hosted by Alexey Mitkin, Founder, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, The HR Tech Weekly® Online Media Co.

  1. Hi Bill, and first of all thank you very much for this interview with The HR Tech Weekly®. You run the TV show well known among the business audience as Firing Line with Bill Kutik®. What are you trying to accomplish with it and how do you make decisions on inviting your guests? And curiously, what do you feel today to be at the opposite side of the table?

Hi Alexey, thank you for inviting me.

When I started planning the TV show in late 2014, I realized that all the various shows I had produced since 1998 (HR Tech, the Radio Show) were all based on the same bedrock principle: Guests talk about what they’re thinking and doing, not what software they’re selling or which software they might be using.

The analyst relations executive at Workday, Geoff McDonald, asked me to repeat that after I said it because he thought it was the best description of “thought leadership” he had ever heard. I was flattered.

Because I came to HR technology from years in commercial journalism (doing work for The New York Times and The Boston Globe), I have brought with me some values that are now sadly considered old-fashioned. Namely that articles (or blogs), conference presentations and interviews (audio or video) should be in the best interests solely of the reader, listener or viewer – the audience – and definitely not necessarily in the interests of any vendor involved.

I was ruthless about that at HR Tech, where happily the owner Ken Kahn completely supported the idea that we never sold speaking slots to vendors. Imagine, attendees are already paying to see the content. Should anyone sell it a second time so it’s no longer in their best interests?

So I started Firing Line with Bill Kutik® to continue providing HR practitioners with objective information about the latest technology trends without marketing or favoritism. It was the same with the Radio Show, which I did for seven years.

Decisions on the guests for both are made simply based on who can best deliver value to the audience.

As for being on the other side of the table… being a good interviewer means taking second chair to the person being interviewed. Teasing out and highlighting what they know. Since much of what I do are interviews and panels (except for my columns), I don’t get to do much of the talking. So I love whenever the roles are reversed! Look how much more I get to say here than you do, Alexey!

  1. You provide the HR Technology Column at Human Resource Executive Online®. How do you choose your topics to be covered there and what other projects do you undertake?

Being a columnist is the most difficult job in journalism. Others only write when something happens; columnists have to fill the space (in my case) every four weeks, even if nothing has happened.

Of course, HR technology is so dynamic that I can’t think of a month when nothing happened. Because I like my columns to be in-depth, I often write them after attending full-day analyst meetings or multi-day user conferences. That gives me the kind of perspective a good column needs.

Thirty years ago, I learned from the world’s leading computer industry commentator (an old college friend, Esther Dyson) that vendors do most of the innovation in the industry. Certainly there were terrifically innovative end-users like Cisco and Walmart, but they were the exception.

So my columns tend to focus on what the vendors are doing. In addition, I try to use them to explain to the practitioners how the software industry works. Think about it. Practitioners may buy new solutions every three years or so from someone who sells them every day! The match-up is so unfair. I try to level the playing field. In that regard, one of my favorite revelations was that salesmen for large, on-premise enterprise software regularly asked for four-times the price they were willing to settle for!

Now that’s exactly what the street urchins in Cairo trying to sell you cheap souvenirs do. It was never universally true, but I was shocked to discover it and thought it important to tell HR practitioners about it.

  1. You started the HR Technology® Conference & Exhibition (also known as ‘HR Tech’ which probably gave the name to the whole industry). What was the mission behind the idea to establish such an event in 1998, how it was changing during the time and what other events should HR managers keep their eyes on?

The mission from Day One was to help make HR practitioners more tech savvy. Not to understand the bits and bytes of it, but to understand the business benefits that technology could bring them. And offer that to them from their colleagues, senior HR executives, and not from vendors who too often do the educating at other events, sometimes to their own benefit.

Our mission enlarged, when I realized there was a vast audience of HR generalists who somehow thought technology did not apply to them. We started a major campaign – with the help of the most popular U.S. bloggers at the time such as Laurie Ruettimann, “HR Ringleader” Trish McFarlane, “HR Capitalist” Kris Dunn, “HR Bartender” Sharlyn Lauby and Dwane Lay – to convince them their career advancement required it. I’m often guilty of exaggeration, and I remember once writing that if they didn’t get tech savvy, “They should start looking for a large cardboard box and nice place under a highway to live in it.” Over the top.

HR Tech was almost alone at the beginning. Now there are similar events around the world: Australia, China, India, Dubai, Bahrain, Norway, Amsterdam, Paris and London. I was once invited to an event in Moscow, but organizers never got beyond a brochure (which I still have) describing me in Russian. I love that because all four of my grandparents came from Russia, where I’ve been told my family name translates into “little cat,” not kitten. “Kooteek”: a term of endearment.

And don’t forget the show that started it all organized by IHRIM (International Association of Human Resources Information Management), begun decades earlier than HR Tech. Its next annual conference is scheduled for March 2017 in Toronto.

  1. SAP, Oracle and Workday, sometimes called as SOW, deliver most integrated and complex HR Tech solutions on today’s market. What are the core advantages they have, in terms of daily HR needs?

What I like to call the “Big Three” specialize in meeting the most complex needs of global corporations with more than 5,000 employees. Among the advantages they bring is being able to deal with specific HR needs in dozens of countries, especially in payroll.

Our largest analyst firm, Gartner, often publishes a “Magic Quadrant,” which graphically compares the “ability to execute” and “completeness of vision” of all HCM vendors. The leaders are in the upper right corner of the four-box labeled “leaders.”

The Big Three are always there. But practitioners too often make the mistake of tearing out the leaders box and making it their short list. Without considering that their company, for example, may have just one location in the US with just 600 employees. So that’s not necessarily the way to go.

  1. What are the market expectations from HR technologies to appear in the nearest future? Briefly.

Everyone is touting predictive analytics, most especially “proscriptive” analytics that suggest what you should do to fix a situation revealed by the data. HR departments need to move very slowly on this and insist that vendors go beyond their canned demo. And instead, load the company’s own data – say from 18 to six months ago – and then test to see if the predictions turned out right in the last six months, which HR already knows! Still very much a work in progress.

  1. Do we really need all that ‘bells-and-whistles’ HR Tech vendors deliver as stand alone, OEM or integrated solutions?

It’s often said that most people use only 10 percent of the functional capabilities in Microsoft Word. In my case, I know that’s true because it is marvelous software for writing a book, keeping track of footnotes, re-numbering as they are added or removed, automatically putting them at the bottom of the correct pages, or even aggregating them for a section at the end.

The same is true of HR software. But with SaaS, customers are generally not paying for the capabilities they’re not using and someday may use them. Many are terrifically useful, and I’m glad they are there.

  1. You follow the evolution of the recruiting systems since 1988 when it was ever evolved to the present digital times. In this new era, which are the powerful approaches to be used as effective recruiting solutions? What recruiters should never sweep aside and take to the future? Only applicants…

I was present at the birth of the first Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) in 1988, as you mention. What has happened in that last 10 years is the ATS has come to be seen as the essential, but largely administrative, system involved in the Talent Acquisition process. Much like an HRIS, HRMS or what’s now called Core HR is essential but not very strategic.

And just as with Core HR, where people realized the real strategic advantage was in the programs that were attached to it (later called the Talent Management suite), the center of value in recruiting has moved away from the ATS to what were once called “edge applications” but now more often are called “Recruitment Marketing.”

I love to point out that the reason an ATS is called an Applicant Tracking System is it cannot deal with candidates who have not yet applied. Yet the very best recruiters are spending time dealing with them, not just sorting through applications and resumes.

I admit that focus on candidates can seem a little like the famous Groucho Marx joke: “I wouldn’t want to join any club that would have me as a member!” But the War for Talent is all about identifying and attracting candidates, not just throwing out a baited fishing hook (job board postings) and hauling into the boat everything that bites on it.

Obviously, I could go on and one about this topic. But I’ll spare your readers and hope they have stuck with us this far.


If you want to share this interview the reference to Bill Kutik and The HR Tech Weekly® is obligatory.