How to Protect HR from Ransomware | Featured Image

How to Protect HR from Ransomware

How to Protect HR from Ransomware | Main Image

Companies have HR departments that are responsible for storing confidential information such as an individual’s social security number, payroll information, health information as well as employment history.

Because of enormous amount of sensitive data collected on individuals, HR departments opt to store data in a digital format, thus, making it susceptible to cyber-threats. Furthermore, since HR departments receive more email that any other department in a company, they are even more vulnerable to such threats. One of the most challenging form of cyber-attacks that HR departments face today is ransomware.

Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts data and restricts access to a computer system. Often malware is sent through an email in the disguise of a resume or cover letter. When the email is opened, then the malware infects the computer and the entire network. The next time a user tries to gain access to the computer system, he or she is required to pay a monetary ransom in the form of Bitcoin to remove the restriction. WannaCry is one commonly known name for the recent ransomware attack that affected many companies.

Ransomware not only steals an individual’s personal information, but it damages a company’s reputation and financial status as well. The good news is that there are steps that HR departments can take to prevent ransomware attacks.

Basic Security Measures

It is imperative that HR departments work closely with the IT department to implement strong web filters and spam controls as a basic security measure. Next, the IT department should have Endpoint analytical tools to immediately detect, quarantine and shut down ransomware invasions.

Finally, always have a working data backup plan that is not connected to the company’s network so data cannot be infected.

Latest Operating and Software System

The IT department should make sure that the company’s operating system and software is up-to-date. It is extremely important that security updates are installed on all machines as they are released to protect all computers on the network.

If the company uses Microsoft Office software, it is recommended that macros are turned off. In addition, remove plugins if using Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader, Java or Silverlight since these plugins can run a risk of having embedded malware attached to them upon installation.

Employee Training

It is essential for companies to train employees on their information security policies. Employees must understand that technology alone is not enough to protect sensitive data and that there are cybersecurity threats that can bombard them.

Employees need regular training sessions in learning how to use technology as well have an understanding that technology is not always foolproof. There should be employees training in the do’s and don’ts of data protection. Since HR employees receive numerous emails daily, they need to know what types of files are safe to open.

Finally, employees need to know how to respond, and to whom they should report a cyber threat if the unthinkable happens.

Network Segmentation and Separate Work Stations

The IT department needs to ensure that the company’s most sensitive data is not stored all on one network. This is done through network and database segmentation. A restriction should be in place where only certain authorized individuals can access sensitive information. For example, make one person the administrator for the system.

The administrator should only log into the system as absolutely deemed necessary and use a regular account for everyday use. Furthermore, the IT department should assign dedicated workstations to employees responsible for reviewing resumes and monitor workstation usage.

Outside Testing

To ensure the validity of the company’s security, it is a good idea to hire an outside firm to test the vulnerability of its IT security. By hiring an outside firm, the company can understand where hackers can possibly penetrate the system, and take necessary steps to make data more secure.

To conclude, HR departments have access to massive amounts of sensitive data and the employees are typically not very well educated in knowing how to protect themselves from data breaches. Therefore, they are an easy and lucrative target for hackers.

It is easy to see why HR departments are prone to such cyber-attacks. However, when the HR staff works more closely with the IT department, preventive steps can be taken to reduce ransomware attacks. Precautionary steps such as implementing basic security measures, installing the latest operating system and software, setting up network segmentations and dedicated workstations, training employees and having outside testing to check for security breaches can save a company’s reputation and financial status.

About the Author:

Josh McAllister

Josh McAllister is a freelance technology journalist with years of experience in the IT sector, and independent business consultant. He is passionate about helping small business owners understand how technology can save them time and money. 

Josh is a contributor of a number of digital outlets, and well published including DZone, IoT World News, and Rabid Office Monkey.


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From New Technology to ‘Purposeful Innovation’ – Three Trends That Can Help Businesses Innovate & Grow in 2017

Written by Himanshu Palsule, CTO at Epicor Software.

From New Technology to ‘Purposeful Innovation’ – Three Trends That Can Help Businesses Innovate & Grow in 2017

In the current climate, operational efficiency and business agility are more important than ever to support modern business innovation. As global markets combine with competitive pricing pressures to place greater stress on maintaining margins, organisations must seek the efficiencies needed to protect market share.

Himanshu Palsule, CTO at Epicor Software
Himanshu Palsule, CTO at Epicor Software

At the same time, global economic forces are opening up opportunities in new markets and organisations of all sizes are looking to take advantage of the changing economic tide to grow their business. The pressure is now on the CIO and his/her team to drive change and enable this high-growth mode. The challenge for many companies is matching technology investments with the rapidly changing needs of the business.

A solid technology strategy should place the onus on innovation with a purpose and going in to 2017, I see three technology trends that have the power to transform businesses by providing the tools to innovate. These technologies have the potential to be central to business success over the coming years.

  1. Enabling cloud-driven change

For some organisations, adopting cloud computing services can be a simple, tactical exercise to meet some immediate infrastructure needs. But for those looking to drive real technology transformation, it can be the catalyst to embracing an entirely new strategy for IT.

Up until recently cloud computing has, for the most part, been used to speed up existing individual processes while reducing costs. It is only now, as the cloud journey grows more mature, that we can begin to see its full potential to transform business models and working practices.

The cloud opens up exciting new possibilities for CIOs, COOs and CFOs to think differently about their IT infrastructure. Adoption of cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, for example, is on the rise because sharing data quickly and efficiently can dramatically reduce costs and increase the speed of production.

There’s also a growing acceptance that cloud adoption is not just for start-up companies. Large enterprises are transitioning their entire infrastructure and data ecosystems into the cloud because these systems have the advantage of taking the burden of upgrades and management, freeing up valuable resources to focus on innovation and business growth.

  1. Extracting value from big data and IoT

According to a recent report by Machina Research, the total number of IoT connections are estimated to grow 16% annually over the next 10-year period from 6 billion in 2015 to 27 billion in 2025. Total IoT revenue opportunity is projected to grow to $3 trillion in 2025, up from $750 billion in 2015.

If you talk to customers in the manufacturing and retail sectors for example, they’ll say they’ve been collecting and tracking data on machines, production, and inventory for years. In retail, for example, smart supply chains enable applications for tracking goods and real time information exchange about inventory among suppliers and retailers.

The next step for us, and our customers, is to take the data that is available and analyse it in context, to make better and more efficient business decisions. However, the challenge for ERP systems has been around how to transform the onslaught of unstructured data into practical information.

As technology develops we can expect to see more integration between ERP, big data and predictive analytics because data is the business resource of the future—both in terms of optimising processes and services, and as a basis for innovative business models.

  1. Mobility drives greater visibility

Mobile and social technologies are enabling new business models and processes but it’s important to remember that mobility can mean many different things to different organisations. For one company, it might be the ability to set up a remote warehouse. For another, it might be the ability to interact and collaborate on social platforms across borders and time zones.

Mobility should be an essential part of the platforms we build as mobile applications provide greater employee visibility and accuracy of information, enabling companies to respond quickly to changing demands with real-time capabilities.

New utilisations of mobile devices and apps are happening every day and drastically changing the way business gets done.

Summary — keeping up the pace of innovation

As companies become more complex and globally dispersed, the need for increased collaboration, visibility and efficiency will continue to accelerate. The world is getting smaller and supply chains are expected to get faster. Having the right technology in place to underpin operations is key to keeping up, regardless of geographic location or industry.

Technology on its own is not a sufficient strategy. But understanding how cloud, big data, social, mobility, analytics and IoT technologies can underpin business models, what we call ‘purposeful innovation’ is central to achieving business growth.


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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.]

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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:

naomi_bloom_400x400

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

Cloud Is Growing, But Will It Be Your Organisation’s Downfall?

cloud-is-growing-but-will-it-be-your-organisations-downfall

Written by Hesham El Komy, Senior Director, International Channels at Epicor Software | Specially for The HR Tech Weekly®.

hesham-el-komy-sr-director-channel-epicor-press
Hesham El Komy, Senior Director, International Channels at Epicor Software

The reality today is that most enterprise applications are well on their way to being cloud based. We’ve seen it with simple workloads such as HR and payroll, travel and expense management, and in the last decade we’ve seen the cloud as the new normal for customer relationship management (CRM) deployments. In fact, a July 2016 Gartner report[1] predicts that the public cloud services market in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region will grow by 18.3% in 2016 to US$879.3 million. More specifically, the cloud application services (SaaS) market is forecasted to grow by a staggering 207% from US$166.1 million in 2015 to US$509.8 million in 2020.

So what are the benefits of cloud based ERP solutions? Below are eight reasons why moving your ERP system to the cloud will benefit your business and support business growth.

  1. Freedom of Choice

Put quite simply, not all cloud ERP systems are created equal. Specifically, very few ERP vendors respect your right to choose the deployment model that is most appropriate for you, and revise that decision down the road as your business grows or technical needs change. Your right to transition between on-premises, multi-tenant, and single tenant is an important one. It recognises that the “best” deployment model for you today might not be the best model in a few years, or even a few months. By providing the choice of Multi-Tenant (with its compelling economics and seamless upgrades) or Single Tenant (allowing more administrative control and administrative ownership), you can choose the model that works best for you.

  1. Compelling Cloud Economics

Despite the cloud having proven its value beyond just good financial sense, there is no doubt that for companies of all sizes the economics of cloud deployment are undeniably compelling, moving from capital to operational expenditure. Some of the more hidden economic benefits of the cloud include:

  • Not being as capital intensive as an on-premises deployment because of the subscription-based pricing model.
  • Better and more instant scalability, allowing clients to add (and sometimes remove) users to their system on demand and saving them from having to invest in hardware and software at the “high water mark”.
  • The direct and indirect costs of your infrastructure, from server to database systems to the actual hardware and replacement cycle cost.
  • The hidden costs of maintaining the servers yourself.
  • The benefit of the reduced deployment times (and corresponding improved ROI) that are typical for cloud deployments, as the necessary infrastructure is in place already.
  1. Better IT Resource Utilisation

At the end of the day, most IT departments are stretched pretty thin, and find themselves spending too much time on low-value (but admittedly critical) activities such as verifying backups, applying security updates, and upgrading the infrastructure upon which your critical systems run. There is tremendous business benefit to assigning those tasks back to your ERP vendor as part of a cloud deployment, freeing up your IT department’s time to work on more strategic business projects such as creating executive dashboards, deploying mobile devices, and crafting helpful management reports.

  1. The Cloud is More Secure

Today, it’s hard to imagine a client who could possibly create a more secure operating environment than leading cloud providers. Indeed, Gartner reports[2] that “Multi-tenant services are not only highly resistant to attack, but are also a more secure starting point than most traditional in-house implementations.”

Security today is a comprehensive, end-to-end mind set that has to be built across every layer of the ERP environment from the physical network interface cards to the user passwords. It means a holistic approach to anticipating and minimising possible natural, human, and technical disruptions to your system to ensure uptime and peace of mind.

  1. Upgrades

Cloud deployment redefines the experience by designing upgrades—big and small—to be deployed by the ERP cloud operations staff as part of standard support services, without imposing software installations on your staff. Minor updates are transparently deployed in a non-disruptive fashion, and major upgrades are announced well in advance, and include a sandbox training environment and end-user training.

These major upgrades are designed to require little to no project management on your part, short of double checking that everything is working the way you expect it to and ensuring that your internal users are prepared to take advantage of the new version.

  1. Mobile and Collaborative

Moving to a cloud-based system gives everyone the real-time system access they require as a routine part of their jobs while driving out the inefficiency of paper-based processes and the burden and security risk of figuring out how to deliver this yourself.

Opening up your ERP system by virtue of cloud deployment allows you to retire the poorly defined ad-hoc “integration by Excel file” workflows that might have cropped up across your organisation. In their place, you can deploy real-time integration processes that link your employees, suppliers, partners, and customers.

Cloud deployment brings the opportunity to redefine many of your legacy business processes and workflows in a way that leverages these more open, connected, instantaneous integration paths.

  1. Business Consistency and Process Alignment Globally

Increasingly, companies have staff working across multiple locations and they aspire to provide the efficiency of a single unified ERP system across the enterprise to support them. Deploying a single cloud ERP globally (where the only infrastructure requirement is Internet access) removes many operational obstacles, and gives you the confidence that your continued expansion efforts can be accommodated without a significant IT effort by simply enabling that new location in your existing cloud-based ERP system. With consistency comes improved transparency and increased efficiency.

  1. Reduced Risk, Greater Visibility, Better Value

Many clients choose a cloud-based system (ERP and other workflows) because it allows them to deploy a much more complete solution than they could otherwise manage or financially justify under legacy deployment models. Not having to make a massive upfront investment in the ERP system and its supporting infrastructure is critical in allowing smaller companies to perform beyond same-sized competitors from an enterprise application quality and completeness perspective.

ERP solutions aren’t just software. They are tools that can be used to help grow your business profitably, offering flexible solutions that provide more accurate information in real-time, driving smarter, faster decision-making, and enabling customers to quickly meet changing market demands to stay ahead of their competition. The cloud increases the business benefits that ERP offers and can accompany your business on the road to successful growth.

Sources:

[1] Gartner, Inc., “Gartner Says Public Cloud Services in the Middle East and North Africa Region Forecast to Reach $880 Million in 2016,” July 04, 2016

[2] New Report: Gartner MQ for Cloud-Enabled Managed Hosting, North America

If you want to share this article the reference to Hesham El Komy and The HR Tech Weekly® is obligatory.

Growth fears: How can businesses align business growth with employee satisfaction?

Written by Sabby Gill, Executive Vice President (EVP) International at Epicor Software, specially for The HR Tech Weekly® blog.

Happy Employees

When a business experiences sudden growth, it creates a myriad of emotions from joy and excitement to dread and fear. The progressive mind-set that stimulates growth can inadvertently cause us to be less sensitive to the negative emotions that might emerge as a result. Because we are creatures of habit, it is probably not surprising that some of the increased complexity and ambiguity can be quite unsettling. Paradoxically, this emergent fear can start to hinder growth, as leaders pick up on it and start taking preventative measures to avoid damaging customer relations, reducing service quality, and minimize the mounting pressure on operations.

The reality is that progress is part of doing business, and with some careful planning and forward-thinking, the growth period does not have to be ridden with pain. The right IT infrastructure can help to facilitate some of these big changes and make the process a lot smoother.

Recent research conducted by Epicor has explored the different approaches organisations take to growth. It’s been found that the three priorities tend to be in turnover and sales, profits, and expansion into new industries and product areas. The outlook for 2016 is positive; 70% of respondents expect growth in 2016, and 79% have made (or are making) investments in integrated IT infrastructure as a key to supporting growth.

But what happens if the growth is unforeseen, or experienced as a surge? Leaders can find themselves on their back foot if they have not developed the appropriate skillset to handle the new changes.

Rob Morris, Head of Innovation and Thought Leadership at YSC, the premier global leadership development firm, believes that hiring for and developing the right skillset for growth goes a long way in dealing with the excessive demands placed on the workplace.

“Although we plan for growth in linear and rational ways, it often looks more like chaos in practice. When growth happens at such an unpredictable pace and scale, you don’t usually hire for that growth. As a result, you will not have the people resources to deliver on the new scale that you have created for yourself. The downside is people end up doing more than they expected, and often outside of the roles they were hired or trained for.”

A growing business can hinder employee satisfaction

A risk associated with business progress is employees becoming increasingly disengaged in the workplace due to heavier workloads, pressures, and deadlines. According to the Epicor research, 43% of leaders are concerned that as their business grows, workloads may increase to a level that places too much pressure on staff, prompting key personnel to leave the organisation.

Morris believes that a key predictor of job satisfaction is whether employees find ‘meaning’ in their work and warns that an employee’s personal values and missions can become misaligned with the company’s goals once the company starts growing.

“If I am asked to do things outside of the boundaries with which I joined the company, suddenly I may be less committed to it. If employees have less of a connection with the tasks involved or when they take on too many new tasks, too fast then it creates job dissatisfaction.”

It is vital to have the right infrastructure in place to support employees during growth. If technology can be used to ease the strain of increased workloads, employees can even find themselves empowered by growth. They may, for example, find themselves working on a wider variety of tasks, working closely with leadership to drive growth, and gaining more access to corporate knowledge if their roles are facilitated by the right technology.

How can businesses reduce the ‘pain’ of growth and plan ahead?

Any big change in a business – especially a surge in growth – can be disruptive and can filter through the organisation. According to Morris, this collective expression of pain typically manifests as resistance or disengagement. But businesses can get ahead of this curve by planning for any potential problems and ensuring they have enough resources to cater to increasing demands by the workforce[1].

The Epicor survey findings revealed that the top two stimulants for growth are ‘technology leadership’ (40%) and ‘skilled workforce’ (39%). This can be a two-edged sword. Organisations that are stuck with legacy systems might find themselves falling behind, unable to adapt to new business processes, or meet the demands of employees who expect modern technology in order to do their jobs. On the other hand, the organisations that leap onto new technology, will find themselves ahead of their competitors, ready to embrace new challenges.

A key facilitator in managing this process smoothly is to make investments in the right technology as the “demand for quick communication and transaction” increases[2].

Many progressive businesses are already doing this – according to the Epicor research 79% of businesses have made or are making investments in integrated IT infrastructure. Increased data visibility, for example through the use of the latest enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions, can allow businesses to perform in-depth analysis of key KPIs, so that they can manage costings and profitability more confidently. Customer relationships can likewise continue to prosper during the growth period with agile and scalable ERP and manufacturing execution systems (MES) that meet their demands.

According to Morris, employees need “emotional support to withstand the pressures of growing.” He also recommends “fostering a robust culture so people can be resilient throughout the growth surge.” It’s clear that this culture can be more robust if people are supported by the technology they need to do their jobs. Although it seems counter-intuitive, e.g., deploying technology in support of an emotional challenge, investment in the right IT infrastructure is therefore essential, and will help maintain the emotional well-being of employees throughout this transitionary period.

[1] http://www.theguardian.com/small-business-network/2013/apr/22/growing-a-business-efficiently

[2] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sponsored/business/the-elevator/12095150/steps-to-business-growth.html

About the Author 

Sabby Gill - EVP - EpicorSabby Gill brings more than 20 years of international sales, operations and enterprise software industry experience to Epicor. In the role of executive vice president, International, Gill is responsible for operations including sales, professional services, and field marketing, 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, a gaming technology company. He has also held executive management roles with leading technology companies including HP, CA Technologies, Oracle, PeopleSoft (acquired by Oracle), and DEC.


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