Chicken and egg: Making sure your HR system is working effectively

By Julie Lock

The amazing people who look after your employees rely on sophisticated HR systems to support them. If transactions, calculations, alerts, approvals and reporting are all under control it frees up valuable time. Sounds idyllic, but in reality does your team have enough time to carry out the workload they have been tasked with? In most cases the answer is “No”? 

So what went wrong?

Throughout the procurement process, you carefully assessed the capabilities of available systems and selected a solution best aligned to your requirements. However, by the time the implementation is complete your product knowledge is usually out of date. HR systems are powerful because they are in continuous development. Your organisation needs to evolve too.

When you go through an implementation of a new HR system, it’s designed with everything you need to go live with benefits waiting and new features ready to be applied. If only it was that easy. Think back to the end of your last implementation – have you achieved everything you set out to accomplish?

Unfortunately life gets in the way; we are all busy. After an exhausting implementation you deserve to get back to normal but the demands of HR and Payroll never disappear. Instead of training, your team is back to the grind. The HR team will have to discover the new functionality, embed new processes, configure updates and support organisation wide change. 

So why aren’t you fully benefiting from your HR system?

There are three common causes:

  • Since the recession, we have seen a decline in system administrator roles. This may have fixed a short-term budget problem but costs organisations money because they are not maximising their return on investment.
  • Super users have been responsible for implementing changes over recent years (e.g. legislation reform, pension changes, talent management, employee engagement and handling data etc.) but they don’t have the time to review new system features and implement them.
  • People leave organisations for various reasons and system expertise is naturally lost through attrition. That knowledge is often lost through inability or organisational unwillingness, however.

What happens when changes affect your workforce?

Changes come thick and fast; to terms and conditions, payroll calculations, pension rules etc. they are compulsory and must meet strict deadlines. If you do not have system expertise to configure system changes, the HR team will end up processing the changes manually.

Now you are in the dreaded chicken and egg HR management situation. By managing employee related changes manually you are reducing the time available to configure the HR system to do the job for you. Further checks are added to the mix to eliminate any risk of human error. It’s a vicious circle. 

So how do you get the best from your HR system?

If employing a dedicated system administrator or super user with ring-fenced admin time isn’t commercially viable, here are two ways to solve your problem:

  • Invest in an internal upgrade process. Bring together representatives from HR, Recruitment, Learning & Development, Payroll and People Managers to review the release documentation and agree an implementation plan, making sure you allocate realistic time to configuration. Importantly, remember to test first before rolling out to the business and make sure everyone knows what is happening, when, why and how this affects them.
  • Talk to your software supplier. They can provide industry experts who will work directly with you to introduce best practice, building operationally efficient processing, saving you time and improving accuracy.

The chicken and egg HR management situation can be resolved but it takes self-reflection, determination and clarity of purpose.

Julie Lock is Service Development Director at MHR
01159 456 000

Photo © brett jordan (CC BY 2.0) Edited and cropped