Digitization is high on the agenda in most organizations as leaders look for new ways to drive efficiency or gain a competitive edge. But for HR leaders at the start of their digital journey, the landscape can be confusing.
And press hype around new technologies, images of sleek, silver-skinned automatons fulfilling all our administrative whims, is largely unhelpful.
This is because the hype obscures the fundamentals of digitization, the critical stuff you need at the beginning.
There’s little point thinking about machine learning, for instance, if your underlying processes and data don’t support your digital objectives, or if your team is buried under mountains of paper.
So before we get excited about AI, RPA, IoT, chatbots or blockchain, let’s go back to the start and look at the eight fundamentals of HR digitization.
Establish clear objectives
Be clear on your digitization objectives and define the outcome you are looking to achieve in a measurable way. It might be cost saving objectives, efficiency or business growth targets; you might want to achieve faster insight or a clearer link between HR and business KPIs.
Having that clear picture at the outset lends purpose and direction to their digitization strategy.
Ensure you have the right platform
Building a digitization strategy will be reliant on having the right platform in place. This platform will, of course, need to deliver the commodity HCM elements, HR, Payroll, Learning, Talent Management, Recruitment, and Payroll.
However, every platform is different, and not all will be flexible enough to map onto your unique business models and processes. Your chosen platform must support your specific objectives for delivery, deployment, information security, GDPR, workflow, integration, analytics, mobility, document management, and employee engagement.
Future-proof technical development
The only constant in digital business is change. And as many businesses with unwieldy on-premise platforms are now realizing, the ability to implement and assimilate the latest technological developments can be a key factor in maintaining that crucial competitive edge.
This is important because the pace of change in HR and Payroll software is accelerating. Does your platform supplier have a strategy for AI, RPA, Chat, anytime, anywhere access? New technologies like these can be incredibly difficult to bolt on later, and if your platform doesn’t have a roadmap that includes these – beware, your foundations may already be shaky.
Capture and maintain your data
You have your objectives defined. You have the right platform in place to support them. Now you need to ensure that you can capture the right data, and of course, keep it up to date.
With information security legislation, such as GDPR, there is a far greater burden on organizations to make sure data is held securely, is only visible to people with the correct authority, is only used for the purpose for which it is intended, and is removed when that purpose or overriding legitimate interest expires.
This is really hard if you have filing cabinets full of personnel information, rely on email to transmit secure information, or have spreadsheets full of offline data.
Digitize your documents
Be ruthless. Where possible, generate documents from your system, provide access to the recipient and store on their record. If this is not possible (have you got the right platform?), scan, scan, scan, and shred, shred, shred. Add descriptive metadata to your scans to make them easy to catalog and digitally search.
Automate your processes
You don’t need RPA or AI at this stage to automate your basic process and free valuable admin time (as well as capture and maintain your data and digitize your documentation in one go). As long as your platform provides a workflow tool you will be able to design appropriate digital workflows to replace your paper processes.
Beware, though, that you are not digitizing process for the sake of it. This is another opportunity to be ruthless. Interrogate every process and ask ‘why?’. Then, if the process justifies its continued existence, dust it down, inspect and improve it.
So, you have your platform, processes, data and documentation strategy in place. It’s now time to engage all your employees in the digitization journey. Not only the most valuable asset to your organization as a whole, but also the subject matter experts on their own data.
Giving employees safe, secure and relevant access to the systems under digitized processes will reduce the admin burden on the HR teams exponentially. Keep as much as you can within the boundaries of the system, so you can retain visibility and control of the data, information flow, and timings.
Build your analytics
Now you have your data under control, analytics are the crucial next step. Analytics give HR science-based facts to support their people strategy recommendations at board level. You no longer need a degree in advanced algebra to leverage them.
Modern platforms should make it easy to design and implement analytics, with pre-loaded templates, giving HR managers the ability to quickly mine people data for insights that can help drive efficiency, productivity, retention, and engagement.
About the author…
Ben Bishop is a senior software industry leader with over 20 years’ experience managing, developing and delivering enterprise software. Today, as COO at XCD, he’s responsible for a team that delivers the ongoing strategic development of the only single-solution HR & Payroll application on the Salesforce platform.
A version of this article appears in hrmsworld.com