The ‘Art of the Possible’ vs the ‘Art of the Appropriate’

Excitement or necessity? Possibility vs propriety in implementing HRMS

News this week revealed that investment in HR Technology is undoubtedly on the up. 

Towers Watson’s 2015 HR Service Delivery and Technology Survey revealed that 9 in 10 of the EMEA respondents surveyed intend to spend the same or more this year on HR technology that they did last, and a third plan to spend that budget on replacing their HRMS.

These figures mark an all-time high in the eighteen year lifespan of the survey, and show quite how keen business are to upgrade their business experience through an improved HR management system.

But while this certainly suggests an exciting time ahead for HRMS providers, and should instigate some exciting innovation in the field, it’s now more important than ever to keep focus on the core values of an HR system integration. 

When embarking upon a new systems project, it can be all too easy to let the difficulties of an entrenched legacy system spill over into the implementation of its replacement solution. Perhaps nowhere is this more apparent – and more troublesome – than when implementing a new HRMS, and HR teams that have been plagued by spreadsheet hell and failing systems crave a solution that can more adequately meet their many diverse needs.

That new solution can open a world of possibilities, and invariably meets with considerable excitement from a team now faced with what they can do and have, rather than what they can’t. The realization of quite how much can be achieved by an innovative and efficient HRMS is a powerful force in discovery workshops, as customers begin to understand they need no longer settle for second best.

The result, often, is an expanded set of requirements that takes advantage of every available feature – and though, at surface level, it’s wonderful to see such engagement with a new system’s many functionalities, it can risk diverting attention from the critical reasons for investing in a new HRMS in the first place. Here, then, is where issues can begin to arise, as excitement begins to override necessity.

What’s critical for HRMS providers is to remember that the majority of the users of a HR system are not HR professionals. In most cases, the customers implementing a HRMS are managers and employees across a business, who need a self-service means of administering their HR functions in order to free up the HR team to focus on more strategic goals. First and foremost, managers and employees look for systems that offer ease of use, and can help better streamline the process of managing people and engaging with HR.

With this in mind, HRMS providers must focus on balancing the excitement of exploration, and the art of the possible, against the quieter, more critical art of the appropriate.

The best way to do this is to focus in the workforce experience, and challenge the ‘bells and whistles’ that excited customers are apt to add. Weigh “Can we do this?” against “Will this engage our workforce?”, and shift focus from “Can we have that?” to “Will it make it easier for managers and employees?”

Only by changing the mantra from the “Art of the Possible” to the “Art of the Appropriate” will organizations stand a chance of delivering a truly engaging and effective HRMS solution, and ensure that interest and innovation in HR technology continues to thrive.


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