· 2 min read · Features

HR software may be in the clouds, but are our heads there too?

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HR software as a service (SaaS}, accessible through the ‘cloud’, has certainly opened up access to HR technology. However, I’m not convinced that this really addressed our core HR challenges; have we once again got caught with our head in the clouds because of the excitement about a new idea?

I believe that, ultimately, HR's role is to ensure that:

1 the organisation is appropriately resourced (now and for the foreseeable future)

2 maximum individual discretionary performance is obtained - more for less

3 each individual and team continuously moves to achieve their true potential - growth matters

4 management has sufficient (quality and quantity) of data to enable it to make robust decisions about people and their roles.

It is not primarily to make things quick, simple and cheap. For SMEs, that is probably appropriate. But for larger organisations, is that really what they want – and is it even appropriate in the current environment?

Isn't the one thing that most organisations agree on that they should focus on differentiating themselves? Isn't the big message from the past two decades that the speed of change will accelerate? Haven't advances in technology shown us that the desire for simplicity has now given way to the desire for utility and personal control? When staff say, 'we want this to be simple', they are telling you 'this process doesn't work, we don't want to do it and it adds no value. Let's get it over with as quickly as possible.'

If your business goal is to simplify (trivialise?) processes to the point where users have to do and think little, perhaps the HR SaaS solutions do make sense – but so might scrapping the process and saving all of the money! If your business goal is to copy the processes used by the majority of organisations (would that be 'average' or 'mediocre'?), perhaps HR SaaS makes sense. If your business goal is to minimise the cost of processes rather than make sure that they deliver the maximum impact in your unique context, perhaps HR SaaS makes sense.

However, if you believe that your organisation needs to design processes that suit your unique challenges, goals and resources, seize on the power of contemporary technology but will not be dictated by it and can continuously evolve as practice becomes embedded and user demands increase – and, you want technology that will specifically underpin your processes over time and ensure usage is enhanced and increased - then the current raft of HR SaaS solutions may not be the best fit. One size may fit all, but rarely fits anyone well.

But, contemporary technology does bring the opportunity for organisations to have the best of both worlds: applications configured to drive, sustain, and continuously respond to evolutions in their unique processes and that are hosted in external, highly secure, managed environments offering interfaces with other applications for maximum data sharing. So, let's make sure that we select solutions based on appropriateness and not merely follow the crowd.

Clinton Wingrove (pictured), EVP, Pilat HR Solutions