Hey, we’re tech-savvy; or are we?

Fine, you have automated some enterprise processes. But are you really a tech-savvy organization? The key to calling yourself a technologically successful enterprise lies in starting right.

The last decade was marked with organizations scampering to automate internal processes. From payroll and benefits automation to big bang HRMS implementations, the HR technology market in India has witnessed a staggering compounded annual growth rate of 77% YOY since 2007. Also, interesting to note is that this trend was led by small and medium businesses deploying HRIS/HRMS in their attempt to become “tech-savvy.” In the absence of right planning and strategic view, however, a technology implementation can go terribly wrong, resulting in consequences that far outweigh the perceived benefits of automation and digitization. According to Phil Lamb, Managing Director of Infinity Software Solutions, “inability to define the scope coupled with cumbersome system implementations are among the top reasons why HR technology implementations fail in organizations.”

Oftentimes, we’ve heard senior leaders in HR forums speaking about the importance of technology in attraction and retention. While studies reveal that technology comprises one of the key employment value proposition (EVP) attributes for Gen Y and Millennials globally, there is still a significant majority of the workforce in India who do not belong to either of these demographic segments. Moreover, some experts argue that the preferences of GenY and Millenials in India are characteristically different from that of the global workforce. Digging further, these differences have shown to be more pronounced in specific sectors such as manufacturing and utilities. A mad scamper for technology implementation based on unrealistic hype that disregards the actual preferences of the workforce can potentially do more harm than good.

Does this mean that there is no real connection between the hype and benefits that technology implementations claim to bring to the enterprise? Does technology implementation have any real impact on workforce engagement? The answer to it lies in the purported direction that an enterprise aims to tread through technology.

Research suggests that an employee can potentially lose up to 30% of a typical workday in executing non-productive activities. Coupled with work breaks (lunch, time away), almost 50% of an employee’s 9-hour work day can potentially be lost to non-value adding activities. Non-productive activities include attendance and leave management, scheduling and co-coordinating meetings, technical downtime, internal information gathering, and support desk communications. It is in this area of non-productive task automation that enterprises should base their starting point for automation. Migration to an automated environment can significantly reduce the time taken for executing non-value adding tasks. The answer to eliminating all internal inefficiencies, do not necessarily lie in a big-bang HRIS/HRMS implementation that requires significant change management investments.

Another area where technology has demonstrated significant positive ROI is in the area of performance management. It is surprising to note that very few organizations in India have automated their performance management process. Most companies still rely on tedious paper-based processes and outdated performance management methods. Modern day performance management systems, if implemented with the right change management plan, can virtually manage an organization’s end-to-end performance management process starting from goal-setting to performance delivery.

So, what is the key to ensuring that an organization can leverage the benefits of technology the right way? Experts recommend six technology planning indicators to safeguard against failed implementations.

  1. Start an automation project that first targets elimination of repetition and redundancy
  2. Set clear guidelines and guardrails outlining the definitive purpose of a technology implementation
  3. Account for the YOY net present value across the entire lifecycle of the technology implementation
  4. Consider a shared service partner to gain access to superior technology and implementation expertise
  5. Create a change management plan by involving all senior stakeholders
  6. Consider technology implementation as a strategic enterprise objective and gather management’s commitment to its success

And above all, before you call yourself a tech-savvy enterprise, do stop once and ask, “Are we really?”

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