Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Why HR managers have to be tech savvy?

More and more Indian companies have begun to take advantage of information and communication technologies in carrying out their HR functions.
While IT/ITeS companies are in the forefront of this trend, companies from different manufacturing and service sectors are increasingly doing so eveyday. This article is a report on the extent of technology spread in the HR departments of Indian companies and why HR managers have to become increasingly aware of technology trends in their profession.
A “recent report”:
in Express Computer points out that by offering more and more cost-effective applications and solutions for HR departments, IT vendors are making the lives of HR managers and executives much easier. This is the primary reason why organizations are continuously strengthening their HR departments with updated IT solutions.
IT platforms free HR professionals from being mere book-keepers of labour statistics. They provide them with an opportunity to play a key role in organizational renewal and revitalization, the report says quoting H Venkatesan, Senior Vice-president, Global Human Resource, ISGN.
Employee data must be stored somewhere, and even if personnel files are held in paper form, certain data is always held electronically, the report says. Small organizations may hold employee data in spreadsheet form while larger organizations may implement enterprise-wide systems that do far more than just hold employee data. They can be put to multi-purpose use like providing employees with Web-based self-service access to HR, managing recruitment of new staff, using to underpin performance management and much more, the report points out.
No wonder that even as far back as 2002 many Indian companies had switched to what are called Human Resource Management Systems (HRMS). By now the list must have grown manifold. It is, however, illuminating to take a look at what one observer found out about “HRMS in Indian companies”:

While IT/ITeS companies took the lead in implementing HRMS in Indian companies, companies in non-IT sector have not been slow to climb the IT bandwagon.
Among the first Indian companies to go for an HRMS was TCS. TCS started off by launching its digital HR Information System, which allows an individual to apply for leave, get online approvals, file for loans directly and voice grievances. TCS, employee benefits also included Visa Information Processing System (for checking visa status) and maintenance of the Branch Assets library on the company├ó€™s intranet by the HR department. Today, TCS’s HRMS includes performance management and succession planning among other things.
Some of the non-IT companies which took the lead in implementing HRMS were Maruti Udyog, Glaxo SmithKline Beecham, Hero Honda, Samsung, SAIL, and Dabur to name a few.For instance, Glaxo Smithkline Beecham Consumer Healthcare, started off with an Training Management System, which takes care of the training requirements of employees and helps HR in planning and monitoring various learning modules as also a comprehensive payroll system that manages salaries/loans/PF, etc, for all employees.
The new technology enabled the company to conduct online employee satisfaction surveys. Today the company claims to have a full-fledged Human Resources Management System (HRMS) that has automated all HR processes (from recruitment to retirement). The system covers such processes as recruitment, appraisal, training, compensation, benefits, employee profile and retirement. The company's intranet also provides several HR-related services such as e-learning modules, HR policies, online facilities (booking guest house/meeting rooms), telephone directory, holiday list, etc.By the end of 2003, most large Indian companies automated their HR function (by implementation of ERP) and moved from the an HR Information System and to a more interactive and knowledge-based HR system. This has enabled an employee to become self-sufficient and have direct communication with the concerned authority.
All this is making eHR and B2E (business to employee) obvious steps in an organization's development path. While eHR plays a key role in helping medium and small-scale companies to gain a Web-based HR advantage, B2E helps in enhancing the relationship between an employee and an employer. Today, more and more companies are treating their employees as their internal customers and working towards fulfilling employee needs. For this reason, HRMS and People Management Systems (PMS) are increasingly gaining importance.
Why are organizations suddenly feeling the need to implement IT in their HR departments? The reasons vary. While in case of IT companies employees are key assets, the non-IT sector has also realized the growing need to invest in technology to upscale their HR functions. Besides time and cost saving advantages, it also has the long-term benefit of retaining employees. Compared to earlier times, organizations today are keen to understand and know the details of their employees and keep a tab on the latest developments in their personal life, so that they can provide the best bargains to these internal customers. Also, HR can focus on its real job of helping employees develop and help them perform better.
Even then Indian companies are way behind their North American counterparts. Although most Indian businesses, including SMBs, today have some sort of HRMS in place, the majority of them still treat them more as information systems rather than as people development systems or in-house knowledge development systems.
But the pressures of competition are forcing top managements to look at HRMS solutions that can positively improve profitability and bring long term gains. The premise that an HRMS needs to work towards making the HR department administratively more efficient no longer holds valid. It needs to impact the bottom line - today and in the future. Companies have started realising this in the last couple of years, with the result that “RoI calculation on HRMS”:
is fast becoming a standard practice in many companies.Today more and more companies are in the process of evolving set standards for calculating the return on their investments into HRMS. For instance, vMoksha has already outlined the cost savings that it expects from the following HRMS processes after implementation: eBenefits (80 percent savings); eDevelopment (73 percent); eProfile (77 percent); eRecruit (33 percent); eCompensation Manager Desktop (59 percent); eProfile Manager Desktop (71 percent); eRecruit Manager Desktop (70 percent). The cost savings have been calculated based on the self-service costs vis a vis manual costs.
While RoI is a definite indication of an implementation├ó€™s success, all benefits cannot be quantified. And the consideration of unquantifiable and subjective benefits will start gaining ground, moving into the future, as companies have already started seeking benefits other than cost savings, like empowering their employees at large as well as HR in meeting the larger business objectives. This is already being reflected in the long-term benefits being outlined by the companies.
Some of the long-term benefits that are being sought by companies are an single administrative point for organisational structures across all e-HR applications, lower cost of ownership, improved performance monitoring systems and thereby improved productivity, low ratio of recruiters to staff and better placement of new staff (lower attrition).
Thus, with HRMS applications increasingly graduating from mere information systems to those that have a large positive impact on productivity, innovation, new product development, talent retention, talent and knowledge management and, of course, revenues and margins, the writing on the wall is clear: adopt intelligent HRMS’ and smart PMS’ or perish!
Niraj Pradhan
Product Evangelist MinVesta Infotech Ltd. Mob:+91 9246190827 Ph: +91 40 23738072 Extn:201email: website:

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