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Is your HR department a strategic asset?

Many HR departments are swimming in bureaucracy, often struggling to keep heads above water as a result. When too much time is spent processing a mountain of basic administrative tasks, finding time for strategic human capital planning can be difficult. With it becoming increasingly difficult for companies to remain competitive, failing to engage in effective talent development and retention can be a major problem.

So, how can company leaders give their HR teams a helping hand? How can the administrative workload be reduced and more time created for value adding strategic thinking? What do HR divisions need to focus fully on further protecting and developing the organization’s human capital?

The key is to focus on reducing the impact of high volumes of low value-add activities. Include in this largely repetitive manual activities, large piles of hard copy documentation and paperwork, and the challenges of collating and transferring information between dispersed IT systems. In short, the HR division needs support if it’s to move from administrative workhorse to strategic business partner. Time needs to be freed up for planning and performance that really does add something extra.

IT plays a leading role here. Business software can automate processes that eat time but give little back to the organization or its customers. And it can also help dispersed teams to work closer together, facilitating collaboration and creating savings in speed and efficiency. HR-specific solutions enable businesses to rationalize, clarify and then properly support all administrative aspects of HRM. With the minimum of manual effort, you can fully support employees from the moment they’re hired through to the day they leave the company.

So how does this relate in real terms to creating those much needed time savings? Consider, for example, that large numbers of simple, purely administrative, time-consuming processes are automated by an Employee Self Service Portal.

The tooling lets the employees update the system themselves, pre-determined HR requests helping them provide the necessary input with the absolute minimum of effort (think travel requests, expense claims, office materials, evaluations, etc.). The system then further automates the next steps relevant to each request, ensuring the proper information is registered in the right places as a standardized and fully interconnected procedure. Would that free up more time for strategic HR management?

What about if all employee information and events could be stored in a single database – one system, one source of truth, no double entries or missing information hidden on someone’s private desktop? Then go a step further, and consider generating statistics on any aspect of the entire workforce at any moment. And on top of that, make that information available to whoever needs it, whenever they need it.

And what about automating key activities based on related events or information? What about a welcome pack for new employees, or triggers for staff training and development programmes, dealing with registered absences, processing days off and holiday accrual, or managing evaluations and performance? A system where alerts or warnings can be set up to help proactively manage the consequences of predetermined scenarios?

Such a tool would clearly offer a host of benefits. It promises to make tasks easier to complete, and promotes co-operation and efficient team work. Simplifying work processes not only wins time, but helps promote a wider view of the company as people move away from micro process management.

Tasks from checking a client's history, locating a colleague or following up a complaint, to archiving e-mails and other correspondence, coordinating marketing campaigns or quite simply asking for holiday become standardized, simplified and speeded up.

Given the range of information stored, such an HR tool can also play a number of other important roles. These kinds of workflows can be set up for other activities, this single source of information easily expanded to other teams in the business for CRM, process-, document- or project management. Web portals can also be set up to make sure internet access is possible for all. And with the right interface, full integration with existing financial or ERP systems can create a solution where all business processes are fully integrated.

These kinds of full-suite solutions are certainly a reality - offering the potential to guide, automate and interlink your processes exactly as you wish. Explore the options for freeing up your HR personnel from routine, low value-add activities. It’s a key step in helping them deliver a genuine contribution to your strategic decision making.

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