The Guardian has recently published a supplement on HR Software, focusing on how I.T. is enhancing organisational performance. The publication addresses the benefits of HR systems to companies of various size, across the nation. It looks at the array of associated benefits that result in cost savings, improved efficiency and enhanced commercial performance.

Our technical manager, Andrew Stead had the pleasure of being interviewed for the purpose of this supplement and his thoughts have been published in the experts’ panel.

A pdf version of the supplement will be available to anyone who decides to contact us via email ([email protected]) or Linkedin (www.linkedin.com/company/mitrefinch-ltd) by saying 'Send me a HR supplement'!

Below is the full interview:

The Guardian: HR is all about people, so how do you ensure your workforce engages with a piece of software?

AS: By providing functionality that the employees find useful.

An example would be the ability to book and view their holidays on-line 24/7. Using this functionality allows the employee to check if any ‘leave slots’ are available first before attempting to book their holiday. Depending upon the setup of the system, the holiday can be authorised immediately if enough cover is available. If not, their line manager can be emailed, thus reducing the amount of time taken to authorise their absence. As holiday booking is an emotive subject, this immediately provides a major benefit to the employees.

The implementation of an HR solution can often generate employee concerns around a ‘Big Brother’-type environment. By allowing employees to maintain their own personal data, the employee can ensure that any data stored about them is accurate. By providing visibility to HR data, concerns about the system can be considerably reduced, thus producing a better working environment.

Self-service training modules can also allow employees to book themselves on relevant training courses allowing for their own personal development. This can help foster employee goodwill, providing major benefits to both the individual and to the company as a whole.

The Guardian: Does HR software provide one true source of data?

AS: In smaller companies, the HR software can often be the true and accurate source of data. However, in larger organisations, it will more likely be interfaced with data from other sources to provide the full employee record, for example, IT -based data, Time & Attendance and Security Systems.

Because the majority of today’s HR solutions provide extensive import and export functionality, it is relatively simple to link data from several sources together to provide this record. For example, if an employee changes their telephone number via the HR self-service module then this number can be automatically updated in the email system and any other relevant systems. However, data linked to IT resources will often be updated in a separate application which may, in turn, then update the HR system with this information.

Using this technology ensures data integrity across systems and ensures an authoritative source for all pieces of information. With this in place, it is simple for a company to prove their compliance with legislation such as the Data Protection Act 1998 which includes the requirement that data is accurate and kept up-to-date.

The Guardian:Does HR software just streamline HR administration or is it a business application?

AS: In the initial stages of any implementation, the primary focus will always be ensuring that the HR software delivers on the major benefits i.e. reducing HR administration. When these benefits have been realised, the second and subsequent phases of the implementation will move to making the HR software an integral part of the business. At this point, the solution becomes more than just about reducing administration costs but more of a business application which helps provide major benefits across the entire organisation.

An example of a major business benefit surrounds the issue of absence management. With an HR solution, it becomes straightforward to investigate where the major absences which impact on the business occur. With this information, the whole company can generate a strategy which will help alleviate the impact of absences on the company.

Automating the company’s employee administration can help move the burden to better placed personnel within the organisation. With this in place, the HR Department can provide more of an employee relations function rather than just standard administrative function. This will help ensure a more efficient and effective workforce.

However, it should not be forgotten that any successful HR solution should just be a tool to aid the company deliver a better service/product to their customers. Any HR solution should never cause an obstruction to this.