How do you make a transition from paper and Excel file world to an integrated human capital management (HCM) solution? Every HCM system buzzes with words like “digitize” and “automate”, which sound great but how can you get there? Businesses often get tripped up when working with new systems by spending too much time focusing on how to make the system replicate what they are currently doing rather than investing the time in process improvement and taking advantage of the new digital toolset available to them.
Here are some tips to help you avoid falling into the same trap:
Start at the beginning. Moving to a new digital process can often bring new efficiencies. That’s great, but before you begin to simply digitize your current processes, your first questions should always be, “Do we need this process at all? Are we solving a problem that will no longer exist with our new system?” Perhaps the report you created can be replaced by dashboards or the approval review you were doing is no longer necessary due to system security settings.
It’s important to look at what you are doing. But it is also as important to understand why it is done and what the outcomes are. It’s easy to fall into what I call the “paperless pit.” Taking a paper process and simply making it digital is not always the best answer. When you are moving from one platform to another, you have the perfect opportunity to review your processes and make sure that they are still needed. Some things you are currently doing might have grown out of other manual tracking systems, so the ability to move them into your HCM platform might eliminate the need for them altogether. Sometimes reports that are created don’t get reviewed or don’t really have the information needed but were “close enough” based on what you had before. Take this clean slate as the opportunity to talk with your stakeholders about what they need and how you can deliver it rather than just assuming you should replace the exact thing that they see today.
Have a process. There are a number of process improvement methodologies and the one you use isn’t as important has having a plan to keep you on track. When working on an initiative to start process improvement, it’s important to plan ahead as it can be easy to get lost in the details or pulled away into day-to-day work. Having a structured plan to work through will help you both keep track and stay focused on where you’ve been.
If you aren’t sure where to start, try keeping a list for a week of every piece of paper that comes across your desk and every Excel spreadsheet that you touch. Use that list as a starting point to identify your current processes. From there, list out all the people involved in each of those processes and their role. Then organize this list into the ones that you or the people identified spend the most time or those that come up the most often. Don’t forget to look for processes that could be eliminated entirely or are no longer useful in their current format. This can be the framework of your process improvement project plan and will help you gauge how you’re doing as you work through each different business process.
Don’t be afraid of self-service. A lot of HR teams struggle with the idea of employee or manager self-service. Even though they want to find efficiency in their day, the idea of redirecting employees to online resources can feel impersonal or like they are removing themselves from the process. This is especially true in companies where employees may not work on computers as part of their job, it can be difficult to build comfort. Remember, just because your employees may not use computers as part of their day-to-day job, it doesn’t mean that they don’t shop online or use other online tools. Companies like Amazon, Uber and Google have transformed the way people live. Employees expect a similar technology available to them in the office as well. As you consider the employee and manager-facing portions of the system, remember these expectations and what your employees are likely able to take advantage of in their work and personal lives.
Change always requires effort. Finding time for process improvement can be difficult especially in the midst of system implementations, but planning ahead to look at what you are doing, and how, and most importantly why can pay dividends later in your time or your team’s time with simple processing tasks.
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