I’m in the mood for a good rant today. I’ve been slowly torturing myself and several of my colleagues over the last month or so sitting through demo after demo of potential HR systems to handle the whole schbang from recruitment to off-boarding. And frankly, I’ve been embarrassed. It’s been like sitting through endless re-runs of the 80s TV show Small Wonder which if you’ve ever seen an episode you feel my pain. (Side note: I have no idea where this reference came from but it was the first thing that came to mind).
Now, I’m by no means the HR technology guru on FOT – I’m just your standard end user here. But, try as you may HR systems vendors, you can’t fool me. I’m on to you. Just because you throw in a few fancy graphics, some B.S. about employee self service and tell me all about your “coming soon” upgrades doesn’t hide the fact that your platform was probably developed around the same time as Small Wonder. In fact, I’m getting pretty good at weeding out the pretenders from the real players. I’ve gotten it down to two simple questions that will tell me if you have any clue about how business works today.
Question 1: How will you train my employees on how to use the system?
This one’s my favorite. The sales rep usually sits up straight in his chair and boasts about how we’ll have a project manager and team assigned to us who will hold end user training sessions, how they can develop custom instruction guides and of course their extensive online help. Sometimes they even bust out their hardware and show me all of their customer service awards. Ahh, but Mr. HR systems guy, you’ve fallen into my trap. Here’s what I wanted to hear you say:
“Training? Our system is so intuitive that we don’t need to offer training. You log on and you just figure it out. We wouldn’t want to insult by offering you training. You have used an ipod/pad/touch at some point in your life right?”
Yes, I would even like it if they insulted me a bit. It would show me they mean business and I’d sign the contract on the spot. I mean really, has anyone trained you on how to use any number of the social
media sites out there?
Question 2: How will my managers become better managers by using your system?
The answer to this question usually involves the word “track” or various synonyms of the word track. They can track time off, track goals, track performance history. You name it, they can track it! Got you again Mr. HR systems guy! Here’s what I wanted to hear you say though:
“Look, you’re running a business here and you hire adults, so forget about tracking this and tracking that. Our system will put relevant business information about your employees into the hands of your managers so they can make better decisions. If our system doesn’t help them make better decisions, then we’ve failed.”
That’s all I need and it shouldn’t be that hard to deliver. Now, I have seen some vendors who are starting to get it, but not enough and if they turn out to be good I’ll happily give them a plug. But we as HR Pros need to recognize that the system you choose will go a long way towards defining how our function is viewed within organizations. But this is a challenge to the HR technology community – Step Up Your Game! Or at least know that one of my favorite 80s TV shows is Magnum P.I.!
I’ll keep you all posted on how my search turns out.
Andy Porter is Chief People Officer at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, MA which means he works with some wicked smaaht people. Some days, he indeed does wear short shorts around the office(call it a morale booster) but it really just makes people uncomfortable. Other days, he spits some mad game on cheese. No really – he’s somewhat of a cheese aficionado. But more importantly? At Broad he gets to his small part to help change the world of healthcare.