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How to combine workforce management and HR systems

Four tips for implementing an effective workplace management system.

Appropriately enough, when human resources considers work technology, it’s important that the focus is on humans. Specifically, how they interact with the systems designed to simplify and improve their working lives.

As the focus on people experience (as opposed to people cost) grows, specialist workforce management (WFM) systems are often being implemented alongside traditional HR technologies. These systems are designed to provide complementary functions, such as time and attendance, and the ability to create flexible rostering options for your people.

The problem a lot of professionals face is that they can’t simply smash separate HR and WFM systems together in the hope that they’ll talk to each other and operate cohesively.

Here’s a simple four-part framework to consider, before pushing the go button on HR and WFM design.

Application design

When it comes to the design of the application(s) and the integration of HR and WFM systems, these are the most debated questions:

  1. What system will leave be completed in?
  2. What user interface(s) will be used for mobility?
  3. What systems will be the source and target for data?
  4. Where will award interpretation be completed?

When determining the answers, ensure you’re thinking of the end user. Understand what functions reside in each system, which ones sit outside of everything, and which ones don’t yet exist but may be needed in the future.

Mobile first

These days, any business function you undertake generally needs to be via a mobile.

As more organisations are trending towards ‘bring your own device’ strategies, they need to factor in the different mobile operating systems that the solution will interact with. Remember that not every supplier has their application suite working seamlessly across all devices. Here are three key questions to ponder:

  1. If some devices are not capable of running an application, will it be possible to achieve a single process across your organisation?
  2. If so, do you mandate that some functions need to be completed on certain technology, and is this a scalable solution?
  3. Are multilingual capabilities available across all the different devices your system interacts with, reflecting a diverse and mobile-first workforce?

Process and design thinking

If you complete a process across a number of systems, it’s important this works from a user’s perspective. For example, would a team member find applying for leave in the HR system and receiving a published roster in a separate WFM system intuitive? Or would it result in more mistakes, and more office work? A thorough approach to user experience is beneficial to ensure the end user is considered and processes help to mitigate user-acceptance risks.

Data considerations

The data that resides across your technology solutions will be required for operational, management and predictive analysis, so it needs to be accessible and comprehensible. Understanding where data is coming from, where it resides after it’s sourced, what systems require it, and at what frequency is critical.

It’s also important to understand what quality data looks like. Because underpinning the implementation of any AI technology is your data, which the system will consume as its fuel to ‘learn’, improve, and refine the value it delivers back to the business.

This article originally appeared in the September 2018 edition of HRM magazine.

Learn the skills and techniques to establish a human capital measurement and reporting framework, to enable evidence-based business decision-making, with the AHRI short course ‘Workforce Analytics’.

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