HR Technology For Contingent Workforce Staffing Curation

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Big_Data_TechnologiesPart 1 of 2

The drive to adopt and invest in new HR technologies isn’t just to make running a labor program easier. Beneath the feature sets and fancy functionality lurks the specter of Big Data. In this brief series, we’re going to examine the latest trends in employment-centric software, and then, in our second installation, tackle a big question about handling Big Data. It’s a journey made possible by Software Advice (a Gartner company), the New England Patriots and Netflix, to name a few.

More companies are investing in HR technologies

At the start of 2015, we published a series of articles discussing the top trends in the staffing industry that would likely influence the nature of recruiting and employment. What we didn’t really touch on was the role of HR technology in that process. Not too long ago, organizations prepared to invest in software platforms when their growth dictated the need for technology enabled efficiencies, such as automating once manual processes for tracking and managing employee data. Smaller firms remained content to rely on methods such as email and spreadsheets, which helped them avoid large capital expenditures on software. With fewer employees to oversee, these tools were sufficient to get the job done without perceptible losses in time or efficiency. However, that’s beginning to change.

Although businesses with over 1,000 employees are more likely to purchase and use HR software exclusively, according to Software Advice’s “2014 Human Resources Software BuyerView,” a growing number of smaller organizations are investing in these technologies. Currently, 68 percent of the companies surveyed for the report are now supplementing manual processes with automation technologies. The motivation seems to spring from a clear desire to meet and exceed performance management goals.

Big Data is becoming a bigger deal, even to smaller businesses

In a similar Bersin by Deloitte study, 67 percent of companies looking to purchase new talent management software were driven by a keen interest in performance management capabilities, “either for the first time or as a replacement for existing solutions.” Likewise, Software Advice discovered that 44 percent of its respondents planned to increase their investments in the same area. In a comprehensive review of the entire human resources market in 2014, Software Advice found that small businesses most commonly sought to automate personnel tracking (about 36 percent), applicant tracking (about 35 percent) and performance review (over 20 percent), in that order of importance. The impetus comes from the need to improve efficiency and accuracy.

“Here, our data indicates that once businesses purchase software, these benefits are indeed realized,” Software Advice noted. “For example, when asked how their system delivers on key benefits of HR software, 92 percent say their software does ‘well’ to ‘extremely well’ when storing and organizing key documents.”

Given the rise of employment risks and IRS penalties related to worker classification, these tools were also viewed as instrumental in preventing “misclassification of employees, miscalculating overtime and missing tax deadlines.”

2015 is all about performance and metrics

As Bersin points out, performance management has become an increasingly critical business concern for today’s organizations, and “the historical systems are not perceived as adequately supporting next-generation practices.” Existing systems are aging or already outdated. Close to 30 percent of the large organizations polled admitted that their performance management systems were more than seven years old. Even more challenging, many companies have continued to add disparate systems to accomplish specific tasks, yet have taken no steps toward consolidating that software into an integrated, enterprise-wide platform. As Bersin learned:

  • Of those replacing existing software, fully 75 percent sought to replace a standalone performance management application with an integrated suite solution.
  • The majority of organizations we surveyed (74 percent) use one software solution for their performance management system, but respondents reported that as many as ten or more systems are used inside their organizations today.
  • The source of this software varies:  41 percent of respondents reported that their performance management solutions are self-developed; 38 percent are provided by a vendor (often a suite vendor, although the module may be stand-alone) and 21 percent use modules that are within their core HR systems.

Software Advice also stressed the importance of integration, cautioning that while many software buyers select a stand-alone product that caters to an individual HR function, “this buying behavior may lead to issues down the road, as getting these separate best-of-breed systems to communicate with one another can prove challenging.”

Customizing the software to fit unique business requirements emerged as a primary obstacle. Another issue, as we’ve previously covered, is the lack of support for mobile applications. Industry experts spent the latter half of 2014 urging technology providers to accommodate the proliferation of mobile device apps and usage, particularly among job seekers in the millennial generation. And yet, Software Advice’s research demonstrates that most users belonging to the HR function continue to access the software by desktop (92 percent) or laptop (56 percent) computers.

The importance of HR technology in staffing and recruiting

A new world of talent acquisition, engagement and management has dawned, one in which the concept of people data is inextricably tied to every decision we make. The trends we’ve just discussed in HR technologies are by no means restricted to organizations with full-time, direct-hire workforces. In industries where contingent workforce solutions are outsourced to MSPs and staffing professionals, talent tracking and performance management platforms are imperative. The complementary talent population is more prevalent and essential to the success of businesses today. Strategic though they may be, contingent workers cut across an enterprise, its divisions and the multiple staffing suppliers engaged in an MSP program. A large benefit of an MSP program is its ability to promote visibility into key performance indicators, compliance, spend, and productivity. Tracking personnel records and monitoring output are mission critical duties that are better enabled through advances in HR software, such as vendor management systems (VMS).

Those organizations that invest in analytics tools, business intelligence modules and analytical teams outperform their peers. And data enabled processes achieve much more than that. The world moves at a faster pace. Changes in business strategies, particularly around employment, require elasticity and sudden shifts. What today’s HR technology brings to the table is a heightened ability to predict and forecast: how many workers will be needed in the coming months, what skills will be required, what job categories will be needed, how much should those positions be paid, how quickly can they be onboarded and screened, which suppliers perform the best in specific programs, and so forth.

Clients want data. They want metrics, intelligence, transparency, and solid benchmarks that allow them to predict future needs and counter potential fluctuations in market or organizational dynamics. Building a living scorecard, one that drives the client’s vision and strategic direction, is equal parts art and science. Tracking the proper metrics, those tailored to the buyer’s operational aspirations and culture, provides more than just visibility into supplier performance — it fosters continuous improvement planning and allows all participants vested in the engagement to detect potential obstacles before they have a chance to impede progress.

To be meaningful, however, data must be interpreted and curated. Without savvy MSPs and their staffing partners — experts at understanding and interpreting people data — clients may find themselves facing misleading statistics, hollow information and a confusing hodgepodge of numbers that aren’t telling the whole story. It’s a lesson we can learn from the New England Patriots’ “Deflategate” scandal and the chief content officer of Netflix. Check out the second part of this series to find out why.

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This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: HR Technology For Contingent Workforce Staffing Curation

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