Flexibility trade-offs in HRIS implementations
By our HR Program Lead Camille
As companies try to meet their employees’ need for flexibility and are simultaneously coping with concepts like the hybrid way of working, the mobility allowance and “de nieuwe arbeidsdeal”, flexibility has turned into a driving force in the HR world. On the other hand, managing employee data, structuring HR information and automating HR processes has become increasingly complex. Therefore, a lot of organizations are looking into Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) in order to cope with this interplay.
At Trilations we help our customers automate and streamline their HR processes while taking into account their need for flexibility. Based on our experience, we defined three important trade-offs you have to think about before starting your HRIS implementation.
To flex or not to flex?
“ How much flexibility do your HR policy and processes need?”
Of course, it is important that your HR processes and systems meet some flexibility standards, but flexibility has also become kind of a HR buzz word these days. As a company you need to identify and prioritize the areas that require flexibility and the areas that can be automated. Thoroughly understanding and analyzing your company’s HR policy, processes and requirements before you start looking for a suitable HRIS tool is crucial. Some examples of questions you should ask yourself are “What is important for your employees?”, “Where is flexibility rooted in your company values and culture?”, ”What is your short and long term HR business strategy?”, etc.
Another key question you should answer is where the repetitive HR tasks are situated in your processes. System automation and standardization of these tasks are an absolute win (“low hanging fruit”), so finding a HRIS tool that can computerize these will boost the buy-in from your HR staff. Think about benefits administration, report generation, organization chart creation, time registration, learning administration…
Keep in mind, your organization can never implement a 100% flexibility driven HRIS tool. This would make the HR functioning too complex and unmanageable. The need for flexibility must be driven and prioritized by your HR policy, processes and strategy.
To customize or not to customize?
“How much added value does flexibility create?”
In their quest for flexibility organizations tend to go for HRIS tools that offer a lot of customization options. This allows them to tailor the system to meet every specific need and requirement (e.g. adapted workflows, modified fields, tailored permissions, …). However, customization also means high development and maintenance costs (this is especially the case for cloud-based solutions with regularly scheduled releases interacting with your customizations), a longer implementation period and a higher chance of system errors. Compared to this, a more standard ready-made solution ensures a faster deployment, has already been tested and comes with lower costs.
During your HRIS tool selection you certainly have to weigh the need for customization or configuration capabilities versus the available time and budget. Customization doesn’t always mean added value, it’s a cost-benefit trade-off.
To change or not to change?
“Is your organization ready for a change towards flexibility?”
HRIS systems providing employees with the flexibility to manage their own HR tasks (e.g. updating personal info, registering for a training, requesting time off …) require more manual registrations compared to automated tools. Offering more flexible options and implementing employee self-service also comes with more responsibilities for everybody in your organization. Therefore, you need to be sure that all employees are willing and able to use the tool properly.
Change management is key to ensure your workforce is eager to use the new tool. Involving them and all other important stakeholders during the implementation, testing and roll-out is paramount. Only if your employees understand the WIFM (what’s in it for me) and the flexible options are considered valuable, HR self-administration can succeed.
If you expect everybody to use the HRIS tool, they need to know how to utilize it correctly. Thus, the application must be user-friendly and relevant documentation needs to be provided (e.g. manuals, trainings, help desk…). A self-service portal implies the whole company is responsible for the HR data quality and accuracy, not only your HR staff.
So, before you change towards a self-service HR portal with flexible options, you need to ask yourself if your employees need, understand and can handle this change. If not, your intended flexibility will turn into an increase of frustration, a decrease of data quality and a loss of employee engagement.
We can conclude that organizations who take these three trade-offs into account, are more likely to find a successful fit between their HRIS tool and their organizational needs. Before throwing your company into HR flexibilization think about
- Which role flexibility plays in your HR policy and processes
- The balance between customization, time and budget
- The change capacity of your whole workforce.
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