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I’ve spent my career supporting HR technology programs in global organizations, as part of IT, and HR, and back again. Regardless of the organization or function, experience has shown there are a handful of key success factors that, when addressed effectively, can substantially improve an organization’s HR data & technology ecosystem and its ability to serve the needs of the business. And while this list is surely not comprehensive, it’s a solid starting point as you look to optimize the approach to HR data & technology in your global organization.
1. Clearly Defined HR Strategic Goals
No matter what your HR systems landscape looks like –unnecessarily complex or completely streamlined- supporting a global HR technology portfolio can often feel like a game of whack-a-mole. It is critical that HR technology teams be laser focused on those things HR leadership care about – which are the things that are needle-moving for the global organization. This allows us to concentrate often scarce resources and budget dollars to areas that achieve maximum impact, reduce noise, and help to eliminate wasteful activity- which ultimately increases productivity and saves money.HR leadership, the global HR community, the HR systems team and other IT partners need to be in lock-step in this respect, so that no one is distracted from the priorities at hand.
2. Real-time, Complete &Accurate Global People Data
A global organization will have a very accurate picture of its world-wide employee population, right? I mean, at least headcount… right?Two words: Not necessarily.
Access to global data and people insights in a timely, ‘pain free’ manner is high on the wish list of most Global CHROs.And it’s not as easy as it seems. Organizations – especially those that have grown by merger and acquisition – are often left cobbling together reports and calculating metrics from multiple data sources. Furthermore, there are often disparate definitions for common HR data points and metrics being used across an organization.
The most effective way to solve these problems is by having a central mechanism to track key data points that feed reports and dashboards and drive HR metrics. In other words, one global system of record - a single platform that facilitates HR processes and tracks critical people data for the entire organization.
But a global system of record is not a silver bullet on its own. The key is ensuring the completeness accuracy of key data points with the system. There are a few mechanisms that facilitate this effort in a global organization:
• Data Dictionary - one standard operating definition for each HR data value & metric used globally
• Process Maps –one set of well-defined HR processes that are standard globally
• Global Integration Standards – for those situations where it is less feasible to have one global system (i.e. Payroll), the establishment of minimum standards for integration to/from the global system of record
The reporting and analytics outcomes HR leadership wants to achieve should drive the scope and focus of the global data dictionary, global process standardization and decisions around minimum standards for data integration to the global system of record.
3. A Centralized HR Operating Model
If you have supported HR systems in a global organization, chances are you’ve felt like a human ping-pong ball at some point, bouncing between stakeholders and decision makers across the regions.
A key success factor in managing a successful HR technology ecosystem, and in driving the establishment of the key elements in section 2, is a central HR operating model. In this model, strategy is set, key decisions are made, and standards are defined via a group of global HR leaders. Regional HR teams are then accountable for consistent execution at the local level.
From an HR systems perspective, this ensures that HR technology direction is established at the global level by one body of decision-makers, reducing conflicting priorities across regions and countries, and allowing us to maintain a laser-focus on globally agreed priorities. If further ensures that a global HR systems support model is positioned for success because it mirrors the functional HR operating model, and more effectively meet the needs of HR stakeholders.
4. Governance, Governance and more Governance
I heart governance. The word ‘governance’ can evoke anxiety with images of bottlenecks and bureaucratic red tape. But fear not! If built out correctly (and adhered to) a formal governance framework can actually streamline HR technology prioritization, planning, budgeting, project intake and support processes.
Essential guardrails in the framework guide stakeholders and systems teams- allowing the organization to transition away from a ‘wild wild west’ environment that lacks clarity and consistency (and causes confusion and frustration), to one where everyone involved knows what to expect (and what is expected of them.)
There are several other positive outcomes of a coordinated and aligned HR technology governance framework in a global organization:
• HR technology decisions made in line with agreed HR priorities and process/data standards
• Enhanced resource management capabilities, especially critical considering shared resource pools and the extent of support that is needed for the regions simultaneously
• The ability to flag and monitor interdependencies across systems
• Strong controls help to ensure compliance, mitigate risk, and reduce the level of work involved from a SOX, GDPR and CCPA perspective
A very simple governance model can be broken down into 3 key components:
1. Annual Operating Plan (AOP) Review
• Revalidate the HR technology roadmap
• Confirm priorities for the upcoming year
• CapEx & OpEx costs for budget inclusion
2. Quarterly Project Review for in progress, planned & new project requests
• Review in-progress projects and revalidate project pipeline
• Review and approve new project requests
• Project reprioritization based on new project requests
3. Bi Monthly Release Management for ad-hoc system enhancement requests
• Decide what requests will be actioned
• Prioritize into upcoming BAU Releases or align to projects
Once you’ve ticked these boxes, you’ve set the foundation for an efficient and effective HR data & technology program that is truly able to meet the strategic needs of HR and the business.