Human Resource Management in the Caribbean: Planning for the Future

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Human Resource Management in the Caribbean: Planning for the Future

Human resources planning is becoming more important as the Public Services (primarily of Belize, Grenada, Guyana and Jamaica) face the scarcity of "human capital", and begin to plan for, rather than react to, human resource management problems. The effectiveness of human resource planning depends largely on how well the information resource is managed. This article focuses on general considerations for implementing and managing humanresource information systems, shares related Caribbean experiences and imperatives forthe future.

The Public Services of the Caribbean,(1) in their quest for efficiency and effectiveness, place emphasis on human resource management and planning. Human Resource Planning, specifically the establishment of information systems which support planning efforts, takes on increased urgency and significance as the region faces the problem of the scarcity of human capital and the need to plan for, rather than react to, human resource management problems. For purposes of this article, human capital is defined as stored human productive potential.(2) Information systems must be given special attention as they inform all aspects of the human resource planning process from the inputs stage through analysis, forecasting, and implementation to evaluation and redesign of the human resource plan.

This article focuses on general considerations for the implementation of human resource information systems, and shares related experiences from the Caribbean as well as imperatives for the future.

General Considerations

Establishing and Managing Human Resource Information Systems

A human resource management information system assumes the existence of a policy framework for human resource management and planning. This gives direction to the outputs, which users of the system require for quality analysis, decision making and control.

Other considerations worthy of mention and from which organizations like the public service could well benefit, are the emerging information systems planning methodology which seem to rest on these foundations--obtaining executive commitment and involvement, setting information systems objectives which support those of the organization itself, and putting in place those information management functions required to adequately manage the information systems resources.(3)

The sensitization of users and those who provide data for the system is of critical importance. These constituents need to appreciate the significance of human resource planning and therefore the supporting information system, as well as the benefits to be derived. Reaching the leadership and membership of groups via trade unions and staff associations is also an important consideration. Public relations and education programs would also enhance efforts at sensitization and are well worth the time and money.

Taking a collaborative approach to the development and design of the system by involving users has the advantage of striking the balance between the needs of the systems specialist and the functional specialist. Another question to be answered is whether to develop original software or obtain packaged programs and modify as necessary. The caveat here relates to the uniqueness of the public sector, as most software is developed in the private sector. Developing indigenous software, although time-consuming, has the advantage of strengthening the capabilities of the public services of the region.

Other considerations concern the ability to support computerized systems that will keep abreast of technological changes, or have the technical capability to analyze data meaningfully. Orienting users in the procedural requirements of the system and monitoring the process of implementation is an ongoing requirement for the agency which provides leadership for the development and implementation of the system. …