HR's Role in the Reengineering Process

Article excerpt

Because reengineering involves a myriad of HR challenges, it provides HR with a golden opportunity to put its stamp on a firm. "It's up to HR to take the initiative and define its role," says Janet Caldow, a senior consultant at IBM Consulting Group in White Plains, New York. "In most cases, things aren't clearly defined during a reengineering project. Those who step forward gain the opportunity to blaze the trail."

Experts say HR can provide valuable guidance and direction as a project unfolds. HR's expertise can encompass a wide range of areas. They include:

1) Shaping the process: Although senior management may lay down the general guidelines and direction the reengineering effort will take, HR often can play a major role in determining whether it will succeed. At many companies--including Minneapolis-based IDS Financial Services, Monterey, California-based CTB and Palo Alto, California-based Syntex--HR helped create the selection criteria for members of the steering committee. HR also can interview and evaluate candidates. Even as the process filters down through the organization, HR can play a key role in determining how team leaders and team members are selected.

2) Creating job statements and role descriptions that reflect the new corporate order: It isn't enough to plug existing job descriptions into new positions created from reengineering. It isn't enough to use existing methodology to create new positions. Reengineering requires serious introspection about what the company is trying to achieve and what job and role responsibilities will help realize the goals. "It's a whole new way of thinking. The idea is to write job statements instead of descriptions, to outline roles vs. tasks, and to structure work around the customer rather than a specific function or department," says Mary Layman, vice president of HR for CTB

3) Working out compensation issues: Pay scales and rewards must be structured to create the desired results. …