Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Seeing the Value of Employees More Clearly: With Workforce Management Software, Banks Can Get Strategic about Their Most Important Resource

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Seeing the Value of Employees More Clearly: With Workforce Management Software, Banks Can Get Strategic about Their Most Important Resource

Article excerpt

While many application areas loudly proclaimed their presence in the big push to take market share, the unfolding of the human resource "e-volution" has been quieter. And so, you might have been fixated on your ERP system, thinking your work for support staff complete, while other options were percolating.

With banks and Fortune 1000s a bit more comfortable with the economy and seeking ever more efficiency, interest has been rising in giving human resource functions a slick new electronic face, now referred to as human resource management software (HRMS).

While some banks have experienced this first hand within the last two years or so, for the fast followers, catching up may be an interesting exercise. By last count vendors in the HRMS sector numbered in the hundreds, according to Workforce Management, a portal devoted to human resource trends. All those HR systems are designed to give web treatment to work previously stuck in manual "dead tree" or disparate fat-client system mode.

"Initially, the software was administrative, for use by HR personnel or accounting departments," said Jim Holincheck, research director, Gartner, Stamford, Conn., during a recent webcast.

"Now you're seeing companies deploy technically simpler, but more comprehensive solutions that everyone in a given company can use as part of a strategic talent management program," said Holincheck.

Although some consolidation has occurred, the market for HR software is still taking shape, with creative approaches and new solutions in the offing.

Like a CIF for employees

The idea is to develop your talent pool, in part, by building a kind of electronic employee record--accessible by portal--that makes performance and project management data more evident. Senior management and HR personnel collect key daily managerial tidbits and combine them with other information gathered during periodic hiring and promotions. Being systematic in gathering data usually kept in paper records--if at all--is said to improve objectivity (during performance reviews and training assessments), lead to fewer errors (by either informing or directly linking to systems that issue paychecks, benefits, rewards), and allow senior management to be more perceptive about talent, perhaps putting workers to better use over time. For instance, when certain projects come up, you can easily query a given system and get a list of candidates that are theoretical fits. Systems like these are designed to help management focus on details that can elude daily perspective, such as how particular skills are being leveraged over an entire department or whether a given employee is up to speed on his training.

A broader enterprise-wide human capital management system can encompass areas such as recruiting, on-boarding, career development, and incentives management. (Additionally, Holincheck indicated, employees can also self manage careers and keep track of training or additional education and skills improvement.)

Solutions at work

Because getting and keeping good talent is increasingly viewed as a critical differentiator in corporate performance, the niche is beginning to gather momentum.

"Awareness in this HR space has really increased in the last year or so," says Robert Bernshteyn, senior director, product marketing, SuccessFactors, San Mateo, Calif. One reason for this, he says, is that company's application supports hiring from within--or at least makes it viable as an option.

The idea is not to be so dependent on what's stuck in the hearts and minds of individual managers to whom HR might not have easy access--certainly not instant access. And, with demographic shifts on the horizon, corporations are beginning to revert their thinking away from constantly going outside the firm or seeking stop-gap measures.

"In the next ten years, there will be fewer workers than positions in the U. …

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