Magazine article Workforce

HRMS Gets Easier, Better for Smaller Companies

Magazine article Workforce

HRMS Gets Easier, Better for Smaller Companies

Article excerpt

HR pros at smaller companies now have more confidence that HRMS products will do what they want.

More companies are either upgrading their systems or buying their first one.

We've read the headlines for a couple of years now: software businesses have been falling by the wayside, and companies have been cutting back their technology budgets.

But as this tech shake-out has gone on, HR systems have become more user friendly, more affordable, and much closer to what HR professionals need to manage their workforces. Skill tracking, succession planning, and self-service have become critical for smaller companies, and vendors seem to be responding.

More efficiency

Over the last couple of years, HR pros have had similar kinds of mandates: save money, be more efficient, automate as much as possible, and make time for strategic planning. The economic downturn has accelerated these trends.

In response, HRMS products have had to become more affordable and easier to use. For the most part, they have. HR pros at smaller companies now have more confidence that a product will do what they want, and more companies are either upgrading their systems or buying their first one.

Jean Hubbard, senior vice president of human resources for Rurban Financial Corp., has for years been thinking about getting a better HR system. Until now, the various systems offered different services and were incomplete, she says. Now she's ready to make a change. "We're just now finding vendors who are providing efficient systems."

Case in point: Hubbard has 320 employees spread out over five different companies that Rurban owns. Her current system generates EEO reports, but not one report for the five companies. This means that if an employee is transferred from one Rurban company to another, the system thinks the employee was fired by one company and then hired by another. "It takes a lot of manual manipulation to get it right," she says. Most of the newer systems that Hubbard is considering are capable of handling employee transfers.

Denise Haws of Made2Manage Systems, an Indiana software company, is also finally ready for an HRMS. She has to be "more strategic," she says. "For HR to be able to contribute to objectives, you need quick access to information. You need to see the staffing game plan.

What the cost per hire is. What the fill rate is. Quite honestly, right now, we just have personnel files."

Self-service even hafter

Pressure from Wall Street and from CEOs to cut costs has accelerated the self-service trend. Work that was once done by HR is slowly shifting to managers and employees, even in smaller companies.

As smaller companies get more comfortable with self-service, HR professionals are looking to do more sophisticated forms of self-service, beyond such tasks as checking on 401(k) allocations and requesting time off.

ITeX, a 75-employee Silicon Valley engineering company, is using its HRMS to conduct customized performance reviews appropriate to an industry in which skills are tough to quantify. Employees at Kyphon, a 217-employee medical-device company in Sunnyvale, California, have access to an anonymous suggestion box as part of the HRMS. At HPM Building Supply in Hawaii, which has a staff of about 350, the HRMS includes a "leaders tool kit" for managers to improve hiring and managing. At Made2Manage, Haws hopes to use her new system to show employees what their "true" compensation is when the value of all benefits is included.

Moving these kinds of duties away from HR's desk not only saves time and money, but also increases employee satisfaction. If you ask employees what health benefits they have, they won't be sure. With self-service, they can log on to a computer-from anywhere-and see when they qualify for a preventive doctor's exam, what a filling costs, what their co-pays are for drugs, or what their annual allotment is for contact lenses. …

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