Over the course of my twenty years career as an HR & payroll systems trouble shooter, I’ve consulted and strategized with management teams of all types. I’ve watched the wrong people ask the wrong questions, and I’ve witnessed the evidence of hundreds of thousands of pounds flying out of the window, wasted on the wrong software.
If there’s one thing my clients and workshop attendeesreally enjoy, it’s hearing about these case histories, as very often they are able to relate directly to what I have found in my experience, and also take away some key points.
So, in this first segment of a two-part case study series, I will dive into How to Optimize an Existing HR System.
Client: Private Sector Size: 1,800 Staff
As anyone who works in HR knows, making the most of your HR system means the constant review of your basic processes to see how the technology can be used to drive improvements.
A key tool in this is work flow, which pushes documents round an organisation (normally via Self Service) gathering approvals (or rejections) for certain actions, and automating what can be a time-consuming task. I proposed that a number of paper-driven processes be handled by work flow.
One of these processes was the Recruitment Requisition, used to hire replacement staff. I was astonished to find no less than six different people were required to authorize this event. I’ll even name the posts: the hiring manager, their divisional head, the head of recruitment, the HR director, the Chief Financial officer and the CEO.
When I looked into the procedure, I discovered, in reality, people were hiring because they had an urgent need to fill vacancies. After the appointment, they trudged around the company a posteriori, gathering signatures as and when they could.
Rather than replicate this farce – that blatantly wasn’t working – I had a discussion with the CFO deploying this logic:
- Headcount budget is set every year. Therefore, providing the new hire salary is within bounds, a replacement is in budget.
- If a replacement is truly needed, and the post can’t be lost or reduced, then the hiring manager should know best. If you can’t trust your managers to make objective judgements, then get rid of them and find better ones.
- Given that a replacement is required, and the proposed salary is within budget, then surely all that is required is that a suitable financial officer verify that the hiring manager’s request is within limits?
This process could, in effect, be reduced to two signatures.
This logic was agreed by the CFO, especially in the light of current practices being unworkable and lacking rigour. A revised work flow was designed and is now working cutting unnecessary administration.
- Look critically at what you are doing. Many of these sorts of anomaly arise from the Board not trusting their line management; if that is the case, get managers you can trust.
- Try to make the system work if it is unworkable. Challenge it.
Stay tuned for my next case study: How to implement a new HR & Payroll system for a medium-sized company.