Setting the HR Table – The Strategic role of HR and How it Became That Way

February 6, 2014

Laid Table

Human Resources (HR) has played a critical role in companies since the birth of organized corporations.  The name has changed from “Personnel Department,” but the function of taking care of the employees has remained. With the onset of computerized application systems, the first adopters in Accounting and Finance jumped on the band wagon with the early General Ledger systems.  Large companies were willing to spend big money to develop in-house systems for ‘important and strategic’ functions.  The evolution continued with the ability to purchase applications or even outsource.  Today, large multi-national corporations and small proprietorships alike all have the benefit of technology for all business functions and by understanding their interaction they form the corporate strategy.

History shows that there were no funds for automated HR systems, especially if they required the use of expensive, internal Information Technology resources, resources which were typically hidden behind walls running large mainframe computers. Historically, it was acknowledged that the group that handled the finances was an important strategic member at the table; the ‘table’ where the big strategic company decisions were made.  Overlooked was the division that took care of the people of the organization.

Over the years, I have worked with financial institutions and other corporations supporting the internal financial and accounting departments.  It is interesting to remember how so many of these people were eager to be on the leading edge of technology.  Many years ago, I remember being assigned to support the HR department at the large corporation where I was working.  My first thoughts were, “How great to work with such nice people” and “They have almost no systems so this should be a breeze…..” and it was. Helping them with a few spreadsheets and trying to understand payroll reports with scarce amounts of HR data was much of the job.  It really did not occur to them to want more. It was easy, that is, until the entry of the ERP (Enterprise) systems. The decision to replace an in-house old General Ledger system for the corporation was exciting but the real excitement came with the inclusion of the systems to support HR functions.  Wow, that was exciting and in hindsight very forward thinking for this company!  This was the beginning of the movement to bring the human resources function to the big table. Many corporations now saw HR functions as being part of the strategy and began putting technology behind the management of the company’s biggest asset, the people.   It was a great time for HR departments and the excitement continues to grow.

The evolution for Human Resources continues. In 2014 HR technology continues to move to greater specialization in the areas of:

  • Talent Management and Recruiting
  • Onboarding
  • Performance Management
  • Compensation
  • Workforce Management
  • Specialty reporting

Hundreds of vendors are vying for your business, dazzling you with terms such as SAAS, Mobile and Big Data.   It is time to set the HR table and make sure all the specialties are working together and taking advantage of the technical solutions available. From the day you recruit and hire an employee you are making an investment in them. Your days are filled ensuring your ability to track their work time, their attendance and life changes. Complexity today is increasing exponentially as you try to keep up with compliance for Tax, Insurance and ACA reporting.  You must be able to analyze and ensure that the data gathered will enhance the ability to manage, tactically and strategically, across the entire organization.  Now, everyone wants to touch the HR system.

The good news is, the technology and application systems are out there and with more affordable options than ever before.  The ability to use the data on mobile devices such as laptops, tablets and phones is real. The bad news is, it’s a jungle out there with hundreds of companies vying for your business and the choices can have any HR Executive or Manager running back to their spreadsheets. Let HRchitect sit at your table as your partner. HRchitect brings your organization our experience in dealing with HR technology on a daily basis and our expertise in solving the challenges faced by today’s HR organizations. Our services give clients the knowledge and confidence to move in the right direction and achieve their strategic business goals.