Automate for people power

Given that many management systems in use today seem to predate the abacus, it’s remarkable how little automation has taken place within key business processes.

Many companies still tend to rely on a combination of standalone systems and cross-company paper trails. It’s the finance department’s equivalent of using a quill pen and journal to manage your fixed assets – it does the job, but somehow you sense there’s a better way.

Admittedly it can be tricky to prioritise the business case for IT investment, largely because HR is rarely seen as a frontline department.

Yes, it would be nice to capture candidate CVs electronically, filter them according to pre-set guidelines, identify training needs during interviews and plan a customised learning programme. But it would probably be just as nice to build a half-decent contact management application that ensures you know who your customers are the next time you decide to fire your sales manager.

This jaundiced perspective on people management does, however, miss a trick or two. For one thing, in all but the smallest companies it’s usually possible to identify some kind of ROI through targeted automation, particularly if you start with your biggest pain points.

Automation also helps you capture and centralise a lot of valuable employee-related information. Every piece of data, from electronically captured CVs through to the outcomes from an exit interview, helps organisations better understand the value of their human capital assets, and as the Americans quaintly have it, ‘leverage’ the heck out of them.

But you can’t provide better analysis until you get your hands on the data you want to interpret. Many organisations think of process automation first, analytics second – in fact, the two go hand-in-hand.

  • Keith Rodgers, co-founder of human capital management analyst Webster

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