Many of the portals I’ve worked on have had a complete lack of attention to the HR practitioner. The generic scenario is an enterprise intranet, often driven by an underlying portal technology, with a static and outdated HR presence oriented towards policy and benefit information and links. These organizations are motivated to improve their HR offering and there’s no lack of energy around ESS and MSS integration, and plenty of thinking around how to balance centralized vs. decentralized employee programs.
When I recommend optimizing the experience for the HR professionals I find this has been given little to no thought, and that’s reflected in the environments I have seen for HRs, typically a password-protected sub-site with some stale documents and an unused discussion forum purported to be an exciting ‘collaboration’ space to share a handful of sensitive documents, with little thought to making it easier for HRs to work together (“Test Message” and “Hello World” seem to be the common subjects).
A couple of things – first, it’s generally acknowledged that the ERP user experience is sufficiently difficult to require supplemental front end work at a portal interface layer, yet the expectation is that HR professionals ought to be able to deal with it. Why is that? Frequent/’power’ users of an application stand to gain a lot from optimization, and I frequently interview folks who demonstrate tasks that require high numbers of clicks, screen changes, data fetching from other sources, etc. Training doesn’t make awkward processes efficient.
Second, the value proposition of leveraging collaborative technology in the HR space hasn’t been connected to the ongoing transformation programs in place at most large enterprises. I commonly hear from professionals out in the businesses and regions that don’t have a good sense of what’s going on in Corporate, and they often feel that their local dynamics are either unknown of ignored. Corporate people often expresses that they feel disconnected from the field and have little visibility into who does what, where. Often HR operations is under pressure to reduce operating costs, making it appear counter-indicative to provide practitioners additional IT effort on top of the ERP systems that are already in place.
Contrast this with sales. Here’s a function with similar needs: to rely on ERP but in this case a recognition that there is also a supporting data, historical information and a need for awareness of ongoing work efforts among their teams. Sales has always had a tacit social knowledge network supporting a set of individual practitioners performing against personal and group goals.
The big difference is that sales generates revenue and HR is an expense, and as such it’s managed quite differently.
The HR Professional portal should provide a functional workspace with information and tools that can be managed by a distributed workforce, centered around the areas that align to the business and corporate HR strategies and moves the value proposition away from the administrative formula. I’ve yet to see an organization that doesn’t get an ‘ah-ha’ moment when we talk about it but I have seen those that just can’t get it either funded of adequately staffed and developed. Where we are building them, they are in their infancy but I feel they will have high value as HR emerges as a strategic business partner over the next decade.