The genesis of any product is identifying the stakeholders. Basically, “who are you building this product for?”
This is precisely, where we have gone wrong with HRMS of the past.
Look at any of the legacy HR-tech solutions. What do you see? Mammoth heavy-duty, feature overloaded (“15000-feature solutions” as I like to call them), chunky software, based on super-standardized HR processes. Uncannily, they sync well with existing IT workflows in the organization, which makes for a strong selling point. I have a question at this stage. Whose life becomes easier with the above?
The lives of the department that needs to administer these processes, i.e. HR and IT. These functions are also typically the decision-makers of an HRMS purchase. In other words, HR and IT are the “customers”, i.e. buyers. In itself, that is not a problem.
Problem is this.
Who are the actual end-users? The “consumer”?
And the problem is, the entire HRMS product design caters to the “buyer of the product” and completely overlooks the experience of “user of the product”.
Philosophically, this is what I call a “point-of-sale” approach. The product design is focused on what makes it easier to sell to the buyer, instead of improving the experience of the user.
Unfortunately for the sale-driven products, employees are becoming increasingly empowered. They no longer accept an experience imposed on them, nor have qualms making themselves heard, and worse – walking away. Therefore, this strategy will no longer work. Simply put, HRMS design simply cannot afford to ignore this user.
Here is what I think, will work.
HRMS of the future will be about doing a few things really well. Innovation will be, not in terms of the number of features, but going in-depth into each process. This coincides with the evolving HR approach of acknowledging each employee as unique, requiring a unique approach. Tech products will need to support those micro-processes, naturally requiring deep solutions.
For example, to date, we have blanket compensation structures for all employees. But don’t we all have different needs at different points in time? Some may need more cash, and others more benefits.
Similarly, for learning. Why do we have mass training workshops? Wouldn’t micro-modules of learning, at the time you need it, work better?
But do HRMS tools enable a unique approach for every employee? No.
But they will need to.
This is why organizations need to choose specialized deep solutions, instead of bulky platforms that try to solve all problems; but end up addressing none, effectively.
Yes, I know the questions you want to ask at this stage.
1. Wouldn’t it be a challenge for employees to engage with multiple specialized tools instead of one standardized end-to-end HRMS?
This answer is simple.
Today technology has made it possible. API integration allows organizations to bring together multiple deep-solutions to build a consortium of HRMS, where the tools can talk to each other, and employees interact across tools, effortlessly.
2. Will it cost us more?
This answer is more of a question.
We are talking of HR as a strategic partner today. If that be true, for how much longer will it take for us to transition from “cost-saving” to “value-creation”? The Indian HR market has been marred by the approach of 30 rupees-per employee for checking all boxes. Actually, I am asked this question often. Sometimes my question in return is, “how much do you spend on toilet paper?” The new age HRMS might cost less than that.
As I see it, the cost is not so much an issue. It is the inconvenience of change.
Elon Musk said, “Some people don’t like change, but you need to embrace change if the alternative is a disaster.”
Ignoring the empowered employee of today is nothing short of business disaster. This has been established often enough. Therefore, the only option is to change the way we approach HRMS in future.
And in that future, HRMS will need to be about, less-is-more.