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Talent Technology is Hot. But Don’t Forget About the Service Delivery!

HR Times – The HR Blog

Posted by David Parent on December 2, 2010

Workforce Planning & Analytics. Performance Management Systems. Learning Management Systems. Compensation Solutions. Succession Planning. Regardless of whether it’s integrated or stand-alone solutions, Talent Technology is hot. According to several industry analysts, this market grew through the Great Recession and is projected to eclipse double-digit growth for the foreseeable future.

We see this in the marketplace as well – many, if not most, of our clients are performing some activity around evaluating, selecting, designing, implementing, or updating one or more Talent technology solutions. Like many of our clients, our organization has also explored and implemented an array of leading solutions in this space.

Overall, we believe this trend is positive for our clients. Until recently, the great achievements in HR technology have been in the realm of automating and making much more efficient core HR processes around routine transactions including payroll, benefits, workforce administration, as well as the administrative aspects of areas such as recruiting, compensation, and training. While products have promised improved talent management capabilities, these benefits were really only achieved indirectly – and rarely did the functionality match the spin. Now we see either new or improved solutions, from numerous firms, offering the kinds of functionality once only dreamed of by HR professionals.

However, we have some concern that organizations are focusing too much on the “bells and whistles” of the solutions and forgetting some of the lessons we learned a “technology generation” ago when implementing the first wave of HR-related technology. As the first generation of HR technology solutions (what we referred to then as HRMS or HRIS) were implemented in the 1990’s, many organizations found that the investments did not achieve the benefits expected. This was largely because early adopters followed an approach focused on the technology – essentially operating HR as it had been run before, but now utilizing new technology. Not surprisingly as we look in a rearview mirror, significant results were not achieved. It took years and much experience to gain an appreciation that the technology was not enough – that achieving desired levels of efficiency would require changes to what later became known as “Service Delivery;" i.e., implementing new HR structures, processes, and roles in lock-step with the new technology.

While the latest wave of investments in Talent Technology has less to do with cost savings and efficiencies than the earlier solutions focused on core HR processing, we believe the importance of Service Delivery still remains.

For example, leading organizations have invested significantly in designing and implementing the kinds of Talent programs they need to attract, develop, and retain a high-performing workforce. Now technology offers to enhance these programs while doing so in a more automated and streamlined way.

The organizations we have seen gain the most value from these investments are looking beyond programs and technology – taking into account Service Delivery, including such considerations as:

  • Who will manage the new processes enabled by the new solutions?
  • Should there be a distinction between those individuals who design and oversee the programs and those that will execute them?
  • Besides primary users, what other shifts might be needed in our existing HR service delivery model?
  • As we implement, what changes are required within HR’s roles, responsibilities, resource levels, and expectations?
  • Do we have a clear model for sustaining the new processes in the long-term?
  • How do the new processes impact managers and employees? Are they ready for that shift? Is HR?
  • Are new or different performance metrics needed to evaluate the success of the new processes?

Addressing questions like these will help the organization plan an integrated solution to achieve the improvements desired.

There are other lessons from the past that will likely serve us well to remember as we consider the next generation of Talent Technology. As the saying goes, “those who forget the past are bound to repeat it.”

What do you think? What has been your experience with the latest wave of Talent Technology? What are you doing to take full advantage of these investments?

Find more resources on HR Transformation

David Parent is a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP’s (Deloitte Consulting) Human Capital practice where he leads the Talent Operations and Technology service offering in the U.S.



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