Steve Boese is the HR technology instructor in the graduate program of Human Resource Development at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York as well as a leading HR technology blogger and radio host and creator of HR Happy Hour and HR Happy Hour - Europe. With more than 15 years of experience in the implementation of complex HR technology solutions, Steve brings a keen understanding of the alignment of technology and organizational structure and is committed to opening the lines of communication among 
thought leaders. 

HR Thought Leader, Steve Boese

The May 2011 HR Thought Leader of the Month is Steve Boese

Connect-May2011-steve-boese.jpgSteve Boese is the HR technology instructor in the graduate program of Human Resource Development at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York as well as a leading HR technology blogger and radio host and creator of HR Happy Hour and HR Happy Hour - Europe. With more than 15 years of experience in the implementation of complex HR technology solutions, Steve brings a keen understanding of the alignment of technology and organizational structure and is committed to opening the lines of communication among 
thought leaders.

We asked Steve, the top Talent Management blogger in 2010 according to Fistful of Talent, 
to share some of his insights into the trends shaping HR technology and workforce management.

 

How can employers best manage a workforce that is becoming increasingly interconnected and mobile?
Organizations that have embraced, or are being forced to embrace the more connected, virtual and distributed workforce of today have several challenges to ensure workflow, communication and culture do not suffer. Looking at where technology solutions make sense to address these challenges is an area of great importance and opportunity for employers today. Things like company intranets augmented with social collaboration capability, support for simple and complex business process automation via mobile and tablet devices, and more personalized and flexible solutions in workforce technologies should all be considered by both HR and IT leaders today. Lately there has been an increased uptake of video-based solutions for internal communications, external customer or partner engagement, and even candidate interviewing. But simple trust is also a big factor. Employers need to trust that if the right people are hired and engaged, they can be trusted to perform, even if they reside "in the cloud" so to speak.

 

What have you been seeing in terms of HR's focus in managing their workforce? How has this changed over the last 5 years?
There has definitely been a marked shift in the HR focus, at least in theory, on moving beyond the burden of what is sometimes called 'administrivia' to focus on more high value and strategic workforce planning and management objectives. This is easier said that done, and many organizations still have some ways to go in collapsing and refining processes, automating repetitive and low-value tasks, and developing technology strategy plans that truly will augment and enable essential workforce planning and management. So HR is looking more aggressively to leverage new and improved tools, use strategic partnerships to outsource selected processes, and even to leverage the power and collective intelligence on social platforms to enhance the HR function's role and value to the organization.

 

Since all organizations are attempting to do more with less, what are some of the resources that will allow managers to be more efficient?
Being smart about how the organization decides to devote its time and resources is essential. For many organizations, too much energy and capacity is spent on activities that while important, do not necessarily lead to strategic differentiation and better business outcomes. The answer isn't to simply outsource everything that can be outsourced, but rather to evaluate and deploy systems and processes that better align with the critical and relevant business issues. It also means that HR has to be able to provide managers with the right tools and actionable information to make better and more rapid decisions.

 

Can HR bring even greater strategic value to their organizations through workforce management technologies?
Definitely! By partnering with their colleagues in IT or by forging strategic partnerships with trusted and capable vendor partners, HR can bring relevant and strategic value to the organization. Fully understanding current workforce strengths, assessing current and future human capital needs against the strategic plan, and deploying systems and processes to ensure accurate, rapid, and informed decisions are all areas of opportunity for strategic HR.

 

Are there specific processes where an organization receives more value in outsourcing workforce management?
The most frequently outsourced workforce management processes of payroll and benefits administration are cited by many organizations as delivering the most value. These benefits include gains in efficiency, the ability to shift internal focus to more strategic initiatives, and mitigating the cost and complexity of remaining current and compliant. Some organizations can also see value in Recruitment Process Outsourcing, particularly in high-volume, rapid ramp-up environments. The key is for organizations to have a disciplined and mature understanding of how the HR function generates value for the organization, and a frank assessment of the internal capability to deliver.

 

What should employers consider when outsourcing workforce management?
There are three key considerations: 1) What are we doing today that does not directly tie to the mission of finding, developing, and deploying the very best talent to meet our organization's strategic objectives? 2) From that list, what would be the benefits, both quantifiable and qualitative, that would accrue from intelligent, targeted, and high-value outsourcing? 3) What is our basis for evaluating the success of any outsourcing arrangement? Will it just be a cost/efficiency gain? Are we after more strategic outcomes like hiring more talented people? Can we tie the success of the outsourcing program to internal strategic programs that will in theory be possible due to increased internal capacity? These are just some of the things to consider, the larger point being workforce management outsourcing programs really need to be just a part of a more broad and comprehensive workforce management plan.

Follow Steve on Twitter or LinkedIn or check out his blog: New Technology for Recruiting - on the HR Happy Hour tonight.