Pervasive Human Capital Management

As pointed out in a recent (apparently not very) humorous post, I spend quite a lot of time for InfoBasis talking to industry and financial analysts covering the talent and human capital management space.

In these briefings the question often arises as to whether full organisational human capital management (HCM) is possible through hosted point solutions such as those provided over a SaaS model. While often providing excellent solutions to points of pain in individual processes, I am not convinced that they currently enable organisation wide HCM.

Truly pervasive Human Capital Management is more than adding competencies to your recruitment, or looking at assessment data when setting up training plans. It means breaking down the walls of a series of siloed HR processes and linking them up with each other and the rest of the business.

A number of the analysts seem to agree with me.

These people, who have been in the game for a while, have different names for it, but it all comes down to one thing: knowing who your people are and what they can do. I’ve heard it called ‘the Central Store’ and ‘Competency Middleware’ and other names, too.

Whatever you call it, it’s the same thing: sharing your data.

If you understand people’s skills, competencies, behaviours and attitudes, and share this information across different HR processes, you get three benefits: each process works better individually, processes work better together, and you garner an overall view of your organisational capability.

But when your HCM solutions are hosted, as with current SaaS offerings, how do you share that data? It may not be impossible, but that’s not how SaaS offerings are currently positioned. On the contrary, they are often portrayed as each to implement precisely because they require no development/integration work.

So, for me, the pervasive HCM proposition (not offered by point solutions) should be:

1) All HR processes can benefit from a common understanding of people’s skills, shared between applications/services.

2) A central platform should provide this shared data (it also should be capable of running some or all of the processes, too, if required).

3) Where necessary, existing client software should be integrated into this data sharing, rather than stripped out and replaced with new software.

This is not me sniping at SaaS (InfoBasis also offers SaaS solutions, where appropriate). And it is more than me peddling InfoBasis’ wares.

It’s a plea for a considered view of Human Capital Management.

The HCM bandwagon is gathering speed and there is danger that we are approaching the Peak of Inflated Expectations on Gartner’s Hype Cycle. Now is the time to offer cool reflection on how HCM can be set up to really benefit an organisation, rather than portraying it as a quick ‘easy add’. To my mind HCM offers the greatest value when it is pervasive, and that takes time.

Perhaps it’s worth remembering that the next stage on the Hype Cycle is the Trough of Disillusionment.

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5 responses to “Pervasive Human Capital Management

  1. Don,
    I enjoyed your post on human capital. What do you think about the fact that organizations frequently take the “human” element out of human capital management and replace it with data? I grew up in an culture that was ripe with developing some of the greatest leaders in the world…Johnson & Johnson. And what I see today is many organizations paying lip service to talent management and human capital. They use these words as if were data they were managing instead of people. The problem is that talent is people related not data related. Just a thought. I also have another blog you may want to take a look at relative to careers and talent management. http://careerstrategist.blogspot.com. You have a fabulous blog here……and I love your thinking and thought process. I’ll be back often. Best wishes..

  2. Hi Ev

    Thanks for the comment. Perhaps surprisingly (for the director of a software company) I am very sympathetic to your view of organisations paying lip service to the idea of Human Capital and Talent. It’s certainly the case that too many organisations hide behind these words to make themselves seem more caring than they actually are.

    I wouldn’t agree, though, that there is necessarily a dichotomy between talent and data.

    After all, if I am able, and am using my talents at work, that will give rise to behaviours which can be observed, and results which can be tracked. Those observations and results are data. ‘Data’ is a cold, hard word, and certainly no substitute for the tuned-in, people-aware manager and leader.

    However, for that manager/leader, this data should be an additional tool to help in understanding and getting the best from her people.

    BTW, http://careerstrategist.blogspot.com is great. I wish it had been around a couple of decades ago!

    Best wishes

    Don

  3. Pingback: Would you like a Talent Management Suite with that? « Donald H Taylor

  4. Pingback: Competencies – Talent Management‘s secret ingredient « Donald H Taylor

  5. Your post and Don’s comment are very pertinent.
    Many organisations will state “Our people are are greatest asset” in Report and Accounts and engage very little with them at other times.

    The shared data aspect of your argument could work well except, there is a flaw, that it that it’s often not in the interests of those in specific large organisation “Silos” to share information because it reduces their empire and influence.

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