A very popular article that appeared in HR Grapevine recently revealed the results of a detailed survey of more than 200 company representatives, where their employers had invested in an HR IT System.
It discovered that only 6% believed that their current HR platforms had actually improved productivity, with most participants claiming that their companies HR platforms were complex, over engineered, counter-productive to key objectives and in the main took far too long to perform even basic tasks.
Until very recently, the vast majority of HR platforms were server-based software systems, usually referred to as Applicant Tracking Systems or the ATS. They were originally designed to assist the HR functions to manage and track candidate activity from a central system.
They have subsequently adapted to include other complex functions aligned with HR, such as recruitment features, performance management, forecasting, training and even behavioural profiling and assessments. This is just a small sample of the many additional modules that you will often find within the ATS.
I’m not qualified to comment on whether each ATS providers’ integrated functions that are used after onboarding of a new member of staff are in fact fit for purpose, but I do hear continuously negative feedback from HR people who express a widening discontent and frustration with their HR IT system.
The license fees and contracts alone make it very difficult or costly to move away from a provider once that commitment has been made and this is part of the problem.
There are many HR platform users that I have personally engaged with over the years that simply would not dare think of introducing another system into the conversation, having fought so hard to secure the budget for the one that is now in place.
The HR team are often scared to even consider complementary services, like a plugin recruitment toolkit. This is usually because the existing system already has its own recruitment feature and by moving to another 3rd party solution is perceived as an admission that the existing platform isn’t working.
There just seems to be an unwillingness from many HR people to face up to the reality that the HR system they have in place is not as effective as it could be in many areas and I suppose, that is the crux of these survey findings.
OK, so there are some other factors to consider (especially if you have selected one of the primary ATS players such as Taleo), in that they are much more difficult and costly to deal with when it comes to any type of customisation requirements or even when it comes to getting their assistance to plug in a simple and straight forward 3rd party provider.
I was once told by a senior member of the Broadbean team (The largest job distribution service in the world – just in case you hadn’t come across them already), that an agreed and planned partnership integration with Taleo (The world’s largest ATS provider, just in case you haven’t already heard of them) was given an 18-month timescale before they could even start the work, which only goes to outline my point, that these big ATS companies are not at all agile or easy to work with once you have made the commitment to use their services; despite the incredibly expensive license fees that they charge.
The good news is, that a new breed of HR SW solutions are emerging and even many of the existing providers are adapting. They will provide more flexibility to the user and these cloud based PAYG systems allow for quick and easy integration with existing systems and best of breed 3rd party service providers via an API. This allows users to quickly register and start using the system they select without massive up-front costs and only pay for the number of users and tools that they need; but still, have all the benefits of using a single centralised platform.
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