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    Thursday
    Mar192009

    Happy 100!

    So I've hit the 100 post mark on the blog since I moved it over to Squarespace and figured a 'retrospective' post was in order.

    Flickr - Chocolate Geek

    Quite a few times in the short life of this little blog, a post that I spent many hours researching and writing and was really proud of fell completely flat, got very few hits and 0 comments.  Conversely, a few posts that I was not particularly proud of, garnered (relatively) high traffic and lively comments.

    And once in a while, a post that I knew would be popular turned out to be just that, and for a minute or two I let myself think I was starting to figure this whole blogging thing out.

    So, in keeping with a good 'retrospective', here are the most popular posts out of the first 100:

    Your First 100 HR Twitter Follows - my list of 100 interesting, informative, and fun HR-related folks on Twitter

    An Introduction to Twitter for the HR Student - my first attempt at the HR Twitter 'list'

    Empty your cup - this was a recent post about my approach to teaching, and was helped greatly by being my 'featured' post for my short stay in the Fistful of Talent March Madness blog contest.

    And here are the posts that I personally liked the most, but for one reason or another (probably because they were not about Twitter) did not rise up in popularity

    Your HR Director should Blog - My fruitless attempts to find 'public' corporate blogs written by Directors or VP's of HR

    Technology and the University - thoughts on what the future of college teaching/learning may be - more open, collaborative, and fluid

    Cast of Characters - a post on differentiating yourself in the workplace.  This is probably my all-time favorite post because I used one of my son's drawings to help illustrate the point. It was also the post I submitted the first time I was included in a Carnival of HR collection.

    Finally, I want to say thanks to everyone who has stopped by to read, comment, re-tweet, and otherwise help and support me and this blog.  I have learned much, met dozens of fantastic people, and have really enjoyed working on this little project.

    I am not sure what direction I am going to take for the next 100 posts, but I hope that whatever happens, I am providing value to the HR community and to my past, current, and future students.

    Cheers!

     

    Wednesday
    Mar182009

    A Carnival of Productivity

    The latest version of the wildly popular and informative Carnival of HR has been posted at the i4CP Productivity Blog.

    This edition of the Carnival, as befitting its host, has a 'Productivity' theme. As usual a wide range of Flickr - Wisconsin Historical Societyfantastic posts from across the HR Blogosphere are represented, and I am honored to have one of my posts included.

    Thanks to Erik Samdahl for putting together a great list, and many thanks for including my little story about Yammer.

    Enjoy the Carnival.

     

    Wednesday
    Mar182009

    MBTI and ROI and E2.0

    I saw a presentation yesterday on Change Management and the impact of people's Meyers-Briggs (MBTI) classifications on accepting change and was struck by one slide that attempted to explain the differences in outlook between the 'Sensing' and 'Intuiting' dimensions.Flickr - trussmonkey

    The slide indicated that 'Sensing' folks prefer to trust and rely on 'real' or verifiable data.  'Intuiters' on the other hand prefer to focus on connections and meaning, and trust and rely on insights and explanatory patterns.

    It seems to me that most of the so-called Enterprise 2.0 technologies like social networks, blogs, wikis, etc.  rely on the 'Intuiting' benefits. Things like seeing value in connections, trying to interpret the patterns, and focusing on connections seem to me to be foundation of E2.0 evangelism.

    But the folks that control the budget, allocate resources, and otherwise tend to demand 'real' numbers and detailed ROI calculations for these projects are typically squarely on the 'Sensing' side of things.  They rely on verifiable data, fact and figures, and proof of value.

    I wonder if this contrast and conflict between the 'Sensers' that control all the $$ and resources and the 'Intuiters' that are usually the most passionate advocates for E2.0 is behind the difficulty that many would-be implementers of E2.0 solutions have in 'selling' these tools in the enterprise.

    So what do the MBTI theorists offer to help 'Intuiters' deal with 'Sensers'?

    1. Present the pitch or arguments for E2.0 in precise, step by step manner - this FASTForward blog post has links to several success stories that you can use a a resource for your plans. Another great resource is the 'Groundswell' book by Bernoff and Li.

    2. Be as detailed and descriptive as possible as to the 'real' benefits that will accrue to the organization - this blueprint has some suggestions

    3. Present the proposed implementation plan, the milestones, resources needed, and overall implementation approach. A great article on this is here.

    4. Clearly state the metrics that help define success, why these metrics were chosen, and how you will measure and report them - some examples from the Social Organization blog - here

    Remember, the 'Sensers' want the practical details, they want the hard data. 

    If you walk into that room as an 'Intuiter' and try to sell an abstract 'collaboration nirvana', you probably have already lost your argument.

    What other ways have you seen E2.0 projects get pitched to skeptical management?

     

    Tuesday
    Mar172009

    HR Technology for the Small Business - Core HRIS

    This installment in the occasional series on HR Technology for the small business highlights some options available to the small business (typically less than 500 employees) in the 'Core' Human Resources Information Systems market.

    These are the systems that store the demographic, work history, and sometimes payroll and benefits information on your employees. They form the backbone of your HR Technology platform and strategy.

    There is no shortage of competitors in this space, and the below list is by no means exhaustive or a recommendation or endorsement for any particular solution.  This is just a place to start, and a jumping-off point in understanding some of the different solutions and technologies that are available. Your business has it's own unique set of requirements, constraints, challenges etc. that have to be carefully evaluated before making any decisions on core HRIS.

    Larger Vendors

    Sage Abra

    Sage Abra is probably the best known solution in this space. They claim to be the leading provider of HRIS in the less than 1,000 employee market.  Sage has a very robust offering including employee demographics, benefits, compliance related reports, employee skills, Employee self-service, education and leaves. 

    Sage also has a Payroll module which is fairly uncommon in solutions targeted to small business.  This solution includes support for tax updates, check printing, and direct deposit.  The tight integration of Sage Payroll with Sage HR would make the consideration of Sage Payroll attractive for a small business interested in keeping or bringing payroll processing in-house.

    Sage customers can deploy the software internally on their own servers, or via a hosting arrangement with an authorized provided.  Pure SaaS does not appear to be offered at this time, which might make Sage not a viable option for the very small business, or a business that is not in position for a largish initial capital outlay for software licensing.

    SpectrumHR

    Spectrum's offering is named iVantage®, an HRIS that tracks everything from initial application through retirement. This complete HR system includes the key functions such as Absence Tracking, Performance Management, Self-Service, Time and Attendance, Workflow automation, and advanced reporting. iVantage does not have its own payroll engine, but does support the export of data to any of the likely Payroll providers a small business is likely to use (ADP, Ceridian, Paychex, among others).

    In fact, iVantage's reporting tool is quite unique and user-friendly as it allows a user to enter a query in terms like, 'Show me all the employees in New York', and the reporting engine is sophisticated enough to interpret the request, and produce a report of the staff in the New York location.

    Spectrum offers iVantage in three different licensing models, customer installed, Spectrum hosted, and SaaS.  These options provide great flexibility to organizations in allowing them to choose the option that aligns best with their budget, IT capability, and organizational policies. SpectrumHR is a very strong player in the small to mid-sized market.

    EmpXTrack

    EmpXtrack is a web-based Global HR product that covers all aspects of the employee lifecycle in an organization - from recruitment to performance management, development and eventual exit. It helps automate all HR processes in the organization and provides information to all stakeholders including HR Managers, Upper Management, Managers and Employees.

    EmpXTrack offers their solutions in five different 'editions', ranging from the 'Enterprise' edition that encompasses the full suite of functionality (Employee database, applicant tracking, onboarding, appraisal, succession planning, and more). Other editions of the package include the 'Starter' edition, with just the very basic employee functions, and the 'Professional' version, which adds more in-depth processes like appraisals and onboarding.  Pricing is done on an annual basis based on the number of employees, and varies widely.

    EmpXTrack may be a good option for an organization with numerous requirements and no real system of record.  They have such a wide range of functionality, that an organization could start with just a few core functions, then add additional processes as needed.

    Smaller Vendors

     OrangeHRM

    OrangeHRM is radically different that the other competitors in this space in one key area: pricing.  OrangeHRM is an open-source project that bills itself as 'Free & Open Source HR Management Software'. Essentially, the software is free, it can be downloaded and installed on your own servers, and used by your organization at no cost.  How OrangeHRM earns revenue is by selling support contracts (starting at $60 for one month of 'get on your feet' support) and by offering to host the software on their servers.

    OrangeHRM supports the essential processes like employee personal information, time tracking, employee self-service (ESS), leaves, as well as recruitment.  There is a reports module that allows users to define and execute ad-hoc queries on demand.

    OrangeHRM might be a good option if you have internal IT resources comfortable working with open source tools or if you have an extremely constrained budget, and the cost savings by going with open source are too hard to pass up.

    Zoho People

    Zoho is better known for it's online productivity suite, that competed with Google Apps in things like word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations.  They have a wide range of applications and seem to be adding more all the time. I particularly like Zoho Polls.

    Zoho People is their attempt at cracking the small business HRIS market, with a simple, easy to use application that supports the basic employee demographic functions, recruiting, employee and manager self-service, and an embedded process checklist capability for things like the new hire process.  Zoho People is built on the extremely flexible Zoho Creator platform, making the creation of new forms, views, and taskflows fairly simple for someone with just a bit of technical skill.

    Zoho People is targeted at the very small (say 50+ employee) businesses. They offer free accounts for the first 10 employees, then from there pricing plans start as low as $19/mo for 10 employees ranging up to $850/mo for up to 1,000 employees.  Realistically, Zoho is likely only an option for those very small organizations with fewer than 50 employees.

    EffortlessHR

    EffortlessHR is a purely web-based subscription service that targets the lower end of the small business market, up to about 250 employees. It supports the basics of employee management, time tracking, benefits information, and an employee self-service portal.  The real strength of EffortlessHR for the small business is the pre-bulit support for HR forms, legal posters, and access to Federal and State labor laws.

    This is definitely a small business oriented offering, particularly one with single person HR departments. The pricing is published on their site and ranges from a low of $300 annually for a single manager account, to about $1400 annually for up to 50 manager accounts.  If you are a very small organization, with no HRIS in place at all, then EffortlessHR may be worth a look.

    That is a quick overview of just 6 (out of probably hundreds) of options for HRIS for the small business.

    I would love to hear from any other vendors or readers on other viable options that I should have featured in the post.

     

     

    Monday
    Mar162009

    Planning versus Adoption

    Recently, a Twitter conversation regarding the success or likelihood of success of so-called 'Enterprise 2.0' projects made me consider some of the fundamental differences between Enterprise 2.0 and more traditional corporate software project implementations, like ERP.

    Traditional

    The planning, testing, and prototyping steps are typically quite lengthy, frequently involving many months to even years, but once the 'go-live' date is reached, you have almost 100% adoption rates right away.

    If you were to chart traditional ERP project timelines and user adoption levels it would look something like this:

    Think of major system implementations for Core HRIS or Accounting. The 'adoption' of these systems is not 'optional' for the vast majority of end users, it is normally an 'all-or-nothing' proposition. The old systems are turned-off, and all users almost simultaneously 'adopt' the new system on Day 1.

    Enterprise 2.0

    Contrast that timeline to a typical Enterprise 2.0 deployment, where the software tools themselves are dramatically simpler, the time spent planning prior to deployment is usually significantly less, but achieving higher levels of user adoption can be much more difficult and take much longer.

    These projects may be internal social networks, blogs, micro-sharing, wikis or idea markets, but commonly they are presented as 'alternatives' to traditional ways of communication and collaboration. Companies, at least initially, rarely 'force' adoption, rather they try to 'build' adoption through training, word of mouth, a visible internal champion, or small pilot programs.

    Companies don't get rid of the e-mail or voice mail systems just because a new wiki is available.

    Consequently, the length of time required to achieve full or the desired levels of user adoption could actually be longer for these on the surface 'simple' applications.  Of course 'time' is not the only important factor to consider in any kind of enterprise implementation, but it is certainly an important component.

    These large E2.0 projects are probably not going to be any simpler, faster, and less problematic than traditional projects.  But, they will present a whole different set of problems for the organization, the kind of problems that many 'traditional' project managers and organizational leaders may not be prepared to address.

    What two or three things can E2.0 project leaders do to try and mitigate these issues?