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    Entries in HR Tech (247)


    HR Technology Talk from the Godfather

    Tonight on the HR Happy Hour Show we welcome the Godfather of HR Technology, the HR Technology Conference Co-Chair Bill Kutik to the show for the 'HR Technology Conference Preview'.

    You can listen live starting at 8PM EDT from the show page, using the player embedded below, or by calling in to 646-378-1086.

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    The world of HR Technology changes by the day, new players enter, established players try to up their game with new offerings and capabilities, and a week doesn't seem to go past without another major announcement of buyouts and consolidation in the space.

    I have to think all this HR Tech Vendor consolidation can't be good for selling booth space.

    Bill will be on board tonight to talk about the big event, which has become one of the key, must-attend HR conferences of the year, to share his views of the market for HR Technology from his vantage point as the leading independent analyst of the space, and to offer up many other insights and pearls of wisdom gained from a long career in journalism.

    I hope you can join us tonight for the debut of the great Bill Kutik on the HR Happy Hour show - talking all things HR Technology, and the big HR Technology Conference set for September 29 - October 1.



    The HR Technology Conference 2010

    You must have already heard about the 2010 HR Technology Conference, set for September 29 - October 1, 2010 in Chicago.

    Since it is the pre-eminent event in the HR Technology industry and has been ever since its inception there is certainly no possible way that you have not read a blog post about it, heard a friend or colleague talking about it, participated in LinkedIn discussion about the key issues, wondered if the legendary Bill Kutik, the conference co-chairman is really the Old Spice Guy, or even listened to an old radio show from last year's event broadcast from the location.

    Pretty much everyone involved in the Human Resources technology game, at any level - consultant, practitioner, vendor will be there.  For the HR Tech community it is the Super Bowl, the Oscars, and Mardi Gras all rolled into one event.  

    Take a look at the sponsor list for the event, review the sessions and speakers, find out who is going to be exhibiting and you will soon realize this is one of the must-attend events of the year simply for the unmatched opportunity to learn about the latest in HR technologies, hear from peer organizations how technologies are being applied to solve real problems, and get a chance to network and learn from all the industry experts in one place.

    I even hear that the enigmatic Mike Krupa will be there.

    So the question is not 'if' you should attend HR Technology 2010, clearly you should.  

    And the great Bill Kutik, co-chair of the conference has been generous enough to offer up a sweet discount to folks that read this blog. Just click here to register and use the discount code STEVE10 to get a $500 break on the normal rate. I don't get any kind of kick back from registrations, but I know Bill is keeping score and I want to beat the other bloggers out there who have their own codes.

    If you are in the HR Tech game you need to be there, in fact, if you are just in the HR game you probably need to be there too.

    I hope to see you there, (just don't mistake me for Mike Krupa).





    Telling Stories with Technology

    Or perhaps rather letting people share their story when interacting with technology.

    I recently read this post, 'Mad Libs Style Form Increases Conversion 25-40%', on the LukeW Ideation and Design blog.

    The main point of the post, which is short and an easy read, is that by altering a typical 'Request for Information' web form asking for Name, email, address, subject of inquiry, etc., to a 'Mad Libs' style form that frames the information in a kind of simple story, and allows the respondent to fill-in-the-blanks of the story with their personal and relevant information.

    An example of the before and after versions of a typical 'information request' web form is here:

    Usage tests on both versions of the form above (and similar forms on other sites), revealed increases in conversion, i.e. that percentage of visitors to the site that completed the form, anywhere from 25% to 40%.

    While the designers don't know for sure what to attribute the increased conversion rate to, something in the more narrative style of the revised form was successful in capturing more information.

    I think that workforce technologies could also likely benefit from a similar approach. Think of some of the typical programs that an organization rolls out, like paycheck direct deposit, enrollment in 401(k) retirement plans, or participation in company-sponsored wellness programs, that to the administrators seem like they should be no-brainers for employees to sign up for. But maybe for some reason the participation rate continues to fall short of expectations.

    Some organizations might react by simply requiring participation, (at lease for direct deposit), or sweetening the incentives, (free pedometers!), but I wonder of simply making some subtle adjustments to the actual process of registering could help.

    Consider taking a bland form (whether on paper or online) for direct deposit that asks for name, address, bank name, bank routing number (come on, you know lots of people have no idea what that is), and so on and replacing it with something like this:

    Hi, my name is ___________, and I work in the _____________ Department.  I like the idea of getting my pay faster and not having the hassle of going to the bank every two weeks.  Please sign me up for paycheck direct deposit.  My bank is named ________________ and the little 9-digit number printed on the bottom of my checks is _________. In two weeks the deposits will have started, and I will be able to check my paysubs online and with my bank.

    I know it isn't perfect, I am not a professional communicator, but to me it humanizes the process a little, and connects the employee just a little bit more to the process and to the outcomes. The same impersonal field-by-field forms that they have seen a million times can't do any of that.  It also re-inforces the key messages as to the benefits of the process right as the employee is signing up.

    Could you alter the 401(k) registration materials in such a way to let the employees (if they care to) share more about their retirement goals and hopes? 

    How about the process where an employee adds a new child to their medical coverage, perhaps providing a place to share their excitement and even a picture of their new addition?

    What do you think?  Would framing these type of employee calls to action in this way actually be successful?



    I had yet another of what has become a semi-annual discussion with an HR Technology friend that runs all the HR Technology systems for his shop - Payroll, Benefits, etc. for a medium size organization.Flickr - guppiecat

    They run one of the major Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions for all their HR Technology, and the ERP also supports Finance and Logistics.  The solution has been in place for over 10 years, and has undergone 3 or 4 major upgrades in that time.

    Over the 10 years when considering license, maintenance, upgrades, hardware, and labor, this organization has easily $10 - $15 million into this platform. Normal processing works perfectly fine, the payroll runs, employees get enrolled in benefits plans, etc., some manual processes have been automated, but no real 'transformative' HR technology has been implemented.

    Why is this important? 

    My friend, the HR Tech person, has been advocating for the last few years the implementation of new technologies for two of the main organizational 'pain points' : Recruiting and Applicant Tracking, and Performance Management. He (correctly), has determined that there are numerous third party solutions available offering far superior functionality, user experience, and configurability that the related functions in the ERP suite.

    He has articulated a plan, documented his strategy, and prepared a solid business case for these projects. Sure, there are cash expenditures and internal labor costs for these projects, but they are reasonable, and since the solutions he has recommended are delivered in Software as a Service (SaaS) mode, there are not any massive, up front capital expenditures.

    Unfortunately for my friend, and for his organization he has been unable to proceed on these projects.  And the reason for the decision is not completely what you think, it is not purely financial.

    It is rather a more philosophical issue that can be summed up as follows:

    'We are millions of dollars in to this system, and it already has the functionality we need? No way we are bringing in another technology'.

    This organization, like many others, is in the ERP Trap.  So much time, money, and internal investment into a solution that it can paralyze the organization from moving forward on any 'non-ERP' related HR and workforce technologies. A technical decision made, in this case over 10 years ago, continues to have repercussions today.

    This part gets kind of gross

    You have all heard the old legend that a coyote that gets caught in a steel leg trap will eventually chew off their own leg in order to escape. But the coyote, when trapped, does not immediately begin gnawing on its own leg.  That is a crazy, and quite painful reaction.

    No, the coyote waits, and only after the leg has gone numb, and all other possible escape options have been evaluated and discarded, does it take extreme measures to free itself from the trap.

    Back to my friend's organization.  How long until it goes 'numb' before it makes the decision to break free from the ERP trap and stop letting a decade-old decision drive today's critical workforce technology decisions?

    How bad does it have to get before they are willing to do whatever it takes to get out of the trap?


    An HR Technology Wish List

    Since it is 'Black Friday' in the US, the traditional busiest shopping day of the year as people engage in a mad scramble (starting as early as 4AM) to secure the best deals on electronics, toys, gifts, essentially anything and everything.

    For many, Black Friday is about crossing off items on their family and friends 'wish lists' for holiday gifts.

    So keeping in the 'Wish List' spirit, here is my take for the 'Top Ten Wish List for HR Technology'.


    1. Stuff that works

    The worst, most disappointing gifts are the ones that once they are unwrapped, assembled, batteries Flickr - Jonathan Wput in, and activated don't actually work as advertised. Vendors: Deliver what you promised in the sales process. The truth is you know way more than the customer 99% of the time. Don't abuse that power. Make sure your stuff works.

    2. Make it simple

    If the shiny new object is too complex, has too steep a learning curve, or has tricky instructions it will quickly get crammed back in the box and shoved back under the tree. Most employees and managers do not have time or inclination to stop their 'real' jobs for very long to spend weeks learning a new technology. Simple is almost always better.  Who out there hasn't seen their little kids spend more time playing with the empty box the toy came in, than the toy itself?

    3. Free Monogramming

    Whatever the technology is, I want to be able to personalize it for my own tastes, role, and preferences.  I want the process to do this personalization to be simple, and completely under my control. Don't make me interact with the technology the same way as the 24 year old tech genius in the next cube.

    4. Decide already

    I am talking to the US Government and their seemingly endless sojourn towards Health Care refroms. Whatever is going to happen here will have a significant impact on HR and HR Technology.  Payroll and Benefits systems are at the core of HR Technology solutions, and the sooner we know what these changes are going to look like the better.  Figure it out for gosh sakes.

    5. Don't make me buy more than I need

    I want an HR Technology solution.  I don't necessarily want a new finance, accounting, and logistics solution.  Those may be great, and certainly others might have them on their lists, but they are not my problem.  It is like getting socks at Christmas. Yes, everyone could use some new socks, but does anyone get excited seeing them in the box? Don't sell me the virtue of 'integration', show me how the solution solves my workforce problems.

    6. A good return policy

    This is a big one.  I need a reasonable return strategy.  Who hasn't gotten a gift that was almost perfect but not quite.  The wrong color, wrong size, whatever.  Don't force me to live with this solution forever, either due to an enormous up-front fee that I can't walk away from, or such a lengthy and costly implementation that I feel like I am past the point of turning back.  If you believe in what you are selling, then you will have no problem providing a way out.

    7. Robots

    I love robots. I want a robot to make me coffee and bacon every morning.  I also want HR Technology to be smarter, more predictive, and proactive. The kind of technology that alerts me when situations warrant, offers some suggestions, and intelligently interacts with processes and people.  And makes bacon.

    8. Next Year's Model

    This year's hot new must have item?  I want it.  And next year when it is 'new and improved' I want that too.  And I want it automatically, cheaply, and when I am ready for it.  Don't make me pay through the nose to get the latest and greatest, or force me to buy a whole bunch of other stuff I don't care about at the same time. I am committing to a solution, don't make me keep professing my commitment year after year with more cash.

    9. Let me take it with me

    You know what my true favorite toy is?  My BlackBerry, iPhone, and Android.  My smartphone is so cool, powerful, and convenient that I expect to live my life via its tiny screen and itty-bitty keys.  That means the HR Technology that I want needs to be able to fit into my world and the way I want to interact with it.  If it doesn't run on an iPhone, does it really matter?

    10. A Puppy

    Puppies are cute.  Puppies make lots of other crappy things seem better.  So I believe a puppy belongs on every holiday wish list.


    So there you have it, the 2009 Holiday season HR Technology Wish List.

    What do you think?  Anything you would add to the list?