Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner


E-mail Steve
This form does not yet contain any fields.
    Listen to internet radio with Steve Boese on Blog Talk Radio

    free counters

    Twitter Feed

    Entries in HR Tech (237)


    The Essence of Technology

    I saw a post on the User Interface Engineering blog about the 'Essence' of software program design. The key concept in thinking about the essence of a system is an understanding that a program is more than just processes and widgets. From the article:

    Interaction with a product is more than how it’s used or how it behaves. It’s about a connection between two sides. One side is the customer, but the other side is much more than a product or service. To many people, the character and essence of a product and its company are identical. So, what is the essence of your product?

    The post is in the context of software design but I think it also could certainly apply at a macro level to an organization or HR department, and I  suppose also at a micro level, to an individual's 'essence' of what they offer in the workplace. In HR Technology I think these concepts are especially important, as HR solutions typically impact the entire organization, not just the 'back-office' made up of power users.

    So how can a designer of HR software, or an HR Technology professionals in an organization 'loosen up' and show a bit of humanity? 

    Humor - Can you inject a bit of humor into the product, in the design, or in the user interface? If you can't or are not willing to really strive for humor, can you at least work towards a design that attempts to incorporate some fun into the experience? For powers users that spend the majority of their workday using the system, or for line managers that may only interact with the technology periodically, injecting Flickr - brian corsan element of fun to the process and design can go a long way towards increased satisfaction and adoption. While it usually is not appropriate to copy design and process flow from popular consumer sites, at least review the ones you enjoy using the most, and see what elements or attributes you may be able to re-purpose into your HR Technology solution.

    Personality - It has been said that for software companies the culture of an organization permeates the software the company designs and markets. Since so many organizations purchase HR Technology solutions from the same dozen or so vendors, how can you ensure that the design and look of the solutions you deploy to your employees adequately reflect your culture? Take a look at a few large company recruiting sites, chances are you will find some that look and feel almost exactly the same since the largest companies tend to all buy ATS solutions from one of the same half dozen vendors.

    We did an an experiment in HR Technology class that showed the job search pages for Neiman-Marcus and Delta Dental are almost exactly the same and many more of these examples can be found. Don't settle for the vendor 'template' unless you are comfortable with a bland interface that lots of other companies use.

    Emotion - How does your technology solution actually make your users feel? Angry, confused, frustrated, or perhaps bored? Users want to feel good about their work, and for many information workers the way the systems they must interact with all day are a primary driver of this feeling.  Strip away all unnecessary elements that can detract from the user's ability to complete the task, get the information, contribute to the knowledge store, etc.  If possible, allow more experienced users the ability to bypass 'extra' steps, and help text or tutorials once they have demonstrated a level of proficiency.

    Connection - The very best designed technologies can foster a sense of connection between users and the organization.  This can be done with the incorporation of 'social' tools in enterprise systems, (tools like instant messaging, tagging, or real-time collaboration) are one way to develop connection, in this example with other people.  Alternatively, a sense of connection to the system can be enhanced by empowering  the users with increased ability to customize the interface according to their own needs, presenting lists of frequently used functions in more prominent positions, and giving more visible and auditory feedback throughout the process. Think about popular consumer sites like Amazon or Ebay, that 'remember' what you have been interested in in the past, and automatically present you similar choices on your next visit. 

    Many HR Technology solutions are getting more sophisticated, fancy, and full of the latest in design elements to make the interface more attractive, functional, and fun. That generally is a good thing.  But that may not be always what is needed, as many data intensive, high-volume functions might be better served with a simply, bare-bones design reminiscent of the old green screen days.  The key point is to evaluate the HR Technology systems you use, or are considering in the context of who will actually use them, and the impact the design will have on these users, whether they be managers, staff, or candidates.

    What great HR Technology design examples should I be checking out?  Hit me up in the comments.


    Steve's HR Tech: Hitting the Road

    In the next few weeks I will be getting out of the ROC (finally) and hitting up a series of events in the coming days, and thought it made sense to summarize them here.

    September 23 and 24 - Recruitfest 2009 - Toronto

    I am really looking forward to this event.  While I am not myself a recruiter, the tools and technologies that recruiters are adopting are really interesting to me, they are a part of my HR Technology class topics, and the chance to see a live Animal show were all too compelling to pass up.

    September 25 - Heading to Ottawa to meet with my friends from Halogen Software.  Regular readers of this blog will remember that Halogen has been a fantastic supporter of my class, and the HR social media space for a long time. I am really looking forward to learning more about their latest product developments. 

    In addition, we will do a special 'remote' HR Happy Hour show from the Halogen offices on Sept 25, more details on that show will be posted on the HR Happy Hour site.

    September 30 - I am speaking on HR Technology at the WTPF annual professional development event in Washington, DC. The WTPF is a Business Forum for HR Professionals, comprised of Human Resources professionals and thought leaders in the Greater Washington Metropolitan Area.

    September 30 - October 2 - The HR Technology Conference in Chicago.  I will be meeting many leaders in the HR Tech space, getting interviews, doing some video blogs, and overall trying to learn and share as much as I can about the future of HR Technology. 

    I am talking to some folks about doing another remote HR Happy Hour show from HR Tech, more details to come.

    November 6-7 - The HRevolution - Louisville, Kentucky.  The first ever HR Blogging/Social Media Unconference. I am really excited about this event and have been honored to be a small part of the event planning.  This promises to be a great time and I will be leading a session on new and innovative technologies that HR pros can leverage.


    HR Tech Chat - At a New Time

    The monthly HR Tech Twitter Chat is set for today, Wednesday September 2nd at 1:00 PM EDT.

    This is a new time for the Chat, as we thought we would try a time that might encourage more participation from multiple time zones.

    A quick review of how these Twitter 'theme' chats work:

    At 1:00 Bryon Abramowitz of Knowledge Infusion or myself will officially start the chat with a quick welcome message. Folks who are participating are asked to Tweet out their name and role so that we can all get better acquainted. 

    An example would be 'Hi, I am Steve Boese, HR Technology Instructor at RIT in New York - #HR_Tech'

    We will then get the discussion going around this month's topic - HR Measurement and Metrics.

    Some questions that could be explored:

    1. What are the key metrics that HR leaders need to measure?

    2. Are they succeeding in measuring these key items?  Why or why not?

    3. What vendors and solutions seem to offer the most robust and flexible solutions right now?

    These are just a few ideas, in reality the conversation will go where the group takes it and that is most of the fun of the chats.

    Some Tips for Chat participants:

    • You participate by Tweeting with the hashtag '#HR_Tech' included in your update (usually at the end of the Tweet)
    • Follow the flow of the conversation by tracking all Tweets with '#HR_Tech' using one of the following
      • Tweetchat - http://tweetchat.com/room/HR_Tech, you will need to sign in using your Twitter credentials, but this gives a nice overlay to the chat and will automatically append the hashtag to your updates
      • Tweetgrid - www.tweetgrid.com. Allows you to not only monitor the chat, but also your 'normal' Twitter stream and/or other search terms.  Takes a few minutes to setup but it is pretty neat.
      • Tweetdeck - If you are already using Tweetdeck just set up a new search column for the #HR_Tech hashtag. 
      • Twubs - I have not used this site yet, but I have heard many folks say it is pretty nice for following a 'theme' chat in Twitter. http://twubs.com/hr_tech.

    These chats can be really interesting and informative, but honestly they would be greatly enhanced if we get some more 'non-Tech' HR folks interested and participating.  So if you are an HR pro and have some questions or comments about Talent Management technology, or quite honestly any HR Technology, it is a great opportunity to corner at least a dozen HR Technology professionals at one time.


    Hope to see your #HR_Tech Tweets tomorrow!


    Small Business HRIS - a New Partnership

    Last week Zoho, a provider of a wide range of online productivity applications, (documents, wikis, CRM, projects, and many more) announced a new partnership with Vana Consulting, a Canadian consulting firm.

    The new solution branded as VanaHRM, is an on-demand HRIS built on the Zoho People platform and aimed at the small to medium sized market.

    One of the issues that I had seen during some limited testing of Zoho People was that it definitely required some technical skills to configure for an organization's unique needs.  In my opinion most small HR staffs would not have been all that comfortable or capable to really 'dig in' and leverage Zoho People's flexibility to develop and configure a solution that would support organizational specific business requirements.

    This is why the partnership between Zoho, the developer of the platform, and Vana, a Human Resources consultancy makes sense.  Vana seems to have simplified and organized the Zoho People solution  and packaged it in a form that is more understandable and accessible to the market.

    The VanaHRM solution supports the full range of Human Resources processes (employee tracking, talent profiles, performance management, recruiting, benefits tracking, self-service and more).

    A sample screen from VanaHRM is below:


    Pricing for the VanaHRM solution starts at $19/month for up to 10 employees and then increases with the number of employees; an organization of 100 employees is prices at $199/month for example.  Curiously, the prices listed at the Vana site are the same that are published on the Zoho People site.

    For small business in need of an automated HRIS solution, particularly those under 100 employees, VanaHRM is definitely worth a look.  It is a solution with the capability to handle almost all HR-related processes (save Payroll), is highly configurable, and reasonably simple to use.

    I would love to hear from anyone out there using VanaHRM or Zoho People in their organizations and have them share some of their experiences.


    Nowhere to hide from technology

    Two weeks ago while driving through the countryside of Central Pennsylvania, USA  I happened to pull off the highway for a dinner stop in a sort of run-of-the-mill little town, the kind of little town that anyone that drives the major interstate highways in the US has seen hundreds of times.

    A gas station, a couple of fast food restaurants, and a hint that if I carried on just a bit further down the access road maybe some small houses or trailers, and beyond that I'd bet farms and the sort of vast nothingness typical of large sections of middle America. 

    Definitely the kind of place to stop, refuel, maybe grab a bite to eat, and put in the rearview and instantly forget.

    When I walked in to the McDonald's for the mandatory road tip junk food dinner, I ran smack into this:


    The only way for job seekers to apply for a job in this little McDonalds in the middle of nowhere was via this online kiosk system. Now it could be that this particular McDonalds has the pulse of the local candidate pool, and is well aware that their target applicant is tech savvy, and will have no problems navigating the online process so moving to an online method is an intelligent strategy.

    Or more likely the regional or corporate office has decided that an online process is more efficient, less expensive, and results in more actionable intelligence for those in McDonalds management.

    But to the job seeker who walks into that McDonalds in hopes of landing a job, the motivations behind the decision to go to an automated process don't really matter.  They are forced to accept this, and either comply with the process if they want to be considered, or head on down the road to the Arby's and try their luck there. 

    And for (mostly) part-time jobs filled by teenagers and students this is probably perfectly acceptable. The staff on duty when I walked in did not have much to say about the online application kiosk, I am sure they thought is was strange that someone was even asking about it.

    To me the lesson that I take from the online job application kiosk for a tiny McDonalds in a tiny town in Nowhereville, USA is this one:

    You can't hide anymore from technology if you want to particpate in the modern economy.  This has many levels:

    The job seeker in this McDonalds had better know how to type on a keyboard, and follow basic computer commands.

    The college grad trying to break in to finance, marketing, IT, or HR had better have a solid LinkedIn profile, familiarity and skills searching for jobs online, and the ability to demonstrate technical acumen once they join the workforce.

    The HR professional trying to find ways to reduce costs and improve administrative processes better be very familiar with the capabilities of their HRIS (if they have one) or with the latest developments in the HR Technology marketplace (if they don't).

    The recruiter that needs to find, engage, and ultimately hire the best talent for their positions better know how to source, and engage potential candidates with increasingly sophisticated multi-media tools, better be on social networks and adept on how to best leverage them to meet their recruiting objectives.

    And the HR leader in the position of having to continually justify expenditure and prove return on HR programs had better have access to and understand analytical tools to effectively measure the business outcomes of their efforts.

    These are just a few examples, I am sure there are many more, but the key point is, no matter where you find yourself on the scale, from entry level job-seeker in rural Pennsylvania, to VP of HR at a Fortune 500 firm, you can't get away from the technology.

    Heck, even your Mom is on Facebook.