Your Talent Management Systems, Are They Talking to Each Other?

 Selecting a talent management technology that integrates with your HRIS may not guarantee you will achieve the integration you had hoped for.
By Erica Bank
As the options for talent management technology point solutions continue to expand, a growing number of companies are choosing these tools to support their HR strategy. In the case where a point solution will be integrated with a core HRIS platform, implementation can be complicated. Point-solution vendors will speak of easy HRIS integration. Yet once the talent strategy work is complete, system licenses purchased, and design begins, only then do companies learn that integration doesn’t come easily. It’s not that software vendors hold back or intentionally mislead organizations. We believe buyers just don’t ask the right questions.
So before you have to sacrifice core elements of your talent program or face building workarounds into your design, put your integration requirements front and center in the point-solution selection process and avoid the pitfalls others face. Here are some common challenges:
Organizational Roles and Security. Point-solution security roles are usually limited to a very small set. Depending on the complexity of your organization hierarchy, this restricted set could significantly hamper self-service visibility to talent data and reports. Roles that fall outside the standard may require manual workarounds, potentially impacting HR business partners who need access to other client groups or managers who require diversified views in a matrix organization. n Data Interface Requirements. The passing of data between HRIS and point solution can get tricky when there is little flexibility in how interfaces are built.
Often, standard interfaces limit the number and type of fields and indicators that can be passed between systems, leaving customers to prioritize their interfaced data requirements. n Manual System Administration Requirements. On the surface, talent point solutions will appear self-sufficient. Expect, however, that some manual administration will be required. For example, performance forms may be needed for off-cycle hires or routed manually to move employees from goal-setting to mid-year.
Tips for Successful Implementation
The outlook is not too bleak. Educated buyers who give design, selection, and configuration the detailed focus it requires will be better positioned to achieve an integrated talent environment. Here are a few tips to consider:
Structure Vendor Selection. Ask about the “how” and not just the “what” of process administration. Speak to existing customers who run the same systems. Define a clear set of selection criteria that include your unique business requirements. To avoid being left with a state-of-the-art system that doesn’t meet your needs, evaluate vendors by how they will meet these priorities and not by the quality of their product demo.
Define Processes and Requirements. The only way to truly know your requirements is to do detailed design work in advance of your vendor selection. You don’t need your detailed technical requirements at this point and shouldn’t lock them in until you have selected your tool. But ground your selection in processes and business requirements that will enable you to make quick decisions once configuration begins.
Understand Core Integration Requirements. The right tool for you as a standalone solution may be taken out of the running when you consider integration needs. Ask the detailed questions about the flexibility of interface options, how security roles are structured, and whether single sign-on adversely affects the product. Evaluate in-flight technology initiatives to determine the impacts to your system requirements. Prioritize these, and add them to your growing list of considerations for selection and configuration.
Define the Organization’s Support Model for the System. While your new talent technology may reduce HR administration, it will not eliminate it. Some manual activities are still needed, ranging from a few occasional tasks to the need for a full-time resource. Before selection of your tool, understand the organization options in place to support it.
Talent Management technology vendors will collaborate with you to help you use their tool to achieve integration needs. But selection of the wrong tool may leave you asking the technology and your people to do things that were never intended, leaving you with a solution no one recognizes. Wise buyers who do their design homework, ask the right questions, and consider the unique needs of their business will be better positioned to implement HR systems that talk to one another—and a solution that facilitates the delivery of a talent management program to take their business into the future.
Erica Bank is senior manager, Human Capital, Deloitte Consulting, LLP.

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