Leverage the lessons you might learn from industry functions, and you might discover better HR solutions in the market.
As HRO providers grow, they continue to amaze me. I had the opportunity to attend the recent SHRM conference in Chicago and am so excited to be an HR professional at a time when there is an ever-growing sophistication (along with drops in prices and start-up times) of the array of products and services currently available to employers of all sizes and regardless of location.
In the not too distant past, we all were part of organizations that felt the need to build systems in-house along with the processes required to execute them. Years would go by once the budget to go ahead was approved. (I just left a healthcare organization with more than 13,000 employees that still has a heavily patched legacy mainframe system for HRIS and payroll that continues to be supported since the alternative never gets approved.) To add to the challenges of that environment, the new system will take years to implement after its budget is approved.
In another organization with approximately 1,000 employees, past HR leadership had spent more than $300,000 annually on a recruitment advertising provider for services that the current leadership is unable to identify. What is the reason for citing both these examples?
In both instances I see a common theme. The HR professional needs to be a savvy business partner to the organization to ensure that she or he obtains the resources needed to help the organization maximize its effectiveness. That’s just as true in organizations more willing to extend resources for what HR says it needs as well as in those organizations that aren’t willing.
Small world that this is, the organization that spent the $300,000 last year already has the HRIS system that the organization with the mainframe system wants to obtain, but they are trying to get rid of it. Why? Because they feel it is a cumbersome system that is also too expensive. Why, they reason, continue with it when they found a provider at the SHRM conference that has a better product that is more flexible, nimbler, costs less, and has, at most, a six-month implementation time? (By the way this is an HRIS provider that charges a total fee of 50 cents per employee per month.)
The lesson here is multifaceted. First, build credibility so that you are always ready to make the case for the resources your staff (and the organization) needs. Use metrics to not just get the “flavor of the month” product but to truly find those appropriate for your organization.
Second, go to professional gatherings to see the latest products and services. Conferences such as HRO World and SHRM have huge exhibit halls that really are great one-stop shops to stay current with providers. By the way, there still are products out there that seem quite cumbersome and not worth the cost, regardless the price.
Third, these gatherings maximize your time in two ways—where else can you see so many products and excuse yourself so you can proceed to the next provider when you have heard and seen enough?
Fourth, you get to see your own providers putting their best foot forward. It never hurts as a customer to hear what is being said to those not yet customers.
One final thought: At the conference, I continued to ask “Are the HR staff here to help sell your products?” and continued to get the same response as I did previously—“No.” And that links to my comment above. To avoid becoming extinct, HR needs to learn where it adds value and what competitive advantage the organization obtains from its HR professionals. When this isn’t done, HR professionals will be replaced sooner or later by internal transfers, outside providers, or both. The clock is ticking. Make reservations for next year’s HRO World and SHRM conferences in New York City and New Orleans and find the time to go regardless of your schedule.