Would You Like Fries With That?

In Part Two of an examination of self-service menus: How improving employee productivity goes beyond basic HRM self service.

by Naomi Lee Bloom

Last months column discussed the many self-service threads that must be woven together to deliver efficient business processes. For example, onboarding not only involves many HRM-specific self-service interactionsbenefits enrollment, work scheduling, and the provision of emergency contact informationbut it also involves many non-HRM self-service interactionsproviding office space and supplies; assigning computers, cell phones, facility keys, other equipment, and my personal favorite, the company AMEX card; granting specific system access permissions; and establishing personalized portal preferences, to name a few. Another common business process that involves both HRM and non-HRM selfservice interactions is business travelresearching benefit coverages and determining how they are affected if injuries or sickness occur while traveling; making travel reservations, including frequent flyer preferences; paying attention to travel allowances determined by position, salary level, etc.; making travel changes before and during the trip; and preparing the always popular travel expense and accomplishment report in conjunction with ones time and attendance report.

In each of these cases, its hard enough to achieve the productive level of self-service dialogue integration and data semantics when youre running a generic administrative application backbone for your entire organization. Imagine the challenge you face when you (1) outsource HRM processes in piecemeal to several providers or outsource your HRM processes to a single provider that uses separate applications to create their HRM delivery system (HRMDS) and outsources travel and expense to yet another provider, (2) have your own IT organization handle the granting of specific system access permissions, (3) use AMEX to manage card-related self-service transactions, (4) use your own facilities people to manage the assignment of offices, and then (5) outsource small supplies procurement to yet another provider. If you want to see a selfservice dialogue and semantic integration challenge that approaches getting all members of the United Nations to agree on anything, just try this back at the office.

Can it be done? Absolutely! But theres going to be quite a lot of work that is often overlooked in HRM outsourcing agreements.

During your transition to a comprehensive HRO providers HRMDS or your incorporation of a singleprocess outsourcing agreement into your own HRMDS, not only will there be some level of initial systems integration and process redesign work to be done by your organization, but youre going to be performing some degree of systems integration every time one of the participants changes their approach, systems, or, in the case of outsourced processes, pricing. Most important is to make sure that, via scenario testing, you understand all of the initial and ongoing systems integration work for which youll be responsible and, therefore, all of the costs and risks associated with your planned outsourcing arrangements. All too often this area of self-service integration, which is critical to achieving real productivity improvements, is overlooked.

One outcome of this analysis may be to encourage you to consider even more comprehensive HRM outsourcing, to include those ancillary processes that create self-service touch points that affect the majority of your workforce. Another outcome may be to include a much broader range of workforce-affecting business event scenarios in your assessment of the HRMDS of proposed comprehensive HRO providers, to determine just how integrated their self-service experience is in regards to dialogue protocol and data semantics. And you shouldnt be surprised to discover that those providers who are stitching together their delivery systems platform from an assortment of independently- developed commercially-available software components will have either had to do considerable systems integration work themselves or will be passing along to your workforce the demands of a nonintegrated and non-standard self-service experience.

There are many ways to achieve the level of selfservice dialogue and data consistency that increases user productivity. Ignoring these issues isnt likely to lead to any one of them.

Posted December 10, 2004 in Enabling Technology

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