Why your HR system should be more than just the software

August 5, 2020
Why your HR system should be more than just the software

Many people think of their HR information system as simply ‘the software that stores HR data.’ But while this does play a part in what your HR software should do, it’s certainly not everything.

When we first built the People HR system, our design was driven by six key values. These values included more than just “good functionality” – they incorporated support, expertise, and design philosophy, too.

We are an SaaS company, meaning we provide “Software as a Service”. But sometimes, we prefer to think of our approach as “Service as a Software”. This means that we believe an HR system should focus on the full package – not just the system features.

You can download the one-page summary of People HR’s core values here.

The six values behind a good HR system

In today’s blog post, I’d like to discuss the six values we set out when we founded People HR. Values that we continue to work by today. 

I want to show you some of the thinking behind these values, and I want to explain why we believe they are important elements for your HR system – regardless of whether you’re a customer of People HR, or anybody else.

1. Your HR system should adapt to the way you work

We believe that your HR system should fit you, not the other way around. 

The fact is that while HR professionals often have similar roles and responsibilities to one another, they usually operate within very different organisational structures. Your on-boarding process might look completely different to mine. And the data you store about your employees might be wildly different, too.

A good HR system will let you work the way you like to work, without getting in the way of things.

I see many systems which limit the way you work. They often box the HR professional into a very narrow definition of what HR admin ‘should’ look like. And all too often, this forces you to get creative. 

Getting creative isn’t always a bad thing. But I’ve seen companies storing uniform details under sick leave, simply because they didn’t have a more appropriate option in their software. And to me, that’s a compromise that they shouldn’t have to be making.

If you’re implementing HR software, it should feel natural, and add value. It should not be forcing you to contort yourself into an unnatural shape.

2. Your HR system should automate the dull stuff

They say that robots are taking over. And maybe they’re right. I’ve written plenty about the way HR might work together with AI in the future. However, this shouldn’t scare you. 

HR has a lot of administration to contend with, that much is true. But it is fundamentally people-focused. It requires emotion, empathy and communication – things we will struggle to automate for quite a long time. 

So HR software shouldn’t be putting you out of a job for a while. Of course, it can be very good at taking some of the dull stuff away from you.

We firmly believe that HR software should automate many of the repetitive tasks that get in the way of the good stuff. After all, HR professionals are ambitious – they want to focus their intelligence and passion on the activities that matter, like hiring and retaining talented people, or nurturing a more productive workforce.

But there’s another benefit to automation. It’s not just about freeing you up to do other tasks. And that benefit is accuracy. Human error during manual data entry is where many costly HR mistakes come from, after all.

3. Your HR system should give you central access from anywhere

Good HR software gives you one central “point of truth” for your HR data. But the best HR software lets you access that data from any location, using any device.

You see, in our experience, HR professionals make smarter decisions and fewer mistakes when their information isn’t scattered all over the place. Spreadsheets, computers, paper files, email inboxes… when you update one, you’ve got to update them all!

But as well as believing that a central point of truth is important for HR, we also believe that this central point of truth should be accessible anywhere. After all, the days of office-working are fading, and the rise of mobile and remote working is in full swing.

If you’re still using an on-premise legacy system, then that’s a step up from paper files. But while your legacy HR system might have great features, and do a great job of storing your employee records, it’s probably pretty attached to your server room. I would recommend looking into a central cloud-based solution that you can access from anywhere you have an internet connection.

4. You should get ongoing support from friendly experts

This really should be one of the most important elements of your HR software, and it has nothing to do with the lines of code behind your computer screen. 

HR is complicated. And no matter how user-friendly your HR system is, you are still going to have moments when you’re not sure what you should be doing next. And that’s why your HR system should be supported by friendly experts… and I don’t just mean technical geeks who understand how the system works (although that’s certainly a plus). I mean technical experts who also understand what you’re trying to do, and why you’re trying to do it.

The problem with many HR systems, is that all too often, the focus goes into making fancy features and complex functionality, instead of into training a team of experts who understand why that system is so important to the HR function. What’s more, many HR systems consider support a paid extra. But we believe that as part of the package, your HR system should give you full support from real experts who speak your language and understand your challenges.

5. Your employees should enjoy using your system

How many times have you seen a new system get implemented, but everybody hates it? Nobody likes change at the best of times. But it’s even worse when the change being pushed on you feels like it is making your job harder.

When you’re implementing an HR system, we believe you should consider how well it will help you do your own job, sure. But you should also assess the system in terms of how well it will be adopted by your workforce. After all, your employees will also be interacting with the system on a day-to-day basis – requesting holidays, updating personal details, checking payslips, etc.

HR is more successful when you make it easier for employees to engage with you. Your HR system should reflect this by its design.

6. Your HR system should demonstrate your results

If you work in HR, then you work hard. It is not an easy job. But as well as being difficult, HR is also a role where very few people actually notice you – unless they need something, of course.

We believe that HR is capable of providing very powerful insights for the rest of the organisation. We also believe that HR can use these insights to influence major organisational growth. However, we know that HR often needs to work harder than most, before their voice gets heard.

And that’s why we believe that your HR system should help you not only discover the insights within your data, but help you present them in a compelling format, too.

This is just our approach – not the only approach

The six values I have outlined above do a good job of showing the way my colleagues at People HR approach the design and development of HR software. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only way.

Your setup might look like the polar opposite, and your priorities might be totally different too. And that’s fine. The same shoe doesn’t fit every foot.

But if you ever found yourself wondering about how we approach HR software here at People HR? Well now you have the answer.

And if you’d like to learn more about the team of experts behind our product, then please go and meet some of my colleagues on our About page here.

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