Viewing entries in
Digital HR

Port Stephen's Council on their Award Winning HRS Implementation

Port Stephen's Council on their Award Winning HRS Implementation

Recently at HR Tech Fest in Melbourne, we hosted a series of podcasts live, and caught up with a client of ours, Melissa Rodway, HR Manager at Port Stephen's Council. They have recently won a stack of awards for their implementation of their HRS programme and have been around the conference circuit talking and it.

Port Stephen’s Council is very proud of it says Melissa. It's a fabulous story, and we have been able to receive a few accolades in our industry which has been great. Who would have thought we would have won a technology award! We certainly didn't think we'd be in that space five years ago.

What were 2 or 3 things that have made it a success for you? How did you end up where you are now, what's made the difference?

The first thing would be implementing Australian business excellence framework as the way that we do business. The organisation really helped us to understand our people and our processes and the way that we do business. The second thing is around the preparation and taking our time to really understand what we needed. When we started out, what we actually thought we wanted wasn't actually what we needed in the end. That preparation was really the key. Thirdly it was having the right people in our team to be able to fulfil that project and get the business to where it is today, it was really important to have key players as part of that process.

It was all about preparation, getting our business process sorted in order to allow for a successful implementation and documenting all of those processes and identifying those accompanying guides. This took us 12 months. It wasn't something we just did overnight, it was something that we had to implement as part of our day to day operations and find the time to do it.

Future Knowledge was involved in the implementation of part of Cornerstone OnDemand and we had a great experience working with the Port Stephen’s Council team on this project.

Daniel (Future Knowledge Consultant) shares that the team was really good to work with because they were very receptive to changing ideas, very innovative. So if you came up with bit of a radical approach to a problem that they had, they weren't too concerned to go down that path. They were willing to try it out and give things a go, and I think that's part of their success that they just really worked well with us as a team.

Melissa talks about how we also had teams spread across Sydney and Melbourne. Varying locations are not always the easiest to work around however we were able to make the remote working model work really well. Everybody was dedicated and committed to that process, and we had buy in and commitment up front from the senior leadership team and also the people that were involved in that project to say that if we're going to make this work, then we need to make sure that we're available every week to speak to our partners in Future Knowledge to make sure that we're able to troubleshoot any issues and talk about any of those radical changes that we're able to implement.

Now 18 months down the track, the honeymoon period is over and the implementation buzz has happened. We're starting to repeat things and also refine them too. We’ve got a much better handle on the system and the way that it's being implemented and used in the organisation, I know I'll be able to sit back and go, "Oh okay, that works really great, but how about if we try this, or something different moving forward to make life a little bit easier for our managers." We're certainly going through that second cycle and being able to make improvements moving forward.

Melissa, have you seen any benefits down the track that maybe you weren't expecting?

I wasn’t sure if everyone would have buy in, I've got such a diverse workforce. We've got lots of professional positions at the council but then we've got lots of operational positions as well that don't typically have access to computers on a day to day basis. So ownership from them has been a nice surprise, about coming in and spending the time, about using the system and trying to make their day to day lives a little bit easier. We hoped for the best, but they are actually using it and really enjoying it, so it's great.

That's excellent to see there was a good result for the users, but how about HR's? Is there a perception of HR change, do people look at you guys like you're the innovators now almost like you're the apple of your place?

It would be nice to think that everybody thinks of us like that, probably not. But we've probably got a lot of respect from the senior leadership team and our executives around those business improvements that we've been able to make. We've delivered on our promises and are being able to prove to them the results we said we would be able to achieve up front. That has certainly been a really positive impact on the organisation.

And what’s outstanding is that you’ve already achieved your internal investment payback period. Most organisations would be looking at a 3 to 5 year payback period, this makes you a market leader in our opinion.

Yes, we have done it in 18 months. It was such a cumbersome, manual, ad hoc, hodge podge approach to how we did our business before that it's changed our whole world, it's been fabulous.

In terms of user adoption, how do you measure whether people are using your product or not? How do you know whether it's been adopted?

Part of our performance management process is that all users have to have what we call an individual work and development plan. We don't use the performance review type terminology. So every individual in the organisation has to have an individual work and development plan in place which is like their work plan for a 12 month period. And then we measure their success and how well they're tracking every 6 months and 12 months. So every user has to come in contact with the system at some point through that process. It also has the learning and development needs that feed into that process as well. So everybody has to take ownership around their learning and also that review process.

And we know that managers form such a critical part of the conversation around development and performance. How are your frontline leaders finding using this tool to help with that conversation?

We’ve moved to a higher level of accountability models, so I think that it's helping them to keep them honest. It adds that layer of transparency. If we know that somebody's not performing but their reviews are coming back to say that they’re outstanding then we can start to have some of those conversations with what's happened to that authentic conversation. So I think that it definitely adds a layer of transparency, which means that they're having to have those authentic conversations with their staff. And because it just isn't about their behaviours or their performances, it's actually about what they're achieving in their work plans. I think that also aids in them being able to have those real discussions with the staff.

You've implemented four modules of Cornerstone OnDemand. Performance, learning, succession, connect. So you've been about with a unified talent management suite, are you thinking of looking at other parts of it?

Yes, we've already commenced those discussions that will obviously be reliant on funding for the organisation but we'd love to be able to implement the recruitment at the on-boarding modules as the next step for us in our organisation so that we've got that whole suite of programmes that's totally reliant on Cornerstone.

And that decision to go ‘suite over best’ you could have ended up in a position where you went out and bought a learning tool, and a succession tool, and a recruitment tool. You could have ended up with 5 or 7 or whatever, and at this point in time you've ended up with 1 vendor. Was that a hard decision to come to?

Well actually, we've got well, emulation to that talent space we've got one, but we do have a separate vendor for the recruitment. But I think it was more around the business need. So as long as we're achieving what we set out to do, and given that Cornerstone has been able to provide us with a whole suite in relation to that talent management that links and is relevant and produces results, that was really key for us.

It’s a strong value proposition isn't it?

Most definitely. And that partnering and relationship was imperative as part of that whole process.

Thank you Melissa for sharing this great story of success around HRS at Port Stephen's Council.

Listen to other great conversations on our podcast here.

Brave new world for HR

Brave new world for HR

Its time to move HR to the digital world.

The increasing digitisation of the world is changing how we live and work, and how business is organised and conducted. HR has a role in supporting organisations through this transformation from two key perspectives.

1.       HR can help business leaders and employees shift to a digital mind-set, a digital way of managing, organising, and leading change.

2.       HR has the opportunity to revolutionise the entire employee experience by reimagining HR processes, systems, and the HR organisation via new digital platforms, apps, and ways of delivering HR services.  

In this brave new world of work, HR will become smaller. 

New organizational structures will emerge to help HR professionals collaborate closely with other business functions and HR will begin to behave more like marketing—analysing employee data, creating customized talent offerings, and marketing and branding talent and HR processes. Talent management will become an everyday activity for employees, part and parcel of what they do in their roles.  Employees themselves will increasingly take more responsibility for their own careers and will seek to partner with their employers in order to grow and develop both professionally and personally.  Leaders and managers will also seek more proactive ways to manage talent in order to build and engage high performing teams and provide an environment where individuals will be self-motivated to contribute.  This is a continued evolution of the “employer-of-choice” imperative of the past decade.

HR will also play a bigger role evaluating external technologies, and building interfaces between them and the organization’s own data and systems.  

Industry expert and thought leader, Josh Bersin, describes a “bold HR” that has an approach that encourages talent and learning leaders to think differently, innovate with new and simpler solutions and leverage data and analytics to deliver the recruiting, engagement, retention, learning, talent and technology strategies and solutions that drive business value.  The pervasiveness of technology is pushing HR to become expert at mobile applications, analytics, video learning and the implementation of talent management software.

Digital disruption promises to have significant implications for business and HR strategy in today’s organisations. 

HR departments need to focus on transforming their own function so as to lead the change that will be required in order to adapt to the new way of working. 

Digital HR: the connection between people and tech

Digital HR: the connection between people and tech

What is Digital HR all about? Its not just the systems that we use to manage information around employees and to deliver the different types of services (be it learning, performance management or career planning), but it’s really about the intersection of technology and people in organisations, and having a focus on a broader frame of reference around this connection.

Here are some of the key trends we're seeing:

Apps are king; mobile-first

Realistically if we look at what we do in our daily lives, we don’t really like logging into systems anymore to get the information we need. Those databases and systems are moving into the background and that has got to happen in organisations too. That layer of interaction and engagement between people and technology has to be around apps and be driven from mobile devices first, and other modes such as desktops secondly.

Cloud-based systems move to the background

We need to be framing our thinking and decisions around the mobile first mindset, as we’re continuing to move systems (whether they’re cloud based systems or traditional client server on premise style solutions), into the background. It’s really important to have those systems doing their thing but it’s actually how to get interactions with those systems, and do it with ease.

Ease of use – Buy vs Build

We have to build interfaces that are much more like Facebook or Whatsapp, the prevailing solutions that people use in their personal lives. Increasingly we are going to see a buy vs build discussion coming back in. And this started because the appetite in organisations for particular and differentiated ways to leverage technology is taking us away from the off the shelf models and the one size fits all mindset that perhaps the SAS solutions dictated.

These last 3 points are really critical in terms of how you prepare yourself to become a truly digital HR function:

Need for enterprise architecture and roadmap

We can’t overlook our friends in IT and the need for a true enterprise architecture framework into which we can plug in these different apps and solutions and have them support and be accessible where they need to be. This is really where IT has to move into being the facilitators and enablers. We have to partner up with IT stakeholders and the business itself, to develop a roadmap of how we are going to adapt technology in the future. This is something we spend a lot of time helping our clients to frame.

Choose your providers wisely

It is also critically important to choose your providers wisely. There are a lot of vendors in the HR technology space, it is massively invested in, there is a lot of venture capital money going in and there are some vendors that aren’t keeping up. But there are also some vendors that are paving the way. It’s really important to choose suppliers that can move with the times, innovate at the right pace and are willing to form partnerships with their customers as well. We cannot stress enough how important it is to make great judgements not just of the solutions of the technology, but of the vendor itself.

Programs not Projects

No longer are we setting up a HR systems project that’s a one off activity with a kick off at the start and a go live at the finish which leads to 5 -10 years of pain before we can upgrade or move to another technology. We’ve got to be moving away from that paradigm to more agile modes of implementation, into a truly programmised model that is about continuous improvement and is about continuous adoption solutions as they come along. It’s about being comfortable living in a world of perpetual beta where you will try some things, some will work, some will not but you’ve got the ability to adapt and flick the switch off and on and quickly adjust to the times. That’s the core of what we talk about when we consider Digital HR, it’s exciting and it’s a very important time to be in HR.

We are technologists

As HR people, we can no longer be luddites, when it comes to technology. We are technologists. We have to be able to understand how technology allows us to deliver the service and how it enables people in our organisation to support the business effectively. We’ve got to be leaders in that. We can’t just let others take the lead in technology. It’s really important that we understand the business challenges and the outcomes of those. We constantly get asked how HR can be seen at the table. It’s really simple. Understand the broader business challenges and think about how you can align people and technology to support those outcomes. If you can keep that single frame of reference, then we will all do a lot better.

We’re keen for organisations to get away from this notion of adopting best practice. What we’re challenging you with is to focus on what differentiates. To think about the scenarios or the idiosyncratic things in the organisation, that are differentiators. Not idiosyncratic because they’re poor practice of poor ways of doing things. Seek to understand what it is that makes you special, what’s the special sauce or DNA that makes your organisation what it is? And build solutions around those points of differentiation. Don’t just adopt the most common practice which is what best practice means. Don’t take the vendors lead on just adopting modules of software, because that’s their language. Focus on the process, focus on the value stream and the value chain that supports the business challenge or outcome. Seek to adopt technology to address that process level, not at a module by module basis.

Don’t dwell on what is the best way to do things. Don’t seek perfection. Look for some problems to fix today and get stuck into it. It’s an exciting time.