Tuesday, January 8, 2013

HR Technology: Unifying Your Enterprise

HR Technology: Unifying Your Enterprise
With a Global HR Portal, HR can enhance the adoption and value of a global solution.
Employee self-service has well-proven benefits to businessin particular, better service to employees while cutting down on HRs workload. And the best way to deliver HR services is through an employee portal that gives workers single sign-on access to all services.
Many companies have an HR portal covering their operations in a single country, establishing a portal for a truly global organization presents a unique set of challenges. But for those employers that master the task of designing and deploying a global HR portal, the rewards for employees and the enterprise can be great.
1. Think Globally, Plan Carefully
Creating a successful portal starts with processes, not technology. Most portal software contains far more features than a customer needs. The question is how to merge technology and processes in order to meet business goals. When it comes to developing a global HR portal, there is a distinct difference between meeting the HR needs of a multinational firm and one that operates globally.
The notion of a global organization is one that has programs and activities that require some degree of consistency across the globe, says Joe Loya, a consultant with global HR firm Mercer HR in Norwalk, Conn. An organization that might operate locally in many countries is not global; global is those organizations where broad and consistent communications are valued.
These distinctions manifest in several ways: culture, language, content, services, regulations and support. And all of these factors need to be considered when developing a global portal. One of the most obvious is, of course, making sure the content on the portal is in the language that employees speak. Setting a language strategy for the portal (English only, some local language, etc.) is a critical success factor, but not the only one to be considered. Some decisions reflect more-subtle differences in how a global workforce operates.
You need to think globally but remember local culture and customs, says Fittinghoff. I have heard of instances where color choices and graphics accepted in one geography can be offending in another location.
In addition to design and content, cultural issues can affect work processes as well. According to Loya, people process information or socialize information somewhat differently depending on where they are in the world. Some deal very much by consensus, for example, in contrast to the command-and-control organizations that exist in other parts of the globe. In setting up a global portal, a company needs to ensure that the processes and content are relevant to the employees around the world, which may require setting up country-specific aspects within the global portal.
The definition or the perception of what is important to the individual and the organization will vary based on local programs, culture, language and so forth, says Loya. For example, in the compensation and benefits world, the notion of ownership and equity is very important to a large part of the U.S. market, and to a degree in parts of Europe. But in other parts of the world, equity is not a performance driver for the workforce. Whatever compensation philosophy the company selects must be reflected in its portal.
In addition, divergent regulatory and governmental structures affect not only what can be offered in a particular country, but also what employees need from an HR portal. Health care, for example, is a big issue for U.S. HR departments, but in many other areas it is provided by the government. Putting open enrollment features on a global portal wouldnt be appropriate for employees in countries that have a nationalized health care system.
In the United States, a lot of the focus and the cost of a global HR portal is around ensuring the employees make health care decisions, have the right information and modeling tools, and do the election every year, says Michael Rudnick, global portal and intranet practice leader for Washington, D.C.-based human capital consulting firm Watson Wyatt. Outside the United States, there is much more of a focus on manager self-service and performance management.
While a well-developed portal has a full array of services, in practice, services are rolled out gradually. Since health care is a major administrative responsibility for employers in the United States, arranging self-service in this area early can lighten HRs and managers workload.
Local regulations regarding taxes and privacy can also affect global portals. For example, the European Unions Data Privacy Directive restricts the types of data that can be collected and stored, and to whom they can be transmitted. A multinational company with some offices in Germany, for example, may have to store all the data on German employees on servers in Germany and block access to employees in other parts of the world.
There is also the challenge of providing 24/7 support for the equipment and users, since support staff will need to be available around the clock, not just during the business hours of a single country.
2. Learn from Big Blue
The 5 major content areas by IBM are :
1. Timely topics HR management feature stories, business-related articles and HR policy change information.
2. Find it fast Links to HR staff, HR phone lists and contact information, and manager forms.
3. Work with your employees Tools for reviewing/updating/changing employee work information, performance reviews, salary and compensation, promotions and transfers, awards, and individual development plans.
4. Act now! An alert mechanism for business deadlines or key HR actions.
5. Manager resources Checklists for hiring or transferring employees, links to key HR policies, job postings, expense reimbursement, travel, asset management, career development and learning. 

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