At first glance, Fosway Group’s 2017 HR Realities report might seem to be a compilation of complaints about how HR technology vendors deliver and support their products. When you dig into the story, you find a more muddled picture.
Although the study focuses on Europe, it gives us many insights into the state of HR technology worldwide. The survey probed customer perceptions of how well their technology providers:
- understand their needs,
- exceed user expectations,
- deliver great service,
- innovate their offering,
- deliver value for the money, and
- have a positive impact on business.
In general, customers are much happier with cloud technology services than with privately hosted or on-premise systems. We don’t find this surprising. Vendors are focused on the cloud. That’s where they are making their investments in future services. On premise and privately hosted platforms are slow to innovate or not doing any at all.
However, that doesn’t mean customers are happy with their cloud vendors. Only 60% of them say their providers always or frequently understand their needs, but that is more than double the percentage of privately hosted customers who feel the same.
The report encourage organizations to move to the cloud, where they can find faster innovation and more responsiveness. This is especially important at a time when HR is feeling the pressure to respond to organizational agility.
The study also points out some interesting differences in how well customers can communicate their needs. Fifty percent of decentralized HR organizations responded that they rarely or never feel their needs are understood. Only 10% of federated HR organizations and 17% of centralized organizations feel the same. Clearly, strong leadership is essential in any implementation, but even more so in decentralized organizations.
The report places lots of emphasis on what plus it calls a “rush to outsource service layers to partners.” We disagree. The use of partner networks has been integral to enterprise software deployments for as long as we can remember. Typically, small start-ups begin with in-house resources, then find at a certain point that model is not scalable.
We agree, however, that customers are left with the responsibility of choosing the right partner to deliver the implementation. Diligence in that selection process can be more important than the software selection itself.
In today’s enterprise software environment, it pays to have expertise on board to manage that relationship. This is not an area for novices. It’s worth your time and the investment to have the right vendor and partner management skills on board.
Having a “certified partner” is no guarantee that the person or team assigned to your project has the consulting skills to help you manage internal politics, conflicting agendas, vendors, and partners. We recommend an independent consulting company that has the expertise and experience to handle it.
Lastly, we also want to address the issue of the failure of HR systems to deliver “positive impact.” Fosway’s report calls this shocking, but after decades of consulting experience, we don’t. New software doesn’t guarantee your organization will suddenly turn in the right direction toward productivity Nirvana, any more than a more powerful engine in your car will take you to a better destination.
The success of any technology change depends more on your business strategy and culture than on the nature of the software platform itself. It takes an experienced consultant who has the skills and knowledge to help you create the conditions for change. If you are that consultant, you are well on your way. If not, we recommend you place finding that talent at the top of your priority list.
Pixentia is a full-service technology company dedicated to helping clients solve business problems, improve the capability of their people, and achieve better results.