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Dave Foxall Post-Implementation Manager Self-Service Application Priorities

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 By Dave Foxall

Achieving Continuous Improvements with Manager Self Service Software

Building on the foundation of employee self-service technology, manager self-service (MSS) software tools have become a standard method for improving HR service delivery. In fact, according to the latest Towers Watson HR Service Delivery and Technology Research Report, 36% of organizations deployed additional manager self-service application functionality during 2011. Yet, confusion still exists as to what exactly constitutes the capabilities that Manager Self Service software should possess. Even then, once this HR software is selected and implemented, on-going upkeep of the system provides yet another level of potential missteps.

As encapsulated by SHRM (The Society for Human Resource Management), the definition of Manager Self-Service software is succinctly to: "allow supervisors to handle HR transactions online and receive HR reports in real time"; citing three broad categories of MSS system functionality:

  1. Viewing information and creating reports on the employees without having to rely on HR.
  2. Completion of transactions previously handled by HR, such as authorizing pay raises, promotions, approving leave requests or changing employee data.
  3. Managing HR functions such as performance management, succession planning and on-boarding.

Whichever level of Manager Self Service software functionality organizations adopt in the first instance, a process of on-going improvement activity is required to fully leverage MSS software benefits and ensure that those manager self-service application features keep pace with the needs of the company. By focusing on three key issues – access, ease of use, and future possibilities of the technology – an organization can ensure that MSS post-implementation efforts are on point and software payback is maximized.

Post-Implementation Manager Self Service Software Issue #1: Access

There are various MSS application access channels, some of which may be determined by decisions at the selection and implementation stages and others which may be added at any time. The most flexible option is a web-based or SaaS (software-as-a-service) deployment which gives managers 24/7 access to MSS software features via a web browser. Not only is this functionality highly appropriate for workforces with non-standard working hours, but leveraging the web is also particularly beneficial to global organizations with employees in several time zones (especially as vendors work to address the localization-specific data security issues).

It should be noted that anytime access is ideally partnered with any place access. Indeed, Forrester research suggested in 2010 that, "Mobile technology will reinvent the notion of employee self-service" and time appears to be proving them correct with managers accessing information and conducting HR transactions remotely via smartphones, tablets, and netbooks. Learning management vendors provided some of the first mobile capabilities, but as Forrester notes, "In addition to learning, additional mobile process opportunities are emerging in areas from time reporting to talent management, increasing process effectiveness and employer-to-employee service"—a undeniable verity when one considers the above listed functionalities that SHRM spells out for Manager self-service applications.

Post-Implementation MSS Software Issue #2: Ease of use

Most Manager Self Service software processes will still be available to managers via older channels (e.g. managerial requests to HR); however, if full MSS application benefits are to be leveraged over time, then usage must be driven up to optimum levels. One method to increase usage is to adopt a policy wherever possible of continuous simplification; seeking feedback from managers and using it to make their MSS technology experience more seamless. For instance, in a recent Aberdeen Group case study from 2011 (for a 21K-employee organization spread out over 15 countries, conducting approximately 3K MSS software transactions per year), it was discovered that, "after delivering significant technical simplifications, [the organization saw] a 25% decrease in self-service coaching calls while maintaining volume of transactions." Put simply, the easier MSS application features are to use, the more managers will use them.

Post-Implementation MSS Software Issue #3: The future of MSS

Staying connected to informed, expert opinion regarding MSS technology trends gives an organization an early heads-up on the market's direction which, in turn, can be used to influence HR technology strategies for the better. For example, so far MSS software adoption has improved the speed of processes and accuracy of data, and (in most cases) without a widespread increase in manager workload—freeing up precious HR time for more complicated interventions. The current trend though revolves around expanding that self-service functionality to more involved transactions.

The aforementioned Towers Watson report references that 15 MSS application functions currently in use in the U.S. are focusing solely on talent management (some with adoption rates of up to 70%). Software functionality is creeping into workforce and succession planning, as well as scorecards for human capital and business performance metrics. However, it should be noted that, as warned by KPMG, overloading managers can potentially lead to excessive delegation (particularly from executive levels) and the creation of a proxy layer of employees with access to higher level data. While the increasing theme is to hand over process control to managers (thus cutting out the HR middle-man); this change should be exercised with diligence, purpose, and the end goal in mind. As Towers Watson's Tom Keebler says, "In the end, managers will own many of these decisions. The days of HR supervising and touching every transaction will soon be over."

The Post-Implementation Manager Self Service Software Bottom Line

As options for HR service delivery have broadened, Manager Self-Service software has become a key enabler of efficiency and the removal of excessive bureaucracy. As early as 2009, the Towers Perrin report, Evolving Priorities and the Future of HR Service Delivery, concluded that, "Whether an organization is seeking broad-scale HR transformation, or discrete support for a specific HR program, the use of self-service technology is ubiquitous. In fact, self-service applications have emerged as the workhorse of HR service delivery — a staple that's helping organizations achieve their basic blocking and tackling needs. And it's commonplace across all levels of HR transformation and service delivery." This sentiment remains true in 2012 and looks likely to continue for the foreseeable future. As such, by keeping a sharp focus on constant, continuous, and strategic improvement of Manager Self Service application tools, organizations can ensure that HR service delivery reaches excellence and manager self-service software success is achieved. End

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Staying connected to informed, expert opinion regarding MSS trends gives an organization an early heads-up on the market's direction which, in turn, can be used to influence HR and technology strategies for the better.


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