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Dave Foxall The 7 Features Your Talent Management Software Must Have

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 By Dave Foxall

The Business Argument for Talent Management Automation

Talent management software applications are either applied uniformly for the benefit of all employees or (far more commonly) take a segmented approach; providing a suite of services to a single group of employees selected for their potential—aligning their development for future strategic direction. Whichever approach is taken, CedarCrestone's Going Global with HR Tech report noted that evidence supports the fact that increased talent management automation results in "improved productivity of talent management processes, improved talent decision making, more engaged employees, and improved quality of hire[s]". This compelling argument logically begs the question then of what features that automation should offer in order to provide maximum benefit. Here, we outline HR Lab's top 7 of the "must-have" features for any talent management software solution.

Talent Management Software Feature #1: A Holistic View

Bersin & Associates' Talent Management Systems found that in 2010 there were over 250 vendors using "talent management" as a marketing label for single point applications focused on just one of the following areas: workforce planning, talent acquisition, performance management, careers and succession, learning and development, and compensation/rewards. Given the fact that modern talent management requires a synergy of all of these issues, it is surprising that in this same report, Bersin found that only 12% of providers actually offered talent management software "suites", which integrate at least three of these crucial applications. When selecting an HR software solution for managing talent, organizations should be aware of their needs (both short and long term) in order to make an informed decision about whether a point solution or suite will be needed.

Talent Management Software Feature #2: Socially Integrated

As seen in a number of talent management software trends, mobile, collaboration-enhancing technology is increasingly part of the workplace and 'talent' should be enabled with the latest tools. Recent Accenture research found that the increase in employee freedom regarding working hours and location afforded by new social and mobile technologies correlated to a 7% rise in commitment. A current Bersin report (Talent Acquisition Systems, 2011) found that organizations are recognizing the value of integration with social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) even if they do not fully understand how to use them. Other social networking sites are easier to leverage: "LinkedIn has become one of the most effective tools for both job seekers and recruiters. It offers a way to strengthen employer branding, engage both active and passive candidates, and build a talent pipeline." Social media integration is the trend of e-recruitment with capability to target messages at LinkedIn groups and even uploading standard format LinkedIn profiles instead of resumes.

Talent Management Software Feature #3: HR Analytics

Also identified by Bersin, is the increasing incorporation of source analytics to talent management software, allowing organizations to track the various channels through which candidates reach them. This information can be particularly valuable when evaluating and targeting spend on recruitment advertising. And in monitoring forays into social networking. Analytics are needed to measure what's working and what's not, reallocate resources to top performing methods and achieve a closed loop cycle to the talent management process.

Talent Management Software Feature #4: Self-Service Functionality

Pushing authority down the corporate ladder is a key to flatter, higher-performing structures, hence the popularity of HR self-service software. Towers Watsons 2011 report New Horizons, No Boundaries found that a majority of U.S. organizations had basic talent management functions—including applicant resumes and tracking, onboarding, performance reviews, training approvals, incentive pay planning—available via manager self-service portals with richer workforce planning and access to human capital/business performance metric scorecards on the rise.

Talent Management Software Feature #5: SaaS

A Bersin & Associates' 2010 report found that a particularly common theme for new HR software was talent management software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications. In large part, this theme's popularity stems from the dramatic increase in, "the pace of product innovation and the frequency of product releases in the market." Bersin's report goes on to say that, "Functionality for establishing business rules, templates, controlling data access and setting up notifications can now be defined at a very granular level"—a fact that only increases the adoption rate and significance of this HR software deployment model. While some concerns about SaaS HR still remain to be fully answered, its flexibility appears especially well-suited to talent management.

Talent Management Software Feature #6: Talent Profiles

Integrated software suites use talent profiles to create a common language of record between the differing functions, including performance management, selection, career development, etc., while holding all talent-related data and potentially allowing all employees to be tested against the requirements of any particular situation. However, Bersin found that this essential feature was often, "hampered because of security issues related to data access and visibility. Solution providers do not offer role-based views of the profiles and granular security controls."

Talent Management Software Feature #7: Contingent Labor

Traditionally, the organization was the talent's sole employer. However, with demographic and economic shifts, the employer's needs and available commitment have changed while the new generation of employee seeks greater flexibility. As a result, Bersin stated in 2011, "…contingent labor is on the rise." A truly flexible and future-minded talent management system (especially the acquisition functions) will allow for this wider view of talent in the workplace and consider all segments, not just 'sole employees'.

The Bottom Line on Essential Talent Management Software Features

Putting attention on talent management is definitely worth the effort – the Accenture research found a 20% increase in employee commitment and a 19% decrease in turnover intention – but finding talent management software automation sophisticated enough to deal with the complex realities of today's talent world continues to be a pressing issue. In fact, the 2010 SHRM-AARP Strategic Workforce Planning Poll found 65% of organizations had concerns over Baby Boomer retirements during the next decade which exist because of talent management issues; further proof that a flexible and sustainable talent pipeline is becoming an absolute necessity. End

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LinkedIn has become one of the most effective tools for both job seekers and recruiters. It offers a way to strengthen employer branding, engage both active and passive candidates, and build a talent pipeline."


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