Human Capital Management Blog

Strategies for HCM Professionals

How to Escape HR Silos: You Need a Map


Robert-Mattson-Headshot-2By Robert Mattson, VP of Content Marketing, Ceridian

I was in Canada recently and one very interesting thing to an American traveling outside the States is the selection on Netflix.  You see, it’s different once you cross the border.  There are movies available that I can’t watch when I’m at home and one of them is The Maze Runner.  I won’t give out any spoilers but one of the major plot devices is a group of young people caught in a glade where the only way out is by running through a giant, towering maze.  Hence the name.

The group in the movie spends lots of time and energy mapping the maze to try to find a way out, which made me think how lots of HR people are doing the same thing in the silos that they are trapped in.  They are looking for the information that will get them from one domain to another — an HR map for lack of a better term.  That is because employees, and the HR people that support them, have processes that span one part of the HR maze to another.maze-1301483_640

For example, time tracking has to interact with payroll, recruiting with on-boarding, and benefits back to time tracking etc.  Now, like in the film, mapping a section of the HR maze is not that complex.  All an HR manager needs to do is run a report on each of their systems.  However, what if the question spans HR systems?  What if the question is if Jane has worked enough hours over a period of time to qualify for benefits per the rules of the Affordable Care Act?  Suddenly we need information from two sections of our HR maze — and possibly a third if we need to see if Jane has already signed up for benefits.  What if the question is more strategic?  Such as: who are our top performers and are they receiving the appropriate compensation over the past 2 years?  For that HR could need information from performance management and the HR system of record.

While there will probably be little argument over the importance of having visibility into information that spans different HR silos, I think what is often overlooked are two things: timeliness and repeatability.  I’ve been in the situation where I had to data-dive into systems and connect one piece of data to another for a report.  Did I accomplish it? Yes.  Did it take a while?  Yes.  Was the answer different when I tried to do the exact same thing the next week? Ummmm…..yep.

Just like the heroes in the Maze Runner might need to know whether to turn left or right quickly before they are caught by the beast of the maze, an HR professional could need to know whether Jim has worked an unexpected shift before running payroll.  And, that question probably comes up nearly every week, so the process better be repeatable and accurate.

That’s the headache that I hear from many HR professionals.  They don’t have easy access to the information they need quickly and accurately when questions cross silos.  The main point is that those are the instances where having that data is the most important.

In the film the protagonists run the maze for years mapping every turn, but at the end of the film (spoiler alert), there is an overhead shot where they see the entire maze.  That’s what HR people need to do: find the analytics that will give them visibility of all their HR silos so they can take the correct turn. Hopefully they can find a way to get visibility into their own maze of HR processes so it doesn’t take them years to create their map by trial and error.

Robert Mattson is the VP of Content Marketing for Ceridian responsible for Product Marketing, Digital Marketing and Social Marketing. Mr. Mattson has been in the technology space for over 25 years with companies such as ADP, Workscape, Performix Technologies, Telerik, Eprise and Applix.  His focus has been on how HR technology can be effectively leveraged to overcome both technical and business challenges.  He has spoken at events and conferences in the US and abroad, and his thoughts and research have been published both online and in print ranging from the Java Developer’s Journal to Talent Management Magazine.

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