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July 19, 2022

Why HRIS do not meet operational challenges?

A central tool for human resources management, the HRIS has a limit: it is not designed to help operational staff achieve their objectives. Yet, they need to have a global and up-to-date vision of the skills available. In this context, how is it possible to align everyone's interests? What if field data could solve this problem?


Most HRIS only benefit support functions

Before getting to the heart of the matter, let's set the scene. HRIS stands for Human Resources Management Information Systems. In other words, they are software programs that focus on personnel administration. They are used by HR teams to perform various tasks:

  • Manage employment contracts
  • Create pay slips
  • Track leaves and absences
  • Identify expense reports
  • etc.

These are often comprehensive tools designed to improve the productivity of support functions. Data is centralized, and low value-added tasks are automated, allowing HR teams to focus on the human side. The software covers all processes related to human resources, while simplifying them. Thus, the HRIS is primarily designed to improve performance.

Beyond this notion of productivity, this software also allows for better management of talent thanks to numerous indicators. From a financial perspective, for example, you can track payroll or recruitment costs by job. Other metrics focus more on risk factors, such as turnover, occupational illnesses, accident rates and absenteeism.

Finally, the HRIS also meets legal constraints. Indeed, since 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) law, companies are required to secure the personal data of their employees. HRIS are therefore designed to meet this obligation.

If these functionalities are a precious help for the human resources professions, the same cannot be said for the operational ones.

And it makes sense. As we have seen, this tool is designed to help support functions achieve their goals. And these objectives are not the same as those of the operational staff.

HRIS, insufficient to meet operational challenges

In a company, each department acts to achieve its objectives. For example, the HR department must ensure that it recruits the best talent. On the other hand, operational staff do everything they can to maximize production. Theoretically, the data held in the HRIS would be useful to operational staff. However, it is clear that this is not the case.

Indeed, this information is most of the time top-down, and by definition, not in line with the reality on the ground. Support functions have a relatively biased understanding of operational expectations and challenges. This is particularly the case in the industrial sector, where it is common to hear site managers complain about the poor understanding of their business by human resources managers. You only have to read the job offers published by HR to realize this: the skills mentioned and the job description are sometimes far from reality.

To meet their challenges, operational staff are looking for solutions designed for them.

For example, in the field, managers want to save time to :

  • Knowing which operator has which skills to assign to the right position
  • Know if your team members are present to know if they will be able to meet the workload
  • Anticipate retirements to train new people early enough
  • Participate in the recruitment of future team members
  • Monitor the team's versatility rate in order to improve it
  • Supporting operators, particularly in terms of skills development

For their part, the operators also have their demands:

  • Ensure that their skills are known and valued
  • To be able to request training in line with their professional project
  • Continuous training and support

Today, a good number of companies are not able to respond to these operational challenges, which are nonetheless a guarantee of healthy growth.

Reconciling the challenges of support functions and operational challenges

In such a context, how is it possible to allow as many people as possible to take advantage of field data to move in the right direction? Should we start from scratch?

Fortunately, no. Instead, we need to rethink the way data is collected and used by the various stakeholders. Indeed, the best way to ensure the reliability of data is bottom-up, not top-down. In concrete terms, this means collecting data from the field and sharing it with the rest of the company.

This system benefits not only operational staff, but also support functions. For example, HR can rely on an approach centered on real and up-to-date field data. Decision-makers, for their part, benefit from this data to establish a finer strategic vision, and to better anticipate the future.

Data from the field is essential for any company that wants to gain agility and versatility, two qualities that are mandatory in the face of accelerating digital transformation and the emergence of new businesses. Moreover, the implementation of strategic workforce planning (SWP) methodologies requires the company to have access to reliable data.

The question then arises: how do you retrieve and circulate the data from the field? The ideal solution would probably meet the following criteria:

  • Enable the centralization of information in a simple way
  • Be usable by each team member
  • Generate indicators for support functions and operational staff

With these characteristics in mind, we understand that using spreadsheets is not the ideal solution. However, there are turnkey tools that allow you to easily manage field data and transform it into customized dashboards. In this way, the interests of support functions and operational staff are reconciled!

In summary

HRIS are tools that help manage various administrative tasks, such as generating pay slips, managing contracts or tracking leave. While these tools help HR to achieve their objectives, they do not address operational issues. Indeed, the data from the field often remains... In the field. The problem? This creates a compartmentalization of information, and a vision of the company's human resources that is not in line with reality. While team leaders are responsible for achieving operational excellence, they can't rely on HRIS data to implement the right actions. To change this, it is necessary to change the way data is collected and used.

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