Berwick Partners HRIS Networking Evening

Published: 29 January 2014

The HR practice at Berwick Partners recently hosted our first HRIS event in London. The event was very well attended with HR Directors from 20 different organisations across industry. We were very grateful to be joined by Sue Foster, Global Head of HRIS from Linklaters and Jane Basley who has most recently worked as Director of HR Technology for BP as co-hosts with Tim Baker and Debbie Sutton from Berwick Partners.

The aim was to share thoughts on the role of HR Technology, how it can be introduced to a business and the change management process when implementing. The conversation flowed on the night with many interesting observations being shared on the subject. A few highlights are below:

Understanding the business issue first: One of the key messages was how HR approaches any business issue. It must understand the results that need be achieved before considering how technology can be used to drive it. Mistakes are made when people choose the technology first, perhaps being impressed with the functionality or look and then try and apply it to their organisation whether it needs it or not.

Relationship with IT: This was an interesting conversation and clearly the strategy is different from company to company. One of our guests has implemented Workday globally for 35,000 people without involving IT at all, however most agreed that a strong relationship with the function was critical. It is important that clarity exists around which functions take responsibility for what, especially in the change process. Technology change is often very systems and process focused and if you combine this with an HR person who can bring the people focus, you achieve a great result.

Crossing Boundaries: HR technology is now crossing boundaries and encompassing other functions. Workday, for example, now have integrated solutions for finance as well as a strategic alliance with SalesForce so that the systems speak with each other. This could have a huge impact on the future of the HR function. If people data and processes are pushed out in to areas such as finance and marketing, will there be a need for a separate HR function?

Which system to choose: Workday has recently been hugely successful, winning contracts globally with an impressive product. Of the other “big 3” SAP are gaining traction with their recent acquisition of SuccessFactors and Oracle Fusion are winning more contracts as well. People were asked who they would bet on for the next five years and interestingly SAP/SuccessFactors got the edge on Workday due to its existing global clientele and the ability to win work in the SME space (SuccessFactors began life pitching to SME’s). It was also noted that there are many good UK software houses, however they often struggle to compete on a global scale.

Getting people to engage with the Technology: The HR systems space is only as good as the data going in and if people will not use it, it becomes redundant. Apple have been hugely successful in creating products that people want to use, you don’t even need a manual, the same thought process needs to be applied to HR technology. It was said that Workday’s success is partly down to how good the user interface is, people use it and you get excellent data analysis however you like it. SuccessFactors have recently hired Thomas Otter from Gartner to work on the user interface.

If you would like further information on any aspect of the evening, or information on future events please contact Tim Baker.

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