With HR Technology, Usability Feeds Directly Into ROI

trainingWhen many professionals in 2014 think of the power of transformative technology in HR, they often think of powerful new business intelligence systems with the ability to collect and analyze massive stockpiles of data. They think of comprehensive solutions that are big, complicated and ultimately earth- shattering.

There’s merit to that, but there’s also a much simpler truth in HR tech – it often has its most profound impact in more modest ways. A good technology solution can reform the way your company handles the most basic tasks, such as administering payroll and benefits. As long as it’s efficient and highly usable, it should have a profound effect on your company’s bottom line. The key takeaway here is that usability leads directly to ROI.

The neglected child
According to TLNT, there’s one party who’s constantly going overlooked when companies roll out new HR technology solutions – it’s the user. Companies think in big-picture ways about the how their new solutions could impact marketing, sales and other corners of the operation – but in the words of Robin Schooling, managing director and strategist with Silver Zebras LLC, they often fail to think about the actual users of the software. This leads to a very basic breakdown in operability.

“During all stages, it’s important to remember that training, adoption, and ongoing usage are vital to the success of any project,” Schooling explained. “While we in HR may be driven by a desire to link data to employee performance to business goals, we also need to evaluate our technology solutions through the eyes of our employees and managers.”

The most crucial part of any HR technology roll-out, therefore, is the training process. It’s vital that companies teach their employees thoroughly to use their new software solutions – if not, they’re squandering productivity and ultimately losing money. Schooling noted that, according to recent research from the Brandon Hall Group, inadequate training is the No. 1 thing that companies regret about their tech roll-outs.

The value of usability
All of the world’s best software releases have been driven by usability. Applications such as Facebook and Twitter, which are commonplace in millions of people’s lives today, are popular because they are so easy to use. It therefore stands to reason that companies could achieve that same ubiquity, not to mention speed and efficiency of use, by rolling out software that is similarly user-friendly.

Usability and ROI go hand to hand because they shorten time to value.  There are four things to consider when evaluating or implementing HR solutions for your company to drive usability:

  1. End users: Bring end users into the demo and involve them during the evaluation and implementation phase.
  2. Training: Talk to the vendor about their instructor-led training and train the trainer.  Bring your ‘trainers’ into the fold early.  If they don’t get it then your people won’t get it.
  3. Time to value: The sooner your company is up and running, the better. Make sure you consider cloud technology.  Research from Sierra-Cedar (formely CedarCrestone) shows that on average SaaS implementations takes about 8.5 months to go live vs. 11 months for hosted solutions and over 14 months for on-premise implementations.
  4. Consistency: It is key that the system looks and feels the same whether it is being used by the employee, manager, or administrator.  Look for vendors that built everything on a single codebase and database, and do not rely on partners (or acquisitions) to fill certain needs.  This hinders adoption and can create issues and more manual workarounds.

Speaking of technology and adoption, we look forward to seeing you at the annual HR Technology Expo in Las Vegas, October 7-9.  We are in the big blue booth # 1923.


Jayson SabaThis blog post was written by Jayson Saba, VP of Strategy and Industry Relations at Ceridian. Prior to Ceridian, Jayson was an analyst at Aberdeen Group’s Human Capital Management practice.  As the lead analyst for Core HR, Workforce Management, and Outsourcing, Jayson published over 100 research papers and reports about technology and best practices.  Jayson is a frequent contributor to industry and trade magazines including HR Executive, PayTech, HROToday, Workforce Management, Talent Management, CIO and The Economist. He regularly presents at HR conferences and trade shows.  Follow him on Twitter @JaysonSaba.


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