A Centralized Approach to HRMS

Trisha de Mesa, Senior Director of HR Shared Services, Wilbur-Ellis

Trisha de Mesa, Senior Director of HR Shared Services, Wilbur-Ellis

1.  What are the current market trends you see shaping the HRMS space?

We have been observing a lot of trends in AI and predictive analytics in the HRMS space. There seems to be an increasing demand for centralizing the analytics function across our enterprise. Employee engagement has also garnered a tremendous amount of attention. Even though it has always been one of the focal points, I believe that over the last year, employee engagement has become the number one priority for organizations. More critical than ever, there is an extreme emphasis on data security and privacy.

2.  Mobile phones have created a shift where everything is available at the palm of our hands, so it makes sense that the next step for HRMS is to go in the same direction. Your views on this trend.

I support this trend. Despite the challenges, I believe that making real-time data easily accessible is an ideal next step and is a great opportunity. However, there are a few concerns that could apply to everything within the HR technology space. The first would be concerning data integrity. We need to test everything to death—be it a report or a tool or functionality—before we submit to its authenticity and efficiency, as our credibility is the top priority. Data literacy across an enterprise is also another concern. I would imagine that there are different levels of data literacy across the board in organizations. We need to make sure that there’s an awareness and people can read, analyze, argue, and work with the data that they receive. Another issue is around data validity. Folks in our space need to be able to prove how sound our analytics is. For example, with recruiting technology, many organizations currently use AI and predictive analytics. Sometimes we lose certain attributes that can only be determined or observed by people during an on-site discussion. Data privacy and control is yet another concern with going mobile. Anyone who can get a hold of your phone can unlock it and gain access to the data. Another topic that comes to mind with going mobile is the centralization of data. We need to make sure that data comes from a single source of truth. Considering that we now have data warehouses, we need to ensure that everyone is using the same set of data.

"We need to value our talent and focus on nurturing and growing them within the organization"

Furthermore, data management and governance are two other issues that need to be addressed. We have to make sure that all the sources of data observe the same practices to ensure data integrity and security. Last but not least, it is the concern around data maturity. We need to have the ability to provide data and be able to track its entire history; as to where it came from and its usage; before we can use the data for predictive analytics.  

3.  Please elaborate on the challenges that organizations will need to address related to HRMS space.

Having a single source of truth is very important and is a big challenge. It plays a significant role in building the employees’ profile. In my organization, we were able to achieve a fully integrated system that supports the employee life cycle from entry to exit. We have all the modules within one platform; that includes recruiting, applicant tracking, onboarding, payroll, benefits, performance and learning management, among others. These are also integrated with external systems for time management and background checks. So, the value that a fully integrated system brings is that it uses the same set of data. Whenever we need to scrub the data, update it, or manage it, it comes from one place.  We also have a close partnership and collaboration with our IT department to ensure that the workforce data that we provide is accurate and useful. Our CEO John Buckley envisions “One Wilbur-Ellis;” we are a total of four subsidiaries under one holding company. We always look for ways to support that initiative and ensure that we have one governance, one culture, and one language when we use data.

Data literacy is another challenge; especially for us as we are moving toward completing our 100th year in the marketplace. We will always have different levels of data literacy—based on how people access, utilize, and read data—and it will always be a challenge to support the data required make and justify business decisions.

As mentioned before, data privacy and control are also huge concerns, especially with the sophistication of hackers out there. It seems like no matter what we do, they always have new tricks. So, as an organization, the only thing we can do is put together a policy and build an infrastructure around it to protect ourselves.

As we have been in the industry for almost a century, data maturity is also a growing concern. Considering that we have inherited decades-old systems and data, we need to be mindful of the validity of the data.  We need to ensure that the right data is coming from the right sources, using the right systems while making business decisions. We eventually want to be a data-driven organization where data is embedded into all business processes and decisions. As they say, “No data, it didn’t happen.”

Lastly, I can see another challenge concerning talent. We need to value our talent and focus on nurturing and growing them within the organization. We have developed programs and are consciously working on diversity and inclusion, to make sure that each employee thrives in the organization.  

4.  What are the major tasks for organizational CIOs at this point?

The primary task for CIOs today would be to attract talent who are good storytellers and acknowledge the importance of education, communication, and collaboration between data scientists or analyst and business experts. CIOs must also work on creating a central place for the data to breakdown the silos, make everyone use the same resource, and ensure that they use the same language across the enterprise. One other thing that I can see as a task is ensuring that there is data and systems’ governance that all departments within a company must enforce, apply, and follow.

5.  How do you see the evolution of the space a few years from now, concerning disruptions and transformations within HRMS?

An increasing number of companies will start using innovative technologies such as AI and predictive analytics. However, I think that the soft side of HR will still have the upper hand. Meaning, regardless of what technologies are in place or what it has to offer, I think HR professionals will always use them as a tool and not as the primary deciding factor.

6.  What is your advice for budding technologists in the HRMS space?

Similar to the world of automobiles, the HRMS industry has many luxury brands and other mediocre ones as well. My team’s advice is to not focus on the brand name but join any company or a systems provider—small or big—for the exposure and the network it has to offer alongside the opportunity to learn something new.

I would personally advise people to not be easily impressed by the bells and whistles of new technologies and its capabilities. No matter what, you must assess the tools, validate its usefulness, and check if it aligns with your organizations’ goals and culture. You can have the most powerful and sophisticated system in place, but if it is not being used to its fullest potential, then it is useless.

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