Organizations are always looking to technology to cut costs and simplify processes. But the right HR solution can also save overworked HR professionals an enormous amount of time otherwise spent on mundane tasks. The trick, however, is making sure that a time-saving device is properly deployed, leveraged and maintained. Here's how to make some extra time for a much-deserved coffee break every now and then.
1. Desktop search engines: It's not the sexiest-sounding technology around, but the right desktop search engine can help you find what you're looking for in seconds flat. The desktops of most HR professionals hold thousands of files. Fortunately, desktop search engines such as those from Google, AltaVista, Yahoo! and Amazon.com can help you unearth hidden files, hard-to-find emails, long-lost photos and browser history records in just minutes. The best part is, many HR professionals already have access to desktop search engines and don't even know it. According to Morgan Chmara, an analyst at Info-Tech Research Group, "Quite often these search functions already exist in many HR systems and can be downloaded to the local desktop."
2. Web 2.0 technologies: Web 2.0 technologies, such as social networking sites, wikis and blogs, are helping today's HR professionals perform fast-paced feats from tapping into talent pools to encouraging greater collaboration among disparate departments. By leveraging the high-speed and instant connectivity of the Internet, Web 2.0 technologies are letting HR personnel complete traditionally time-consuming tasks in half the time. What's more, Web 2.0 tools such as blogs and wikis let HR professionals easily publish information to employees, from product updates to the latest market trends, ensuring real-time knowledge transfer and information dissemination.
"HR professionals are leveraging Web 2.0 and all that it has to offer, especially in the arena of recruiting for HR," said Chmara. "You can access a lot more candidates through some of these social networking venues than you can through the classic job boards."
3. Time and attendance tools: Sifting through paper-based time sheets can eat up an enormous amount of time and energy. A Web-based, automated time and attendance solution, however, can gather attendance data and integrate this information into a payroll application in mere minutes. Not only can employees clock in remotely, but HR professionals can avoid making the human errors that often occur during lengthy data-entry sessions.
4. Proper deployment: Finding the right HR solution is one thing. Deploying it properly is a different ballgame. If you're hoping to leverage a solution to expedite HR processes, Brad Everett, executive director of EquaTerra's HR practice, said you must "more efficiently deploy the software that [you've] made investments in." After all, technical glitches accruing from poorly rolled out applications will not only bog down your IT department, but drastically slow down HR activities.
5. SaaS versus on-premise: Purchasing an HR solution, such as time and attendance, on a subscription basis rather than overseeing an on-premise implementation can certainly get the ball rolling a lot faster. But Chmara warned that today's highly popular SaaS (Software as a Service) model won't necessarily deliver faster results. "It all depends on your IT infrastructure," she said. "Because SaaS relies on the Web, if there's a problem with your Internet or with the vendor's server at that moment, then having a solution in-house could actually be faster."
6. Updating, upgrading and maintaining: Yesteryear's solutions may have helped HR professionals save time, but even HR applications require spring-cleaning. Legacy systems with age-old features and outdated functionality only slow down HR processes and should be replaced with modern-day equivalents. And solutions that aren't ready to be tossed should be regularly updated and upgraded "to make them really work effectively and meet a company's business needs," Everett said.
7. Employee training: An HR solution is only as effective as the individual using it, so make sure employees are offered plenty of technical training and support. "You could spend thousands of dollars implementing the technology, but if nobody knows what it is or how to use it, it's not going to help anybody," warned Chmara. Seminars, online courses and one-on-one coaching are all ways of teaching HR professionals how to make the most of a time-saving application.
The Bottom Line
Technology can be more than computers and phone systems in your company. The right tools can help your HR department streamline processes and improve efficiency. Before investing in an HR technology tool, however, be sure you completely understand its purpose and how to correctly deploy it. Nothing is more aggravating - and time wasting - than spending money on a technology solution that you can't properly use.
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