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Old HR technology

Signs it’s time to invest in new HR software

HR technology – everyone uses it, everyone needs it. But how do you know if the systems and processes you use to manage HR, payroll and workforce management are still fit for purpose?

According to Moore’s Law, the number of chips on a silicon chip doubles every 18 months. Kryder’s Law, meanwhile, states the rate of development within computer storage is even faster. Neither of which might seem relevant within the context of payroll software or HR technology. But that’s where appearances can be deceiving.

Both those examples prove the same thing: technology of all kinds is moving at a rate that has long-since outpaced the average person, with even governments and tech companies struggling to keep up. The urban myth of two Facebook chatbots that were shut down after inventing their own language is a case in point. That particular decision wasn’t really based on fears that an existential threat to humanity had been unwittingly unleashed, Terminator-style. However, it does show that technology is now advanced enough to make logical leaps in ways the creators – us – may not have anticipated. Put simply, then, we all have to play catch up at some point, whether we are tech boffins or not.

Enough digressions, what all this means is that as companies grow increasingly reliant on technology – whether for workforce management or stock orders – the chances of firms also becoming outmoded, perhaps without even realising it, grows by the day.

The downsides of using HR software that’s no longer fit for purpose are pretty obvious. Efficiency will drop, accuracy and effectiveness falter, and mistakes occur, many of which cost time and money. But what are the key signs management tools need updating?

For starters let’s look at the impact on people. Are senior staff members spending more time on administrative duties than, say, a year ago? If so, why? What’s morale and loyalty like at ground level? Constant issues with wage delivery or rostering can easily lead to malaise and resentment, and problems retaining the best people.

Other red flags are more obvious to spot. Anyone still using Excel spreadsheets and printouts for any kind of workforce management needs to take serious heed: not only are print-outs bad for the environment, data entry leads to constant errors and time wasted on a menial task.

Just as important, are planned internal and external changes. Is major expansion in the pipeline? Are there any political situations hanging in the balance that could make it difficult to adapt later, without solid HR technology in place? Ignoring any of these triggers can prove detrimental, and not just in terms of wasted money.

“It’s hard to put a figure on it as it varies between companies,” Andrew Northcott, founder of HR software specialist Roubler, replies when we ask about the cost of failing to upgrade HR technology in time.

“But it’s important to understand that the costs aren’t just purely financial – outmoded HR tech that is no longer fit for purpose can be damaging to morale, increase staff attrition, and therefore increase hiring costs, and lose you thousands in productivity.”

Don’t think this simply means overhauling every aspect of workforce management at once, though. That could overcomplicate and inflate the associated investment beyond what’s actually needed. Like most things in business, pragmatism is vital.

“Businesses need to think about what works and what doesn’t and build a list of attributes based on those factors, taking into account what they will need five years from now, not just today,” Northcott continues.

“They also need to think beyond replacing single platforms and look at integrated, all-in-one systems as they drastically cut down costs in terms of APIs, maintenance, training, and ongoing subscription fees.”

These aren’t the only points to take into consideration, either. While the benefits of a successful upgrade of HR technology are huge – from future-proofing to ensuring the company is in line with payroll legislation and regulations regarding conditions of work – updating doesn’t come without pressure. Hence fears surrounding the unsuccessful implementation of new payroll software are very real.

“Despite positivity from directors, cost and downtime during the implementation phase are very common concerns,” says Northcott.

“A great software company will ensure this is completed with as little interruption as possible. Although upfront costs can be a barrier, the long-term savings far outweigh the initial investment.”


Words: Richard Trenchard.


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