What you need to know before you begin...

...more to come :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Case Study #8 Response


You are an HR Generalist/Recruiter for a small for-profit organization and you have been invited to demo Taleo Business Edition as a potential recruiting solution for your organization. You discover that Taleo was brought in because they are a partner of Paychex, your current payroll vendor. You didn't know that there was a need for a recruiting solution since you're not that busy. How do you approach this demo?


Luckily, at this point I would have an HRM Certification from UC Berkeley under my belt and through the HR Systems and Technology course, I would have learned that the key to implementing any technology solution is ensuring that the system addresses the need/ problem at hand. With the scenario above, Taleo is being sought out simply because it integrates with other current systems - not because it meets the need and addresses the issues at hand.

With that said, the first thing I would do is get more background as to why this demo was sought. Who is the driver behind this demo internally? What current state issues have led to the demo? What do they hope to solve with the implementation?

Answers to these questions will help me to understand why we are where we are. The next step is to offer my knowledge to help try and help influence next steps. Perhaps a recruiting system is warranted for future growth and if a system is being sought, integration with current systems is definitely a plus. But if the need is to solve issues with current payroll processes, I would try and influence the project sponsor with that information.

As the subject mater expert for the recruiting function, I can share my experience with recruiting volumes and the current state process, citing that there are no issues with current procedures and that current workloads do not warrant the purchase of a system that does not meet an existing need. The next step is to then consult with payroll to determine what the issues are. Perhaps we are in the need of an HRIS system? 

If the need is not necessarily issues with current payroll processes, perhaps seeing the demo is warranted. If the system meets the exact needs that help to feed Paychex the information it needs, perhaps this situation can turn into a win-win. I can document areas in the current recruiting process that could use some 'sprucing up', and come to the demo with that information. I can ensure it meets my needs, is viable for the needs of the recruiters, and can go above and beyond in regards to its offerings.

Ultimately, I would approach the demo depending upon the findings of the exploration into the reasons for he demo. I could use the situation to my advantage and make a win-win scenario, or I could save the organization from a costly mistake, literally. The key is information...after all, It's All About The Data!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

The keys to a successful problem solution implementation...

Assuming that the problem solution implementation is a technology based solution, I would identify the following as some of the core keys to success:

1) Involve the right people

An implementation is only as successful as the end users deem it to be. So involve them! Subject matter experts from the business should be involved from the start, from documenting needs and the existing process to UAT and train he trainer sessions.

Additionally project sponsor(s) should be involved at all stages of the process as the project sponsor is the liaison between the executives and the success of the program.

IT, both in-house and from the vendor should obviously be involved at all stages.


Testing the implemented process from start to finish is critical to ensuring success of the system. From making sure the system addresses the problems it set out to meet and ensuring system access and security is correct, to ensuring basics like system functionality and links work - UAT is critical to the success of ANY implementation.

3) Communication!

Communication with project stakeholders helps to set up expectations and helps to address questions before they become questions. Pre-implementation communication including system functionality, system overviews and anticipated time lines are critical. Post-implementation communications like FAQ's, support logistics, and ongoing updates ensure that users know the support is there from the top down and that the implementation is being driven and supported from the top down.

4) Post Implementation Support

Utilizing the tools in the communication plan is important, but for a large, enterprise level implementation, having a support plan in place is critical. Who will answer questions? How will questions be addressed? Who will provide on the floor support if needed?

While these are just a portion of an overall successful implementation, the caveat is just that...we are at the implementation stage of the process. So many moving parts must be effectively managed and brought together just to get to the implementation stage but once there, keeping the 4 points above in mind will surely help to ensure overall success.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


**Caveat: Keep reading because this blog DOES have a technology twist!!

First, I work for a great organization. They provide one additional PAID day off per year dubbed a, "civic day", which is basically a paid vacation day you can use for any volunteer experience you choose - from volunteering at your church to spending a day helping out at your child's school. Well, this weekend I chose to spend my volunteer day doing something I do every year - volunteering at Camp Okizu, a place for children and families affected by childhood cancer.

This camp is WAY up in the hills past Oroville (for those of you who know where that is). At night, open your tent to see a field FULL of roaming deer the size of a VW Bug. And deer are not the top of the food chain. The bottom line is that, while the camp has electricity and running water, it isn't a place for TV's and X-Boxes. It is a place when children and their families can come to escape the hardships of the realities of their world for a weekend free of charge to them. Everything is provided - food, drinks, housing, showers. During the day us counselors take the kids and just play. Play for plays sake. No worries in the world for the 3 days dedicated to play.

Now organizations like this do not survive easily. They rely on gracious donations and funding that is geared to help programs like these survive because they provide crucial services. The weekend goes on, we sing, we make s'mores, we build campfires - we even weave friendship bracelets and fish in the little pond down the dirt walkway.

What happens at the end of the weekend as we look back on the fun times had and the memories shared? A shout out to technology! Mercedes-Benz is giving back to the community via a program they call 'Commuity Stars'. Their tagline, "Bright ideas deserve to shine. Help us find the best and the brightest", is the forefront to the $25,000 they are offering to the organization with the most votes! So we ended camp with a call to arms (of sorts) urging all families and volunteers to go to www.vote.okizu.org to help the organization win $25,000 they so rightfully deserve.

So if you are reading this, click the link. Go online and vote for Okizu (will take you to a FaceBook interface to vote). So get out there and make a difference using technology. Just one more example of how technology is making the world smaller.

A review of success metrics from Week 1...

My success metrics from week 1 were broken down into three major buckets - all of which were addressed...AND THEN SOME.

1) A better understanding of the current state of the industry
  • I know a dozen + more software solutions now than I did coming in, including:
    • Zoho
    • Jobvite
    • Success Factors
  • I feel like I have a much better understanding of the current state of the industry but what has become likely more important is that I have a better understanding of the future state of he industry. That is, what we are going, not where we have been. And that is an important designation because technology is changing the way we do business - and the way we support them too.
2) Insight into specific technologies
  • Well, let's start with the obvious. Twitter and Blogger are two resources I had NEVER used pre HR Tech, and now, I'm 14 blogs in and at least another 25 tweets on top of that! Exposure, experience and education are worth their weight in gold.
3) Learning from the experiences of others
  • Be it the demos or be it the classroom discussion - learning from others has been a critical part of this certification program. You learn what others are doing, the experiences they have had, and even some insight to the things they have done (which ultimately ends up sparking hundreds of ideas in my mind as to how I can solve a problem or a software/ solution I should explore). The great thing about that is that I'm only halfway through the certification program! The downside?? I'm only halfway through the program... :-)

What I learned on 10/12 and whats to come 10/19...

10/12 brought on more software knowledge, including demos from yours truly (Taleo and LinkedIn Recruiter). New on the plate was software demo'ed (if that is a word) called 'DevonWay'. DevonWay provides many software solutions to multiple organizations spanning multiple industries and needs, but what we learned is that if you are a nuclear power plant and need to track regulatory safety reporting, then DevonWay has a product for you. And 99% of the rest of the industry is probably already using it!

For 10/19, I'm very excited to get to know more about Workday. With solid foundings and a history of success in its short lifespan, I'm eager to see what this solution has to offer. But for now, back to preparing for my class presentation and trying to ace this course exam!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Case Study #6 Response


You are new to HR and have been hired on as an HR assistant. Your company is doing well and wants to invest money in technology. You have been asked by your boss to research HR systems as a way to develop your skills. How do you approach this request?


The first step in any technology solution is to first, understand the problem that you are solving for. Without knowing the problem, it is impossible to find a solution that meets the needs and addresses the concern. With that said, my first step would be to have a brainstorming session with my boss (since he/she is likely considered the project sponsor in this case) to find out from his/her perspective, what things in the current process need improvement, or in other words, where are our pain points? Through the brainstorming session, we could articulate the current issues and utilize process mapping exercises to gain a step-by-step understanding of current processes to help us identify questions like:

  • Who are we solving this problem for? (HR? Employees? Managers?) 
  • Who are the primary stakeholders involved?
  • What’s the nature of the current gaps? (Communication? Process? Knowledge?)

Once our problem is identified and we have a better understanding of the problem at hand we’d like to target, the next step is to create a formal project charter to keep the project on track and to ensure things like ‘scope creep’ do not go un-addressed. In addition, we would want to know things up-front to ensure that there are no real ‘knock-out’ questions, like:

  • Does the deliver model matter? (SaaS vs In-House?)
  • If a technology solution is the option, what is the cost ceiling?
  • Do we have the in-house IT backing to support the solution?
  • Is there integration required? Customization?

Once the charter is designed, I’d present it to my boss to ensure that we are on the same page in terms of expectations and results.

The last step is to execute the research outlined in the charter to be able to articulate potential solutions and why they are viable. Whether it is the ‘do nothing solution’ or outsourcing, to a SaaS solution or an In-House suite vendor, the results will be well defined and will identify the strengths and weaknesses when looked at as the solution to the problem. If available, demos of the software will have been completed as well to ensure viability of the solution. My ultimate goal would be to provide a comprehensive view of potential solutions to provide an accurate picture of the benefits, costs, and even short-comings to be able to independently assess the merits of each solution as well as to present a look into the future of the organization and where the solution might play into the growth strategy and future stages of where we are, and where we would like to be. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What I learned on 10/5 and what I look forward to on 10/12...

Today was filled with two primary buckets of information...SuccessFactors and the HR Technology Conference...both great learning opportunities!

If there is one thing I will take a way from this class, it is a better understanding of many players in today's technology game - from HR Strategy to Social Media. SuccessFactors, as a suite vendor, was a very interesting demo to see (especially as a user of Taleo). They are fundamentally different in their deliver model, but similar in their product offerings and the problems that they try to solve for organizations. I enjoyed seeing the approaches SuccessFactors especially when compared to Taleo. The use of modules are readily apparent in both, but Taleo feels a bit more segregated when it comes to the interaction of the overall platform. Both have ditched the antiquated look of the 'PeopleSoft' UI, but personally, Taleo's 'eye-candy' appeal tops that of SuccessFactors (again...personally :).

What I learned after though kind of trumps all demos, which is, for every one vendor for any particular solution, there are likely a dozen others out there to consider. And dozens-squared opinions as well. Companies like Knowledge Infusion won't be going away anytime soon (consulting companies that take a look at these issues for organizations from an 'outsider looking in perspective' to provide their suggestions to the issues at hand). The Tech Conference seemed to be a data dump of the movement in the HR technology space today...and what companies like FaceBook foresee the future to look like. Full of shiny objects and confident sales people, the sky is the limit for what the future holds...but the key is, and will always be, what best solves the PROBLEM at hand?

For next week, I still look forward to grilling someone at Taleo and hearing what they have to offer :). So more to come.