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6/22/2011
06:01 PM
Jake Widman
Jake Widman
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8 Great Collaboration Tools For HR

In the era of the "social enterprise," collaborative activities can make a big difference not only in HR efficiency but in employee satisfaction. Take a look at these eight leading HR platforms and examples of what their collaboration features have done for other companies.




Human resources is all about people and how they interact with each other and with the enterprise at large. At the same time, tools for business collaboration and communication over networks are becoming increasingly important. So it is no surprise that HR software has seen a lot of growth in collaboration-oriented features. Vendors of software for businesses from SMBs to the largest enterprises, in formats from hosted cloud services to installed platforms, are embracing social business functions and extending the ways their software enables collaboration.

This is especially true as businesses increasingly rely on remote and mobile workers. "HR departments need more analytical and self-service tools to give their employees, not just for empowerment but to run the business in a smoother, more efficient way," says Yu Yu Din, digital marketing manager for Global Groupware Solutions, maker of the Google App EmployWise. "With smartphones, notebooks, and increased telecom density, anyone practically can be in an office without being inside a physical office--hence the need for more collaborative HR solutions that will help those who are always on-the-go."

Collaborative functions in HR software take many forms. One goal is to involve more people in recruiting and on-boarding. HR software can manage and streamline the process of posting jobs and reviewing resumes. These applications also can improve training and access to learning resources. Many platforms feature learning and training modules to enable ongoing employee development.

As more companies build a distributed workforce, HR software also can make sure that key applications based in one location can be accessed from other locations. That's especially true for information about the company. By giving employees direct access to information, it can reduce demands on the HR staff. HR staff can spend a lot less time answering questions about policies and benefits, and it can free them up for more important tasks.

Another benefit comes in streamlining performance reviews and goal setting. Performance appraisals often require getting input from multiple sources, including peers, as well as an employee self-assessment, and these platforms provide tools for managing that process.

In the new era of the "social enterprise," these kinds of collaborative activities can make a big difference not only in HR efficiency but also in employee satisfaction. Here are eight of the top HR platforms and examples of what their collaboration features have done for other companies.

RECOMMENDED READING:

SAP Takes Tepid Step On Collaboration

WorkSimple Targeting Bigger Firms With Social Goals Tool

Don't Forget Users When Deploying New Collaboration Technology

Social Learning A Hit At Classic Residence

Businesses Shifting To 'Less Formal' Communication Methods

10 Steps To Mobile Worker Support

IBM Boosts Social Media Software, Services

HR And IT Take On New Talent Challenge


The Experts is an IT professional staffing company based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Founded 12 years ago, the company now has 13 offices around the country and works with about 600 contractors. The Experts use BrightMove, a SaaS system tailored for recruiting agencies, to keep track of their clients' needs and the internal "resource developers" who manage the contracts. "It's very helpful," says The Experts executive vice president Tim McLean. "We post all our requirements to Florida job boards. Through BrightMove, applicants can go to our portal and fill out an application form." But the system doesn't manage only Florida applicants. "Resource developers spend their time searching for candidates, on job boards, at career fairs, and so on. When they find a candidate, they import them into the database. A recruiter in Texas may find someone that a recruiter in Virginia can utilize." The bottom line, says McLean: "BrightMove allows us to work together as a cohesive unit. We can recruit on any position anywhere in the country."

RECOMMENDED READING:

SAP Takes Tepid Step On Collaboration

WorkSimple Targeting Bigger Firms With Social Goals Tool

Don't Forget Users When Deploying New Collaboration Technology

Social Learning A Hit At Classic Residence

Businesses Shifting To 'Less Formal' Communication Methods

10 Steps To Mobile Worker Support

IBM Boosts Social Media Software, Services

HR And IT Take On New Talent Challenge


Allina Health System, a network of hospitals and clinics in Minneapolis, installed Saba's "People Systems" software in 2005 in order to meet specific training goals. "When I was hired," says Allina senior business analyst Janice Watrous-McCabe, "it was as an e-learning designer, to put instructor-led training on line." As a health care provider, Allina's employees must undergo a good deal of mandatory training, having to do with compliance and OSHA issues; in addition, the network has its own Excellian project for keeping electronic medical records. In 2007, the group upgraded the software, and at that point started using its community and knowledge center features. "We're using it outside of formal training, for just-in-time training and communication of information inside a unit. For example, the surgical unit needed to review an IV flush technique. They made a video using a Flip camera demonstrating the technique, posted it to their unit's community, and now any nurse can review the video. Everybody affiliated with Allina, whether one of their 25,000 employee or one of the 14,000 affiliated health care providers, can access the Saba network. "Having Saba encourages communication across the system," says Watrous-McCabe. "And central use of resources encourages cross-fertilization of ideas."

RECOMMENDED READING:

SAP Takes Tepid Step On Collaboration

WorkSimple Targeting Bigger Firms With Social Goals Tool

Don't Forget Users When Deploying New Collaboration Technology

Social Learning A Hit At Classic Residence

Businesses Shifting To 'Less Formal' Communication Methods

10 Steps To Mobile Worker Support

IBM Boosts Social Media Software, Services

HR And IT Take On New Talent Challenge


Chiquita Brands International--the banana people--employs about 22,000 people worldwide, from farm workers to their managers to the executive staff. And of those, "maybe 4,500 to 5,000 are part of our Workday system," says Jeni Fitzpatrick, the company's human resources director, talent management. "Workday is being rolled out globally--we're about two years into the system's implementation, and about six months into the global rollout." Workday lets far-flung managers and Fitzpatrick's department collaborate in ways they couldn't before. "An employee's manager might be in Latin America, and that person's senior manager in North America. Before, to give the employee a salary increase and promotion, the manager would have had to find the right person with the right administrative contact. Now they can instigate the process on their own timeline, and there's much more of a dialog. "What we are able to do now is to get work done in the right time and in the right way," says Fitzpatrick.

RECOMMENDED READING:

SAP Takes Tepid Step On Collaboration

WorkSimple Targeting Bigger Firms With Social Goals Tool

Don't Forget Users When Deploying New Collaboration Technology

Social Learning A Hit At Classic Residence

Businesses Shifting To 'Less Formal' Communication Methods

10 Steps To Mobile Worker Support

IBM Boosts Social Media Software, Services

HR And IT Take On New Talent Challenge


Diane Johnston is the CEO of Workway, a national staffing agency. "We have about 33 people in total, with 20 to 25 of them in the field doing sales and recruiting in branch offices," she says. Workway adopted Bullhorn, web-based software for staffing agencies, in 2007. "All our members can log on and share candidates and clients," says Johnston. "It's like a CRM tool--in fact, we use it as our sales software as well. And because it's Web-based, we can get on from anywhere." The software handles email and job posting as well as letting the employees share information. "When we have a job opening, we can enter it into Bullhorn, click a box, and post it on our website," Johnston says. "And one of the best parts about the email function is the archiving feature--we can find any message since we first installed the software."

RECOMMENDED READING:

SAP Takes Tepid Step On Collaboration

WorkSimple Targeting Bigger Firms With Social Goals Tool

Don't Forget Users When Deploying New Collaboration Technology

Social Learning A Hit At Classic Residence

Businesses Shifting To 'Less Formal' Communication Methods

10 Steps To Mobile Worker Support

IBM Boosts Social Media Software, Services

HR And IT Take On New Talent Challenge


Among LBi Software's suite of offerings is CaseManager, a help desk and workflow management software. Besides handling the flow of help requests, CaseManager creates a knowledgebase out of successfully answered questions and provides employees with a self-service portal for getting their questions answered. LBi's largest client, a multibillion-dollar manufacturer--which will remain nameless--with more than 100,000 employees, uses CaseManager to route calls to the proper resource and manage interaction between HR and employees. "The customer wanted to reduce the number of calls into their help desk by letting employees get the answers themselves so the HR staff could work on other, more strategic tasks," says senior product manager Scott Tiedemann. "As new questions get submitted, they get logged and tracked through the workflow until they're resolved. The customer service representative can assign the questions to a specialist and escalate it to managers if necessary." The answer can also be added to the knowledgebase for quicker service later. "The customer reduced calls the help desk staff and recouped their investment in under two and a half years," says Tiedemann.

RECOMMENDED READING:

SAP Takes Tepid Step On Collaboration

WorkSimple Targeting Bigger Firms With Social Goals Tool

Don't Forget Users When Deploying New Collaboration Technology

Social Learning A Hit At Classic Residence

Businesses Shifting To 'Less Formal' Communication Methods

10 Steps To Mobile Worker Support

IBM Boosts Social Media Software, Services

HR And IT Take On New Talent Challenge


SuccessFactors promotes its set of business software modules as a "Business Execution Suite." Last year, the company acquired the social business and collaboration software company CubeTree and integrated their product into its business suite. CubeTree creates a platform for social networking within an enterprise, enabling a news feed, blogs, wikis, polls, and other activities. For HR purposes, that can speed up the recruiting process by giving stakeholders an easy way to review resume and share their comments and opinions on candidates. Among the companies adopting CubeTree is publishing house Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, where employees use the software to find subject matter experts and share best practices. "SuccessFactors' CubeTree has rapidly established itself inside our enterprise," says CIO Paul Wilcox. "Employees tell me it's easier to find and connect with colleagues and gain insight into cross-functional activities. It's a wonderfully powerful tool."

RECOMMENDED READING:

SAP Takes Tepid Step On Collaboration

WorkSimple Targeting Bigger Firms With Social Goals Tool

Don't Forget Users When Deploying New Collaboration Technology

Social Learning A Hit At Classic Residence

Businesses Shifting To 'Less Formal' Communication Methods

10 Steps To Mobile Worker Support

IBM Boosts Social Media Software, Services

HR And IT Take On New Talent Challenge


Before adopting Taleo talent management software, Australia's Hutchison Telecoms (aka the "3" mobile phone carrier) sent candidate resumes around by email. "We were effectively doubling our workload," says Steve Reid, the company's head of HR & Organization Capability. With Taleo, though, recruiters and hiring managers can track information about candidates in real time. "The communication between us and candidates is much faster," says Reid. "We're now seeing a much quicker time to hire." Taleo is helping not only with recruitment and hiring, but with retention. "We also want to ensure we're giving people opportunities for career growth so that they stay with us for longer," Reid says. To that end, the company uses Taleo to provide greater visibility of internal opportunities. With the software, 3 has managed to increase the number of people it hires directly--as opposed to through an agency--from 65% to 80%. And since the company had found that agency hires were three times more likely to leave within a year than direct hires, they've managed to reduce turnover as well.

RECOMMENDED READING:

SAP Takes Tepid Step On Collaboration

WorkSimple Targeting Bigger Firms With Social Goals Tool

Don't Forget Users When Deploying New Collaboration Technology

Social Learning A Hit At Classic Residence

Businesses Shifting To 'Less Formal' Communication Methods

10 Steps To Mobile Worker Support

IBM Boosts Social Media Software, Services

HR And IT Take On New Talent Challenge


According to Rodney Smoczyk, PHR, CDR at EDG Consulting Engineers, their talent management software has enabled his company to cut hiring time in half. "Posting to hiring used to take 45 to 60 days; we can now do it in 20 to 30 days. For one thing, time from submission of resume to interview used to be a week or two, because of passing around the resume and collecting comments. We can now get that done in a day," he says. The company uses HRsmart to handle the routing and commenting process. "If I like an applicant, I can route their resume with highlights and notes," Smoczyk explains. "The system tracks comments and notes and stores them with the resume." Later, he can search resumes in the system, including the notes stored with them. "It speeds the process up immensely." EDG also will soon start using HRsmart for performance appraisals. "The employee can do a self-evaluation, and the manager can do an evaluation, and they can look at them side by side." Since HRsmart is delivered as a service, the comparison can happen from different locations. In remote environments, they can both look at them from anywhere.

RECOMMENDED READING:

SAP Takes Tepid Step On Collaboration

WorkSimple Targeting Bigger Firms With Social Goals Tool

Don't Forget Users When Deploying New Collaboration Technology

Social Learning A Hit At Classic Residence

Businesses Shifting To 'Less Formal' Communication Methods

10 Steps To Mobile Worker Support

IBM Boosts Social Media Software, Services

HR And IT Take On New Talent Challenge

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