The current business climate is loaded with HR challenges. With continued high unemployment, HR teams must sift through a barrage of applicants for any job posting. Employees are wary, having seen friends and colleagues laid off, so they need to know that HR also is identifying growth paths. And with companies leaner than ever, when new hires do come on board, HR needs to make sure that they become acclimated and productive quickly.
Amid all this activity, HR teams also are under pressure to focus on more than one-time transactions-hire, promote, fire-and instead improve employee development more broadly. Some businesses are finding their legacy HR systems may not be up to meeting these challenges. In the same way that ERP systems were bolstered with sales-force automation, e-commerce, and business intelligence systems, conventional HR systems are being surrounded by systems that aid in recruiting, retention, compensation management, training, "onboarding" new employees, and talent analysis.
These tools go by a range of names, such as human capital man&discHyphen;agement and talent management, and they may or may not be integrated with existing HR systems. Top executives and directors need to be aware of this broad trend and make sure HR and IT teams, along with line-of business leaders, are moving ahead together to meet new demands.
These new products that expand on conventional HR systems share some traits. First is that they're increasingly delivered in a software-as-a-service model, though many also provide a behind-the-firewall option. Second, while many started as point products to solve one HR problem, they're increasingly being pitched as suites, promising to let businesses choose the functionality they want-for example, just performance management for tracking employee reviews-but with the option to expand.
The vendors also are trying to figure out how to make social networking part of the HR and recruiting mix. The potential's there for reaching out to new candidates and engaging employees, but there's a lot of work left to do to make social networking an effective HR tool.
Download the Oct. 2010 issue of InformationWeek Boardroom Journal