Thursday, November 26, 2009

HR Software and the “Halo Effect”

As I am reminded of all I have to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, including the ultimate sacrifice made by the Turkey situated before me, I am also reminded of the old axiom – “one man’s meat is another man’s poison.” So how on earth does this relate to the Halo Effect?

Here’s how …

The Halo Effect, or when positive traits are over-emphasized to the point of not being objective about negative traits, is one of the potential pitfalls of the HR profession. Recruiters who get caught-up in a candidate’s positive physical appearance, energy level or even specific competencies might have a tendency to look beyond certain gaps the candidate also presents, or decide not to aggressively try to surface those gaps. In this situation, the Halo Effect helps the candidate (meat) but can very easily hurt the organization (poison).

There is perhaps another set of circumstances impacting the HR profession that has this quality of duality, namely, the Halo Effect that often applies to procuring HR Solutions. For decades we have witnessed customer organizations generously ascribing business benefits to the virtues of particular HR Technology solutions, when in-fact HR data and process standardization, well defined transaction processing rules, and any reasonably robust “System of Record” might be accounting for many of the business benefits they are enjoying.

Throw-in providing real-time access to data over the web, employee / manager self-service, reporting tools and the 4 “abilities” being adequately represented … i.e., configurability, scalability, usability and inter-operability … and one could argue that 70+% of the benefits of HR Technology investments will be achieved irrespective of the particular HCM solution being deployed!

So, on this Thanksgiving … the 388th Thanksgiving since the autumn of 1621 when the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag celebrated the colony's first successful harvest … the purveyors of HR-ERP’s and Talent Management solutions should maybe pause to exercise some humility … realizing there may not be that much difference in “business impact” generated by one proven solution over another.

Arguably, a lot of the business benefits customers derive from their HR Technology offerings (e.g., cost savings or efficiency gains, better data for workforce decisions, improved employee productivity, retention and engagement) may have less to do with incremental features and functions of the solution than with the foundational work the customer does to usher in its new technology investment (process, data and business rules standardization) – coupled with the business and technology foresight already reflected in the vendor’s early releases.

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