Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Authoria’s European Regional Customer Round Table

For a number of years, I’ve tended to believe that given the time and cost required to implement HR systems, organisations should generally focus on implementing the HCM modules of their ERP systems to the fullest extent, and then supplement this with particular best of breed / point solutions to provided additional functionality in areas which are important to them (ie fit with their individual HCM strategy).

For those organisations which need to purchase point solutions in performance management, compensation or recruitment, Authoria may provide a good choice. However, I am slowly coming round to the view that a using an integrated HCM suite in preference to the HCM functions of an ERP system may increasingly provide an appropriate approach. And Authoria looks like a very good best here.

This isn’t just my opinion: Authoria recently came top in HR Technology conference’s integrated recruitment and performance management shootout (and their performance and compensation shootout in 2005).

The Forrester Wave: Integrated Performance and Compensation Solutions, Q3 2007, also notes that Authoria, together with Softscape and SuccessFactors, are leaders in this space, due to their "deeper product functionality and inherent integration capabilities":

"Authoria provides strong performance and compensation features across the
suite, particularly in the areas of succession planning, and provides a very
rich User Interface with embedded tutorials and wizards."

So yesterday, I attended Authoria’s European roundtable meeting. Their CEO, Tod Loofbourrow did a great job of explaining the benefits of integration, describing clients which have used this functionality, being able to identify who is performing, how to get more people like this, and from the other direction, which sources of talent produce people who can perform well over time.

One of Tod's examples was Pepsi Americas (one of the drink's major bottlers). The point that the 'rubber hits the road' in this business is product placement in the retail stores. So if one of the company's representatives notices that the store is near a local University, they need to be able to suggest that the store may want to stock more high caffeine drinks to help the students through their exams. So it's important that the company's truck drivers are able to talk to the store owners, and for this they need well developed social skills. This implies a very different set of competencies, which can be managed through integrated systems spanning performance management and reward. Authoria's extension into recruitment is another plus as the bottler can also benefit by linking the truck driver competencies into their recruitment systems.

And what about using the ERP system to do some of this? Well, Tod's perspective is that there is a greater requirement to share data across the front office: the various elements of HCM functionality (recruitment, performance management and compensation), than there is between these elements and the back office: the data contained in the ERP system.

And now that HR can integrate automated HCM processes in this way, Tod believes that “there is no fundamental reason that HR cannot be the most strategic function within the business”. I agree with this vision, and that integrated HCM technology can be an enabler towards this goal, but I think that a lot more is required too, which I’ll try to explain in my next post.