Wednesday 29 August 2012

SumTotal & the Definitive Guide to Strategic Human Capital Management


   So Tom Peter’s manifesto is a bit ‘Jurassic Park’ apparently.  Well, I wouldn’t go that far but I did say myself it was far from new.

I’ve been thinking whether there is anything else I can offer you, other than the assembled thinking in this blog, my book etc, which will provide more valuable insight, and so have been taking a look at SumTotal’s ‘Definitive Guide’ to Strategic HCM which came out earlier this year (I think).

And I’ve been so annoyed by what I’ve been reading that I’ve been driven back to my blog.

The first paragraph starts off OK:

“In the realm of human capital management, there’s a new wave of thinking about what it means to be strategic and drive workforce effectiveness.  Riding the leading edge of this wave are the savvy human resources executives, driving their organizations with a forward-thinking, strategic and integrated approach to human capital management. This new wave is commonly known as Strategic Human Capital Management (HCM).”


But it doesn’t take long before the white paper looses the plot:

“At its core, Strategic HCM enables a whole set of so-called “cross-process” workflows, such as integrating recruiting and onboarding or pay-for-performance.  They are cross process because they span the classic silos of HR to provide a more efficient, effective approach to human capital management.”


I’m absolutely not arguing that HCM doesn’t require or enable integration (I can easily evidence the fact that I’m a big fan of this approach and of the use of technology to support it).  And there’s nothing wrong with SumTotal’s suggestions for typical cross-process flows (pictured).  But to try to define HCM in this way misses out on most of what is important in the approach.

At it’s core, Strategic HCM has nothing to do with process workflows at all.  Strategic HCM is about what it says on the tin – strategic management concerning human capital.  Tom Peters was absolutely right – human capital (but not training) really does need to be the top priority.

The other thing people get wrong of course is thinking that this means it’s management of people as human capital (yuck) whereas it’s really about managing people for human capital – creating this capability as a basis for organisational success and transformation.

Strategic HCM is about outcome, not about process / activity.

Yes, once you’re clear about what outcome you need to create it’s easier to identify the processes which will support this, and it’s also easier to define an integrated set of processes this way.

But processes (and by extension, technology) definitely aren’t the core.

So if you’re looking for the definitive guide to strategic human capital management, drop this and the other white papers, and continue reading here.  I know I’ve been a bit quite over the Summer but there’s loads more great insights coming your way soon.  Keep reading!


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