Simplification: The Next Trend?

Simplification – the next trend?

In the 1970s and 1980s, many organisations had what was known as a “machine room”. In this room would be a row of machines like giant typewriters at which operators would sit and type data onto large coloured cards. In this way, the organisation's ledgers were kept.

Where are the machine rooms and operators now? Many were subsumed by IT departments over time, but now, of course, qualified finance professionals manipulate the figures on their own laptops.

So, what’s my point? Well, simply that things – er – get simpler.

Over the past decade we have seen a fairly steady acceleration in the complexity and functionality in HR software, Payroll software and HRIS in general, and particularly in the HR offerings. The result is that many applications need either an army to feed them to ensure optimisation of functionality, or the departmental practitioners need a First in mathematics to extract meaningful reports.

Anecdotal evidence from our consulting colleagues suggests that although the buyers are becoming a lot more "savvy" than previously, they continue to be frustrated by either the complexity or the inflexibility of their software.

However, one now senses a new wind blowing through the industry, and with very good reason.

Over time, the size and numbers of HR and Payroll departments has been reducing, and continuing recession has had the effect of hastening the process. In actual fact, HR probably stands on the edge of a major transformation (much as occurred in IT), signalled by the drastic reduction of administration and HR interventions through technology.

New applications are emerging that assist line management with policy and best practice on demand, and a significant number of software vendors now offer back up services that are not far short of outsourced solutions.

The future focus of HR may well lie with fewer and more experienced professionals, some perhaps not being permanent employees. Without traditional numbers of HR administrators to service it, software will need to pick up the slack and facilitate speedy assimilation and presentation of management and related data. Consultancy and installation times will need to be reduced, as clients will not have the resource – or appetite – to deal with prolonged implementations; hitherto chargeable consultancy items such as Data importation and Organisational configuration will increasingly be done in house by practitioners who know what they are doing.

It has been quite apparent that a handful of vendors are already going “back to basics” with a view to making installation, implementation and user interfaces quicker, easier and more intuitive, without sacrificing quality of data, functionality or reporting.

10 years ago, I described the dream of selecting software in the morning, purchasing and implementing after lunch and running it by mid-afternoon. That moment is getting ever closer, and the “machine room” had better take heed.

 Denis W Barnard






HR software

Payroll software