HR manager working at her computer

INDUSTRY INSIGHT

How talent management tools can improve HR

In the public sector, there's constant pressure to increase efficiency, accountability, transparency and alignment of systems – from data centers to mobile apps. Not surprisingly then, human resource managers are also turning to software to help them better manage human capital.

Talent management tools usually address four main areas of personnel management: recruitment,  performance management,  development and compensation. While reducing the time and cost involved in administering and running these HR processes, talent management software helps improve program effectiveness and delivers a number strategic benefits:

Time savings. By automating an agency's human resources processes and forms, talent management software saves time.

Typically talent management software lets HR managers administer the entire process, including configuration of workflow forms, from an online tool. Everything is centrally managed so updates to processes or forms are automatically rolled out and enforced.

The software also manages the handoff of tasks and data from one person to the next, so HR doesn't waste time chasing down forms and signatures. And regular reports give managers a real-time view of the status of every step and form in the process, so they can take action as appropriate.

Configurable automated email reminders and task lists let everyone know what they need to do, and by when. Managers and employees don't need to search for forms, since the right form is presented as a link in the task they need to complete. And the forms themselves are faster to complete because they can be pre-populated with existing data and completed on-line. The software also often provides sample comment text, coaching or development tips and access to notes on goals, development plans and performance that users can simply cut and paste into the form.

The software aggregates all the data and results without any manual processing. As a result, it's typical for organizations to see 50 to70 percent time savings over a manual processes.

Increased participation and compliance. Because everything is automated and centrally accessible, and participants are prompted by a task list and/or email reminder, most agencies see near 100 percent on-time completion rates. This is vital when performance reviews or training are mandated.

Some suites even let HR managers track credentials, their expiration dates and training/work requirements, usually by email or task list. And most talent management suites give HR reports to monitor and document completion rates, assignments, certification expiries, training completion, etc.

Better data security. Today's talent management software is typically deployed using a software as a service model, although some vendors also offer on-premises deployments.

Saas hosting offers near 100 percent availability, very fast transaction speeds, secure data backups and regular software updates. Top vendors provide multiple layers of security and undergo regular third-party audits.

Because access to data is generally configurable and role-based, accessible via username and password, users only see the data they've been explicitly given access to. So, for example, managers can see data for all their direct and indirect reports, but not for other employees.

Improved data access. Access to data, while controlled and secure, is improved because it's centralized. Users typically go to one Web portal page to access data on themselves or their employees and have quick access to everything they need to complete a task.

Managers completing performance reviews, for example, see the employees’ self-appraisal scores, goals, development plans, feedback, 360 degree assessment feedback/ratings, past performance reviews. And employees can access their goals, development plans, feedback and past appraisals at any time throughout the year. And authorized users can generate and view real-time reports whenever needed.

“HR can keep track of the status of all performance evaluations and identify when steps are missed. All data is centrally stored, and it’s ultimately better data because we can track everything. If managers need anything from the system, they can quickly pull it up; they don’t have to contact HR to get the information they need,” says Nichelle Smith, human resources business partner at San Antonio Water System.

Better data analysis. HR and authorized users can aggregate and analyze the centralized data using a variety of provided reports. They can filter and compare information from process to process, year to year – and even include data from one process in another (e.g. performance ratings in a compensation adjustment process). And generally, they can also export data to another system or software application.

The means talent management data is helps support informed business decision-making.

Driving efficiency and performance. Because it saves time and money by automating the talent management processes, centralizing data for analysis and use, and driving alignment and performance, talent management software is becoming an indispensable tool for public sector agencies.

Before settling on a suite/vendor, agencies should thoroughly evaluate the vendors’ ability to meet requirements as well as their reputation for after-sales service, support and ongoing product development.

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