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Human Resources

HR software handles complex tasks in the cloud

Consolidated platforms, real-time integration and the cloud save time during onboarding
University Business, August 2017
Carol Patton is a Las Vegas-based writer who specializes in human resources issues.
Carol Patton is a Las Vegas-based writer who specializes in human resources issues.

Two years ago, the human resources department at the University of Santa Monica was predominantly paper-based. Since then, the school has implemented an HR information system along with a new management platform called Employee Self-Onboarding by BambooHR.

“The onboarding function absolutely changed my life,” says Elisa Perry, HR director at the school.

The new platform includes an applicant tracking system and an onboarding checklist. It also sends new hires a welcome email from Perry, and asks them to review and sign a batch of onboarding documents.

“It’s very seamless and gets all of the stuff out of the way so we’re not spending half of their first day doing paperwork.”

Higher education is generally slow to adopt technology, but that doesn’t prevent vendors from creating advanced products.

HR leaders can expect to see more integrated cloud software and cloud ERP systems from Ultimate Software, Namely, Gusto and Zenefits—as well as consolidated HR platforms for people analytics by Workday and Cornerstone, according to a recent report from Bersin by Deloitte, “HR Technology Disruptions for 2017: Nine Trends Reinventing the HR Software Market.”

Likewise, developers will release more mobile platforms, wearable technology, and platforms as a service that allow HR to perform all functions in a cloud-based environment.

Easy and integrated

Although many products perform complicated tasks, they’re still user-friendly. Perry says BambooHR’s onboarding component requires minimal training, is customizable, and offers a cool feature—it  introduces new employees to their coworkers virtually, via photos.

San Jacinto College in Texas implemented Ellucian’s Talent Management Suite last year, and its real-time integration capability reduced the processing time for new hires by a day or two, says Shanna Dement, director of the school’s compensation and human resource information system.

The talent management suite captures all information related to HR processes such as performance and professional development.

“We have recruiting, onboarding, learning and performance management in one system where previously we had multiple systems,” she says, adding that the suite features a single sign-on, automates paper forms online, and triggers a series of actions for HR to perform.

Many HR systems are strong in only one or two modules, which requires schools to fill in gaps with software by other vendors, Dement adds.

“It would be nice to see a user-friendly system that’s detailed, powerful and flexible enough to accommodate talent management and succession planning, compensation and benefits, training, analytics and reporting,” she says.  

Identify HR’s needs

Some HR vendors offer Amazon-like user experiences enable employees to drill down for more information, says Jamie Hawkins, president and chief executive officer at Benefit Technology Resources, a Tampa-based HR technology consulting firm that works in higher education.

Decision support tools have also become more robust. For example, employees searching for a healthcare plan can input their personal claims data to help select the most appropriate plan. Businessolver, bswift and Benefitfocus offer this feature, Hawkins says.

What’s surprising, however, is HR’s need for upgraded benefits administration technology. Hawkins believes Ultimate Software and Workday stand out because their technology harnesses data involving the entire employee lifecycle in a single-source solution.

The ability to pull analytics and dashboards in real time without running multiple, complex reports has been a “game-changer,” she says.

Still, technology gaps will always exist as HR evolves its processes and practices. But what won’t change, Hawkins says, is the need for HR “to understand what it’s trying to solve before looking for technology, because there’s so much out there.”  


Carol Patton is a Las Vegas-based writer who specializes in human resources issues.

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