Sierra-Cedar Releases New HR Systems Survey

By Aliah D. Wright October 29, 2015

LAS VEGAS—According to new data in the 2015-2016 Sierra-Cedar HR Systems Survey, “tomorrow’s HR is more focused and analytical,” said Stacey Harris, vice president of research for Sierra-Cedar, an IT services company based in Delaware.

The plan for the future seems to be to decrease positions in payroll and titles like HR generalist, HR management and HR business partner, and increase more roles in HR data analytics and talent management.

Harris unveiled the new survey at Human Resource Executive magazine’s HR Technology Conference & Exposition Oct. 21, 2015.

The 18th annual survey posed questions to more than 21 million employees and contingent workers. The survey was conducted from May 12 through July 1, 2015, and the results are based on information collected from more than 1,200 organizations across several industries.

“This is the year of the enterprise HR systems strategy,” according to the report. Forty-three percent of organizations report having a major HR systems strategy initiative.

Companies are taking many different paths to transform their HR systems environment. They’re ripping and replacing systems, and introducing a combination of hosted, outsourced and hybrid environments, Harris said.

Service Hits ‘Tipping Point’

Meanwhile, software-as-a-service (SAAS) has hit the “tipping point,” the report stated, with 50 percent of core human resource management systems (HRMS) being implemented in 2015 as SAAS solutions. To compare, 38 percent of human resource management systems were implemented as SAAS solutions in 2014.

And even though more companies are moving their core HRMS to the cloud, Harris predicted it would be a long time before organizations transfer all of their enterprise HR systems. Both payroll and workforce management have become impediments to HR technology transformation largely because of differences in how employees are paid and managed around the world, and the inability of vendors to handle payroll on a global scale, Harris said. Some 20 percent of companies say they are currently evaluating their technology vendor and solution options.

And vendors are listening.

Shared service centers, HR portals, help desk solutions and mobile access are changing the service delivery model. Companies that use all of these on average service about 51 percent more employees by HR administrative head count, while 18 percent of companies do not have these tools at all.

Mobile HR rose by 92 percent within the past year, according to the survey. Harris said her research predicts a 47 percent adoption for 2016.

“Mobile is starting to have an impact in more ways than just ‘this is cool,’ ” she said. As a result, the study revealed, vendors are considering bringing benefits, performance, wellness and education solutions to mobile platforms for HR.

“User experience is driving changes,” Harris said. She added that 66 percent of organizations have some level of service delivery—particularly manager self- service.

More Want to Use Analytics

After Harris asked by a show of hands how many people in the room were using analytics (about a third raised their hands), she revealed that 39 percent of companies surveyed said they are now leveraging some type of data analytics. But, “95 percent are using Microsoft Excel. You can’t do big data with Excel. It’s just not going to work,” she said, adding that most organizations don’t have the newest tools and technologies to really take a deep dive into HR analytics.

As HR Magazine reported earlier this year, in order to effect meaningful change, HR teams will need to invest in analytics—particularly talent analytics.

“If you’re in HR analytics, start thinking about how your data works with the business,” she said.

When asked “Where are you spending 25 percent of your time and resources,” 64 percent of survey respondents said on business process improvement, 43 percent said HR systems strategy, 41 percent said talent management, 37 percent said service delivery, and 36 percent said business intelligence and workforce metrics.

Among the report’s predictions:

  • Unique services will be the differentiators of tomorrow’s HR technology.
  • Platform-as-a-service, a type of cloud computing that transports applications over the Internet without customers needing to develop or manage those applications, “will reopen the world of customization, and harness the power of savvy system integrators,” the report stated.
  • Contingent workforce management will change the concept of talent management.
  • Data privacy movements will become the biggest challenge to creating individual user experiences.
  • Mobile and wearable technologies are a stepping stone to the Internet of Things.

“Wearable technology is up, and it’s not just Fitbit,” she said. “It’s RFID [radio-frequency identification] tags, wearable technology in your clothing and GPS technology.” Ten percent of those surveyed say they are using it “in a strategic function; most are using it to manage productivity.”

You can download the full report from Sierra-Cedar’s website.

Aliah D. Wright is an online editor/manager for SHRM.


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