When Process Management Meets Human Resources

Written by Lucas de Boer | 7 min read
Published on: June 11th 2020 - Last modified: November 13th, 2020
When Process Management Meets Human Resources - SAP interview Partners

From administrator, to business partner, to proactive business enabler: the role of the human resources professional has changed dramatically in recent years. Now, HR departments are using human behavior to drive innovation and ideas within organizations, and looking for the right software solutions to help. In this exclusive expert interview, we discuss the challenges and opportunities when process management meets human resources with Andrey Kulikov, HR Value Advisor at SAP, and Marijn van Amelsfort, HR Business Architect and Project Lead of the SAP SuccessFactors Process Library.

The current state of HR

What role do you think HR departments will have in 2020?

Andrey Kulikov: 2020 is defined by the corona crisis. Even if policymakers are now relaxing individual regulations again, the effects of the pandemic will occupy us for a long time to come. As a result of the impacts of COVID-19, HR departments had to prioritize very critical business tasks within a very short time. These included, for example, the establishment of remote working and changes to time management, as well as major restructuring projects and optimization of personnel costs.

All this of course puts a lot of pressure on the HR managers involved. At the same time, however, the current situation also enables HR workers to gain more prestige and influence in the medium term. HR departments will be very busy supporting the goals of senior management! After the crisis, in many companies people will return to their offices in the mood to question previously existing organizational structures. This whole situation will accelerate the digitization of company processes, which up to now have been mainly manual or paper-based.

Where do you see the greatest challenges and opportunities?

AK: In view of the pandemic and its effects, I see the biggest deficits in the digitization of our working world and how we use the potential of our employees. Companies that have invested little in digitizing their processes are now reaching their limits. This includes, for example, the possibility of working from home: many organizations are discovering that simply having a PC at home with which one can perform one's tasks is not enough to work efficiently and effectively in a team.

Digitization requires completely different qualifications from managers and a high level of commitment from employees. It’s not for no reason that the term "Employee Experience" is becoming increasingly important due to COVID-19. Successful remote work relies on the right IT tools for team collaboration, as well as efficient digitized processes, and a sense of common purpose, as employees identify with their company. In addition, the retraining of existing employees offers great potential for many companies, which currently is often still unused.

Of course, working from home is a great burden for many families. I myself am also looking forward to returning to my office. But many employees are currently realizing that working from home can also be successful virtually. By keeping their distance from managers, they gain more freedom in organizing their own work. This process also goes hand in hand with the realization of deficits in their own company. These include insufficient digitization and flexibility as well as a lack of responsiveness, leadership weakness, and a lack of agreed targets.

Another key area is personnel planning. Many companies are not prepared to change the number of their employees quickly due to the enormous business changes. Organizations that are able to implement flexible workforce planning in line with their business strategy will emerge from the crisis as winners.

What challenges for HR departments do you expect for the next 5 years?

AK: In my opinion, the following points will be crucial:

  • Simplification of digital HR processes: Only in this way can employees and managers work together successfully.
  • Responding rapidly to change: This applies to shifts in the overall global or local economic situation, changes in the business model, and digitization, among others. HR departments must contribute to operational and strategic personnel planning as well as to the training and skills management of their employees.
  • Employee recruitment: This will continue to be one of the core challenges for HR.
  • Managers as role models and coaches: HR departments will be even more challenged in this respect in the future in order to achieve the company's goals as a team.
  • Efficient information management: If HR processes are digitized and closely integrated, developments can be understood and managed much better, much sooner. HR processes can be optimized more quickly if their efficiency and the feedback of those involved is made visible.

In the future, HR departments will have to shift their focus in order to provide real added value to their company. This process includes, for example, the complete digitization of all HR services. This is the only way to reduce waiting times and ensure ease of use.

Furthermore, employees in management positions should be supported with additional training and learning new methods such as "Using Objectives and Key Results" (OKR) or flexible teams. The use of data science and data analysis is also essential for modern HR processes, as only in this way can the continuous improvement of corporate culture and processes be based on facts and a detailed analysis of talent data.

Where process management meets human resources

How can HR departments use people’s natural behaviors to drive innovation and ideas in their organizations?

AK: HR departments should offer all employees easy-to-use and integrated solutions to share knowledge and generate content. This can work with a corporate knowledge base or a messenger with the ability to create and share content, for example.

But tools alone are not enough. HR should train managers and trendsetters in how to organize their best practices and proactively develop colleagues. Managers and team leaders should be responsible for continuous improvement and make the solution an integral part of their team structure. HR’s role is to be a catalyst for change.

What requirements should a "state-of-the-art" HR solution meet?

AK: A modern solution should be based on a single, actual employee profile and not just on HR core data. It should be about presenting all talent processes, including work results and compensation, as well as development plans, training and much more.

In addition, any state-of-the-art system should not only be available to HR departments, but should also provide flexible access for employees, managers and external workers. Equally important for HR experts and managers alike is the ability to create HR analyses including KPIs. Furthermore, the system should be intelligent and integrated with the ERP system of the core business.

What are the benefits of HR solutions like SAP SuccessFactors®?

Marijn van Amelsfort:

  • Be digital: HR services can be delivered digitally, providing valuable experience to managers and employees.
  • Be efficient: Process libraries with best-practices processes can be used to identify improvement opportunities for all use cases.
  • Collaborate: Processes can be managed in the cloud in collaboration with other departments, from documentation and process modeling to implementation.
  • Use HXM (Human Experience Management): Integration of all HR processes (operational data) with experience data (feedback and input from candidates, employees and managers at key moments).

What should organizations look for when choosing the HR application for their business?

AK: HR decision-makers should first identify the short and long-term business needs and analyze how the new system can contribute to solving them. It is very important to align the HR strategy with the overall business strategy and to perform the cost-benefit analysis of the HR IT system. The new system should not only be seen as a system for HR experts, but as a tool for managers and employees.

How can HR departments use process libraries to roll out their chosen tool throughout an organization?

MvA: Implementing a cloud HR solution like SuccessFactors is not just an IT issue. As a company, my goal for the future must be to initiate a digital transformation and, in the process, modernize my HR processes. This makes it all the more important not to simply improve existing processes and make them "cloud-ready."

Instead, when looking at where process management meets human resources, it is advisable to use a process library such as the SAP SuccessFactors Process Library as a starting point. You can define new, harmonized processes and thus determine the needs for the new HR solution. You can also use the Process Library to analyze your own organization and its need for adaptation. In this way, it is also possible to determine how future process factors (e.g. managers, employees, HR staff) should be prepared for a new world with new ways of working.

Future prospects of HR

How can HR departments use process-oriented HR applications to be successful in a world where networks and teams are constantly changing?

MvA: HR processes should be easy to set up and maintain. This can be achieved if the HR system enables flexible role and authorization management. Once processes are standardized, any change in roles or project assignments will quickly be reflected in intelligent workflows.

AK: In order to establish clear and optimized processes, companies must maintain their process architecture. This also applies to HR processes in which many stakeholders are involved. Simple, intuitive workflows and standardized business rules help companies to perform better.

How can HR tools contribute to the empowerment and training of employees?

MvA: Modern, integrated HR solutions can support employees in their career and development planning. This can be done by providing tools that enable employees to assess their competencies and compare them to the competency requirements of their current role and/or potential future roles.

From this, employees can in turn derive development needs. A fully integrated learning management system can then suggest the appropriate training measures, which employees can carry out directly on their mobile devices, for example.

How can efficiency improvements be measured with the help of a process-oriented IT application?

MvA: In order to evaluate whether a process is actually implemented correctly and contributes to value creation as hoped, it makes sense to define and regularly measure process performance indicators (PPI). The IT application can create the basic conditions for increasing efficiency. To do this, however, it is imperative that the process is implemented as previously defined.

This requires a process design geared to leading practices on the one hand and targeted change management on the other. Such a process design should support measures to increase efficiency and be regularly reviewed based on the characteristics of the PPI. A process environment that improves efficiency and streamlines change management is key to facing the challenges and changes for HR in 2020.

Next steps

If you’d like to find out more about the benefits when modern process management meets human resources, don’t forget to watch Signavio’s exclusive webcast with SAP SuccessFactors to find out how you can put processes at the core of HR, and set new standards of excellence across your organization. Watch now on-demand!

Published on: June 11th 2020 - Last modified: November 13th, 2020