From Piecemeal to Integrated Solutions: Rethinking HR Tech Strategy with Adrian Tan, APAC Regional Leader of PeopleStrong

January 16, 20204:54 pm1012 views
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Many companies still have piecemeal approach when it comes to creating HR tech strategy, meaning that one platform is employed only to solve one issue. When tech solutions don’t communicate and align with one another, this leads to what is called as the elephant and blind men phenomenon – as HR is unable to get the full picture of the company’s internal HR landscape. Sophisticated but user-friendly HR software is the key to create integrated HR tech solutions that goes beyond traditional enterprise technologies.

HR in Asia got the opportunity to discuss further about this issue with Adrian Tan, APAC Regional Leader of PeopleStrong. Read on..

Adrian, it is said that most HR strategies are very piecemeal so the tech solutions don’t communicate with one another. When solutions work in silos, companies experience the elephant and blind men phenomenon. Solutions should have been addressing HR issues, not adding new ones to it. Why do you think this phenomenon could happen?

I think this is happening over a few reasons – one, the strategy is not catching up with changes in modern requirements. Before the strategy on employee engagement could be executed, conversations have been moved to people analytics, AI, etc. Things are evolving at too fast a pace where the traditional waterfall way of solutioning cannot catch up.

So companies gravitate to piecemeal solution to solve their problems. An employee engagement platform to solve employee engagement, another one to solve talent management, etc.

But over time, you will end up with the same number of databases as the number of systems you bought. And most of these systems may not talk to each other. That becomes a problem.

What are the major HR pain points when it comes to executing tech strategies?

Understanding the technology department issues and concerns, which for the longest time, has never been a requirement for HR department. The new rise in privacy also add further challenges given that HR is dealing with personal data. 

Getting the buy-in from senior management to get a budget to begin with since HR buys may not provide the most immediate ROI.

Based on your experience, what are the best ways to solve these challenges? And how could HR tech SaaS help in it?

HR must broaden their learning and go beyond what is necessary in their HR scope. They don’t have to become an IT expert but they need to know the fundamentals and how it would affect the way they evaluate HR tech so conversations can be much more efficient.

Putting together the case to secure buy-ins and budgets from senior management is also crucial. And that means putting numbers and metrics together which again is another aspect that HR need to get comfortable with – speaking quantitatively.

HR SaaS can help as adoption is very easy and there are zero maintenance costs involved so one need not have another piece of hardware in the office to worry about. And costs is dependent on the number of users, that would be fairer to companies with lower headcounts. Because vendors are specialised, any new upgrades will be rolled out automatically and these would benefit and addressed all future challenges.

There is a popular belief that powerful products need to be complex, making companies tend to stay away from too sophisticated HR tools. What is your opinion on this?

That is quite true. Many enterprise software is built with features in mind, never user experience/interface. But many modern companies are also ensuring their software is consumer-grade, i.e. it is as easy to use as the first time you picked up that iPhone.

Companies such as Slack, Salesforce, PeopleStrong double down in these areas so there are options out there in the market that draw the gap between usability and features closer.

So all that is needed would be for companies to be more open-minded in identifying what’s out there and not gravitate to the usual big names because they don’t know what they don’t know or perhaps because it is much faster than doing more research.

So how does HR SaaS solutions provider like PeopleStrong support an organisation in delivering better employee experience while helping the management makes better decisions?

From our mobile-first principle, we design our software with the user experience in mind. By ensuring our software is consumer-grade, one does not need to go through a 3-day workshop just to learn how to apply leave. 

This allows us to strike a balance between the needs of HR versus the needs of the users (employees). Any gaps, we would use a technological solution to fill up the gap.

For example, a typical HR chatbot would be very much a decision tree framework and makes interaction limited and linear. 

We apply AI at the core, and this allows our AI-powered chatbot to learn how to respond to questions that might be new. And overtime, it would be able to answer those questions.

Finally, do you have any advice for HR managers in choosing the right HR software? What should they look for?

Figure out the legacy systems that you will continue to use – that would allow the new vendor to figure out if the systems can interact. Look into hosting at solid cloud providers such as AWS since their security rock solid. Get employees to be part of the evaluation team as they will ultimately be the users of the system. It doesn’t make sense for system to be great for HR (because it cuts down on admin) but a pain for users to make use of.

About Adrian Tan

Adrian is the APAC Practice Leader – Future of Work and Tech at PeopleStrong, an India-based Enterprise HR SaaS platform. With over 15 years of HR entrepreneurial experience, he had won two HR Vendors of the Year award and is the recipient to SHRI HR Entrepreneur of the Year in 2013. He is the creator of Singapore HR Tech Market Map and is a jobs commentator on ChannelNewsAsia.

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