Opinion: Time to modernise the antiquated model of HR case management

by 26 Aug 2014
HR, like the enterprise IT organisation, is a corporate service provider – it fields service requests ranging from simple benefits and payroll questions to on-boarding and off-boarding employees or handling complaints. But while service relationships are well defined and automated within the IT organisation thanks to IT best practice frameworks and fit-for-purpose IT management products, service relationships in HR are often completely unstructured and inefficient. 

HR's traditional IT systems, while facilitating many data management-driven HR activities, typically do not enable and manage these service-based, people interactions, or are too complex to set up and maintain to be truly effective in a dynamic HR environment. As a result, there is an unhealthy reliance on siloed email correspondence, other personal productivity applications, and manual activities when fulfilling HR service relationships. Combine this inefficiency with a lack of auditability, tracking, and real-time reporting, and it becomes difficult to understand, measure, or report back on HR performance and its impact on the business.
The IT organisation can help
Thankfully, savvy IT leaders have seen this as an opportunity to help their peers in the HR department replace inefficient email-based service request and fulfill processes with proven IT service models. IT can help transform HR service provisioning and management capabilities by leveraging their own service relationship ecosystem, experience, and service automation capabilities. Extending IT service models into HR gives HR the ability to meet employee expectations of HR support and customer service with more efficient HR operations. A secondary benefit is improving business perceptions of the IT organisation and its strategic worth.
Recognise HR's service relationships
Service relationships exist throughout the enterprise; between IT and lines of business, HR and sales, legal, marketing, facilities, operations, and even between internal and external service providers. They connect requesters of a service and the providers of those services. These services include a defined request for a product, a service, information, a change, or assistance with an issue. As a result, these service relationships not only need to be managed, they should be facilitated by automation wherever possible.
Many IT organisations already manage service relationships, albeit with different levels of maturity, through best practice IT processes and service automation tools. So why shouldn't the HR organisation be leveraging this experience and the same service automation capability?
HR and the IT organisation both have a need to fulfill service relationships which include requests for help, information, service, and change. While some HR service relationships are relatively straightforward and self-contained, for example, the operations request for benefits package information, others are not. Consider the request by legal to onboard a new employee. This requires HR to orchestrate and manage a number of discrete services across a number of business functions.
Such complexity needs to be effectively managed to ensure both the timeliness and completeness of delivery. 
Automate HR service relationships
By leveraging IT best practices for service automation, HR departments can alleviate common pain points to streamline and improve service relationships and HR service delivery. For example, IT can assist HR by providing:
  • An employee self-service portal: Deliver a consistent end user experience to employees that provide an HR storefront with 24x7 access to HR information and services, including a self-service catalogue enabled by out-of-the-box request-fulfil process automation. 
  • Automated case assignment: Where requests are directed to a specific individual or group via rules. 
  • Email notifications: Where inbound and outbound emails are set up for cases and tasks within a case that alert an HR team member or group within HR. 
  • A reporting engine and custom dashboards: So HR specialists and management can run standard reports or create their own custom reports to determine areas for improvement or opportunities to drive operational efficiencies.
Utilising IT to alleviate HR pain points
While there are many complexity within HR, by utilising IT best practices, service automation capabilities, and the IT organisation's experience in managing service relationships, HR can better deliver against the needs of employees, as well as external customers, such as contractors and recruitment agencies. As a result, this will prove beneficial for not only the HR department itself, but also the entire organisation.

About the author
David Oakley is Managing Director, ANZ at ServiceNow


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