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sauce for innovation

ERP: HR’s New Secret Sauce for Innovation, Performance and Efficiency

If you said that HR has never had more to worry about, you wouldn’t be wrong. I’ve seen HR going through tremendous growing pains this year, between remote workforces, a new need for far more efficiency, self-service and automation, and wholly new ways of communicating and managing. Some organizations have undergone rapid shrinking and expansion, putting extra stress on their recruiting and hiring teams.

Add a pressing and often immediate need for benefits and workforce support, a workforce that is often under more strain than ever before, and you’ve got a potent brew. And if you’re a bit out of breath after all of that, here’s an acronym to breathe in and breathe out: ERP. It’s the motherlode of solutions, though not always associated with the functions of HR – though it should be. 

ERP — Changing the Game

There are many ways to characterize ERP — or enterprise resource planning. In its most modern forms, ERP is a robust, cloud-based platform of integrated applications and tools, a singular data model, and the ability to extend and create processes that are interconnected. By uniting disparate systems it eliminates not only redundancy but errors. 

For HR, it’s a game changer, covering every aspect of a broadening set of operations, such as Recruiting, core HR, time and attendance, payroll, performance management, employee engagement, learning and development. But what really makes it different is that by centralizing the ERP experience, you make it all about people. 

Aligned Across the Organization

As HR assumes a far more strategic role in terms of business and workforce planning, we’ve all been looking to build those critical bridges to the business and financial functions of the organization. With ERP there’s no need for a bridge, per se. Having all functions existing within the same overall system means all can build data, share data, and pull data as the need arises. 

But there’s more to it. The key X factor that empowers today’s organizations to stay flexible and accelerate as they need to is keeping different sides all aligned. Instead of losing energy or time trying to land on consistent data, it’s already there. The energy can be spent creating new processes or building on existing ones as needed. Everyone is already on the same page. 

Enabling Proactive HR

This enables a new kind of responsiveness and innovation in people management. HR can easily respond with visibility and flexibility to business shifts, adjusting a hiring objective or building additional skills in the workforce, for instance. 

Recent research shows that organizations are doing whatever they can to come out ahead after the crises of 2020: 63% of CFOs anticipate changing their service offerings to emerge stronger from the downturn — which will certainly necessitate a change in hiring and talent management. In terms of talent and skills, 40% of respondents to a recent survey on organizational readiness say that talent and skills shortages will be among their key challenges going forward. It’s a lot easier to meet those objectives with a platform that’s agile and scalable — and functions in real time with no lags across the gaps.

HCM/HR for Mid-Sized Businesses 

Next-gen ERP has changed the way we can harness HCM/HR solutions across a whole range of functions. This is going to be a tremendous advantage for mid-sized businesses, who have sizable workforces and a multifaceted organization, but may not have the resources and scope to build their own proprietary platform.

For organizations in professional services, nonprofits, the public sector and higher ed, this updated ERP offers a welcome new paradigm that combines business processes under one umbrella and delivers a radically improved user experience. It means that all HR processes can now also engage employees — rather than additional tools and strategies. Engagement becomes part of the system. 

The pivot to remote working and the economic pressures so many organizations and workforces withstood underscored just how important UX is for both sides of the workplace equestion. A flexible and seamless UX benefits employees as well as candidates, with streamlined and easy user interfaces, and natural language processing, automated tasks driven by Machine Learning, accessibility across all devices including mobile, and integration with Slack, Microsoft Teams, Outlook and other key apps. 

But from a leadership and management perspective, UX is just as important — if not more. Leaders and managers need all the apps and services they can leverage, as well as the means to create anew if needed. To maintain a handle on performance, productivity, people as well as profit — without silos, without friction, and without lags in data — is a necessary and profound transformation. With next-gen ERP — such as Unit4’s ERPx platform — it’s not a hope-to-have, it’s a reality.