Good people are hard to find…and manage…and develop…and motivate…and retain…and generally inventory and deploy efficiently and cost-effectively for mutual benefit of them and the organizations depending so heavily on the talent they add. That’s a mouthful, one challenging every organization at present, while admittedly plaguing some.
There’s a solution. You already know it as talent management, from reading, webinaring and attending conferences. You doubtless practice it as best you can. But some might say you cannot observe best practices until you invest in an integrated talent management suite. Invest in every sense, that is, because there is a tremendous amount of strategic planning and hard work on many fronts involved. Plus there is no perfect vendor nor perfect product offering for your enterprise. Those selections take no small amount of due diligence in themselves.
Today’s market is immature. Buyers have every reason to be confused about what is available to and appropriate for them. They are justified in worrying about benefit to and readiness by their organizations when it comes to implementing an integrated system, let alone starting with any one core application. Leighanne Levensaler, principal analyst for Bersin & Associates, a research firm focusing on talent management and enterprise learning, readily acknowledges this. It is a huge step, she grants, one where you are ill-advised to select enticing technology without first articulating a business driver responsive to strategic alignment and governance. Only then can you pick the optimal HCM software.
The Bersin & Associates’ exhaustive talent management suites survey* we alerted you to last week makes clear that you must lay a strong foundation before jumping in. But jump in you must. Buy one functionality at a time. That’s fine. Often, performance management is a logical place to start. At the outset you and your vendor will map out a plan for constructing a comprehensive suite including support for the five other core applications: workforce planning; recruitment management; career and succession management; learning management; and compensation management. Where you begin will likely rest on where you currently face the greatest challenge, at the greatest cost (read detriment) to the organization.
So there is no right order. What is paramount is painstaking integration. This is where your vendor figures so critically. Understand absolutely that this is a partnership you and your vendor enter into, a long-term, strategic one. Marry yourself to a vendor you perceive and trust as an advisor and supporter. Both internally across functional areas, and externally with this vendor, adopt a common language for and a common dedication to making the many, momentous decisions projecting the work ahead.
The larger your company, Levensaler cautions, the greater its complexity, making the requisite streamlining for implementation and integration all the harder. The sweet spot here is mid-market companies, with a workforce of perhaps 2,500 and up, whose legacy environment of technology is less intense and who are more subscription- or service-based.
In any event, step one is step one. Yes, it will be quite a while, and quite a budget, before you have a fully integrated talent management solution, that is, a suite supporting these eight system features: shared data model; consistent security model; employee profile; shared competencies; unified user interface; configurable process management; shared workflow; and analytics. So make quite a start at it, and begin building the wherewithal to replace 10,000 jobs by 2012 or clone your top performing salespeople this year. It’s your talent war. Arm yourself.
* To access the full 300-page report (via membership or ŕ la carte purchase), visit http://www.bersin.com/research/talent_management.asp