Configuration is King. This is especially true for commercial / business solutions (as opposed to those we use for our personal needs). Like most things in life, they're designed fit within the bell curve so as to meet most of the needs of most of the businesses that use the product. The problem with that is, the majority of organisations have a unique operational fingerprint and a 'one-size-fits-all' solution just doesn't work for them. That's where the 'configurability' of the software you use comes into play. Pay attention, because going forward - software configurability is going to play a critical role in the things that matter most to business: time, money, user experience and future-proofing your organisation. In this week's HR Blog we unpack what configuration means and why it matters for HR best practice.
We've spoken a lot about digital transformation over the last few years. In fact, 'digital transformation' became one of those overused phrases that many people talked about but not everyone took seriously. Then most of the people who work in offices across the globe were forced to work from home and it suddenly became very clear just how important it was to be digitally enabled. In KPMG’s 2019 The Future of HR report, only 40 per cent of HR leaders said they had a digital work plan in place at the enterprise or HR level.
You might have been able to get away with managing your employees that way before the global pandemic. But if recent circumstances have taught us anything, it’s that the adaptability of your business (and in some cases its capacity to survive) is directly related to how digitally enabled your employees and your business systems are. Essentially, your capacity to pivot quickly in response to rapidly changing economic, social and health conditions correlates with how far down the path of digital transformation your organisation has progressed.
Before we look at why configurability needs to be an essential ingredient in your digital ecosystem, let's start with what configuration means and how it applies to your HR software.
Is Your HR Software Fully Configurable?
A configurable solution is one that provides 'out-of-the-box' functionality that is ready for you to use, including built-in templates and workflows derived from the provider’s experience of best practice. Plus it has the added benefit of enabling you to quickly and easily configure certain aspects of the system yourself (without the help of experienced software developers) to personalise the solution to meet your needs. Configurable software is flexible, scalable and can be adapted to meet both industry-specific and organisation-specific requirements.
The more of the 'out-of-the-box' settings and functions a software system allows you to configure to meet your needs, the more time and money your organisation will save. That translates to greater efficiency, increased agility and enhanced usability.
But not all software is made equal, and this is especially true for HR software. Just staying on top of your legal and compliance obligations can be challenging enough. Not to mention all the processes required to manage the entire employee lifecycle. Different businesses in different industries or locations don't just have different needs, they have to comply with different laws, different processes and unique structural complexities that are difficult to manage using most HR software. To find the right digital technology that can adapt to the automation of such differences and complexity has historically been difficult and expensive. That's why configurability is key.
Managing people can be complex, but your HR software should make it less complicated, not more so. That's where configuration comes in. Most cloud HR systems include some configurability for basic personalisation, but what you really want is a solution that is as close to fully configurable as you can get. Let's take a look at why that matters.
Configuration Benefits For The End-User
Consumers should look for HR software that provides maximum flexibility with minimum effort. A solution that is easily configurable generates the following positive outcomes:
Implementation time is greatly reduced: When you purchase (or subscribe to) a system with an extensive range of 'out-of-the-box' functionality that is also highly configurable, the implementation process becomes an exercise in personalising the system to meet your unique needs. You work with an implementation specialist or project manager to configure the system the way you want it from the start, which means you get a solution that is tailored to your needs from the get go.
The volume of usage future proofs the technology: With thousands of users working on the same core system, the software provider receives constant feedback and is able to identify and incorporate the updates that will benefit the most users possible.
Updates, enhancements and new software releases are typically free: Whereas a customised solution requires you to hire a software developer to make any changes or updates, providers of configurable systems constantly install updates to your system for you. This removes the need for you to spend time and money making updates yourself. Plus, those updates are normally free (included in your subscription cost).
Lower total cost of ownership: Cloud-based subscription models enable you to access the system without having to purchase it outright (like on-premise or customised solutions). An on-premise or customised system is often developed or installed with a setup that is specifically for you, which often means you're locked into a static workflow that can only be changed by hiring cost prohibitive engineers to make updates to the system’s code.
How does that all translate through to the end-user? Ultimately, it means cost savings in terms of project delivery and it enables software features to be available and consumed by the end-user quickly.
Customisation Benefits For The Other Software Providers in your Digital Ecosystem
No software solution is an island. Take HR software as an example. It's use in your business does not happen in isolation. Often, HR software needs to be integrated with a selection of other solutions that you use to run your organisation, like:
Payroll and Time & Attendance.
That's why configurability matters to other software providers too. When it comes to the integration process, the more configurable your HR software, the more this will simplify that process. Both for your implementation team and that of your other software providers.
One of the main reasons implementation and user-adoption of HR software systems flounder (or fail) is the gap between the software's functionality, its configurability and the users’ needs. We've had many conversations with organisations that sign-up to use an HR software product only to discover that while the solution might provide the functionality that the user asked for, it can't be configured to meet the unique needs or circumstances of the user. This is a common problem, but it shouldn't be.
Configurability is King
Going forward, it is likely that configurability will become a top priority for business leaders. Workplaces and ways of working are becoming more diverse, more tailored to individual circumstances and more complex to manage. Circumstances beyond our control mean that we're becoming more reliant on digital tools to remain operational. If your business got caught out when the pandemic hit because it wasn't prepared to switch to virtual work at a moment's notice, there's never been a more critical time to undertake a digital transformation.
Now more so than ever, businesses like yours can access the support you require, at a price that meets your budget, including highly configurable features that get you up and running faster. That means you can say goodbye to spreadsheets and time-consuming, paper-based processes. You can digitise and automate multiple touch-points across your employee lifecycle, including:
When you use a fully configurable system, the features in that system that are configurable have been proven by lots of users over time. That means you can stay focused and on track with a solution that has been tested through extensive use and which follows best-practice. Your business will also be future-proofed by default through the demands of operating in a world where all the solutions in a digital ecosystem need to be able to continue to work together for the benefit of all stakeholders; end-users and software providers alike.
Watch the video below to discover more about how configurable HR software can benefit your business. Find out about the role widgets, wizards, permissions and APPs can play in bending your HR software to your will.
Like what you saw in the video. Want it for your business? Get started by requesting a demonstration.