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HR Systems Survey 2020 - Sierra-Cedar's Annual Report

Posted by Mathew French

21 July 2020

Every year, Sierra-Cedar publish their HR Systems Survey Report. For their 2020 report, they surveyed 1,892 unique organisations representing a total workforce of 22.2 million employees and contingent workers across the globe. They've been conducting this research for over 20 years now, and they've used that data to chart the course of the impact of HR software's use by businesses globally. This year's survey covers HR software adoption, trends for applications, deployment options, vendor feedback, expenditures, and value achieved for the categories of different applications used. If your organisation hasn't yet embarked on a digital transformation journey and you're looking for intel, then this report sets an industry benchmark. Let's take a look at what 20 years of HR Software has done for business.

Key Themes From The 2019–2020 HR Systems Survey

This year's report provides almost 140 pages of well-researched data about how different HR applications are being used across a broad range of business types and industry sectors. We understand that you might not have the time to read a 140 page report, so we've summarised the highlights below. If you did have time to read it though, you might discover that the average implementation time for a single application in businesses with up to 2,500 employees is six months. For one application.

Here at Subscribe-HR we're committed to building the world's most adaptable and configurable cloud HR software platform. What does that mean in action for our customers? That translates into significant time AND cost savings when it comes to implementing the suite of HR software applications you need to manage the entire employee lifecycle. We've spent a significant amount of research and development time over the last couple of years improving our software platform to ensure that customers can get all three fundamental solutions like Core-HR, e-Recruitment and Performance Management up and running within 6 months. Not six months per solution. Six months in total for all three solutions. If you want to find out more about implementation timeframes with Subscribe-HR, stay tuned for our upcoming e-Guide at about HR software implementation.

In addition to the research about implementation timeframes outlined in the survey report, here are the rest of the headlines that you should know about.

#1 Strategy is essential for HR Software implementation and adoption success

The following three strategies where the most important to survey respondents:

  • Achieve Repeatable Outcomes: Elevating the perception of HR and investing in specific approaches to HR technology strategy, integration, and change management correlate to 15% year-over-year increases in overall outcomes.

  • Measure Outcomes that Matter: Approximately 80% of organisations regularly report on Employee Turnover metrics, while less than 25% report on Performance, Learning, or Productivity.

  • Plan to Utilise HR Technology: Organisations that conduct Enterprise Workforce Planning are 50% more likely to leverage their HR technology environments to inform Business Strategy and influence Workforce Decisions.

#2 Culture still eats everything else for breakfast

As ways of working continue to get turned on their heads, organisational culture is the glue that holds your people together in times of change:

  • Realise the Value of HR: Efforts to transform the perception of HR over the last five years have resulted in a 20% increase in respondents who view HR functions as contributing strategic value (46%) to organisations, with Executives 25% more likely to view HR as strategic than HR Directors or Managers.

  • Mandate Communication: New HR technology provides more employee communication tools, yet 90% of organisations primarily use email. Emerging Technology organisations use 60% more tools, with higher adoption in Portals, Surveys, Call Centres, Live Chat, Social Networks, and Chatbots.

  • Update Your Talent: TM applications continue to experience the highest percentage of functionality gaps and the lowest vendor User Experience scores of all applications, with 31% of organisations evaluating or planning to replace theses applications in the next two years.

#3 Data governance provides the right foundation for informed decision-making

Good data output depends on good data input. Rubbish in = rubbish out. That's why it pays to make sure you actively choose (and work) to do data well:

  • Know Your Data: Organisations are capturing employee data from an average of 3.2 non-HR sources, including Wearables, Social Media, Mobile Devices, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools. Yet, only 12% of organisations have a strategy to manage the Employee Data Footprint.

  • Assign Ownership: In all Cloud HR environments, the Human Resource Information Technologist (HRIT) or Human Resources Information Services (HRIS) role is three times more likely to be responsible for governing Data Privacy and Content Security than IT or Functional roles.

  • Build for the Future: Organisations continue to lay the foundation for Intelligent Platforms with building blocks consisting of Benchmarking tools, Predictive Analytics, Machine Learning, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), and Blockchain technology. In the last year, adoption of RPA tools increased 50%, and Predictive Analytics is expected to see the largest increase over the next year.

Sierra-Cedar HR Systems Survey Questions and HCM Blueprint

The questions for the 2019–2020 HR Systems Survey fell into six primary categories and 54 individual application areas. Responses were then used to produce the 'Sierra-Cedar Human Capital Management (HCM) Blueprint,' which provides a framework for the digital transformation of HR (and is summarised in the diagram below). The Survey also gathered details concerning HR system strategies, processes, vendors, implementation, change management, security practices, expenditures, and supporting resources.


Sierra-Cedar have seen two pathways emerge when adopting and implementing HR applications. Some organisations have a clear strategy for how they purchase and implement their HR systems; others exhibit an organic-growth model based on immediate needs and funds. Based on over two decades of research, they recommend that when applying the HR Systems Blueprint to your own business, each organisation should take the path that best suits its unique and individual situation. Outlined below is a brief explanation that any organisation can use as a benchmark to start conversations about choosing and implementing HR software.

The Blueprint itself can be viewed as a series of containers, each connected through interrelated elements. Don't forget - this context works best when considering the connection points between your entire tech ecosystem and the suite of HR solutions that you choose to automate and manage your employee lifecycle. Those connection points are just as important as individual applications themselves.

Layer #1: Strategy, Culture, Data Governance

As already mentioned, the foundational elements that every business needs to consider when choosing and implementing all software (not just HR), form the foundation at the centre of the HCM Blueprint:

  • Strategy.

  • Culture.

  • Data Governance.

Layer #2: Application Environments

Surrounding the foundational elements are six primary categories of Enterprise HR System applications that organisations should consider implementing based on the unique needs of the business:

  • Administrative.

  • Service Delivery.

  • Workforce Management.

  • Workforce Intelligence.

  • Emerging Technology.

  • Talent Management.

Layer #3: Connecting Data & Workflows

Surrounding the six 'Enterprise HR System Applications' are enterprise standards that play a major role in the success or failure of applications in your digital ecosystem (in the grey outer layer of the Blueprint). HR solutions cannot exist separately from an organisation’s Content Strategy, Data Privacy, Workflows, Work Models, Integration Strategy, Platform Strategy, Mobile Strategy, Network Security, Cybersecurity, and Social Strategy. Connecting HR systems to enterprise standards allows organisations to seamlessly and safely embed HR solutions into everyday work environments and share data seamlessly across multiple system environments.

Layer #4: Digital Ecosystems

Like all software solutions, HR technologies coexist in a larger ecosystem represented in the Blueprint by the black outer rim of finance Management, Workforce Productivity (Microsoft, Google, Project Management, etc.), Customer Relationship Management, and Vendor Management. These environments, where work occurs and an abundance of additional workforce data is captured, require connections with HR applications to enable desired organisational outcomes.

The Best Time For Your Digital Transformation is NOW

How far down the path of digital transformation has HR progressed in your business? Now, more than ever before, your digital capabilities are critical to your success. Are you looking for a solution that removes both complexity and confusion from the implementation, integration AND ongoing use of your HR software? If so, you need #HRtech that makes it possible digitise and automate all your HR admin so that you can manage the entire employee lifecycle quickly AND easily. To save your business time AND money, you need to make sure you get two things right when considering which HR software to choose for your organisation. First, you should choose an HR software provider that aligns with your values and produces HR software can meet the unique needs of your organisation (hint, many HR solutions aren't configurable enough to meet the needs a majority of businesses. One size does definitely not fit all). Which leads to point two. Make sure that the software you choose is configurable so that you can bend it to your will no matter how often the structure of your organisation needs to change to adapt to the environment in which you operate.

To find out more, simply download our free 'HR Software Automation' e-Guide.

Download the e-Guide Now 

Image Source: Sierra-Cedar's 2019-2020 HR Systems Survey Report.

Topics: HR Software Implementation, hr software, HR automation, HR Systems Survey, HCM Blueprint, Sierra-Cedar

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