It’s no secret that many large organizations operate in a somewhat insular and siloed manner. This dynamic applies to corporate functions where value-creation from taking advantage of operational synergies could otherwise be quite significant. Historically, human resources and finance departments, for example, were among the operating areas known to closely collaborate only when absolutely necessary. Actually, the 1992 book, "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus," comes to mind when I reflect back on how I needed to navigate around a lack of integrated HR/finance data and processes when I was a global HR practitioner, especially since this was often exacerbated by the use of stereotypes like "people/people vs. numbers/people." The combination of these factors clearly created a sense of disconnectedness between the two groups. And having different definitions for commonly used business terms — like headcount and labor costs — as well as different methods for measuring and reporting on these items didn’t make the situation more manageable. But that wasn’t the whole enchilada of operational challenges when linking HR and finance: You also had to account for different processing and reporting cycles and cutoff dates, which often created hours of agonizing reconciliation work for the respective teams.
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One of the many things I learned while I was accountable for multiple HCM systems and tools deployments in my pre-analyst and advisor days relates to crafting what I referred to as a “winning business case.” In this context, I define “winning” as not just securing the funds, but actually realizing the expected benefits and ROI that underpinned the major elements highlighted in the business case. Critical to all this, as I came to learn after a couple of HCM systems implementations, was the ability to not only achieve but sustain adoption and usage.
"Configurable" has historically been used to describe the degree to which enterprise software, such as HCM systems, can readily adapt to a customer’s business and process requirements, ideally with no (or only modest) involvement from software experts or IT teams. The term will likely always have considerable value when evaluating HCM systems because, while not always top of mind with buyers, the level of configurability in applications is essential for achieving key strategic goals, such as elevating organizational agility. Configurability is the means, but when an enterprise can react or adapt to indications of potential business risks or opportunities with quick, decisive workforce actions and decisions, this is the true business opportunity in the configurability and flexibility equation. Organizational agility is one of the most reliable paths to sustaining competitive advantage. Think of the situation where a large consultancy has determined they can successfully bring a new service offering to the market. They must quickly and effectively execute a broad range of workforce-related activities including, in some cases, conducting a type of analysis or tracking some information for the first time. Their agility is clearly aided by having an adaptable HCM system.
Payroll management is one of the six major focus areas in the Human Capital Management research and advisory practice at Ventana Research. The umbrella term “continuous payroll” is used to connote the always-on nature of a modern payroll function and related demands of supporting technologies. It’s an appropriate term, especially considering that one of the most significant advances in payroll management in decades is “on-demand pay,” also known as earned wage access, which is as continuous as you can get.