It is common practice for people to reminisce about past when they could buy a whole lot of things for a certain amount of money – say 100 dollars or even 10 dollars, depending on their vintage – and how what you get for 100 dollars today can be carried out to the car by a 3 year old because it would contain almost nothing! Invariably, the listeners are in agreement. But what if you walked into a Dell or Apple store, would you be saying the same thing? What is the cost of a First Generation iPad today compared to the day it was released? Is it costlier? No wonder the prices of technology have a way of turning the most adventurous among today’s managers into procrastinating Prince Hamlets! Even the knowledge that the features of the available product meet all their current needs is not sufficient to make someone forget that a later version will soon come by and offer even better features and functions. This is a daunting thought which makes the prospect of choosing a product highly unsettling.
Technology today has a way of being upgraded, copied and reproduced or on occasions, totally replaced by an innovation which outperforms all its predecessors. Investing thousands (or, millions) of dollars to improve the efficiency of the HR of an organization in a technology solution, needs the HR Team’s blessings more than the IT team’s; mainly because the IT team has no way of understanding all the intricacies of the requirements of the HR team and its expectations from the product. It is an inevitable fact of life that whatever product you may choose will get replaced some day by another which works better, faster and has more features. That is no reason why we should forego the benefits of what is available and ready-to-use at this point in time, notwithstanding its cost or specifications.
One way to handle the issue is to look beyond the features at the product and the solution providers. See if the solution provider has retained a commitment and focus on revising and developing the product a few years after bringing it to the market. Assess the team to check that they are committed to the product and have a long term vision – and not just interested in selling out to bigger players to remain an innovative additional feature to their solution. Choosing such a provider will ensure that we can continue to use the solution and find continued support and upgrades to better features through the same service provider, which would keep us abreast of developments in the area of features and functions.
Once assured of the solution provider’s dependability in the long term, the product needs to be considered from aspects that make it current. Today’s HR products have some important attributes which are considered must-haves; one of them is technology-based self-service which is accessible to all the employees in a web-based online format making global participation possible. The importance of HR administrative data systems enabling business analytics and intelligence is also gaining recognition for its importance in supporting strategic management and setting future vision for the organization.
I am seriously concerned by the sudden thought that by failing to mention that I am penning this in July 2011, on a fine day in future – I may become a laughing stock for readers for naming such common place features like self-service and web-based formats as brave new additions!
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