By Daniel Richard, Head of Talent Enablement Organization for MEA & APAC at Tecnotree

Over the last few decades, the role of human resources (HR) has evolved exponentially from management functions such as industrial relations, personnel management, compliance management and the various transactional aspects of people management, to a strategic partnering function focused on business centric value creation. And from nurturing employee relationships and fostering transparent communication – the cornerstones of a culture of high performance and learning – human resources has expanded to include the building of a progressive and sustained talent management ecosystem, one in tandem with current and future business objectives.

HR continues to be a frontrunner in building strong organizations with future-ready talent capabilities to drive business growth and enhance both the employee and business value proposition. Certainly, people management has seen a massive transformation since its inception, and in this article, we will explore the next big thing: digital transformation and its impact on operational excellence in people management.

How do you define (digital) operational excellence?

Operational excellence is the delivery of a faster, more cost-efficient and better experience for employees. Consequently, digital operational excellence refers to the delivery of customer-centric value through process automation or by harnessing the power of digital in any and all serviceable ways.

The digital age is moving at such a fast pace that it is fundamentally transforming the way organizations operate, both in the private and public sectors. Companies have been pushed to think differently in managing service delivery, which has influenced how operating models are designed. The profound effects on the various functions and roles of HR have compelled these departments to identify new approaches to managing people.

Needs for digital operational excellence in HR management

Digital transformation is here to stay and continues to disrupt both industries and our everyday lives. An MIT research study stated that 90% of CEOs believe that the digital economy will impact their industry, but less than 15% are executing any kind of digital strategy.

As the magnitude of data gets bigger and privacy takes center stage, organizations and HR leaders face new opportunities in managing and protecting data. This has resulted in:

  • Accelerating process automation through innovative tools and injecting it into the organization’s culture and DNA.
  • Churning out meaningful insights to create better management and more efficient business decisions.
  • Measuring outcomes and testing the effectiveness of decisions through technology-based enablers.
  • Designing tailor-made people development programs for increased employee engagement and stronger talent retention.
  • Nurturing a culture of preventive maintenance rather than breakdown maintenance, one focused on improved productivity.

Developing a future-ready talent force by understanding the business growth priorities and building talent roadmaps is essential in order to embrace new opportunities and rapid business growth.

Transforming people’s experience through digitalization

Digitalizing human resources is beneficial to the business in multiple ways:

  • By automating the talent acquisition (TA) lifecycle through cloud-based platforms and tools, recruiters can spend more quality time with candidates and build stronger relationships. Simplifying the application journey for candidates through superior web or mobile-enabled platforms turns them into silent brand advocates for the organization. Also, offering a single page real-time dashboard on TA progress reports to hiring managers and business heads saves time, freeing them up for other work. This moves the focus to more meaningful conversations such as optimizing the talent force and costs, and building a future talent roadmap for the business.
  • People engagement through digitalized, AI/ML-powered and gamified platforms will help business partners stay in constant contact with employees and better understand their aspirations, needs and concerns, enabling the business partners to design dynamic and relevant programs for better employee engagement and retention. This also extends an opportunity for employees to see business partners as their career advisors and relationship managers. Such stronger interaction helps build healthier conversations about how their career roadmap can be built and the possibilities of cross-functional rotations as well as upskilling and sharing domain/technical/soft skills. This synergy also nurtures the employee/HR partnership and improves engagement scores. 
  • One of the key challenges that most organizations face today is how to improve the collaboration within, especially between cross-functional and regional teams. Developing and extending a forum to learn from in-house talent (such as a group with similar passions and interests) can improve collaboration between teams.
  • Nowadays, most operations can run through the click of a button and seamless integration with internal tools. Creating one-click access to a host of internal applications and combining it with mobile-enabled features provides a superior experience, leading to efficient service delivery and timely solutions to problems. Enabling FAQs and video-based tutorials will allow them to experience true digital transformation.

Some best practices to adopt

Though not entirely full-proof, these are some useful best practices that organizations can follow:

  • Start now, as there is no better time to embark on your operational excellence journey.
  • Choose a big bang enterprise product or a simple plug-and-play, cloud-enabled platform based on the needs of your organization.
  • Have adequate AI/ML-powered tools and a strong, agile execution team with a digital mindset to ensure the best way forward.
  • Create a well-determined and robust plan, a clear roadmap and a phased milestone-based delivery that will help you stay on course during the entire journey.
  • Choose the right integration partners and foster the right amount of motivation from the execution and management teams, allowing them to accomplish the digital journey faster and better.

The journey continues!

The future is unpredictable with talent demands changing rapidly, so delivering operational excellence has become a business necessity.

Even for the best businesses, creating a superior employee and customer experience is still a work in progress. Digital operational excellence is a continuous process, one requiring the flexibility to adapt to the ever-changing needs and expectations of both customers and employees, while welcoming the influence of new and emerging technologies.

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