With this year’s HR Software Show fast approaching (Olympia, 18th-19th June), the issue of exactly what kind of HR technology to opt for is uppermost in people’s minds.

So it’s interesting to see recent research from Towers Watson which underlines the important role HR solutions can play in helping organisations manage both their people and their business better.

The 2014 HR Service Delivery and Technology Survey shows that despite cost cutting in some areas of HR, there has been a real spike in technology spending.

Of the thousand plus global companies surveyed, one in three said they planned to spend more on HR technology in the coming year than in the previous one.  For the second consecutive year, respondents identified streamlining their processes as their most important HR initiative.

The report’s authors suggest that this shift towards “high impact HR investments” show a commitment to running the HR function more like a business.  So if you are looking for technology that will help you streamline HR processes and have a real impact on business performance, what are the five features you should be looking out for?

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

SaaS has revolutionised the HR technology market in recent years. There is no longer any need for companies to invest in buying and maintaining expensive hardware or to worry about continually updating software.  The latest solutions are hosted in the Cloud, taking IT-related headaches away and giving users the ability to log in securely at any time and from wherever they may be.  Systems such as Cezanne HR also offer regular automatic updates and new features – meaning that users always have access to the most up-to-date version of the product at no extra cost.

Mobile technology

The Towers Watson survey found that use of mobile technology is growing apace.  Nearly half (46 per cent) of the respondents reported using mobile technologies for their HR processes, up from 36 per cent the previous year.  Make sure that whichever HR solution you buy can also be accessed on mobile devices – or at the very least that mobile functionality is being developed.  The world of work is changing rapidly and people are now more dependent than ever on their phones and tablets.  It is inevitable that as this trend continues, employees will expect to be able to manage their HR transactions in this way – and of course there are benefits to the business too in terms of speed of communication and streamlining of processes.

HR Portals

Use of HR portals is also on the rise. Sixty per cent of respondents to  the Towers Watson survey reported having an HR portal in place, while a further 20 per cent were in the process of developing one.  HR portals provide a central place where all key HR documents and policies can be housed and easily accessed by managers and employees. But they are much more than just a repository for information.  Used to their fullest extent, these portals are an influential communication tool which can help companies build engagement, encourage internal networking and get just-in-time feedback from employees.  Of course they are also a great tool for facilitating collaboration, allowing people to exchange ideas and share knowledge and stimulating greater innovation across the business.


HR and line managers often spend valuable hours answering queries about how much annual leave people have left, what the correct procedure is for reporting in sick, when the next performance appraisal is due ……  It gets in the way of them focusing on the more important aspects of their job – and leads to frustration in the team when people can’t get quick answers to simple questions.  Hardly surprising then that 60 per cent of companies in the Towers Watson survey say they want to increase their use of self service tools in the future. Any HR system worth its salt will have self-service functionality built in so that employees can update their own personal data and manage their annual leave allocation and so that managers have an overview of what’s happening in their team and can manage their people more efficiently.

Continually evolving systems

The latest generation HR systems are capable of growing and evolving alongside your business.  Solutions like Cezanne HR, for example, are offered on a pay-as-you-go basis, which means you only ever pay for the number of active employees at any one time and can scale up easily as the business expands. It also has a modular format, which means you can start with HR basics, such as employee information and absence management, and add other features such as performance management or an HR portal later on. Beware of static systems or those that will be expensive to update. Make sure the supplier you choose has an eye on the future and is constantly seeking your feedback, keeping apace of developments in HR and  looking for new and useful features to add.

For more advice about HR software solutions and what’s right for your business, visit us at stand H420 at the HR Software Show. We look forward to seeing you!