If you’re in the market for a new HR system, getting to grips with the latest technologies is a must. Making the wrong choice could tie you into an inflexible system that restricts your choices – and leaves you out of pocket and out of favour.

About 18 months ago my son’s school announced – with great fanfare – a new parent portal. They’d spent months putting together the forms parents could complete online, uploading pictures and documents and structuring information in a way that was easy to navigate and manage. Problem was, it couldn’t be used from a tablet or mobile. The result? An avalanche of complaints. They had to throw it all out and start again. Parents just weren’t prepared to use a system they couldn’t connect to from their favourite device, or use when they were on the move.

The same is increasingly true of HR software. If employees and their managers can’t easily use the system from their tablet, home PC, Mac or smartphone, they won’t fully engage with your HR system. And, if they don’t engage, you won’t see the real benefits such a system can deliver, and could even end up having to start all over again.

That’s where HTML5 comes in…

What is HTML5?

HTML5 is the latest version of Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), the standard programming language that tells your web browser how something should appear on your screen. First proposed by Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, in 1989, HTML was intended to ensure that all web pages would appear the same, irrespective of the browser that was being used. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out that way. At least, not until now.

The companies developing the browser software that runs on your PC, mobile and tablet, were more interested in pushing the boundaries of what their technology could do (and therefore what the browser would support), than following a standard that was intended to make everything appear in the same way on every device. The result was chaos. Thankfully today that attitude has changed. That’s partly because HTML5, and the browsers it runs in, now supports more features than in the past. Because no one really has a monopoly anymore, they wouldn’t want to run the risk of developing technology that may take them down a blind alley.

PC, Mac, Tablet, Phablet, Smartphone…

Cloud software that’s been developed using the HTML5 standard – like Cezanne HR – can be used from any device with a modern HTML5-compatible browser – PC, Mac, tablet, phablet or smartphone. This includes the latest releases of all of the most used browsers, i.e. Google Chrome, IE, Safari and Firefox.

As importantly, with HTML applications can be developed to be responsive. That means that they’ll automatically adjust how they display information to suit the size or orientation of the screen – which may mean, displaying menus in different ways, or showing fields under each other (rather than side by side) on a small screen.

HTML5 brings other benefits too. Pages are faster to load (so you’ll get better performance) and new features can be developed, tested and delivered more quickly than in the past. We no longer have to develop for, and test in, multiple browsers each with their own ways of doing things.

Naturally, HTML5 can’t accommodate everything. Even with responsive design, it’s hard to cram all the information it makes sense to display on a tablet or PC into the space available on your phone. Apps developed specifically for mobiles will provide a better user experience. We’ll be continuing to support and enhance the mobile apps we’ve developed for Cezanne HR.

You’ll also need to use the latest browsers to run HTML5, otherwise, it simply won’t be able to load your screens. There are plenty of other good reasons why you should update your browser – security being the most important. You can read the latest advice on browsers from UK government and Get Safe Online.

So, when you next evaluate HR software, don’t forget to check which devices the HR system can be used on, and whether it’s responsive. Maybe even arrange to test drive the system from home, so you can see how it really performs.

Sue Lingard author image

Sue Lingard

Sue studied Personnel Management at the London School of Economics before taking on management roles in the travel, recruitment and finally HR software industry. She's particularly interested in how technologies enable HR teams - and the people they support - to work better together.