For those of us not immersed in the world of interface technology and design, it’s easy to assume that all mobile HR apps provide a similar experience for the people using them. If a software supplier says they have a mobile app, and it lets employees do X, Y and Z, the box is ticked and we move on to the next question.selfsercive_mobile_en

However, do you remember just how painful it was to plan a journey, find a local restaurant, or check the weather forecast before you had a smartphone? And how much simpler it is now, especially if you’ve downloaded a native app to your phone or tablet?

The same is true with HR software. Some suppliers have devoted time and money to re-developing their software to take advantage of newer, easier to use interface technologies. Others have stayed with older interfaces, and these can be difficult — if not downright impossible — to use from tablets or smartphones.
Today, we expect to be able to connect to our own information from any device, at any time. The same is true of HR software. If the mobile interface that comes with your HRMS isn’t up to date, you could be condemning your employees to an endlessly frustrating experience — which could perhaps put the uptake of your system at risk.

What to avoid ….

Interfaces based on older technologies such as Adobe’s Flex or Microsoft’s Silverlight are increasingly rare. While these worked well initially (although not on all devices), browser technology has moved on, and they’ve been left behind. HTML-based interfaces prior to the latest release (HTML5) are still very common, but are best avoided. These only run on some devices (not Apple), and are considerably more limiting than HTML5. For example, screens don’t scale to fit the size of the device, so often feel cumbersome and difficult to use.

And what to embrace…

Native apps almost always provide the best experience. They follow the design and functionality guidelines of the manufacture; and take advantage of the operating system – for example to improve page load time. However, since a different app needs to be developed and maintained for every operating system, HR software usually focus on just the most popular platforms: currently Android and Apple iOS.

See Cezanne HR’s mobile app in action.

The next best thing is HTML5 coupled with responsive design. What this means is that the contents of a screen will automatically rearrange themselves to fit the available space. For example, on a phone the information might take up a single column, whereas on a tablet it could be in two columns.

Since there are multitude of different screens sizes across PCs, MACs, laptops, tablets, phablets and phones (and more being introduced all the time) this flexibility can make all the difference between a system that is easy to navigate and use, and one that feels impossible.

By making it easy for employees to check holiday entitlements, submit absence requests or timesheets, or even find contact information for colleagues across the business, from the device of their choice, when it’s convenient to them, you’ll save everybody time. If your mobile app only works on some devices, or is difficult to use, the chances are your HR system won’t deliver all of the benefits you were anticipating, for you, or your employees.

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.