Enter the HR technology specialist

HR roles evolve to meet organizational requirements of the 21st century.

The HR technology specialist is a relatively new position within the HR profession. Resulting from advancements within HRMS technology, this role combines a variety of different focuses, ranging from traditional HR tasks to those more commonly associated with IT.

“The ideal candidate for this position has a vast array of skills,” says Lynne Rollo, HR and payroll systems specialist at a leading Toronto legal office, Torys. “An HR technology specialist should have experience in human resources and payroll, as well as an understanding of information technology and the ability to grasp technological concepts. Project management and excellent communication skills are also an asset.

“A person that works in this capacity needs to understand all aspects of what they are working with. Not only do they need to have knowledge of current legislation and best practices in HR and payroll, but they must also be aware of new HR and payroll trends in the marketplace so that they can anticipate and plan for the future,” states Rollo.

Taking on IT tasks

The wide range of new features within today’s HRMS solutions has taken the mystery out of tasks that were once only within the responsibility of the information systems department, permanently altering the role of many HR professionals.

Wizard functionality, inherent in some HRMS solutions, provides HR technology specialists with the means to conduct business process mapping and workflow management with relative ease. Step-by-step wizards allow users to perform easily with just a few clicks of a mouse what were previously very complex functions.

Added functionality, like report writing or import/export capabilities that would have traditionally been sourced to a company’s IT department, can now be performed within the HR department. By not adding to IT’s workload, HR frees this resource-limited group to focus on more critical business tasks.

Online reporting technology offered in some mid-range HRMS solutions also allows less technologically experienced staff to run and view payroll reports online. In the past, gathering all of the proper data for a specific report and then organizing it into a comprehensive easily understood format was very time consuming.

The common-sense technology available with some HRMS packages also means that, in many cases, a company is no longer required to devote its technical resources to managing its HR and payroll systems.

“A person in this position must be literate with HRMS systems and have general systems knowledge, but need not have in-depth technical experience,” says Monica Beauregard, author of Hiring, Managing & Keeping the Best.

“Ideally the perfect candidate would have enough systems experience to understand if a task could be done with an HRMS system and in what period of time, but not necessarily need to know how to program it.”

Many high-end HRMS systems, especially those associated with enterprise resource planning vendors, require heavy IT support and customization from departments that are typically already overloaded. With mid-tier HRMS solutions, HR technology specialists and the HRMS users can set up, manage and support HRMS systems with very little IT support.

The recent introduction of HRMS solutions that require minimal IT involvement have had a direct impact on the genesis of the HR technology specialist role. The specialist is in a position to combine a focus on strategic activities such as employee development, analyzing and improving business processes, and building and maintaining relationships with vendors, while also managing their organization’s HRMS solution.

“The technological advances that have been made and the newest functionality provided by HRMS systems have allowed the HR technology specialist profession to expand at a rapid rate,” says Rollo. “Now that a company no longer has to maintain many different HR and payroll systems, and the functionality with a single system is easier to manage, HR technology specialists are able to expand their scope within a company.”

The advent of the HR technology specialist has been aided by the latest trends in HRMS technology. As technology advances in the HR industry, so will the reach and value that the HR technology specialist brings to an organization.

Jeff Koven is vice-president of Toronto-based Cyborg Systems Canada, Inc. He can be reached at [email protected] or www.cyborg.com.

Technology advancements streamline traditional tasks

The advent of the HR technology specialist is due in part to easier-to-use technology, now available in many HRMS solutions. This technology has made a variety of basic HR tasks easier to complete, leaving HR professionals able to focus on more complex and strategic tasks.

Separate systems no longer need to be maintained for HR, payroll and benefits due to the integrated solutions now offered by the majority of HRMS vendors. Organizations can now enter, maintain and report on consolidated data that is managed in a central location.

“The advances in HRMS technology have saved our organization a tremendous amount of time and effort,” says Quentin McDonnell, senior programmer analyst at Vancouver City Savings Credit Union. “We used to enter data five different times in order to maintain our different systems. Now we enter it once into a central area where we are able to access it for many different functions through importing and exporting facilities.

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