HR Manager's Bookshelf<br> HR can lead the way in the Web world

E-Work Architect: How HR leads the way using the Internet
Edited by Al Doran, IHRIM (2001). (312) 321-5141,

Experts and practitioners contributed to this collection, which guides readers on topics like developing an HR Web site, maximizing the value of the site and employee self-service.

The book’s main premise is an exciting one:

“HR is not only using the Internet, but in many ways is leading the way in business today. HR is throwing out the binders and moving volumes of information to Internet/intranet sites, enabling employee and manager self-service applications to improve organizational effectiveness. It would seem that the Internet and intranet were created specifically for human resources and they have embraced the technology and used it to their strategic advantage,” writes Al Doran, the book’s editor, Canadian consultant and president of the International Association for Human Resource Information Management.

In one chapter, John Sullivan of San Francisco State University, paints a picture of a walk through a 21st Century HR Department, one where HR assumes more of a leadership role, changing faster than the rest of the organization in implementing better ways to do things. Managers do “all” HR, making all people-related decisions. E-HR is the way to monitor performance, recruit people, conduct training and handle employee relations.

U.S. consultant John Pask identifies technological problems related to employee self-service, and outlines future trends that will truly support employees and their performance:

•improve vertical and horizontal communication within the organization;
•provide access to information that improves employees’ ability to perform their jobs and make smarter decisions; and
•manage employment records.
Human capital management systems are the focus of a chapter by Nicholas Krenytzky of PeopleSoft Inc. He addresses five challenges:
•manage competencies effectively;
•recruit the right people;
•retain and motivate people once recruited;
•monitor, forecast and plan for change; and
•support globalization.

Alexia Martin of The Hunter Group provides an overview of self-service and portal return on investment (ROI) and value propositions to justify the investment required. She uses an activity-based costing approach to demonstrate cost reductions and outlines metrics and benchmarking sources. She points out, however, that more innovative approaches such as justification of investment (JOI) are needed to capture value-adding opportunities in areas like talent acquisition and management, training and development, employee communications and vendor alliances.

Other chapters include:

•a Web site case study from the Mayo Clinic;
•HRIS security in a Web/intranet world; and
•10 reasons to use an intranet for training.

Web-Based Human Resources
Edited by Alfred J. Walker, McGraw Hill (2001). 1-800-565-5758,

Key trends in HR technologies are covered in this comprehensive book written by Towers Perrin consultants from across the world. Among the technological developments explored in the book are:

•HR service centres;
•HRIS systems and databases;
•stand-alone HR applications; and
•data marts and warehouses.

At the core of the book is the issue of self-service for employees with benefits related to efficiency, data quality, empowerment, process improvements and integration at the individual level.

Here the objectives include improved HR service delivery, speed, simplification, cost reduction and improved manager access to vital data.

A chapter is specifically devoted to HR’s transformation into a more proactive, less administrative, more efficient and effective corporate function and how HR success drivers translate into organization success drivers, organization capabilities and financial performance.

“The emergence of HR portals and self-service technologies has created a major new opportunity for the HR function. Organizations can at last alter HR structure and roles to provide more support to the line businesses, reduce HR delivery costs, and develop new and exciting services for their internal customers. At the same time, HR can give its customers more personalized plans and programs.”

Another central message is emphasized in a chapter on planning an HR-technology strategy and Web architecture. A strategic plan addresses business and performance goals, and helps avoid the tendency to adopt a particular technology just because it has a high profile at the moment.

Chapters on specific functional HR areas include Web-delivered benefits and compensation planning. A look at Web-based staffing encompasses workforce analysis, sourcing, assessment and selection, hiring, deployment and retention.

A chapter is devoted to performance management with its goals of identifying high performers, improving performance and productivity, and ensuring that managers play an active role in employee development.

“Internet-age performance management” entails the use of online appraisal forms, collection and analysis of peer and customer feedback, individual scorecards, ERP modules to track performance, and self-paced learning programs. Performance management is linked to other HR programs and practices including:

•rewards programs;
•succession planning;
•leadership development;
•annual operating cycles; and
•retention systems.

Chapters on employee development and knowledge management address training, coaching and mentoring, communities of practice, collaboration, learning communities and measurement.

A substantial section of the book also deals with designing and implementing Web-based HR.

Throughout, the authors urge “process re-engineering first, then e-engineering.” This means streamlining the work itself, and clarifying roles and outcomes, before implementing a technology enabler.

21 Tomorrows: HR Systems in the Emerging Workplace of the 21st Century
Edited by Robert H. Stambaugh, IHRIM (2000). (312) 321-5141,

This set of original articles by thought leaders and HRMS experts was originally reviewed in Canadian HR Reporter, Oct. 23, 2000. The tone is non-technical, and the 21 articles have value for HR professionals, functional HR and IS staff, and for senior management perspectives as well.

Information Anxiety 2
By Richard Saul Wurman, Que. (2001). Available at bookstores.

This book is not specifically about HR intranets, but may provide stimulating reading for anyone involved in designing Web-based information delivery. How can messages and services best be delivered to people who are inundated with information and often confused by the way it’s presented? The book is about the “land mines in the understanding field” and points to the need to structure information and interactions around questions and integrated messages.

Ray Brillinger is a senior consultant with the IBM Consulting Group. He provides change management, business transformation and organization effectiveness services to client organizations. He can be reached at (905) 316-4646 or [email protected].

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