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HR Software: Requiem for a Paperweight

A new wave of Web-enabled software helps companies to streamline HR services -- and size up worker skills.

But not all industry watchers believe ERP software is ideally suited for simplifying human resources functions. Says Maria Schafer, a program director at Meta Group Inc., an information technology research and consulting firm: “Whether you’re talking about PeopleSoft or SAP or anyone else, these systems don’t do a terrific job of managing or of giving you a bird’s eye, at-a-glance view of what the really critical elements are as far as people are concerned.”

Certainly, many prominent floggers of business software were late in adding human capital management capabilities to their applications. That tardiness has given lesser-known companies a chance to fill the gap. But in recent months, several ebusiness application specialists — the artists formerly known as ERP vendors — released new versions of their enterprise resource planning software. The updated programs feature beefed-up self-service and workforce analytics capabilities.

SAP AG (www.sap.com/solutions/), for instance, came out with MySAP HR system version 4.6. This latest version of the human resources module from the Walldorf, Germany, software giant includes payroll and benefits capabilities, as well as succession planning. In addition, the toolset enables managers to analyze a workforce and develop a catalog of all skills needed to run a business. “You can also see which skills are needed to make up a job, which skills employees have, and then do a gap analysis to see if you have what you need to be successful,” points out Monica Barron, director of marketing for MySAP HR.

PeopleSoft Inc. (www.peoplesoft.com ), the Pleasanton, California-based software vendor, is also delving more heavily into human resources analytics with the latest version of its Workforce Analytics product suite. The suite comprises three separate products: Workforce Scorecard, Workforce Insight, and Workforce Rewards.

Scorecard offers more than 100 different measures of HR effectiveness, while Insight provides an analytical assessment of a workforce, and Rewards simulates various compensation strategies. That tool also does retention planning and risk assessment for various job titles. “A big part of this analytical modeling is that you don’t treat all employees the same way,” says Norma Penson, product director of Workforce Analytics at PeopleSoft. “Some employees are more critical to the organization than others.”

Paperwork Reduction Act

Some are also scattered across the globe. KLA-Tencor, for example, has some 6,000 employees in 19 countries. Crawford says the company completely revamped the home page on its corporate intranet, creating onscreen HR dashboards that can be accessed globally. Overseas employees can click on different dashboards to change addresses, view their stock option and 401(k) plans, and link to brokers to exercise options online.

US-based workers are also able to fill out timesheets electronically — a real paper saver. The employment verification process has been shortened, also using Web-based tools, and HR personnel are responding more quickly to potential candidates. That, claims Crawford, gives the company “an advantage over our competitors.”

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