The intersection between HR strategy and HR technology

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Everyone wants global data.  They want it in a global HRMS, or in a data warehouse.  They want shared accessible data in communized practices and processes.  They want the ability to roll-up data and aggregate reports and dashboards.  They want workflow that crosses borders, and business units.  To be honest, all of this is quite simple.  The technology easily exists to do all of this and more.  The problem is not the technology, but the cultures involved when you do global deployments.

I’m going to simplify things, and speak in the generalities of 3 major regions.  The Americas (usually the U.S. based business, but also encompassing at least North American partners) has reached a maturity in global business where they have a decent understanding about how to deploy global systems.  U.S. multi-nationals have realized that good adoption of a global system will include early interaction from the global business partners.  Even then, the U.S. is highly region-centric and doesn’t get the cost and complexity of trying to integrate global requirements into a single HRMS, although they generally really do try (now).  And all of this is if a U.S. based business is calling the shots.  More on the U.S. as a non-HQ region in a second.

EMEA (usually just a European business) justifiably think that they are quite unique.  In fact, most American’s simply don’t understand the complex business environment that exists in EMEA.  American’s tend to think the labor laws and financial requirements that exist in the U.S. must far surpass any complexity in EMEA, but that is far from true.  EMEA is insanely difficult as you deploy languages, compliance requirements, differences in dealing with unions and work councils, and cross borders (lots of them).  When EMEA is the HQ country, Europeans are a bit behind the U.S. in understanding global HR requirements.  I’ll use the SAP system as a general example.  SAP was always far behind any other HR systems in formulating their HR requirements.  They simply didn’t see them as important, and the functionality was lead by U.S. based software companies.  It really was not until the early 2000’s that SAP started to understand, but by then, other software companies had a decade head start.  Even today, U.S. based
software companies seem to be far ahead in the area of advanced functionality.

Asia/Pac seems to be its own annoying world.  Not only are they fairly antagonistic to “West-lead” initiatives, but they often don’t agree with the approach.  I’ll have to give Japan a release on this one, but countries like China are becoming an integral part of global enterprises.  Unfortunately, China is a prime example of a country that can literally hire 100 people just to run manual processes and still have a positive ROI versus implementing automation.  Still, Asian subs and business units seem to like to do things their own way.

The core problem with global data is not about the technology.  In fact, it’s really not even about the peculiarities of the HQ  cultures.  Instead, there is a global problem that simply points to the fact that each HQ places prime importance in the requirements that are most visible – their own.  Alternative requirements don’t have as lofty a place, and when global systems are then implemented on top of biased priorities, you end up getting really unhappy region and business units.

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2 responses to “Global HRMS Cultural Issues”

  1. […] professions are in the highest demand. Cheezhead – Wednesday, July 15, 2009 READ MORE Global HRMS Cultural Issues I’ll use the SAP system as a general example.  SAP was always far behind any other HR systems […]

  2. Nicholas Glass Avatar
    Nicholas Glass

    These are very interesting points on the complexities of global technology deployments. Even if a global data warehouse is deployed, the next level (measure definition) can become even more complex.

    A system that allows reports and dashboards to display multiple versions of the same basic measure, according to regional definitions, may provide greater analytical insights across the globe. In order to truly “level the playfield” global analysis should take into consideration local/regional definitions. This may increase the number of measures and dimensions for global teams to manage and consider. However, if it is done properly, it could help to alleviate the “unhappy” region and business units by giving them an opportunity to display their own definitions.