From the Presidential Election to HR Technology – the Year of Disruption


Republican or Democrat … Conservative or progressive … Establishment or anti-establishment … Wherever you fall on the political spectrum – or whether you’re just an observer – it’s difficult to think of the 2016 presidential election as anything other than disruptive. It’s not the same ol’ presidential election. Old assumptions and rules no longer apply.

Likewise, in the world of federal HR technology, 2016 is a year of disruption.

Which makes perfect sense. The initial wave of federal HR technology came about at the turn of the century. Big, new systems and implementations were developed and built – at a big expense. Then, new companies and systems emerged to address online hiring and more. In the area of talent acquisition software, the government itself even got into the game, with USAStaffing from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

And that’s where we got stuck, for many years.

But the tide is finally shifting.

How Five Legacy Problems Inspire Disruption

Let’s look at five key shortcomings of agency legacies, and how they will inspire advancements to define 2016 as a year of disruption for federal HR technology:

  1. All-or-Nothing: Legacy acquisition has been the same for years – big RFI, big RFP, big purchase – and long, expensive deployment and implementation times that lock an agency into a solution which can’t adapt to evolving needs and requirements.

The Disruption: The most advanced modern solutions don’t require a huge commitment of resources, time or money. These systems can easily accommodate rapid deployments as a pilot, allowing agencies to see a solution in action before full deployment. Because they can run in the cloud, resource investment is also minimized, while simultaneously bolstering IT concerns such as security.

  1. Lack of Configurability: The original legacies are inflexible, unable to readily and affordably respond to the diverse staffing needs of agencies, or any changes impacting staffing. Instead, the systems dictate processes. And if a change must be made, it takes plenty of time and money to do so.

The Disruption: Today’s best new solutions bring broad flexibility, enabling configurations that can be made quickly and easily, without paying big sums to outside consultants. This high level of configurability lets agencies keep the processes they want, without being forced to make modifications to accommodate the software. Rules engines provide an integrated workflow which ensures the right information is delivered to the right stakeholder at the right time. Additional value is realized as customers acquire integrated business process management “out of the box,” with little or no costly system set-up time.

  1. Lack of Analytics and Reporting: Legacies capture little or no data, with no ability to gain insights from current agency activities. Therefore, systems are a step above an all-manual effort, but far short from commanding the capabilities which data enables for virtually all disciplines today to help organizations improve decision-making.

The Disruption: Data related to every action, activity and point in the system is captured, allowing reporting on everything. This produces insights for faster and better decisions. Furthermore, as agencies fight for their piece of the budgetary pie, the old adage “what gets measured gets done” is modified to “what gets measured gets funded and what gets funded gets done.” The best people analytics solutions now deliver that measurement for senior executives and other leaders.

  1. Closed Systems: HR legacies face notorious difficulties in interacting with other systems. When trying to build an integrated solution that melds core HR and payroll with talent acquisition, onboarding, performance, employee engagement, succession planning, learning and development, this lack of integration presents huge hurdles.

The Disruption: Today’s disruptive technology strives for full interoperability and seamless integration with third-party solutions. It is designed with an open architecture to create a free flow of information enterprise-wide, establishing a single, fully integrated talent management ecosystem.

  1. Accessibility: Given that the legacies were mostly developed more than a decade ago with little or no improvements since then, they carry the baggage of inaccessibility and poor usability, with no access to important data.

The Disruption: Powerful people analytics lend insights about all aspects of HR operations. In addition, they’re designed with users’ mobile tools in mind, providing anytime/anywhere access, ensuring that the needs of today’s HR leadership and staff are met.

Forward-Thinking Agencies Empower Change

In the modern era of rapid change, no presidential candidate – establishment or anti-establishment – would dare venture into the race without access to detailed analytics on constituents’ preferences and voting tendencies.

Amazingly until recently, the world of federal HR technology has not changed since nearly the turn of the century. The same agencies have depended upon the same solutions – year after year, expensive, constraining, inflexible contract after expensive, constraining, inflexible contract

But change is underway, as forward-thinking agencies recognize that a new way of doing things is here now, triggering advancements never imagined before.

The year of disruption for federal HR technology is upon us. Is your agency ready?

Joe Abusamra is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

Leave a Comment


Leave a Reply