There was no debate, no disagreement, just a sea of nodding heads. 'We know that performance management systems don't work and most people hate then. The same usually applies to succession planning as well. That's just a given'. It was an interesting start to a very engaging lunchtime discussion.
The occasion was the launch of the latest PARC research into HR, Technology and Analytics, a copy of which can be downloaded here. Andrew Lambert has done a great job updating his previous report and even though it is only a year on, it is surprising how much has changed in such a relatively short period of time.
As well as the inevitable conversations about the relevance of performance management that always surface at such events, there were two real key topics of interest that were independent, but closely related.
The first was how the roles and influences of different parts of the organisation have shifted. There was a view that until recently the IT function used to operate in its ivory tower, the final arbiter of which systems the business would develop. Then, with the advent of the cloud, the HR department; historically the poor relation when it comes to systems investment, suddenly saw the opportunity to deliver new capabilities to the business without the restrictions imposed by the constraints of an enterprise architecture model. In this age when organisations will either be 'digital or dead' the importance of talent and skills that drive innovation are paramount. This is now being recognised and reflected in a change in the relationship between the two functions.
The second key topic was the role that both the legal and security departments occupy in this increasingly digital age. With regard to the former, it is recognised that technology has advanced dramatically, yet the legal frameworks in which we operate have failed to keep pace. This is compounded by the fact that even though organisations are increasingly operating in a global manner, this appears to contrast with the apparent proliferation of local legislative requirements concerning issues such as access rights, data privacy, data location, data protection, etc.
The discussion around security was equally alarming. It was suggested, with authority, that eight out of ten organisations have been successfully hacked, yet most either won't or can't admit it. This need not be the case. Indeed, technology already exists to ensure that both data and devices can be adequately safeguarded, but the subject needs to be taken seriously. For example, it is obviously important that data about our people is encrypted when it is at rest, but equally, what about when that data is in transit, do we have the same high level of security?
The risk when considering new systems is to say 'That one looks nice and seems to do the job OK'. It might do, but it pays to look under the covers just to make sure. The devil could well be in the detail and you do not want to make a mistake!