HR Technology Q & A with Nick Sanchez

The 2016 HR Technology Conference is October 4-7. Over the next week The SHRM Blog will feature a Q & A series with several HR technology experts who will offer their perspective on how technology is impacting the HR profession today -- and their predictions for the future.


The following is a Q & A with Namely Chief People Officer, Nick Sanchez. 
Q.  What is the single most important piece of technology an HR pro can have in 2016?
A system of record for employee data.  The most powerful tool an HR professional can have is accurate and relevant employee data that can be accessed with the click of a button.  This is increasingly important with the recent changes to HR laws.   An effective HRIS allows for organizations to make real-time, educated decisions on changes to employee statuses, payroll, and benefits—the key drivers of HR compliance and foundation for a human capital strategy.  
More importantly, accurate HR data supports the ability to run analyses that support talent strategy and business goals.  As an HR leader today, you must be able to link performance and compensation, engagement and demographics, and recognition and retention, because that gives you the ability to understand how actions will truly impact your people and your business.
Q. What important questions should HR professionals ask HR technology vendors in the selection process?
The two most important questions you should ask are: 
• What does your platform do ten times better than anyone else?
• How do you integrate with other applications?
The first question helps me understand the vendor’s focus and passion. I look for companies that have solved a few challenges with precision and depth versus those that try to do everything.  The second question tells me if I’ll be able to integrate seamlessly and create the technology stack I want, or if I’m going to spend a lot of time managing data between systems.  I strongly prefer the former.
Q. What advice do you have for HR professionals that will help to ensure a more successful technology implementation?  Where are most mistakes made?
Success in implementation is based on the mindset and approach of your HR team.  I’ve seen that HR professionals who are data-driven, process-oriented and communicative have a great and timely experience.
I’m going to go back to my original point around data. First and foremost, make sure your employee and HR data is complete and in a format that allows for upload into the new system.
Second, ensure you are following the project plan in place and meeting the necessary deadlines on your end.  I’d recommend a clear project owner and decision making framework/clarity up front. 
Finally, continuous, open communication with the vendor is critical to keep the process moving forward.  It should be a true partnership.  Responding to your implementation lead in a timely matter, asking questions during calls, and working together to overcome roadblocks are all keys to success.
Q.  Now that everyone is using HR technology to find and manage employees, how can organizations use technology to attract them?
The right HR technology empowers employees, makes their lives easier, and helps them grow and develop.  Those are all the ingredients of a better workplace, which, in my experience, attracts great talent.
Q. New HR technology no longer looks to automate, but to improve the “employee experience”.  How are you using HR tech at your organization to improve the employee experience?
We start using HR Tech on day one. Our integrated HR, payroll, and benefits software has paperless onboarding. Employees elect benefits, complete their profiles – like social media – and then land in our company newsfeed where they are immediately welcomed by the team.  Employees can get up to speed on what’s happening, view the org chart, and start engaging with their coworkers right away. And they’ll get to check out posts from their new colleagues.
Modern, user-friendly software also creates a great experience for employees beyond the first day. It makes all HR functions easy: time off, reviews, looking up coworkers, finding documents. My favorite part is having a company newsfeed. It’s the one place employees can go to find anything people-related, from HR announcements to recognition for awesome work. It really defines our culture and keeps us all on the same page.
The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

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