Human resources software helps small companies

Many small companies can't afford a human-resources department. As a result, these companies often struggle with tasks and information usually managed by human-resources employees, such as salary data, performance reviews and hiring new employees.

However, according to The Wall Street Journal, software products are emerging to help employers manage this information. The software usually is not difficult to install and use and can store information about employees, salary and past performance. Dozens of products offer Web-based systems that can manage and organize employee information, and many vendors offer monthly subscriptions to make commitment easier and more flexible.

"A lot of vendors are targeting this market," says Brian Wilkerson, national practice director for talent management at Watson Wyatt, Denver. "Done right, it can really reduce the burden on human resources."

Some software recommends phrases for a manager who has never written a performance review; for example, if the manager rates an employee a five, the software will prompt the use of phrases such as "outstanding performer" or "met all goals." Other software can keep track of recruitment information by providing screening questions for potential employees, alerts when someone applies for a job or links to a Microsoft Outlook calendar to schedule interviews.

"We've been able to hire faster," says Jim Lemke, director of organizational development at Opportunity International, Oak Brook, Ill. "We have a tool to do the work a human was doing on the front end."

There are some concerns regarding the human-resources software. Some say employees in small, less-structured companies would be turned off by the corporate stigma involved. Others warn that some businesses may take on too much because they think the software can solve all their problems.

However, many believe the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, offering the ability to identify and reward high performers. And the growing market is pushing software companies to constantly improve their products, making it easier to get the best product available.

Following are some tips when considering human-resources software:
  • Buy only the functionalities that your company will use.
  • Make sure the product is user-friendly.
  • Be sure a vendor can demonstrate how the product pays off and backs it up with data.
  • Check to see whether customer service support is offered.
  • Make sure the product is compatible with your company's current systems.
  • Come up with a way measure the improvements that result from the new product, such as how many hours it takes to complete an annual performance review form compared with the old system.

Date : 11/27/2007