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HR Systems Coming of Age

Human resources system in the pre-computer era, were voluminous manuals that few employees had access to. It was impractical to have such a human resources management system and soon de-generated into limited functions such as payroll processing.

The advent and adoption of computers and specifically web based technology changed everything. The computer software companies that had paper review mechanisms turned to web-based reviews. Tracking employee background verification became much easier, with a mouse click the system could report the employees who had not submitted their degree certificates. The advances in technology also brought about new thought processes such as competency based management, periodic employee communication, etc. The time of bloom of web-based technology ushered in a new era in human resources management, thus it can be concluded that it was the sign of human resources systems coming of age.

The components of the human resources systems that became highly efficient were:

* Company policies communication
* The employee's record maintenance and tracking
* Employee performance review or appraisal process
* Employee re-imbursements

In the era of globalization and of outsourcing, customers put a huge emphasis on data security. In medium and large organization it is essential that each employee is made aware of the company policies. Companies such as British Telecom and Wipro Technologies have a documented gift policy. The gift policy gives guidelines to the employee on the type of gifts she can accept from a business associate. Thus the policies unambiguously communicated and made accessible in a centralized location was the first step towards increasing awareness of company policies among the employees. In modern organizations we find the clear articulation of policies such as ombuds process, prevention of sexual harassment, prevention of racial and gender based discrimination. This indicates the modern human resources management system has been well thought through.

During 2001 Carnegie Melon University’s Software Engineering Institute proposed People Capability Maturity Model (PCMM). PCMM though proposed by the software engineering institute was a system that could be adopted across industries. PCMM defines in precise terms the key processes to be performed to achieve a highly effective task force. The wide adoption of the model bears testimony to its usefulness. Today companies proudly advertise their level of maturity obtained as specified by PCMM.

The information technology boom of the 90’s also saw a significant focus put on leadership development. The companies mandated that a new leader went through a training program before she started to lead. The moulding of the new leader didn’t end with the training, but was seen as a continuous process. Thus organizations went ahead and implemented skip-level assessment and 360-degree assessment. In both these mechanisms of assessing a leader, the idea is that the leader gets frank and candid feedback from her reportees, peers and supervisors. Some companies even invite their customers to participate in giving feedback to their project leads. Thus the crop of young leaders emerged who were charged and well equipped.

The last decade saw the human resources management systems coming of age. The HR manager was no longer a strange person sitting in an ivory tower, but an affable person who was accessible to all. More importantly, companies hired young HR managers who interacted directly with the employees. These managers and thereby the system understand well the needs and aspirations of today’s employees.

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