Being Bold—Not Just for HR Anymore






Josh Bersin has led the market with a message for HR practitioners at all levels:  Be Bold! Take the reins, mobilize the troops, and capture the HR and Talent field in your organizations.  The mantra for the HR community includes – perhaps for the first time—words such as “innovate,” and “become data-driven,” to “boldly go where no HR team has gone before.”

Hyperbole aside for a minute, the charter remains; but stepping up to the proverbial plate requires fearlessness and gumption; willingness to take a risk, and the courage to lead. Today’s HR leaders recognize this.

Boldness is not just for the HR department however: companies that supply software for managing HR also face the need for such decisive action.  One example is SilkRoad, a SaaS-software company that launched a core HR product a few years ago that failed to meet the standards the company sets for itself. 

Here is where the bold part come into play: management decommissioned the product and went back to the drawing board; rather than trying to be all things to all people, the new product which emerged, SilkRoad HRMS, is far more focused, leaving areas to third parties where third parties may do them best, such as payroll and benefits management.

Product providers can be bold in their market strategies as well. Consider innovative ways to look at HR, such as “how much core HR is enough?”  What does a core HR software solution need to look like for, for example, a mid-sized company that has no international employees?  When talent profiles sprouted in the last decade, many of us analysts hypothesized that that employee profile could “take over” the system-of-record employee profile in the core HR system.  For many of the vendors that today provide  both core HR and talent  management systems  (such as talent acquisition, learning, career, performance, and succession management), that integration has happened:  there is one employee profile that contains both employment information and talent information.  But the innovation comes in with those suite providers who are talent-only – often linking to a third party HRIS system.  What employee information is indeed sufficient?  Some talent solution vendors see an opportunity to support their users—again, mostly less complex business environments—with one employee profile stemming from an integrated talent suite. Think about it: One single point of truth for information about a given employee without the complexities that sometimes accompany an HRIS. 

The boldness of replacing a traditional HR system with a talent management system and an employee profile—no matter how complete—may not be sufficient in organizations that rely on the HRIS to determine ACA eligibility, as only one example.  But you must admit it is intriguing at a time when companies are looking for less complex ways of managing their businesses.

I’m not forgetting HR however; consider emboldening your team. Look where you can reskill or upskill your department with the skills they will need for the rest of the decade.  Improve business acumen across the HR team. Upskill analytic skills. Enhance proficiency with today’s technology. Collaborate tenaciously with other divisions in the organization.  Build internal project management and change management proficiency within your team.

Re-envision HR; re-envision the solutions you use every day, or if you are a solution provider, that you create. Consider revision –a word that does not mean “do over”—but “to look at with new eyes.” Let’s be bold enough to re-envision and  revise.


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Christa Degnan Manning

Christa Degnan Manning leads Bersin by Deloitte’s solution provider research. In this role, she collaborates with Bersin and Deloitte colleagues across practices to identify and analyze software and service providers that support and sustain success in human resources, workforce enablement, and organizational effectiveness. Christa’s research and advisory work helps businesses align their workforce support strategies with the right third-party partners and governance models to deliver functional capabilities and employee experiences that support productivity, engagement, and workforce efficiency. She also helps solution providers map their capabilities and go-to-market activities with solution buyers’ and users’ critical needs. Christa draws on more than two decades of business-to-business market research, operational leadership, and global workforce experience. She holds a Master’s degree from the University of Massachusetts, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Barnard College, Columbia University, including studies at University College, University of London.

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