The Future of Employee Self-Service

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HR Systems purveyors long ago realized that, like “point of sale data capture”, the best and most logical way to have accurate data in a system was to have data maintenance occur at the point of the event, and owned by the person who was most knowledgeable of the event.  The result was the introduction of Employee Self Service or ESS.  In the 1990’s, when leading HRMS vendors were a bit slow in offering extensive ESS, niche providers like Edify (later acquired by Workscape) stepped in with ESS Toolkits which extended the core HR system’s capabilities in this area.  Then, with PSFT release 8.0 in 2000, the HRMS market leader in the U.S. (at that time) significantly expanded its set of ESS transactions from roughly 20 to over 100, and made that enhancement one of the cornerstones of marketing that release.

Over the last 10 years, the concept and capability set of ESS has largely remained the same; i.e., fairly tactical self-updating capabilities around personal information such as changing an address or emergency contact, adding a dependent or beneficiary, changing payroll exemptions, adding new education or training information, etc.  One interesting advance on the ESS front during this time was the embedding of role-based and personalized content, aimed at offering decision-support and coaching for managers, and content support for employees; e.g., informing them of their benefits enrollment options while enrolling.  This was in fact the core offering of Enwisen, now part of Lawson.

More recently, core HR / HRMS solution providers have added the ability for employees to update their career interests, hobbies and other involvements outside work.  This latter type of information obviously gives people-managers and organizations overall a much better opportunity to really connect with (needed to truly leverage) their human assets.

The continuing evolution and even future vision of ESS came up in my conversations yesterday with two prominent Talent Management suite vendors:  SuccessFactors – in relation to their Employee Central offering for core HR functionality, and PeopleclickAuthoria.  In fact, when Charles Jones — the Chairman and CEO of Peopleclick Authoria — uses phrases like “the system of record is fast-becoming the individual”, and “productivity is now all about total awareness and collaboration”, you know there’s a sea change going on relative to what core HR means, who owns it and the new way of defining ESS.  Note:  Silkroad Technology is also very much in the mix here with their HeartBeat offering.

With respect to redefining ESS, and whatever suitable replacement term someone comes up with, just think about the phrase above — “total awareness and collaboration” – and think of all of the events, knowledge and forums for collaboration that relate to employees that are part of the value they bring to the organization and their fellow employees.  Those events, pieces of knowledge and collaborations are the future of ESS.

Steve Goldberg
Principal Analyst, People Systems

Christa Degnan Manning

Vice President, Solution Provider Research Leader / Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Christa leads technology and service provider research for Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP. In this role, she helps businesses align their workforce support strategies with appropriate third-party software developers, service partners, and governance models. A 25-year technology industry veteran, Christa’s expertise assists organizations in creating functional capabilities and employee experiences that increase productivity, engagement, and workforce efficiency. Frequently cited by business and trade media, she has presented market research on business to business trends, leading practices, and expected challenges and benefits at industry and user conferences globally throughout her career. Christa has a bachelor of arts in English from Barnard College, Columbia University, incorporating studies at University College, University of London. She also holds a master of arts degree in English from the University of Massachusetts and has completed executive coursework on business metrics at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

6 thoughts on “The Future of Employee Self-Service

  1. Very interesting read Steve. ESS truly transforms any HR System from a mediocre repository of employee data into a employee empowerment tool. In my prior implementation experience, we implemented the whole suite of PeopleSoft HCM application from Workforce Management to Talent Management but nothing excited employees and managers more than seeing their own data pop up with the click of a mouse which could be added, deleted and modified as per the system security settings defined or getting HR analytics through their personalized dashboards.

    For a global conglomerate, it served an added advantage by putting the employee at the driver’s seat of his career and development through innovative social and collaborative ways.

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