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Hosts Stacey Harris and John Sumser discuss important news and topics in recruiting and HR technology. Listen live every Thursday at 8AM Pacific – 11AM Eastern, or catch up on full episodes here.

HR Tech Weekly

Episode: 17
Air Date: April 23, 2015

 

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About HR Tech Weekly

Hosts Stacey Harris and John Sumser discuss important news and topics in recruiting and HR technology. Listen live every Thursday at 8AM Pacific – 11AM Eastern, or catch up on full episodes here.

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Transcript

Begin transcript

John Sumser:

Good Morning, this is HR Tech Weekly, One Step Closer with John Sumser and Stacey Harris. This is John Sumser. How are you this morning, Stacey?

Stacey Harris:

I’m doing well, John, thank you. I am back home, which is nice, for at least a couple of days. This is definitely the conference season, so many of us are on the road, but I’m finally home and in Raleigh, although it’s a bit chilly this week, so hopefully will warm up. (Laughter)

John Sumser:

You have been traveling so hard, you must have enough frequent flyer miles, so that you going to be able to take the entire town that you live in on vacation.

Stacey Harris:

I keep hoping for that, but my level doesn’t ever seem to get above … I think where I’m at, silver right at the edge of platinum. It’s a shame. I think they are all small trips and one-way trips. I’m waiting for Mark Stelzner to show me the best way to travel. He’s really the travel, I think, guru, in our space, to be honest. He seems to be traveling everywhere, more so than I am, so. (Laughter)

John Sumser:

He travels a lot, but don’t travel like Mark Stelzner, because he has nothing but bad experiences (laughter).

Stacey Harris:

Exactly. (Laughter)

John Sumser:

So, if he’s the example of what really great travel is like, we will never get anybody to join us on his trips.

Stacey Harris:

I know, we will all be in trouble. Mark is an example of what not to do when traveling, I think, and not because he does it, just because it happens to him, unfortunately. (laughter)

John Sumser:

So, the people who are listening don’t know who Mark Stelzner is. His last name is spelled S-T-E-L-Z-N-E-R and he the most articulate member of the group of people who help companies and organizations figure their way through purchasing HR Technology Software. One of the interesting features about Mark Stelzner is he has the most delicious radio voice of anybody you have ever heard, so he has this kind of innate capacity to command the attention of an audience, just with his voice. It’s a remarkable thing. He’s a lovely guy who helps his clients get it right.

Stacey Harris:

Yes, definitely. We’ve had a lot of good conversations, but the last event that all of us I think were at was the First Offers Annual Users Conference this week. A lot of people don’t know, the analysts generally run in packs to all of these various annual conference events to try to get sense of what is happening in the market, but also to get a sense of what each vendor is doing differently, because they can’t brief all of us individually. This is a good to get all of us into one room and try to share some of their insights. As you said, a lot of it comes down to in these events, how much can you get and gather and then how much can you share back? Very few people can take all this and share it back in different ways. Mark is one of them who does it, I think, well. This particular event, First Offers Annual Users Conference, John, we were in … Where were we at? We were in Las Vegas, weren’t we, just a few days ago?

John Sumser:

We were in beautiful, Lake, Las Vegas, which is a little California-Texas drought it’s a kind of a remarkable thing to see, a body of water. It was a little muddy and little shallow, but there actually is water at the Las Vegas desert.

Stacey Harris:

There is water and it’s a gorgeous view, and the sun rise and the mountains above it, you can’t beat that. I will have to say that, to me, it beat the strip hands down, so (laughter).

John Sumser:

Right. I was delighted to be in a place in Las Vegas where you couldn’t gamble.

Stacey Harris:

Exactly.

John Sumser:

That was kind of nice. What did you learn? It was an interesting group and it was an interesting conversation and the topic was as fundamental as it gets in HR Tech. They are a time and attendance company with an emphasis on compliance.

Stacey Harris:

They are. They also do a lot of work, besides time and attendance and the absence of made managements. Many of their clients who use other time and attendance and scheduling software will use them specifically for their absence and made management capabilities, because they are probably one of the best on the market in that space. Then they do have some fatigue management capabilities and technologies and some other things built inside of what they are doing from that whole work force management perspective. What I thought was interesting from me, was really looking at their users conference there, I thought the tracks they had sort of said it all. Their tracks were ‘Leave, Absence and Engagement’, right, three words you don’t always hear together. ‘Time, schedule and Business Performance’, the ‘Nuclear Industry’ and then ‘Big Ideas and New Solutions’. I thought that really encapsulates what is happening with Work Force Management today, right? It’s very industry specific. Their particular big industry is the nuclear energy, sort of highly regulated environments, where you have a lot of different scheduling and time contracting requirements, right?

John Sumser:

Right.

Stacey Harris:

And all of the very careful sort of leave management requirements. The other thing that organizations are dealing with is this idea of leave and absence and how to manage that in the context of employee engagement versus sort of in the context of policy and procedure and both of them go hand in hand. Right? Then, this idea that time and scheduling is a discussion that’s a business performance discussion and not just an HR and optimization discussion, right? I thought the focus that they had for their tracks really fit what we were talking about. When I was really in a nicely, surprised to see, is that they launched the new Ep center, which is their term for their total work force management package.

They put it on some new numbers as far as releases go, so now they are on the 15th, which is actually the 10th released version, so they are trying to align them with them years they are launching releases, because they are going towards the whole turtle fast model with three releases a year, they plan to do. They rolled out this new approach to updating their software. They also rolled out key performance indicators. At least some standardized key performance indicators with some dash boards around it and then they are getting into the clock business. So, those are the big things that I gained out of the conversation this week. What about you, does that sort of fit with what you saw, or did you see some additional things, John?

John Sumser:

So, I’ve been to a work force shop a couple years ago. There are a lot of companies doing a lot of stuff, so I always have some trouble making what they do come alive. My take away was there are places in the universe of HR Technology where things are very, very industrial. In those very, very industrial environments and they can be heavily unionized or heavily regulated, it seems to have the same net effect on planning and scheduling. In those very, very heavy industrial environments, there are HR requirements that are extremely different than they are in other settings. These guys look for stuff that are really good at dealing with complexity in a way that makes it possible for the line supervisor to focus on getting stuff done rather than meeting all the regulatory compliance issues. It’s a remarkable business in a part of the world that doesn’t easily fit into the company picnic point of view of HR that you get in Silicone Valley, where the bulk of the software is made and the view of HR is that it is a light-weight function that is distinct from the operation of the business.

When you are in those heavily regulated environments, HR is anything but distinct in this business. It’s almost an enforcement arm that is necessary for the business to survive, because if you took over any of the thousands of lives that are in place, so that the nuclear plant doesn’t blow up, or the nursing team who is too tired to get their job done, or the staff for a critical function isn’t available, because it wasn’t scheduled properly, Workforce Software is there and they do that sort of stuff gracefully, and like it’s fun. (Laughter) That’s just remarkable to me. It’s just remarkable that they have such a good time and that the people, the customers who are there are all engaged, alert, active, aware of people trying to do great things inside of very, very confining restraints.

Stacey Harris:

Yes. I think …

John Sumser:

I came away going, “Wow, wow. I have a whole new window on a whole new world!”

Stacey Harris:

I think, Workforce Management, it’s been a bit of a place where I’ve really spent some time in the last year or two, both with the research and survey work that we are doing here at [inaudible 00:10:29], but also prior to that, my background was in retail and Workforce Management Software made or break the retail environment, right? It really, as you said, the operation side of the business, owned it, ran it and it was the necessary tool to keep that business functioning. Both in the distribution center’s environment as well in the retail  environment. It never surprises me when I go to these events, and Workforce Software is one of the ….

John Sumser:

Nothing ever surprises you, because you are so smart. Me, [inaudible 00:11:06] (laughter) “Oh, look. Another tassel. Oh, look. Another tassel.”

Stacey Harris:

Well, I think, there’s a lot of surprises to me when it comes to the recruiting side that I believe you probably get much better, but on this side of the house I think, Workforce Management, is a piece that, the real value preposition that you got out of what was happening here at Workforce Software wasn’t, not only that they were sort of excited about it, they were engaged in it, as you said, I thought it was very well said that they do it elegantly, right? Rather that that’s them or any, I think, of the vendors who work in this place, right? They do this sort of as an operational task that gets a lot less attention than it probably should. On the other side of it thought, I think, is that this is so heavily driven by what requirements and regulations are being stated by each region and country and local government and city government, that this is an industry that a lot of the other HR Technology vendors are afraid, afraid might be a strong word, but they are very careful to get into, right?

This is not a place that you want to step into lightly, right? Because, you can truly cause a lot of pain for an organization if you don’t understand how those regulations work and how those processes work. The other thing that I thought Workforce Software did this week that I thought shook the entire analyst room, is they put a guarantee behind their consulting services, if you want to call them consulting services. The services around the compliance updates that they put into their system, right? They actually have a group of people who look at all their local, regional, regulations, for at least the US and Canada now, they plan to roll this out to Europe, but right now the guarantee does not exist in a European environment, but at least through US and Canada.

I guarantee that any compensation, or an compliance updates they make to the Workforce Management Software will be correct and appropriate for whatever law or regulation that came out in that area and they will stand behind it financially that if the organization or if any of the calculations don’t work or something doesn’t fit the way the regulation requires it to, but if the organization gets fined, or gets any sort of audits around that, that Workforce Software will stand behind that financially. That shook the whole room of the analyst. Not only are they sort of a technology that people need, and are necessary, but this really is a financial issue, but a lot of organizations struggle with on an audit side from Workforce Management Technology. You have a pretty perspective on this John, because you see the software as the service side of this sort of growing even more. Any comments on that particular piece of what they did?

John Sumser:

I do have them, but it sounds like we are having a fifteen minute radio show today, due to John’s excellent handling of the technology. We are going to have to either come back to this next week or let everybody leave with a cliff hanger. With apologies, Stacey, we are going to wrap up right now.

Stacey Harris:

Thanks, everyone.  We will definitely, maybe, going to have this topic next week if we can, because I think that’s an important element.

John Sumser:

The service topic is a big deal. It’s a big deal. Thanks, Stacey. It’s been great. I apologize for the short turn out.

Stacey Harris:

Thanks, everyone.

John Sumser:

Have a great weekend everybody!

End transcript

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