Submitted to National Conference of
Young HR Professionals "HR in the Next Millennium" under the sub theme and was
awarded the Third prize
Let’s Add Value: The Methods
The authors wish to thank Mrs. Sheela Reddy (Asst. VP-HR,SES, currently HR Head of Maytas), Dr. U. Balaji (Asst. VP-HR-SLC, and now CEO of HMRI, Satyam Foundation)for the help rendered in conceptualizing this paper.
The HR and IT Partnership at Satyam: Reaching out to people
It is the age of buzzwords. It is an age that the Greek philosopher Heraclitus (544-483 B.C.) would have loved. It is the age that Alvin Toffler foretold in the 1970s. It is an age, which baffles and confuses the majority. It is an age where the abnormal is the normal, where apparently the rule is to break all the rules. It is an age where values have to be redefined. It is an age when the core has to change, not just appearances. It is an age where the storm of change is increasingly leaving both employers and employees clueless as to how to handle this dilemma, and increasingly HR professionals are finding out that in this age playing ostrich-in-the-sand gets one nowhere.
In tune with Bob Dylan's song, "The times, they are a-changin’", HR professionals in this new age, need to become facilitators of change, people who help deliver competitiveness and profitability. HR’s new positioning and needs portend interesting times for Information Technology.
Why should HR embrace Information Technology?
Companies are realizing that they must reduce costs and increase the contributions HR makes to the bottom line. As HR searches for business practices that benefit the bottom line, it is likely to reach far beyond back-office automation systems towards the cutting-edge technology in Human Capital Management. HR needs IT’s help-not only to automate recurring processes but also to speed recruitment, to improve employee development, performance management and succession planning.
IT systems are what will drive the HR function forward. In effect, the following changes need to occur if HR is going to make the transition to a strategic role within the organization:
IT helps in improving employee access to HR information. It also delivers value in areas such as applicant tracking, recruiting, competency management, training administration and performance management.
This is an attempt to illustrate a case of how the Human Resource function in Satyam Computer Services Ltd. employs Information Technology.
About Satyam Computers
Satyam Computers was incorporated in 1987. In 1992 it became the first Indian software company to go public. Satyam, a SEI-CMM Level 5 company, offers a range of expertise in the areas of Information Technology, Software Development Services, Systems Integration, ERP Solutions, Product Development, Electronic Commerce and Management Consulting. Satyam has over 4,300 IT professionals, who operate out of its state-of-the-art software development centers located in India, USA, Japan, Singapore and UK. These Centers work as an extended enterprise (IT partner) for over one hundred Fortune 500 and multinational clients worldwide.
The Human Resources function in Satyam is a strategic support function . All the geographical locations have there own dedicated HR representatives who help the Strategic Business Units in their day to day functioning. They are in turn supported by Corporate HR operating from Hyderabad.
In Satyam all the sub-functions of HR like Recruitment, Training, Associate Relations, Compensation and Benefits make use of Information Technology (E-mail, Intranet, Software tools etc.) in their everyday operations.
E-mail, the most common and ubiquitous embodiment of IT, needs very little explanation. E-mail has forever supplanted the hard-copy internal memo and taken over external communications as well. For example, the recruitment team now receives applications via e-mail. Email is also one of the best ways to keep in touch with associates, and it overcomes constraints of space, time and organizational hierarchies. "Administrivia" in all of its paper-oriented glory is replaced by direct access to information and direct input of data The associates get their payroll information, Tax computations and Annual salary statements through e-mail. In situations of emergency, for example in an emergency e-mail accesses all the associates in a short period of time, which otherwise would not have been possible.
Satyam has been able to effectively integrate HR content into a company-wide Intranet—rather than a stand-alone HR site- to provide a seamless and intuitive medium for employees to interact with the company and amongst themselves in a comfortable, relevant and logical way. The benefits can be seen as increased information sharing and improved morale.
Moving HR function onto the company Intranet has improved service to internal customers, and helped it interact with associates more effectively, and has reduced many routine administrative costs. Associates with a HR question use the Intranet to access the information they want, when and where they need it. And their questions are answered without requiring personal service, which is costly and often unnecessary. Satyam has eliminated a major part of printing and distribution costs for employee manuals by replacing them with electronic versions on the Intranet. In addition to the cost savings, many employees appreciate the ability to quickly and privately find out about changes that affect their lives.
Satyam Intranet is used for training and communicating with associates. The Intranet has enabled information and learning for use in conjunction with existing training process. It has also enabled disseminating information organisation-wide and provides a forum which supports communication and discussions and collaborative activities directly amongst teams and individuals. The Intranet is searchable and associates can quickly find matters on the subjects they are looking for. The Intranet has moved training from the classroom and the learning centre to the workstation, empowering learners to take control of their personal development and navigate their own paths through information and learning. In Satyam, one of the ways of measuring effectiveness of training is through an online survey on the Intranet. Associates can access course materials, monthly and annual training calendars, calendars of external training institutions through the Intranet.
Browser-based Library information has offered immediate savings in administration and distribution. Only one copy needs to be prepared and updates can be implemented universally and instantaneously. Indexes and cross-references within and between documents have become 'live' and meaningful with the use of web-technology. Books can be searched across locations, abstracts can be read and books can be reserved online. One can even find out the associate who has borrowed the book. The medium also gives opportunities to make information much more compelling to use. Unlike printed media, colour comes at no extra cost, and the ability to include features such as animations or short video clips make instructive diagrams not just more appealing, but more informative. Information about the CBTs available with the library and procedures for accessing is mentioned on the Intranet.
Organizational Climate surveys are conducted in Satyam via the Intranet which ensures that it is not geographically constrained and a large number of associates are covered in a short period of time. There is an online feedback mechanism wherein an associate either anonymously or if he/she so wishes, by his/her name send a grievance or feedback to a particular department. New associates are encouraged to browse through the Intranet and familiarize themselves with policies, procedures and other departments on the Intranet.
The recruitment team posts new job openings on the Intranet letting associates know what opportunities are available. This site details information including job title and the various skill sets required. Associates can access this site and offer their candidature if the vacancies are of their interests, or post resumes of friends online. This is an easy way to advertise vacant positions and all associates have an equal opportunity to apply for job opportunities. There is also a common e-mail id where external candidates can post their resumes.
The performance appraisal process was automated in a case where associates from a Strategic Business Unit along with two assessors for each associate filled the appraisal form online. The data was processed and transferred to HR at the headquarters electronically.
One of the main features of the Satyam Intranet, which many associates find useful is the Knowledge Repository. The Knowledge Repository on the Intranet has the following:
The Knowledge Base is a database of experiences and collection of knowledge captured within functions and projects. It contains information that helps avoid re-inventing the wheel and repeat mistakes, tools methods etc. The Knowledge Base also contains the project information base and a closed project base. In the Knowledge Repository there is an online discussion base where participants can record their own experiences and viewpoints on an issue and react to others queries and comments. Discussions are organised around questions and the posts are archived monthly.
The electronic in-house magazine run by the associates connects associates across the organization. User-friendly applications like ‘Classifieds’ on the Intranet helps associates in locating people, houses, things etc.
In Satyam associates use an online Performance Management System that draws upon a concept called Numeric Management. This concept uses a framework that objectively captures and manages business concerns. At a very fundamental level all business concerns can be expressed in numbers, and the manager’s role is one of manipulating "reality" to achieve the "desired" state on the specified number. This method enables managers to capture various business phenomena objectively to arrive at decisions. Assigning a number is done by the measurement system. Numeric management uses nominal, ordinal interval and ratio scales of measurement to capture the state of the concern objectively.
Vision Compass, a software product developed and marketed by Satyam Computers Limited draws upon the philosophy of Numeric Management and provides a framework for operationalising Numeric Management within an organization. The flexibility and versatility of numeric management framework enables Vision Compass to handle the specific management framework with equal ease, may it be Management By Objectives, Economic Value Add, Balance Scorecard, Six Sigma or Business Process Reengineering. Vision Compass helps managers analyze trends for any aspect and compute efficiency score. Also, using data from the aspects various types of graphs can be plotted. Performance can be captured through performance dashboards. Vision Compass allows the user to generate variety of predefined reports. It can also be used as a planning and communication instrument. A manager can access his subordinates’ performance sheets and get instant feel of the work and major concerns that they are facing. It helps managers to clarify the job expectations and roles to their subordinates and avoids ambiguity on that front.
Vision Compass enables associates to manage their performance with facts and data. It enables one to capture complex information at a glance on day to day basis. The day to day feedback on performance or efforts of people throughout the organization, aims towards achieving the objectives laid down by the organization allows one to make necessary interventions by the manager to change the course of performance in the desirable direction. This system allows to convert the organization’s vision, a mission and strategy into a comprehensive set of performance and action measures. The product also measures performance at all levels: business unit, team and individual. It helps aligning the individual and team goals with those of organization and provides a framework for enabling objective communication across the organization. In this system concerns are captured and tuned with an objectively stated intent, hence there is no room for misinterpretations.
Thus at Satyam the HR professionals have come to rely on IT to hire and retain good knowledge workers, to automate the administrative function, to share knowledge, experiences and to bring in a feeling of oneness. As the above trends indicate, technology has changed the way HR conducts its business just as it has changed the way businesses conduct theirs.
IT helps in bringing new tools, while HR brings in a strong orientation to improving job performance and a focus on knowledge use. Many IT people will talk about web sites, Intranets, and access to information and knowledge. Most HR people will prefer terms like performance support, human performance and organizational learning. In future the Human Resource function will draw from the best features of organizational learning, IT infrastructures, performance support and knowledge management, and this hybrid vigor will dramatically improve organizational and individual performance. While all the technologies act as facilitators to make HR’s work and responsibilities simple and easy to carry out, there are a loose ends that need to be tied up. The Human Resources function using IT is a recent phenomenon and a learning experience. As stated earlier, this is inducing a change in HR’s own nature of work and only time will tell as to where this process stabilizes.
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