Talent Management System: What is it?

Talent Management System_Young businessman juggling with business items against urban scene

People are a company’s greatest asset.  It’s a statement that’s beyond contestation.  In the same vein, a company’s value is perpetually linked to the success of its people and talent.  For that reason above all HR professionals are focusing large amounts of attention on talent management.

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The problem is there is no universal strategy on how to accomplish this goal.  That’s where a solid talent management system comes in to play.

Talent Management System

A solid talent management strategy will address four critical areas.  These are often referred to as the Four Pillars of Talent Management.

  1. Recruit
  2. Learn
  3. Engage
  4. Perform

How does an HR department manage that?  In an article on topic, Josh Bersin with Deloitte says a TM strategy must include:

  • Streamlining the recruitment process
  • Reinforce workplace culture and values through managerial practices
  • Use training and development to close competency gaps
  • Provide relevant and agile learning opportunities
  • Identify high performers and reward them accordingly

While not being implicitly stated, these are all different data points that should be tracked and that is the goal of a talent management system.

Data is King

A talent management system is reliant, as many HR systems are, on data. 

Once HR has decided which data is tracked, a TMS can easily make that information available.  For instance, if an applicant tracking system is integrated into the TMS, it will allow for easy parsing of applications and organization.  This helps HR identify quality applicants.

Furthermore, a TMS allows for the entering and tracking of employee data.  This helps HR assess employees’ performance.  It directly impacts whether or not the employee is entitled to a pay increase and/or a promotion.  It can also help track those employees who need further development or skills training and provide it to them essentially bridging the skills gap.

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At the end of the day, a successfully deployed talent management system can help track the best applicants and retain the best employees.  It eliminates costs and reduces the time needed to manage talent.

Choosing a Talent Management System

Choosing a talent management system is like anything else:  the more knowledge gathered before going into the process, the more likely a successful TMS will be acquired.

One of the first things any HR leader or department should do before starting down this path is to do a detailed assessment of the current TMS being used.  Why?  Talent management systems, like all technology solutions, need upgrading.  It could be a simple process of updating the system to a newer version.  This saves thousands of dollars in implementation costs not to mention time in considering potential replacement vendors.

And it may not be the TMS at all.  It could simply be the system wasn’t implemented correctly or there are features that aren’t currently available.  Perhaps, the goals of the company have changed meaning the system is no longer in alignment and thus inefficient in outputting results.  Again, it’s worth exploring the current talent management system to see if it can be molded to fit the company’s needs or new goals.

If choosing a new TMS is the path, HR leaders should start with demonstrations from multiple solution providers.  These should be basic; a simple overview of the solution and how it functions.  From there, a smaller list of preferred vendors should be created and new demonstrations requested.  In these demonstrations, HR professionals and/or teams should seek answers to specific tasks that address the talent management needs of the company.  In addition, HR should assess whether or not the vendor’s solution is truly integrated.  This should include:       

  • Whether or not data is easily transferred from function to function
  • If data can be pulled real-time from each function
  • If the interface for each function is similar in nature

Mobile, social and analytical tools should also be assessed.  Mobile applications need to be functional.  An HR professional should be able to accomplish, say, a performance review from a mobile application just as easily as doing one from a desktop application.  With respect to analytics, HR professionals need to make sure they understand which tools are offered with the system and which tools need to be built to address their specific data needs.

That brings up another point:  HR professionals should have a basic understanding of what is provided with the new talent management system solution, and specifically what is owned by the vendor and what is outsourced.  For instance, some background checks aren’t always included as part of the recruitment function.  Those are outsourced to a different vendor through the solution provider.  The same can be said for the learning function.  Is that function powered by the provider’s own content or is that content owned by a third party?

HR leaders should know exactly what is provided by the vendor, what they own, and what may constitute an additional cost. 

The case for a TMS

It goes without saying HR must understand the business and align its strategies with organization’s goals.  In no other function is it more important than that of the talent management strategy.  As it was stated, talent is the most important asset provided to a company.  Managing it can make the difference in a company’s ability to be profitable and compete with others in the industry.  As will all technological solutions, the talent management system is a possible piece of the overall talent management strategy.

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