Integrating Manager Self-Service and Error Proofing Automated Technologies

Manager self-service systems (MSS) have many benefits to businesses and their employees, however it is important that they are integrated successfully in order to reap the rewards which are on offer.

At manager level, specially-designed software could be used for a myriad of operations, including authorizing holidays, recording absences, creating reports and carrying out online appraisals.

According to Tamara Cibenko, a leader in the Deloitte Consulting Technology practice and an expert on usability and web solutions, MSS is often viewed by some as a great idea but not a true way of making savings – an aspect which is becoming ever-more important in the current economic climate.

She noted that only usability stands in the way, as handing responsibility to managers will reduce the amount of time required for human resources (HR) and decrease call volumes.

"We apply usability to nearly every external site we create, yet this well known exercise can be overlooked for something as widely used as MSS. MSS is deployed to managers across many organizations, but it is still an afterthought," she wrote on her Deloitte blog.

One of the problems in this area is that software can be "riddled with HR-speak". Bearing in mind the programs are intended for use by non-HR trained managers, this can be intimidating and prevent them from using the portal to the best of its potential.

"Think about it this way, if it takes longer for a manager to perform a transaction with MSS than it did for them to work through it with HR, you have just launched a tool that decreases your workforce’s productivity!" Cibenko added.

The focus, according to the expert, should be switched to the non-HR user and how best to guide them through transactions.

On-screen guidance, question wizards and prompted checks for errors will all help MSS integration. In other words, an approach which suggests "looking at MSS from the eyes of a non-HR manager while keeping the HR logic behind the scenes" is one which could work best.

Error-proofing automated technologies will also help businesses get the most out of MSS. After all, there has to be a certain level of trust in a system in order to get the most from it.

HRLab pointed out that "user confidence" was one of the keys to MSS and warned that many people do not trust "faceless IT."

"A 2010 Shared Service Institute survey found that email and the telephone are still the most popular deliver channels for HR service. The groundwork for managerial confidence must be created top-down and in advance," the website noted.

Error-proofing or the testing of an MSS system is an integral part of its rollout. Ideally, this should be looked at before the portal is rolled out, while a pilot group using real-life working examples can help point out if any errors are present and what improvements need to be made.

Software can also be rolled out in different builds, allowing the IT department to get one section nailed on before adding others.

This will allow managers to ensure that they are getting what they need from MSS.

Providing scope for feedback on any errors is crucial. Having access to the IT department so that they can fix any problems will help the system bed in with managers. If this does not happen, then phone calls will still need to be made to the HR department, causing more work for everyone involved and reducing overall productivity – the opposite of MSS' remit.

Overall, the key to MSS, according to HRLab, is being clear on the business case at all levels, which can then help to unlock "great strategic benefits."