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What the recent flurry of activity by HR software companies indicates about the state of workforce management

Over the past few weeks, we have seen some major consolidation in the application software world where the workforce is concerned. On Dec. 3, SAP announced the acquisition of SuccessFactors. Just three days later, SuccessFactors announced the acquisition of Jobs2Web. (Disclosure: Yoh is a customer of SAP and Jobs2Web.)

Some media have rightfully noted that SAP's move had much to do with its necessity to get ahead of the cloud or software-as-a-service wave that has gained momentum over the last five years. Behind the scenes, companies such as Oracle and SAP have attempted in fits and starts to develop, sell, and maintain products that run in the cloud rather than on a customer's IT infrastructure.

Hidden in these recent transactions is the reality that the products and services designed to help order and automate workforce management processes have made significant strides in the last half decade. They are also being valued more highly than ever before. Speed; ease of use; innovation; accuracy; and the desire to effectively develop, nurture, and manage the workforce frequently are the factors that drive a company to adopt cloud computing applications.

Consider also that it has never been more crucial to source, recruit, manage, and retain top talent in a way that ensures an acceptable level of cost to value. It should become obvious why the software vendors in discussion have been successful, and what motivates the SAPs of the world to bolster their cloud offerings in this area.

What is the takeaway for our readers or for anyone whose job includes managing employees? It is the fact that the landscape of employee management has evolved, and will likely never revert back to what it was five years ago.

Employee managers have to take a much more aggressive role in protecting the intellectual assets that reside in the minds of their teams. Even in a down economy, the best talent has the upper hand. The accessibility to information on opportunities that match their skill sets has never been better, their professional networks have never been stronger, and the speed with which they are informed about potential career-advancing jobs has never been faster.

Therefore, the responsibility to manage and engage employees can no longer be the sole responsibility of human resources. If you hire and manage employees, and care even the slightest bit about their level of quality, the SAP/SuccessFactors/Jobs2Web news should serve as a wakeup call.

Take ownership of not just the team you have on hand, but of the teams of the past and future as well as the operational elements you have in place to care for them.

Here are 10 questions that should help you evaluate how prepared you are to manage the new face of the American workforce:

  1. Am I invested in building a community of talent across departments in my organization?

  2. Am I invested in advancing and improving the processes that serve to manage and engage my team?

  3. Am I interested in developing a talent community externally and in being an active member of that community?

  4. How do I prioritize the way that I interact with external talent communities?

  5. Is the brand of my team aligned with my company's employment brand?

  6. Do I monitor the history of retention rates across the teams I manage?

  7. How do I encourage career development of my team members while, at the same time, protecting the succession plan that I have in place?

  8. How strong is my relationship with third-party partners, such as professional staffing services providers or external recruiting firms?

  9. Is my HR team serving my needs to better build and keep talent, or is it relegated to mere administrative support?

  10. What level of effort do I maintain to develop the community of employee alumni?


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