Selecting a Global HR System: Essentials Check-List for SMB’s

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If you are reading this article, chances are you are one of the many thousands of mid-sized and growing organizations doing business around the world.

You’ve probably found that with international growth, comes the need for an international workforce, and with an international workforce comes international headaches!

The rise of modern, affordable Cloud HR software means there are now global HR solutions available to fit companies of every size and every budget.

Unfortunately, while most HR vendors claim their systems are global, many of them only solve part of the problem.

Rather than really supporting a global deployment, their international HRIS functionality is only skin deep.

Since these HR systems are delivered online, in the Cloud, it’s true that employees can log on from anywhere; and perhaps see screens in their chosen language—using familiar terminology or date formatting.

However, when it comes to key areas, like helping you comply with international data protection legislation, or having the flexibility to reflect local employment law, and ways of working, they can let you down.

Instead of saving you time, you’ll find yourself spending more time on problem solving.

So, let’s look under behind the marketing hype, and find out what features you really need to ensure the success of your global HR software deployment.


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Roles-Based Security

At the end of the day, it’s you, not your HR software provider, that is responsible for ensuring your HR data is kept safe.

Privacy isn’t only important for you; it’s often the primary concern of employees asked to use an online HR system for the first time.

That means you need to be aware of where your data is held, and how you can restrict access based on employee roles (for example, so that line managers can only see certain information about their teams), and on where employees are located.

You may, for example, want a local HR administrator to manage payroll for employees in a particular division, department or country, but not see salary information for anyone elsewhere in the company.

Localized Self-Service

Self-service is a game changer for HR; liberating you from tedious admin, and allowing employees to update personal data, help themselves to the information they need, connect with colleagues and much more.

However, for self-service to really work, employees in Europe or Asia need to feel just as at home using the system, as an employee in the Brazil or the US.

Local language support is part of this, as is familiar terminology (for example, postcode rather than zip code), but so is the ability for managers to tailor parts of the system to support the way they want to work.

For example, to pick their preferred date and time format, configure management dashboards or tailor reports to their particular requirements.

Country and Regional Calendars

Public holidays vary massively from country to country, and there are often regional variations, with different regions taking public holidays on different days, or awarding extra days, perhaps to reflect a local event or Saint day.

If your HR system can’t easily cope with regional and country calendars, you won’t be able to accurately keep track of time worked, sick time taken, or vacation entitlements.

Multiple Leave Entitlements

It seems that virtually every country has a different way of managing leave.

In the U.S., it’s not uncommon to bundle vacation and sick leave into one paid time off plan.

Elsewhere, they have to be treated separately.

In some countries multiple leave entitlements (both fixed and accrued) are common, and relate to different factors, such as length of service or seniority.

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Some countries set minimum amounts that need to be taken each year, others award additional holiday pay.

Some companies calculate leave in minutes and hours, others in days (or half days).

In some countries, leave can only be taken once it’s been “earned”, in others, it can be taken in advance.

Add into this the different country legislation covering requirement to provide time off for parental leave, jury duty, and loads of other reasons.

It’s easy to see that HR systems need to have enormous flexibility if they are to reflect local absence requirements – and free HR from endless questions from employees, and calculation and re-calculation of entitlements.

Configurable Processes

A significant driver for implementing online HR software is that it helps automate many of the most time-consuming tasks; automatically routing requests for approval, flagging overdue activities, and sending out reminders.

However, for HR process automation to work across different countries and cultures, flexibility has to be built in.

This could be for practical reasons-perhaps because one of your teams is managed from another office, so it makes more sense for sickness notifications to be routed to you in HR, leaving the local manager to take care of vacation requests or performance reviews.

Or it could be that you want to reflect the local way things are done — for example, in some countries employees earn the right to a certain number of hours of training each year, and can take these rights with them when they leave.

You need a system that allows you to tailor processes to fit, and track, and manage information in the best way for your organization.

However, flexibility does not have to mean additional cost or complexity.

In fact, the advantage of modern multi-tenanted HR solutions, is that the discipline of developing solutions that can be easily updated, means many of them are purposely designed to be configured by you, without needing technical input or customization by the supplier.

As your business grows and changes, you stay in control of how your system is set up – rather than being locked into an existing approach, or paying your vendor to customize it for you.

Before You Go

If connecting and improving the way you manage your global workforce is top of your agenda, challenge your supplier to prove their international credentials — and make sure the international HR software solution you select is fit for purpose.

Have any questions? Or perhaps suggestions? What is your experience? Let me know in the comments below — feel free to contact me through the social media links in my profile as well.

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Sue is the Marketing Director for Cezanne HR, a leading provider of UK and international HR Software that frees up HR time, provides HR intelligence, and helps employees work together more successfully. Having studied human resources management at the London School of Economics, Sue has held management roles in companies in the Travel, Recruitment, Business Intelligence and HR Software sectors.

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