Making your HR team the engine of competitive advantage

HR is too often treated as a mere supporting function, while it has increasingly significant impacts on the strategy and operations of an organisation. Part of the problem is that HR is still viewed in the old back-office/front-office paradigm. Because customers can’t see them or their work directly, we discount their impact on competitive strategy. But there’s a case to be made that the integrated efforts of HR could be the difference in creating a sustainable competitive advantage.

Many leaders pay lip service to people being their business’ most valuable assets. But, very few businesses look at workforce planning in the same way they do financial investments or brand strategy. For some reason, they don’t make the supply of talent to their business a priority to be addressed with sophisticated analytics.

Forward-focused businesses are bringing their HR leaders to the table for activities such as resource planning, talent development, and skill planning. They realise that having HR at the centre of these conversations enables them to more effectively plan their strategic competitive initiatives in the near future and long-term.

When your business embarks on a new project or business opportunity, HR should be closely consulted to answer the following questions:

  • Do we currently have the right skill sets and capabilities available in the business?

  • What will the impacts be on the costs, timeline and profitability of other initiatives for moving these skill sets?

  • Can our existing employees be trained to obtain these skill sets?

  • Who will conduct the training and how much will it cost?

  • Is the new project secure enough to justify hiring new permanent staff?

  • Can consultants and contractors be used to provide a contingent skilled workforce?

All of the questions above can be answered by using an intelligent core system that combines resource planning with strategic human capital management. Presence of IT can help with such an integration through the SAP SuccessFactors offering, an industry-leading HCM platform.

With the right analytics capabilities and the core data at hand, your HR team can then assess the current capabilities of your team in areas ranging from data science through to project management. In addition to these concrete skill sets, your projects will also benefit from an assessment of more qualitative skill measures such as:

  • soft skills and industry expertise

  • knowledge of local languages and business practices for new geographies

  • experience in innovative business models and change management practices

Once you’ve identified your required resources, HR can work with finance to run cost simulations of each scenario, from re-allocating and training employees, through to using contractors or hiring new full-time resources.

Regardless of the type of workforce and profitability analysis you require, SuccessFactors provides sophisticated, business user-friendly tools to enable you to optimise both your human resources function. This allows your HR team to make proactive and innovative recommendations about the most strategic, profitable and sustainable path forward for your organisation.

This piece was written by Presence of IT's Pranav Birla and published on LinkedIn.