It’s that time of year again.  Time to buy new books, pencils, folders, backpacks and Trapper Keepers.  Time to send our children back to school so they can expand their horizons and see what the world has to offer.  But, perhaps it’s time for us to go back to school too.  The Human Capital Management industry is changing so rapidly that even taking the summer off could mean that you’ve missed something.  And, with 2016 right around the corner, people are going to start asking you what HCM improvements you are planning for next year.  Any ideas?  What are other people planning? Where is the industry going? What have other companies accomplished that you could follow?

All good questions.  I could try to give you my answers, but today I’d rather talk about how you can find answers and stay up to date for yourself.   Each of us has our own sources of information about our industry but if you are like me, there are only so many hours in the day for me to dedicate to learning new trends vs. working on things that are already on my plate.

So, how can you stay up to date?  Here are my top 4 ways.

1. Join your industry trade association.

Depending on your position and interests in HCM, you should join the APA, IHRIM, SHRM  or other industry associations.  There are also industry vertical groups like HIMSS for Healthcare or NRF for Retail.  These associations have websites, annual conferences, monthly newsletters, etc. – all meant to bring information to you.  Most importantly, they help to consolidate the trends so you don’t have to.  Where are most companies investing their time and energy?  What are the hot topics on legal compliance or employee retention?  You may not even need to be a paying member.  Sometimes, simply joining their website community is enough to give access to useful information.

2. Let the software vendors do the leg work.

Software vendors put a lot of time and energy into creating content for you.  If you visit the websites or social pages of major software vendors in the HCM space (like Sability’s partners, ADP, Ceridian, Infor, Kronos   and Ultimate Software), you will find regularly refreshed content about industry trends, whitepapers on different topics, and case studies from customer success stories.  Of course you have to take all of this information with a grain of salt since it is a combination of marketing materials as well as useful content.  Understandably, the vendors are going to highlight their own software abilities and successes, but if you look across multiple vendors, the trends will be apparent.  Many of them also allow you to subscribe to their newsletters so that they will push the information to you rather than you needing to keep checking.

3. Use Industry Analysts.

OK, there are some problems with this recommendation; most importantly the analysts’ information and reports aren’t usually free and some of them are long, boring and academic.  Unless you are looking for a specific piece of information, you may not want to read a 50+ page report.  Also, assuming your company doesn’t provide you with free access to each of the major analysts’ reports you may not be able to find them.  But, there are some shortcuts to finding and summarizing this information so that it’s useful.

First, major industry analysts like Nucleus Research, Sierra-Cedar, Constellation Research, Gartner, Forrester or Brandon Hall Group,  have email newsletters too.  I know I’m filling up your inbox, but trust me, it’s easier to delete emails you don’t want rather than not knowing what is going on out there.

Second, going back to #2 above, many of the software vendor websites provide excerpts from the Analyst’s reports to show you how high the analyst ranked their company.  You may only get to read the Executive Summary, but often times, that’s enough.

Lastly, Skim… If you just want to be aware of what is going on, you don’t need to read every report or email newsletter.  Looking at the key graphics and charts are sufficient to get the point of the paper without needing to read it all.  After a quick scan, delete the emails that don’t grab your attention.  Then, if you decide to take action on a big project, you can go back and read the details when doing more thorough research.

4. Attend a Tradeshow.

There are both industry tradeshows and vendor user conferences every year.  The content is usually fairly similar and you will get a good sense of what everyone else it thinking/worrying about.  My recommendations would be HR Tech, APA Congress, IHRIM, SHRM, ADP Meeting of the Minds, Ceridian InsightsKronosWorks, Ultimate Software Connections.

It may be hard to convince your manager that you need a company paid trip to Las Vegas, but these do have value.  You may not be able to go every year, but it can be especially important in years when you have big plans to upgrade or improve your HCM functions.

So there we have it, Rob’s syllabus for staying on top of trends in the HCM space.

Oh, wait, one more thing

Did I forget to mention that there are HCM Consulting Companies (like Sability) that can help you figure out which trends apply to your business, which investments can yield the most ROI and which trends are more hype than reality?  Yea, that’s a pretty good option too!  Give us a call, check out our website and sign up for our newsletter too.  We’ll be happy to help you get a leg up in your HCM education.

 

 

Rob Leonard – Sability, COO Rob is responsible for the management of Sability’s business and execution of key initiatives to improve service, quality, revenue and profitability. Prior to joining the company in 2009, Rob held senior management positions at Ultimate Software and Workbrain (now Infor), as parts of a long career in professional services, business development and product management for multiple software vendors and consulting firms in the Human Capital Management (HCM), Workforce Management (WFM), and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) industries.