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(September 26, 2002) - Have you noticed that the rumors of war and continued downward pressure in the stock market have conspired to make September a really bad month? Do you get the feeling that all of the attention focused on economic survival has robbed the market of innovation? Do you wonder if it's ever going to get beyond boring and painful?

To spice up your day, we suggest you take a moment and visit hcm.blogspot.com. Although there are other, broader HCM blogs, this one is notable for the precision of its insight, the sharpness of its tongue and the clarity of its message. Spice is a good thing.

Some examples:

The fundamentals don't change. We'll still have our shortage of human capital. We'll still be stealing from one another to fill our open positions. Business plans will be missed because we don't have enough of the right people. It's just going to be another year before we start getting there. Especially if we have a little war in Iraq. That puts off any recovery for at least as long as it takes to finish up that issue (Hard to imagine anything less than a year.).

So...We wait. We prepare. We drill. We get better at what we will have to do when the stars align. Our little talent war is coming back soon enough. Make sure you're using this time to get in shape.

Speaking of my 2 least favorite companies...TMPW appointed a former VP of HR to a Vice President of Business Development for the United States. This has to be a joke. Time after time, we see the practitioner get sucked into a CLM (Career Limiting Move.) and join forces with some HCM tech company that is desperate to understand what their buyers really want. This usually happens after all the MBAs have argued their personal agendas into some form of the company's product only to see it fail and buyers push back on the offering. Then comes the MBA spin. "Tell the prospect that we do it this way because we've thought about it more than they have and we know better!" (Never mind the fact that they haven't spent a day in an HCM management role in their entire 6 month career.). Then, the breakdown comes and along comes some VP of HR that wants some respect (And thinks the HCM tech vendor will really give it to them.) and goes to work for the vendor. Only to have a short honeymoon period, followed by some field visits to existing customers. The practitioner finds out that the customers really are pissed and don't understand why the vendor won't build the product the way they need the product to be built. Then the practitioner goes back to the vendor and is quickly met with resistance and more political agendas (Because now he/she is one of them again!). and on and on with no incremental increase in sales or reasonable modification of the product. Finally, how often do companies promote their VP of HR to VP of Sales? Exactly.

When I was a younger software sales person, I was always amazed at the complete mess evaluations of HR systems began from and ended as. It's not really the fault of the evaluators. They don't know any better and they don't have a good community to draw knowledge from. Of course, a vendor that's willing to educate and assist in the evaluation process to create a solid evaluation is probably even less common. Most vendors would rather take any deal than no deal...and so it shows...Vendors just go right along with the horrid evaluation process in hopes of being the lucky selected finalist. Something very ominous about that word FINAL in finalist.

Shouldn't the expectation be more along the lines of "beginningist?" Why is it so uncommon for reports of system impact to be provided by vendors back to their subscribers? It's not like they don't have access to the data to come up with a reasonable assessment of the system's value to the subscriber. Would it be bad news? Would evaluations be dependable if a vendor knew in advance that they wouldn't be paid their entire monthly fee if they didn't meet key success points?

If you remember back to 1999-2001 (Early 2001), there was a novel concept being batted around by some HCM professionals- Zero Based Hiring Timelines. For those of you catching up, the concept was basically that staffing professionals should begin to find ways to reduce time to hire to, in an ideal world, be exactly matched to the day of need. For instance when an employee quits, the new replacement employee would arrive at 8:00 the next morning, in effect creating a zero days time to hire.

Supposedly, great new tools were coming to help you better predict when an employee was likely to leave. Predictive indicators such as how long an employee has been with your company, in a particular grade/function coupled with myriad other data points are going to tell you with potentially decent accuracy when preemptive action is necessary to either save the employee or find a replacement.

We're still waiting on these imagined tools...

I'm here to tell you today, in spite of the recent issues with some of our criminal executives and the Wall Street slide, the economy is doing well. Hidden under the layer of patina is an economy that is in good health and getting stronger as the days go by. This is likely your last quarter to snatch up some of the "bargain" candidates out there. Even if you don't hire them for positions today, these are people you are going to want in 6 months. Trust me on this. Employ a little bit of vision and some contrarian's hiring techniques now and you will find yourself well ahead of the competition.

The fellow behind hcm.blogspot.com prefers the anonymity of the internet to public celebrity. It does not detract from the clarity of his observations. He appears to have a Jimmy Stewart-ish preference for plainspeak and meaningful depth as an analyst. Hopefully, your visit to his blog will have the impact of causing him to produce a more regular output. 

 -John Sumser

Marksmen don't use shotguns. . .
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Materials written by John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
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