When you consider all the powerful technology available today, it’s surprising how often organizations across every industry still rely heavily on spreadsheets and paper-based processes. Surprisingly, this isn’t due to a resistance to new technology. And even for state and local municipalities, budget is rarely a factor. The problem is most sophisticated software falls short. It can’t be everything to everyone so it finds a safe middle ground, which often makes it ineffective. Such is the case with government HR technology. There are some very advanced solutions available, but all too often they don’t provide what many organizations need most: an easy way to tackle government workforce management so every resource is optimized and the right people are assigned to the right projects or tasks. Without that capability, it’s challenging to forecast accurately, keep service levels up, retain good employees and keep costs down. Without this capability, costs will most certainly increase, along with the frustration level of employees and residents. At a time when it’s hard to attract and recruit good employees, having the right technology for strategic workforce planning and management is imperative.
This is what one county’s board of social services was facing
Like many other counties, they were heavily dependent on Microsoft Excel and Access databases for HR processes, which were manual, paper-based, and extremely slow. This was creating frustration for everyone, not just HR, because they were relying on getting new hires on the job quickly and they lacked the tools needed to effectively utilize their staff, who were already stretched thin, as efficiently as possible.
The result was a highly manual, paper-based processes that caused a strain on HR and all other departments for the considerable time required to complete said processes. It was time to find a new, modern government workforce management solution that would allow them to modernize and automate as many processes as possible. Unfortunately, no mainstream HR solution did what they needed. There were a few that came close, but they still fell short and were too expensive for a county government agency to consider.
As a major developer of business tools and applications, Microsoft recognized that needs change, but software doesn’t (except with periodic updates), and no single piece of software can address every need. They determined the best way to satisfy an organization’s needs in terms of functionality is to provide tools that make it easy to cost-effectively build what is needed, ensuring that whatever it is works within the existing technology ecosystem.
To do that, Microsoft developed the Power Platform, which includes Power BI, Power Apps, Power Automate, and Power Virtual Agents. The Power Platform is a low-code/no-code tool set for creating solutions to automate and streamline processes and workflows. You can cost-effectively build, deploy, and start realizing benefits from solutions that address specific issues in days or even hours rather than weeks or months.
The board realized the Power Platform provided a solid foundation for their new system because it could give them the HR functionality they needed and also the flexibility to expand as the population grows or as needs change.
Microsoft recommended HSO to design the new platform because we had experience Working with governments of all sizes. We were able to develop a Power Platform-based “accelerator” that immediately had much of the HR functionality the board was looking for. The result, HSO’s People Accelerator, is a workforce management platform that bridged the gaps between HR software and the functionality needed to better manage people. The “accelerator” streamlines the process of managing human resources while ensuring their time and talents are being utilized to their maximum potential. With that foundation, the heavy lift was completed and we could quickly make minor modifications to get it exactly right.
Specifically, the board was looking for a government workforce management solution that would modernize and automate processes to reduce labor costs spent moving candidates through the system, onboarding employees so they begin working in a timely manner, as well as improve tracking and access to key employee data for HR. They also needed a more modern approach for communicating with potential candidates and employees as well as reporting to generate data-driven decisions. The list of needs included:
With knowledge of operations and actionable data, they could optimize the workforce using a variety of criteria, from location and experience level to availability and utilization limits. They could also address the needs of every shareholder:
Job applicants: Apply for available positions and manage applications through an external portal.
Employees: Use a self-service HR app to schedule their own calendars—which can interface with Microsoft Office 365 tools like Teams and Outlook, submit time off requests, share their attributes and update them directly, and even enroll in training, saving HR time and effort while ensuring attributes are kept up to date.
Managers and supervisors: Find the best person for the job and address potential conflicts quickly and proactively; apply intelligence to data that provide critical insights to leadership.
Facilities managers: Manage building or property inventory, including security and medical preparedness.
Asset managers: Maintain and manage equipment for employees.
Logisticians: Get people, equipment, and supplies to the appropriate place at the appropriate time.
HR managers: Hire, onboard, staff , transfer, train, and off -board personnel.
Decision makers: Make operational and business decisions with confidence based on real-time data.
With HSO’s People Accelerator and the Power Platform, the county’s board had the tools and the foundation required to take a long list of processes and needed functionality and knock it out…and come out equipped with powerful tools that will continue to deliver solutions that add value.
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