Low/No-code is an attractive offering that to me, sounds a lot better than PaaS or SaaS or ASP. It means having your normal workers be able to build applications by themselves with minimal technology involvement. To me, it's WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) web development. Remember back in the 90’s when basically anyone with a computer and web connection could build his/her own website on Geocities or similar? We have e-commerce-focused simple site builders now (GoDaddy, Volusion, etc.). We have online polling (Survey Monkey, PollDaddy, etc.). Why can't we have online app building?
The key to building an app, I believe, is knowledge of process and data. What do you need the app to do, and what data is either being collected or displayed to the user? If you can envision this, you get one star. You get an extra star for ability to connect your app with other apps that are related by process and data. It's quite simple when you consider a handful of apps. It's extensively more complicated, however, when you consider many more apps obviously. What's even more complicated than that? If your HR department doesn't have its processes mapped out sufficiently.
Imagine this with me and suspend your disbelief temporarily. What if your department had process maps across your multiple systems that could easily interpret each of the processes in your individual systems and output the connection points? What if your department had the data maps as well - how data travels around your department? What if these maps were both updated in real-time so whenever someone checks in a change to a process or modifies/adds/removes a data field this end-to-end is updated? I think you'd see benefits across the board in the following areas:
- Reduction in muda (processes can be appropriately targeted with kaizen efforts)
- Lessen process and data knowledge loss when workers change roles
- Lessen consultant fees when a consultant needs to come in and help improve an area or process
There is a way to do this. HR technology must work with its HR process team to catalog all processes and tie them back to the systems. You should end up with a map that shows you a few things:
- Extent of HR process automation (enabling management to better deploy resources)
- Input into prioritization of HR technology roadmap (which areas need the most help)
- Process breakdown areas
Why is this important? Setting you up for success is critical for moving forward with this low/no-code movement. If you embark on this without a plan that is backed up with facts and figures, you're shooting in the dark. What you will end up with, while it is better than hiring some Excel/Access jockeys, you're still a long way off from making a sound investment. Think about it this way...1 Excel/Access jockey costs ~$140k per year and can handle support and creation of between 5-10 pseudo-applications. Unless you retire these applications, you are spending over $600k over 5 years to maintain the same applications that serve a very limited audience (granted there will be tweaks and updates along the way). How else could you spend that $600k in a wiser manner?
What if you were to invest in a platform that enabled at least a few of your HR users to build applications? You invest in giving this platform good bones, so it can be easily and cost-effectively maintained (data integrations, data library, security, licensing) you can easily spend $600k on that. The key, however, is that you can build much more than those 5-10 pseudo applications. You can build real applications that have the "IT hardening" already built in (i.e. security). You have effectively enabled your HR staff to increase its applications by at least a factor of 10 and moreover if the author leaves, the application is easily maintained because there is no code. What you have just accomplished is creating a new HR capability - to deliver answers quickly, efficiently, with minimal cost to your organization.
I liken this back to being smart with your money. If you could take a 1% loan and instead park your cash in an instrument that returns >1%, wouldn't you do that instead of paying all cash for something? Leverage your money well. If you’d like to learn more and create a Proof of Concept app with Intellect, click here for a free trial. http://www.intellect.com/free-trial
Written by Jeff Knapp
HR Technology Manager at Toyota Financial Services.