Three best practices to maximize the value of your HCM

November 5, 2021
person talking on phone

A Human Capital Management (HCM) system is a major investment — in terms of time, effort, and money — for a business. These systems have wide-ranging capabilities; many market themselves as a one-stop shop for streamlining complex operations.

HCMs can help a business manage:

  • icon
    Business intelligence: data visualization, reporting, predictive analytics
  • icon
    Core HR capabilities: payroll, benefits admin, compliance, employee data management
  • icon
    HR service management: employee self-service, manager self-service, HR helpdesk, intranet, chatbots
  • icon
    Talent management: recruiting, onboarding, performance management, compensation, learning and development
  • icon
    Workforce management: time and attendance, planning and scheduling, leave management

Considering the significant financial outlay involved in purchasing a HCM system, it’s crucial you take full advantage of all its bells and whistles.

To ensure you get the most out of your HCM platform, follow these best practices to set your business up for an easy transition and long-term success.

1. Focus on the core functions of your HCM but be open to its broader uses

Ideally, before adopting a new HCM platform, you should have a strategy for its deployment: What challenges do you want this new system to address? How do you see it working with or transforming your existing processes? This will help you focus your attention.

If that strategy does not yet exist, don’t worry — it’s never too late to create one that will guide your decisions and actions going forward.

Once you’ve established the primary uses for your HCM platform, you can then consider its broader utility. Many HCMs can manage almost all aspects of your business, even if they may not outperform a particular stand-alone solution. It can be tempting to always go for the “best-in-class” solution to a given challenge, but consider the time, effort, and money saved by simply using the built-in features of your HCM. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. The marginal benefit of using an existing — if not perfect — system may well exceed that of taking on a new one.

Cloud-based HCMs may also have add-ons and additional modules that could expand its functionality and do more for your business. Don’t overthink it though — it’s best to first focus on the parts of your new HCM that can do the most for you. Less can be more, at least at first.

Once you’re up and running, stay up on software upgrades and tech advancements — things move increasingly fast, and you could be missing out on crucial and money-saving enhancements.

2. Keep things simple with integration

While HCMs are meant to eliminate stand-alone solutions and simplify HR management, a true “all-in-one” solution is not realistic these days. That means that integration is that much more important.

Now that you’ve made this commitment to a given platform, don’t overcomplicate things elsewhere. As you explore new vendors and stand-alone solutions, make it a priority that these new platforms integrate (seamlessly!) with your HCM.

Two-way integration between systems, with real-time updates that eliminate the need for manual data entry or time-consuming reconciliation, give your HR teams confidence that the information they see on their screen is correct. It’s the key to truly streamlining these complex and complicated processes. It also makes it easier for HR professionals to see how these different aspects of the employee experience intersect.

"The opportunities are plenty as we think about the HR platforms morphing into more of people platforms,” says Preetha Sekharan, Head of Digital Strategy and Digital Incubator at Unum. “Having access to not just the system of record but having more information about how people are engaging and experiencing these platforms helps us better solve and really improve that experience for them on the back end.”

Talk to existing vendors and emphasize the importance of integration with the HCM. Over time, if possible, move other aspects of your business — ones that cannot be managed via the HCM — to partners willing to provide easy communication between their product and your HCM.

3. Engage your employees around this new system

If your employees aren’t on board with a new system, then it will not succeed. Period. A new HCM is merely a tool; your employees are the ones pushing the buttons and making it work.

A great way to get them engaged is to make the HCM something they use every day — to sign up for benefits, to check their pay stubs, to request PTO. Consider the advantages of running open enrollment through your HCM rather than through a separate platform.

Keep in mind that almost everything is digital these days. Your employees probably spend much of their time both in and out of work looking at screens.

“One of the reasons people are burned out is we have so many tools and so many online systems at work that we never get away from it,” said global industry analyst Josh Bersin in a recent webinar about the future of the employee benefits experience.

quote icon

One of the reasons people are burned out is we have so many tools and so many online systems at work that we never get away from it.

Josh Bersin, Global Industry Analyst, Dean, Josh Bersin Academy


Human Capital Management systems can be a game-changer for employers. But the extent of that change, and the success of a new system, depends on employers doing crucial work both before and after implementation.