In this article, I would like to consider the concept of the Frictionless Enterprise from a human resources (HR) operations viewpoint.
True design thinking can only start with the customer lens. Customers, in this case, are the employees. As employees interact across various functions of the enterprise, the silos of departments need to adapt to deliver a seamless experience.
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Consider the concept of frictionless from the position of employees, and it’s an entirely different proposition from that of HR. Different – and broader. The HR department develops and sustains processes that help people with their lifecycle needs, pay, their benefits, their learning and career development, and their holiday entitlement.
But for any one of us, a working day can encompass so many more things than these. If your expenses claim is late in being paid, you need to speak to the accounts team, not to HR. If you’re expecting a parcel, you probably call the front desk. If you need a new laptop, that’s a procurement issue, so you speak to finance, and probably to the internal supply chain people too. If your password stops working, and you can’t figure out why, you contact the IT helpdesk.
And then there are the things that really are matters for HR, but for which there may not be established processes, or recent experience. At an enterprise level, the obvious instance is the recent lockdown following the recent pandemic, and its many knock-on effects.
In short, when you put yourself in the position of employees, you’re looking not just at standard HR processes, but at pretty much the whole organization – finance, IT, the supply chain, and beyond – as well as at non-standard processes. In this context, therefore, the concept of the frictionless enterprise is all-embracing.
The importance of flow
Everything with which employees come into contact needs to flow. Services need to be accessible from a single place, available, and accurate. They need to be capable of being tailored to individual needs. And yes, they need to be frictionless, too – which means departmental barriers need to be smoother.
The lockdown example is a case in point. When people are working from home, they will have new kinds of IT issues, new categories of expenses claims, and new logistical problems with training and development, and with parcel deliveries. People on the payroll are likely to have more issues than usual with childcare arrangements, and sick leave. Recent joiners will have had their onboarding disrupted. All of these issues make demands of different digital platforms within the organization – platforms between which there is typically no cohesion because they are owned by different functions.
In many cases, in many businesses, these different functions have become embedded in their individual areas of process expertise. They are each focused on what they put out there, and not on how it is received.
This is why enterprise functions need to develop a broader sense of themselves. And, in turn, this is the reason why we start with the employee experience to help CHROs deliver their agenda. This gives HR and others a different perspective to their transformation agenda – reshaping and streamlining processes can be a good place from which to start building a frictionless enterprise.
Capgemini’s Digital Global Enterprise Model (D-GEM) platform comprises the tools and techniques for reimagining and streamlining processes. When everything flows, customers are happier – and the customers here include the business’s employees.
What’s more, when everything flows, morphing into a single, consistent environment, things become simpler, and the cost of ownership comes down. It’s often the case that it’s only when things reach this positive stage that organizations can look back and see how complicated things had once been, and how compartmentalized they once were in their thinking.
When an enterprise becomes truly frictionless, life is made easier and better externally for customers and supply chain partners, and internally for employees.
What’s more, the happiness of those employees is infectious: a contented workforce does a better job, bringing even greater benefits to all those customers and partners with whom it comes into contact.
Anjali Pendlebury-Green is an expert in the field of HR outsourcing and transformation, specializing in delivering HR solutions that leverage global outsourcing platforms, leading edge technology, stack offers, and process standardization. Anjali has led award-winning HRO teams for large multinational companies with a special focus on the manufacturing sector.