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People Management Software is All About User Experience

September 9, 2010, Ryan Vesely -

Ever notice how the really simple things in life are often the most effective?  Nowhere is this more important than in people management software.

[ LEARN MORE: Saba People Management Software Overview ]

Jason Corsello (@jcorsello) of Knowledge Infusion recently tweeted, “I really don't care that talent management vendors can now ‘complete the suite.’ What matters is how the solution converges into one [User Experience].”

This was in response to a heavy couple of days of acquisitions in the People Management space, but it also points to a trend in the expectations of the HR buyer: Having an offering that includes Learning, performance, succession, compensation and other people management processes is insufficient. That’s because of the limitation of the word “offering.”  What HR Buyers are really looking for, now more than ever, is a people management software solution that simplifies a very complex set of processes into a user experience that anticipates the user’s actions.
"Simplicity hinges as much on cutting nonessential features as on adding helpful ones." - Walter Bender

Source: JemBlog

People Management Software: Simplicity is Key

We’re not talking single-sign-on, or flashy interfaces, or bright bouncy colors that distract the mind rather than focusing it.  We’re talking about good, simple user experience. Simplicity is going to be the gating factor, because we have entered a phase of software design where it’s just not good enough to meet the functional requirement. Users expect people management software to be intuitive, simple, engaging, and that it should anticipate what the user is doing.

It’s like what the old AT&T commercials of the 1990’s suggest (yes, stop kidding yourself: the 1990’s are old – hurts me too): Let people do what they want from wherever they want in as simple a way as possible, and usage will skyrocket. That’s because people expect things to work in a way that makes sense.

Apply that logic to people management software. Enabling a manager to make compensation allocation decisions based on an employee’s performance score through a series of clicks is nice.  But wouldn’t it be better to simply show the expected information to a manager as they are making that decision? Give the right set of indicators to facilitate that decision making process when they’re needed, rather than forcing a user to go hunt for them. If the manager wants to dig down deeper, let them.  And, most importantly, remove the distractions.

In my opinion, it comes down to this: Combining modules from different platforms is not the way to engage your people and be successful. It's like putting a tractor trailer tire on a car: it might get you more traction on one side, but you'll have a hard time keeping the car's alignment straight. Ultimately, it does not mean that your people will find it useful or intuitive, or for that matter, that they'll use it at all. This is because people expect things to work in a way that makes sense.

If you're ready to engage your people, and feel that people management software can change the game of how you do business, think about providing them one that unifies the business flows across those modules. Find one that, as Jason said, delivers a solution that converges the business flows in a simple, intuitive user experience.

What do you think?  Is people management software really all about user experience?