Taking HR to task with tracking software

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Task management systems are more commonly seen in legal or professional services environments, but security software company Trend Micro found that they could have a valuable place in HR.

“In order to move forward, HR has got to embrace technology. It simply has to or we’ll be left behind and just seen as the personnel department.”

This is the stark warning issued by Lauren McKenna, senior director of HR for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at security software and services provider Trend Micro.

In line with this philosophy, her HR department has just introduced a task management system more commonly seen in legal practices in order to automate its time-consuming routine processes.

“It’s about making the team’s life easier and not just doing admin for the sake of it,” McKenna explains. “By getting rid of manual processes, it makes things better for everyone and, in return, we’re able to give more value to the business.”

The catalyst for change came about following an employee lawsuit, which made it necessary to manually go through apparently endless emails and records, both paper and electronic, in order to find information pertinent to the case.

“It was crazy. But it was also a catalyst for thinking about ‘how can we use technology better?’” McKenna says.

Tracking tasks

After an evaluation, the decision was taken to pilot Ascertus’ DocMinder product in the UK, with various members of a workflow project team being assigned specific use cases, such as dealing with benefits documentation.

The tool itself enables users to set up checklists of tasks for people involved in a given process or project. It then sends them automatic email follow-ups at each key stage and alerts the process owner when something has been updated or tasks have been completed.

This means that they no longer have to try and keep track of what is happening manually using tools such as spreadsheets, calendar or email folders.

Moreover, because details of all activities are stored in a central system, progress is easy to follow, and managers can produce customised reports.

Aideen Shannon, Trend Micro’s HR programme manager for EMEA, managed the project across 25 countries. She says: “It was a big project and we didn’t want to go ‘big bang’ – we wanted to phase it in as the team were still doing their day job while bringing in the new technology, and so if we’d bombarded them with too much at once, it would have failed.”

One of the biggest single elements of the initiative, which was rolled out in May, was mapping out the various workflows involved in each process. “You have to list things out and it takes time, but the prep work is key so don’t rush it,” warns McKenna.

The aim now is to expand the use of the technology out across the EMEA business, which includes covering the firm’s induction process. As McKenna concludes: “We’re a tech company and so we need to live it.”

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