A system for tracking service levels in IT departments is proving just as successful in HR, finds the University of Bradford.
If you are looking for new ways of doing things, sometimes it does not hurt to borrow ideas from other business functions or sectors and reapply them in your own.
Some might call this stealing, I prefer to think of it as “repurposing”. But, however you chose to describe it, some really innovative stuff has come out of these acts of cross-fertilisation.
One organisation that has benefited from taking this approach is the University of Bradford. As part of a much wider change management programme across the university, its HR department was keen to improve the quality and speed of response when handling enquiries and requests for information.
We have more timely responses, employees feel like the HR service is better and the business sees that it’s getting value for money.” – Joanne Marshall, HR director, University of Bradford
But it was the IT department that first came up with the idea of implementing a service management system, after hearing that software vendor ServiceNow was looking to build up its presence in the HR environment.
While this kind of technology has been used for years by IT helpdesks to log and deal with queries, it seems to be much less common in the HR world.
However, Bradford’s HR department looked into the matter and, liking what it saw, started implementing a self-service portal complete with a Google-style home page, a knowledge base, frequently asked questions and dialogue boxes. This all took just five months.
According to Gary McFarlane, head of operational HR at Bradford, an average of 60% of routine questions are now answered on a self-service basis, including those from staff in countries as far flung as Dubai, Pakistan and Germany.
If they cannot find the answer via the portal, the next step is to contact one of the eight people in the HR service centre team, who are committed to triage enquiries within one working day.
If things need to escalate and be tackled by more specialist personnel such as HR advisers or HR business partners, everyone involved is able to track it at each stage of the process as the request has already been logged in the system.
Even in the go-live month of February, four out of five business users said they were either “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the information that they received, while 87% felt the same about response times.
In addition, the HR department can now generate reports based on ongoing activity to see whether or not key performance indicators have been hit. It has also started feeding such data into service level agreements with faculty managers so that they know exactly what to expect.
As the University’s HR director Joanne Marshall says, the system has led to “more timely responses, employees feeling like the HR service is better and the business seeing that it’s getting value for money”. And that has to be a good thing.