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How to actually become a self-sufficient organisation

Updated: Feb 1

A self-sufficient HR and Finance team

In the dynamic landscape of Software as a Service (SaaS), embracing a mindset that fosters self-

sufficiency is paramount for organisational success. The second pillar of the SaaS Mindset™, 'Self-sufficiency,' signifies a shift from dependency to autonomy, a transition which is marked by the use of technology and artificial intelligence (AI) to maximise self-service. In this blog, we delve into the journey of organisations as they navigate from reliance to independence, emphasising the crucial role of end-user buy-in, accessibility and simplicity of tools and a culture of accountability.


Operating independently


The core essence of self-sufficiency lies in the ability for colleagues to operate independently, reducing reliance on support functions, especially when completing day-to-day tasks. Organisations that thrive when adopting this pillar of the SaaS Mindset™ place a strong emphasis on the employee journey and behaviours. They recognise that technology will only be adopted when it is seen as truly enabling the ‘day job’, thus is designed and delivered with that core objective.  The self-sufficiency mindset shift requires both a user-centric approach to deploying technology and a cultural transformation that fosters a sense of ownership and empowerment among employees. It applies to both users / recipients of HR and Finance services, as well as to the HR and Finance teams themselves.


...we surely embrace or do not embrace technology in the same way at home and in the workplace, so the main issue must lie with the delivery of the technology...

Maximising end-user self-service through technology & AI


Considering how much technology we use in our personal lives, the reluctance to self-serve in our professional lives remains a slightly unexplainable challenge! As users we surely embrace or do not embrace technology in the same way at home and in the workplace, so the main issue must lie with the delivery of the technology, rather than the users themselves.  Most of us use YouTube (and even TikTok) to work out how to fix a broken appliance or gadget, how to use MS Office, how to find the petrol cap control in a new car and how to say something in a foreign language.  We use Amazon, online shopping, banking … the list is endless.  Yet how many times do we hear the phrase ‘our colleagues would not accept doing that via self-service’. 


Many Cloud programmes invest readily in end-user training, but do not put adequate effort into ensuring that colleagues and managers are clear about the role they need to play (see our service-led pillar blog and establishing clear rules of engagement) and how they can use technology to enable that. If there is a negotiation to be had, it should be about the roles and expectations between the Business and supporting functions, but not around the fact that technology is being used. Failing to get colleagues using tech is undoubtedly a change and engagement issue, not one related to capability.


Much of the AI and automation being planned into HR and Finance solutions (especially Tier 1) is aimed at making the day-to-day activities of colleagues and managers easier and faster to do. It also has an important role in providing a baseline of consistency across the employee experience and then adding personalisation over the top of this such as suggested learning content for an individual persona. Take performance management as an example, a manager will be able to select a few bullets that describe a team member’s performance over the given period and the AI will produce a set of sentences that describe those characteristics. The manager will still need to edit those sentences, make them more specific and add examples, but the tool has overcome the psychological barrier of getting started, which will be seen by many managers as a significant aide in a process which is often seen as a real chore.


There is no such thing as BAU

Becoming a self-sufficient organisation


As HR and Finance colleagues, we need to accept the fact that there is no such thing as BAU! Our BAU is transformation and each and every one of us has a role to play in being part of a continuous transformation, or improvement.  The sixth pillar in our SaaS Mindset™ is Benefits-led Continuous Improvement, and that starts with this pillar, whereby HR and Finance professionals start to become a self-sufficient function in terms of supporting and evolving the service they deliver. In the past, IT systems have been owned and managed by the IT Function, not HR. 


Modern day Cloud solutions do not require anywhere near the technical knowledge and training required by on-premise systems. The majority of the development work is undertaken by the SaaS vendor, leaving the ongoing role to be one of configuration and testing. Many HR and Finance colleagues are more than able to learn these skills and become part of the team who is responsible for supporting and maintaining the technology platform. Ongoing support teams will be most effective if they are formed of a blend of functional (HR/Finance) and technical (IT) resources. This will be critical if the Total Cost of Ownership of a Cloud solution is going to be kept to a minimum.  Organisations who do not develop these teams will still retain dependency on 3rd party application support teams, who will be more costly and not have the same level of understanding of the organisation in order to inform the technology roadmap. Embedding a mindset of self-sufficiency across HR and Finance will really enhance the business's ability to get more from Cloud solutions and become a self-sufficient organisation. Ideally this should start from the outset of any implementation project, in order to learn from the external experts and plan upfront to bring as much of that knowledge inhouse.


There are some interesting examples of where self-sufficiency is starting to be evidenced in more organisations such as where payroll is coming back inhouse, having been outsourced for many years. This is a great example of how technology has improved (especially in terms of integration between HR and Payroll) and therefore Payroll teams have wanted to re-skill to bring the capability inhouse and deliver that service autonomously.


Fostering a culture of Accountability & Enablement - it's a win-win!


The journey to self-sufficiency goes beyond technology; it requires a cultural shift within the organisation. Thriving enterprises understand the importance of promoting a culture of accountability and enablement. The behaviours associated with being autonomous promote individual performance as a whole – being accountable, using all the resources you have at hand to solve problems and asking questions when you’re not clear. Ideally this behavioural change starts consciously at the outset of any technology change programme:


  • Establishing clear rules of engagement, roles and responsibilities.

  • Designing a technology enablement solution for HR and Finance that truly enables end-users to do their day jobs. (N.B. this is essential as self-service cannot be seen to be another clunky system!).

  • Resourcing for independence.


Investing time to embed self-sufficiency will result in THREE MAGNIFICENT OUTCOMES!


  1. Customers will be happier!  Whilst the initial pain of ‘selling self-service’ may seem challenging, it is a worthwhile effort, as users will like having control over what they do when they need to do it.

  2. Customers will become more accountable. As self-service increases, users will naturally check their data better, get used to doing things at the right time (e.g. payroll; expenses) and reporting back when things don’t work as they should.  This creates a great foundation for continuous improvement.

  3. HR and Finance finally get time back!  Without the adhoc requests, chasing transactions and answering queries that form so much of the day job today, our HR and Finance colleagues can start to focus on the strategic aspects of their roles – YIPEE!


Whilst we talk about self-sufficiency under the umbrella of cultural change, there is no doubt that technology has a significant part to play.  We need to deliver our users great tech solutions that encourage them towards new ways of working, AND we need to ensure we have created the right environment and leadership to embed the right behaviours. 

  

For more information about Veran’s SaaS Mindset™ and how to action tangible cultural change, click here to arrange a 20-minute chat with one of our consultants.


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