Friday 29 August 2014

HR Policy Making in Pakistani Organizations.

In the last decade or so HR practices in Pakistan have undergone some major transformations mainly due to advent in technology, arrivals of foreign companies, induction of business graduates into businesses and competition among firms. But the spread of INTERNATIONAL standard HR practices & concepts still has not penetrated to all business sectors and a lot of work is required by HR professionals to strengthen this field.

In addition, it has been seen that STANDARDIZATION of HR practices within many companies is often neglected even though it is a known fact that well drafted standardized HR policies & procedures save the company hours of management time. The CONSISTENT use and interpretation of such policies, in an evenhanded manner, reduces management's concern on legal issues becoming legal problems.

A vast of majority of Pakistani HR professionals lack the fundamental knowledge of HR Policy making. Its not surprising , the company management teams DO NOT TRUST the ability of their HR department to deliver an HR policy manual and resort to hiring a consultant to do the job. A common MISCONCEPTION is that HR policies manual are developed only to streamline administrative tasks. Hence, it is considered a non-strategic activity which does not require much deliberation from the top management and copy-paste arrangements are considered sufficient.

As an HR practitioner I believe that the onus is on the Head of Human Resources department to ensure that HR team is well versed at developing HR Policy Manual, and educate the top management on how an HR policy manual will help the company achieve its strategic objectives.

There are other issues associated with the drafting of HR policy manual that can be observed across various companies within Pakistan. Most HR policies are constructed based on the Best Practices methodology WITHOUT considering the relevancy to the industry in which the company operates or the life cycle (inception, growth, maturity, decline) in which the company is going through. HR policies are seldom revised whenever there is a change in business strategy. Furthermore there is HARDLY ANY effort made by the HR department to monitor the impact of HR policies on business and on employee satisfaction.

In some companies HR Policy manual is not made available to employees and concept of employee handbooks is still considered a far-fetched idea.

Since most HR department heads are not treated as strategic business partners, they become so complacent with the status-quo that they RARELY proceed with a change in policy out of the fear that it might trigger lengthy discussions and difference of opinions within the board of directors NO MATTER how important the HR policy changes maybe.

The idea behind developing HR Policy manuals is to help staff and management teams run the organization in a consistent manner. In BEST use situations, policies play a strategic role in an organization. If they are developed in light of the mission and objectives of the company, they become the MEDIUM through which management plans, rules and business processes become documented and communicated to all staff. It's a win-win situation for both employees and the management.

About the Author: Muhammad Usman was working as Senior Consultant HCM for Abacus Consulting, with over seven years of diversified experience in the field of HR, Business Intelligence & Sales Operations at the time of first publication of this article in the 9th TimeTrax HR Professionals NewsBeat in November 2011 and is currently the Job Evaluation Analyst at ZADCO, United Arab Emirates.

The field of recruitment in Pakistan is undergoing a change. Not just a small scale evolution but a fundamental progression paradigm - a shift that will see the recruiting landscape change in a manner where traditional recruiters will fall behind and replaced by new, differently skilled recruiters, ready for the new challenges of recruitment.
What is this change and why is it so challenging?
The current global recruitment landscape is changing with a fast pace. The global war for the best talent is real i.e. the talent mass is geographically mobile and happy to move for the best job. Further, the talent mass is getting more demanding, not only in pay scales but also in terms of career progression and training & development. With the experienced talent pool shrinking noticeably in quality, recruiters are competing aggressively to attract candidates across different sectors.
Also, the graduate pool is alarmingly becoming “less skilled” with watered-down degrees making them under-prepared for the working life. Talent is becoming less loyal and more eager to switch companies on an average of every two years. We see the market competitors getting smarter in mapping out talent pools and attracting key personnel away from their current placements.Recruitment agencies keep failing in finding creative ways to attract the unique talent to their databases, hence bringing about the “recruitment chess” of the same talent across companies.
There is a fundamental essence of recruitment – “Not everyone is looking for a job”. The benchmark seems to suggest that only 10% of relevant/experienced talent is actively looking for a role at any given moment in time. So the best candidates relevant for your role/s are typically among the 90% of candidates who are not engaged in job searches.
Hence in a market that is full of challenges, companies must ponder on why they are focused on using recruitment agencies, posting on job boards, and CV searching, when they are not actually reaching out to the 90% non-active segment, which could include the best candidates out of the entire talent pool. Perhaps it's time for employers to play their role in accelerating the much-needed change that the area of recruitment is undergoing.
About the Author: Tehmina Kanchwala was the Regional Human Resources Manager at Makro Habib Pakistan Limited when this article was first published in the 8th TimeTrax HR Professionals NewsBeat in October 2011. Ms. Tehmina is currently serving as the Manager HR and Admin at Aga Khan Development Network.

Thursday 21 August 2014

What does TimeTrax offer to the HR Manager?

Really, so What does TimeTrax offer to the HR Manager? 

A truly robust Human Capital Management Software solution, TimeTrax places tremendous power and precision in the hands of the HR department. From visibility into every action or transaction that an employee makes in the organization through the use of web-based eDashboard to granting each employee the flexibility and comfort of self-service for applying and viewing statuses of leaves, travel requests, expense approvals etc. through the use of smartphones and handheld devices. 

TimeTrax thus offers value to each individual in the organization individually and the HR department collectively; thereby improving its acceptance and ensuring a quick turnaround time coupled with a marked ROI.

TimeTrax achieves this feat by bringing the various HR functions under one unified web-based platform – from the basic monthly routine processes of Attendance/Leave/Travel/Payroll management to the periodic processes of Hiring/Documentation/Training/Separation management. The system goes on to provide the complex and highly strategic modules for Appraisal/Performance management and finally, the robust eDashboard for the senior management’s reporting needs.

Mr. Amir Shadmani, Plant HR Manager at Reckitt Benckiser states “We like it (TimeTrax) as a time keeping software, which reports in many different types with different formats & for gathering data of usual, time to time business requirements.”

Mr. Farhan Tariq Mir, Manager HR Planning at Wateen Telecom states “We are very pleased with the TimeTrax attendance system by EfroTech. It is a very useful tool, which is easy to use with good reports. Overall it is an excellent product.” 

Nearly 1,000+ business setups have taken benefit from the TimeTrax suite over the last 16 years. Taking note of which TimeTrax has been honored with the title of ‘Best Human Capital Management Software’ at 3rd Global HR Excellence Awards 2012 for its outstanding achievements and exceptional performance in IT industry, both within Pakistan and also in various countries where the solution is available through the company’s Reseller Network. 

This award is truly an acknowledgement of the revolutionary Human Resource Information System, powered by the dynamic team of software experts at EfroTech. Building on its specialization of delivering core BPS – Business Productivity Solutions – on the web-based and SAAS/ASP models, EfroTech is regarded as a major player in the HRIS/HCMS and Supply Chain Management solutions space in this region.

Mr. Syed Zamin Zafar, Senior Vice President – IT at Jubilee Life Insurance states: “It has been a pleasure working with Efrotech. We have good business relationship with Efrotech since the last 8 years. The TimeTrax of EfroTech is core application in NJI for the monitoring of attendance and maintaining the payroll of all employees with the network of 10 locations in Pakistan using more than 10 devices.”

Generic in its design, TimeTrax caters to the needs of Banks, Financial Institutions, Education, Engineering, Pharmaceuticals, Chemicals, Information Technology, Telecommunications, Distribution, Healthcare, Trading, Shipping, Logistics, Media And Communication Industry with Organization size ranging from 15 Employees at Radiant Chemicals to an organization of 8,000+ Employees at Coca cola Beverages Pakistan Limited.

Mr. Abaidullah Anwer (Manager Business Systems) at Coca-Cola Beverages Pakistan Limited sums up as follows: “TimeTrax is core application in CCBPL for the monitoring of attendance of all permanent employees and third party labor more than 8,000 employees with the network of 18 locations and sales centers in Pakistan using more than 38 devices.”

Biometrics-based identification and access control is what makes the system most accurate and dependable. Utilizing fingerprint recognition as the core identification method helps in solving the complex problem of ensuring foolproof security. Staff can get access through fingerprints, RFID Cards or via their ID & password – or a combination of all of these.

Mr. Amir Riaz, Senior Manager IT at Cupola Group (KFC Pakistan) states: ” TimeTrax is a user-friendly application running in Multi-user environment to capture attendance, leave management with multiple attendance input options like RFID, Biometric and passwords which integrated with the Attendance system.”

Management Reporting is offered through TimeTrax as a variety of helpful tools to reduce time spent on paperwork and increase visibility to workforce. The Manager’s Dashboard – eDashboard – provides a quick overview of their entire workforce each day highlighting the number of late arrivals, absences, time-cards pending approval and leave requests. The most likable feature about the system is the leave request function, their employees can go in, put in a leave request and it goes in to their manager automatically and can be approved. 

Previously, the managers used to get faxes and emails from any of their various locations in multiple cities on log sheets, which they would then have to enter manually.  Now they have gone from a labor intensive, inaccurate system to something that is not only much more accurate, but provides visibility to the data, in one window.

TimeTrax system calculates the time each individual has worked based on pay rules, record their arrival and departure, providing managers with detailed information about attendance records, absenteeism, overtime including holiday and leave pay. It has multi-currency and multi branch setup, Loan Transaction, loan deduction, gratuity, expense claim & reimbursement, Complete track of quarterly, half-yearly and yearly allowances, Monthly payroll, pay-slip, salary advice, tax statements, EOBI statements and provident fund can be computed easily through ePayroll. 

TimeTrax also offers eLeave, an easy to use workflow tool that simplifies the process flows of planning, applying and approving of leave(s). Employee Self-Service (ESS) feature empowers your employees and department heads to self-manage leave applications and approval flow anywhere, anytime, through any browser and even on handhelds through mobile app.Employee’s Electronic Travel Manager through eTravel is a step forward in that direction which allows functional heads to manage and control their travel budgets with a click of a button, without introducing too many documents/formalities in the process. It has widely been appreciated and embraced by the organization due to its flexibility and user-friendly interface.

Shifa Ibrahim, Global HR Projects Manager, Global HR Business Partner Finance, IM & Marketing at AkzoNobel Powder Coatings states: “A truly Generic solution, eTravel is a lifesaver! Saving at least 10% of the time for HR, Admin and Finance personnel – even Line Managers – due to its comprehensive features which cover the whole Leave and Travel authorization cycle in almost every single industry vertical. Strongly recommended that HR professionals look into this intuitive solution and save valuable process time."

Not only a travel workflow tool that manages authorizations and monitors travel costs, it also acts as a link between the organization and the travel agents; maintains the travel calendar of the employees and the organization; keeps a track of the expenses and acts as the employees’ travel manager. It manages the Travel Workflow and Authorizations, shares information electronically with travel agents, tracks travel costs, and the corporate Travel Calendar is available online to promote effective collaboration.

EfroTech is now a global software solutions supplier for numerous Fortune 500 companies, providing services in Afghanistan, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Sudan, Nigeria, Oman, UAE covering ASEAN, Central & South Africa through its resellers and further has its software deployments in India, MENA, Europe and Latin America. The footprint is growing further at a tremendous pace.

Elizabeth Von Atzigen, Director HR at Sheraton Hotel states: “It has been a wonderful experience working with EfroTech. The focus and determination of EfroTech’s team is there, the solution provided by EfroTech is timely and suitable. They are available, with their expertise, whenever the need arises. EfroTech has proven our decision of selecting their services profitable by adding real value to business.”

In all, TimeTrax is able to deliver for the entire needs of any organization – from the CEO to the HR Manager to every single employee in the organization. Rightly thus TimeTrax is termed as ‘The Best Investment for your Human Capital’.

Including Home-Grown Technology in the (Graduate & Post-Graduate) University Curriculum

The average – and not so average – institute around the globe would have the likes of SAP, Oracle and Microsoft applications, besides others, as part of the curriculum for Human Resource, Enterprise Resource Planning and Supply Chain disciplines to help students better understand the business processes in light of the software applications that are helping millions of organizations across the globe manage and monitor their processes.

This is an excellent step – equipping the students with the practical tools while exposing them to the theories and principals that have been kept in mind while developing these very applications. The flexibility these solutions offer the organizations is tremendous and are so generic in nature that an organization of virtually any size, maturity and industry can – almost always – customize them to their specific needs.

While the utility of inclusion of off-the-shelf software as part of curriculum has been in practice for decades and as such cannot be questioned for it truly has delivered a platform for fresh graduates to be recognized by their prospective employers as having a highly useful skill, the question does arrive though; ‘Why pay millions for licensing of expensive software, when just as good locally developed software solutions/products are available in the market?’. The question was posed to lecturers and professors at some of the leading universities in Pakistan and the response though skewed in favor of the original premise, was varied and some snippets are reproduced here:

The For:
"In an increasingly diversified and challenging business landscape, technology is playing vital role be it research, business positioning and promotion, corporate-academia linkages, distant learning programs etc.
IT market and more specifically customized solution providers in Pakistan have established themselves amongst the global giants. It is therefore expensive and unnecessary to buy off-the-shelf, orthodox solution from international sellers rather it is imperative that local solution providers who have grip over the challenges and can meet customization requirements of the institutions, with all global standards justified, are far better. Additionally software accommodations are easier and one on one interaction enhances the chance of continuous improvement. Hence it’s mutually beneficial to acquire systems and software solutions (like TimeTrax HCMS) domestically if available."
“Any automation/system implementation process needs to match the organisation culture, the indigenous business practices of the industry and process maturity of the implementing organisation. In the end system implementation should prove its worth in terms of the benefits it provides to catapult the organisation/workflow to the next level. The advantage of using localized/customized software (like BizzTrax ERP) over imported systems is that it is easier to customize to local demands and culture and so from a change management perspective- easier to gain acceptability. When one implements imported software, the software is built on assumptions of foreign regulations and culture. International software implementations fail in local environment because their systems pre-assumptions do not match local expectations and hence implementing the system workflow becomes difficult and often is shelved.”

The Against:
“The role of universities has changed in today’s age of information revolution. It is no longer transfer of knowledge from old professors to the young generation. Universities today must produce entrepreneurs and nurture creativity. Training them to use software that someone else has produced limits their potential. The students must be taught to create new software and found new software enterprises that can compete with the best in the world and consequently add to the national growth.”

The Conclusion (if you will):

While conflicting views would exist to any issue, it would be important to register the idea behind introduction either of the two solution sets into the curriculum and the underlying objective:

As part of the MIS curriculum to help students build an understanding of Information Systems. As part of the HR curriculum to give students exposure of an HRIS/HCMS application for performing operations, defining workflows and affects of various available policy options in their industry. As part of the Supply Chain curriculum to give students hands-on exposure of how demand planning translates into the production plan through BOM explosion and also how secondary sales visibility assists with procurement planning, and so on.

Note: The brand-names SAP, TimeTrax, Microsoft, BizzTrax and Oracle are registered trademarks of their respective organizations.