We all know that the use of spreadsheets is fairly common place in HR automation of smaller businesses. Typically the automation consists of different spreadsheets for HR areas like
- Employee Database
- Leave Tracking
- Performance Assessmnt
- Skills and Talent Tracking
When volumes are low – say up to a 100 employees, spreadsheets are actually a good approach. Changes in employee statuses would be very few a month, and if one were careful with the sheets, spreadsheets would actually be better. A few key strokes and the system is ready. Even an untrained user can make the changes. Experienced spreadsheet users would innovate on the spreadsheet by having a common employee sheet and referring to the database using look ups, ensuring some level of integrity.
As the company grows bigger (say 300 or 500 employees) the complexity grows exponentially giving extreme strain to spreadsheets. This complexity comes from the impact of more volume of transactions every period
- As the company adds more people to manage HR, the spreadsheet is split to the respective owner. Spreadsheet data always requires the process owner to own the data and ensure its accuracy. When split, changes that occur every period need to be reflected to all the sheets
- The number of changes occurring every month is far more higher, and unless extreme care is taken, errors in data entry start creeping in during data entry
- Retrospective changes become commonplace requiring multiple versions of the sheets by period, leading to proliferation of referral spreadsheets
- Since there is no audit trail of the change, and since user change stampings are not there, one can never identify who made a change or deleted a record. One would never know if it was a fraud or a genuine mistake
- The strain would be felt by all the process areas mentioned above, and each one feel the need to have an application. Some areas could get automated using a simple application, but the core problem of integrity in the system of records would still be there.
Yet, there are companies with hundreds and may be thousands of employees managing with spreadsheets, and are proud of it. They however know that this cannot go on for long. When they finally get down to automation, they understand the need for integrity of all application areas and are possibly waiting to transition.
Our advice that when you feel the acute need for an upgrade, don’t upgrade to localized application, but go directly for an integrated HRMS/ HRIS/ Employee Portal with employee self service features. The biggest benefits of automation for employees and the company occurs when employees themselves access HR and payroll processes online, saving significant amount of productive time. In case you are interested in this topic, read the article on ROI for ESS in this site. Also choose a product that is cloud ready since that is the future of enterprise applications – whether private or public cloud.
KServeHRMS is integrated and is designed for employee self service and also cloud ready and is a good product to include in the shortlist.
We are keen to listen to your experience in using spreadsheets for automation, and also your thoughts on when do you actually feel the need to move to an automated application.