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1 June 2009

Managing Information and Change in HR: A Webster Buchanan Survey

This report analyses the findings of a survey of 100 HR directors and managers in the UK. The survey examined a broad range of topics relating to effective people management, including HR’s preparedness for dealing with today’s challenging economic conditions and the role of software systems, services and emerging technologies in supporting HR’s efforts.



Daniel Whitmore


HR transformation Technology


Key findings include:

  • Three quarters of respondents were confident they have sufficient change management expertise to manage any necessary workforce restructuring. But if they do need to restructure, almost one in ten were not confident their organisation has the information it needs to make informed decisions about the value of individual employees.
  • Top drivers for investment in HR software and services were improving quality of service, cutting HR administration costs and reducing IT costs. These were followed by the need to improve the quality of management information and free HR from its administrative burden to provide more strategic input to the business.
  • Surprisingly, 44% of respondents agreed that expanding their personal experience and enhancing their CV was an important factor in determining whether to invest in HR software or services – a finding that may not please board-level executives, but one that gives an indication of the critical role software and services play in the HR manager’s role.
  • Payroll self-service is emerging as one of the most popular forms of self-service, perhaps because its transactional nature lends itself to cost reduction initiatives. Almost six out of ten respondents either already provide online pay advice (‘electronic payslips’) or plan to do so within twelve months, while a third expect to do so long-term. Similarly, 11% of respondents enable employees to view their pay history online, with 38% planning to within twelve months. Among traditional HR capabilities, self-service adoption is climbing in areas such as recruitment, HR administration, absence, benefits, and training.
  • Opinion was sharply divided about the use of web collaboration tools such as blogs, wikis and social media sites. A third of respondents agreed that they provide “great ways of communicating with employees and will become increasingly important to HR over the next two years” – but another third disagreed, with smaller companies particularly unimpressed.
  • Data management, software and personnel issues continue to hold back HR’s efforts to assess trends and deliver meaningful information to senior management. 78% of respondents agreed that “the difficulty of getting relevant data together undermines my reporting and analytical capability,” and 62% of respondents agreed that they do not have the software tools they need to do anything beyond basic HR reporting. Almost half of respondents (46%) agreed that even if they had the right software tools, they lack sufficient analytical skills within HR to take advantage of them.
  • Most respondents were confident about their ability to report on the staple metrics of HR, including inwardly-focused metrics such as the composition of the workforce or ‘days to hire’. But as Webster Buchanan’s research has consistently demonstrated, HR managers tend to be less confident about reporting on how broader people-related issues affect the business.

Published in May 2009, this 20-page independent report from Webster Buchanan Research analyses the survey findings and explains its context. The report is currently available for free download from the Computers In Personnel website. Download the full HR Survey now!