This morning I read a piece from Deloitte’s Josh Bersin that built the case for purchasing an integrated software solution to manage people processes. For those not familiar with the talent management software market, it’s a collection of software aimed at making it easier for organizations to manage people related processes such as recruiting, performance management, learning management, and workforce planning. The below exhibit (which again, you can get from his piece here) captures the market nicely:

Talent Management Software


…So Bersin points out that without such software it is difficult to manage people processes that are integral to business success. And as someone that has worked with talent management software with several of the above functionalities I am inclined to agree with him; implemented properly, talent management software can (among other things) streamline processes, create a clearer picture of the talent landscape for managers, and give employees tools that critically aid in their development.

…And yet it must be said that talent management software is just a tool. And for a tool to add value those using it must both understand how to leverage that value and have the capabilities to do so.

I have lots of tools that I use everyday: Top of mind, this blog is powered by WordPress -a tool which has saved me untold hours that I might otherwise have needed to spend formatting and indexing pages. WordPress allow me to focus on creating content as opposed to expending resources on administrative tasks- but it is only a tool. If I didn’t have it I might or might not still blog everyday, but I would still have the ability to do so if I were so inclined. And in that same vein, were I not invested in writing everyday – or if I wanted to reach an audience that I didn’t have the ability to (e.g. if I wanted to write to a Chinese only speaking population) WordPress as a tool wouldn’t be of much value to me.

…I say this to say that I think some organizations invest into talent management (and ERP) software before they are at a stage in their development where their people can collectively leverage its value. e.g. Maybe performance management isn’t yet a part of the culture, or the rewards strategy is undefined. To this point, understanding what a tool is supposed to accomplish and how to get there is an integral step in the process that every organization would do well to remember before investing in a new bell or whistle – no matter how much potential to add value it has.

Or maybe I Have this wrong? This was just a thought stream…

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.