Flowers and HCM systems architecture.

I’ve tried this metaphor on several client calls recently, so let me inflict it on you too.



via Flickr, the cc licence of Rodolfo Cartas thanks.

In this architecture, everything is from one vendor, and integration with third party applications is rather difficult. Typical ERP /HRMS pitch of the mid-nineties. Why do you need other software? We can do everything.



via Flickr,  the cc licence of C.S. 2.0 Thanks

Big core system, running most of the processes, with a series of smaller, tactical solutions interfaced around the edges.  Typical HR IT architecture of many ERP-Centric organizations today.  ERP runs the core transactions, with bits of SaaS tacked on around on the edges.



via Flickr,  the cc licence of law_keven Thanks

Small core system on premise, but most of the action takes place in the systems around the edges. Increasingly common as SaaS vendors continue to deliver richer functionality. Some challenges with integration, as there are many applications trying to connect to the core. 



via  Flickr, the cc licence of Gertrud K. Thanks

No significant core system, SaaS petals dominate.  Still very rare, but we expect to see more of these, challenging the traditional core and peripheral model. 

What sort of flower does your architecture represent?


Linking performance to pay. The G20 and HCM software.


(photo CC 2.o attribution, thanks to g-hat!)

World leaders are gathering in Pittsburgh to discuss banking reform and other pressing matters. According to the Guardian,  the discussions are likely to be rocky.

European leaders appeared to be on a collision course tonight with Barack Obama and Gordon Brown after Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, warned that the G20 summit must not be diverted from clamping down on bankers’ bonuses and hedge funds.

The article continues.

Sarkozy has suggested that bankers’ pay should be capped at a certain percentage of their institution’s assets or revenue.

Fredrick Reinfeldt, the Swedish prime minister and current president of the European council, promised a “specific discussion” on bonuses including proposals for individual caps on bankers’ bonuses, that bonuses would be linked to achievement and not given if there were losses, and that there would be transparency on precise decisions taken by boards. “We from the EU will ask to be very clear on that” he said.

Putting aside the ethical and political debate, if Fredrick and Nicolas have their way, this would particularly riveting for anyone in the business of HCM software.

It looks to me this is a demand for an integrated employee goals / performance management, compensation and incentive compensation system that also integrates into a corporate performance and risk management system, combined with a significant dose of compliance reporting. 

Shakespeare on fixing writer’s block

  So oft have I invoked thee for my Muse,
And found such fair assistance in my verse
As every alien pen hath got my use
And under thee their poesy disperse.
Thine eyes, that taught the dumb on high to sing
And heavy ignorance aloft to fly,
Have added feathers to the learned’s wing
And given grace a double majesty.
Yet be most proud of that which I compile,
Whose influence is thine, and born of thee:
In others’ works thou dost but mend the style,
And arts with thy sweet graces graced be;
But thou art all my art, and dost advance
As high as learning my rude ignorance.


Thanks to the fabulous Sonnet a day, and to my Muse.

A Flock of Seagulls

Don’t ever give your heart to a stranger
Don’t tell your secrets to a friend
Don’t put your heart in mortal danger –
They all desert you in the end.
The more you live
the more you love.
Or so they say: The more you love
the more you throw it away.
They say that nothing lasts forever


(photo mine use under cc with attribution)

In 1985, while on hockey tour from South Africa, I visited my cousin in Nottingham. He had an excellent music collection, and he introduced me to all sorts of bands I’d not really heard much of back home in South Africa. I copied several albums with his rather fancy double cassette deck system, including the Flock of Seagulls’ albums. I clearly remember using brand new TDK D-90 cassettes, and carefully copying out the track names. Telecommunication, The More You Live, The More You Love, Remember David, Wishing. Using a new cassette was a sign of respect back then. 

A decade or so later I replaced the tapes by buying AFOS on CD, and I have since bought a few tracks online too.

Last night, in Weinheim, I saw them live in a cosy venue called Cafe Central. I paid 18 euros at the door. The place wasn’t packed, but  a number of folks turned out dressed in 80’s garb, hair and all. There were even a couple of punks. The band looked older, as we all do, and the famous hairdo was pinned back under a baseball cap. The sound was a bit more guitar, base and drums than it was in the 1980’s, but it was fun. Some of the line up had changed, but for about 90 minutes the place rocked. They played the hits and a couple of newer tracks, it was a fine evening. I would have even bought the t-shirt if they’d had one for sale.


(photo mine use under cc with attribution)

I’m sure that many of us have similar experiences with music, so as parliamentarians in various countries consider draconian 3 strikes and you are out type legislation for file sharing, perhaps they should look at their own musical collections. You could argue that I should have bought the AFOS albums in 1985, but if I remember correctly I had already spent my pocket money on Howard Jones’s Dream into Action

I’m wishing that the parliamentarians would read JP’s post.

Most people are law-abiding. Most people want to make sure that artists are rewarded. Sometimes laws are out of date and need changing. Sometimes business models are out of date and need changing.

I ‘ll leave you with a stanza from Telecommunication, AFOS’ hit song from 1981.

Video screen,
Silver page,
With a new calibration
For the nuclear age.

Scrabble and HR


Photo via the cc of sgt. PepperedJane. thanks!

To score well at Scrabble, you need to look at the score, not the just word. Long words across the board might look good, but unless they land on double or triples, you simply waste letters and open up the board for the others to score. Literary types like to think that they are good at Scrabble because they know lots of words and are well read, but Qi or QANAT aren’t something that even the most literary of souls come across in literature. To win at Scrabble you need to look at the numbers and the odds, know what letters have gone already, and have a mental database of short nasty words like ZO and XU. Sure, a love of words helps with Scrabble, but to score well, you need to engage the numeric side of your brain.

It may be stretching it a bit, but I think HR has a similar challenge.

To be a top HR professional, you do need to have empathy for people. It is probably what attracted you to the job in the first place. But if you are going to succeed you need to be analytical too. HR professionals that can see patterns beyond the incident, abstract the problems from the personal, and make the best move given the constraints  they have been dealt with, will have a real impact on shaping the business and their careers.

We are doing a lot of work at the moment on pattern based strategy here at Gartner (clients see this). I’m going to be exploring this is in an HR context later this year.  Extracting and analysing patterns out of the mass of data sources and conflicting signals. HR is going to get a lot more analytical.