Defining Online and High-Tech Methods

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An online method relies on the Internet, a company or organizational intranet,

an extranet, or the World Wide Web. Examples of online methods range from

traditional print-based electronic mail to Web-based multimedia productions

that integrate print, sound effects, music, animation, still graphics, and video.

A high-tech method is anything other than an online method that substitutes

technology for face-to-face interpersonal interaction. Examples of high-tech

methods include videoconferencing or audio-teleconferencing.

One way to conceptualize online and high-tech methods is to think of

them as existing on one continuum ranging from simple to complex and on a

second continuum ranging from noninteractive to fully interactive, as depicted

in Exhibit 12-1. Simple methods are usually easy to design and inexpensive to

use. Complex methods are usually difficult to design and are often expensive

to design and use. Noninteractive methods do not involve people in real time,

while interactive methods require people to participate actively. These distinctions

are important when planning and budgeting the use of online and hightech

methods. The most complex or interactive methods often necessitate spe-

Exhibit 12-1. Continua of Online and High-Tech Approaches

Simple Complex

Noninteractive _ Electronic mail _ Online help with forms

_ Web-based documents _ Policies, procedures, in-

_ Audiotape-based train- structions, forms, or ining

or instructions struments distributed by

_ Videotape-based train- disk or CD-ROM

ing or instructions

Interactive _ Print surveys sent elec- _ Groupware

tronically _ Interactive television

_ Print surveys completed _ Multimedia training

over the Web material

_ PC-based _ Virtual reality applicaaudioteleconference

tions

_ PC-based videoteleconference

cial skills in the design process and are more expensive and time-consuming

to plan and use.

The software to support succession planning and management is becoming

increasingly sophisticated. Nontechnical users who are tasked with sourcing

the right technology to support the organization’s operations in this area

face a daunting task. And the information is not necessarily easy to come by.

Much time can be spent just trying to find what software is available and compare

their features. A good approach is to clarify what your organization plans

to do with the software and then find a product that will best meet the needs.

Use the rating sheet in Exhibit 12-2 as a starting point to define what is needed.

I have found that some popular vendors on the market are the following

(this is not a product endorsement):

Talent Management by AIM (see www.aimworld.com/AIMtalent.html)

Succession by Business Decisions, Inc. (see www.businessdecisions

.com/)

HRSoft by Executrack (see www.hrsoft.com/)

Click XG Workforce by PeopleClik (see www.peopleclick.com/ )

Succession Pulse by Pilat (see www.pilat-hr.com/solutions/succession

.html)

Workforce Performance Management by Success Factors (see www.suc

cessfactors.com/index.php)

Human Capital Management by Softscape (see www.softscape.com/us/

home.htm)

(text continues on page 277)

Exhibit 12-2. A Starting Point for a Rating Sheet to Assess Vendors for Succession Planning and Management

Software

Directions: Use this rating sheet as a starting point to develop your own rating sheet to assess various software vendors for

succession planning and management software. Note that there are three sections. The first section asks you to rate the software

product. The second section asks you to rate the vendor. The third section allows you to provide any additional comments you

wish to provide. For each criterion listed in the left column below, gather sufficient evidence to rate the vendor in the center

column according to the following ratings: 0 _ Not Applicable; 1 _ Not Acceptable; 2 _ Somewhat Unacceptable; 3 _

Somewhat Acceptable; 4 _ Fully Acceptable. In the right column, provide notes to explain your scores. If you rate the vendor

as anything less than fully acceptable, provide a justification in the right column.

Part I: The Software

N/A

Not

Acceptable

Somewhat

Unacceptable

Somewhat

Acceptable

Fully

Acceptable Justification

0 123 4

Is the software:

1. Compatible with other

software that your

company uses—or can it

be made compatible with

relative ease?

0 123 4

2. Simple to use? 0 1 2 3 4

3. Browser-based? 0 1 2 3 4

4. Capable of giving different

levels of access to different

types of users?

0 123 4

5. Able to provide the kind of

reports that you or others

will want?

0 123 4

6. Capable of being

customized for individuals,

such as your CEO?

0 123 4

7. Capable of providing the

level of security that you

want?

0 123 4

8. Competitively priced? 0 1 2 3 4

9. Priced with upgrades? 0 1 2 3 4

10. Well-matched to the needs

your organization plans to

meet with it?

0 123 4

Part II: The Vendor

Does the vendor:

1. Have a good track record

with other clients?

0 123 4

2. Provide the support your

organization will need?

0 123 4

3. Respond to requests? 0 1 2 3 4

(continues)

Exhibit 12-2. (

continued)

N/A

Not

Acceptable

Somewhat

Unacceptable

Somewhat

Acceptable

Fully

Acceptable Justification

4. Know enough about succession

planning and

management to be

helpful?

0 123 4

5. Provide the level of support

your organization needs/

wants?

0 123 4

6. Provide a range of solutions

and avoid a ‘‘onesize-

fits-all’’ approach?

0 123 4

7. Provide training you or

others might need?

0 123 4

Now add up the scores.

The higher the score, the more

acceptable it is: Total

Part III: Your Additional Comments

Using Technology to Support Succession Planning and Management Programs 277

For additional help, check out the current Buyer’s Guide to Talent Management

Systems, which could be found (at the time this book goes to press) at

http://shop.hr.com/products/ICGReport_TalentMS.asp. Of course, many more

software packages are out there.

Where to Apply Technology Methods

To state the issue simply, online and high-tech methods can be applied to

almost any area of an SP&M program. Such methods may be used in: (1) formulating

SP&M program policy, procedures, and action plans; (2) assessing

present work or competency requirements; (3) evaluating current employee

performance; (4) determining future work or competency requirements; (5)

assessing potential; (6) closing developmental gaps; (7) maintaining talent inventories;

and (8) evaluating the program. Of course, online and high-tech

methods can also be used for communicating details of a succession program

and providing training and skill building, or even real-time coaching. They

substitute virtual interaction for face-to-face interaction. The maddening thing

about them is that they date so quickly. Almost nothing today changes as fast

as technological innovations.