The “Wise Way” to Continuous Improvement

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The “Wise Way” is about more than tweaking your human capital management (HCM) system using industry-standard optimizations. It’s about always improving upon what you already do well. Recently, two of Wise Consulting’s top subject-matter experts, Ana Woods-Hill, CPP and Amanda Babbidge, GBA talked about what you can do to start right away.

What Does “Always Improving” Mean?

During a recent interview, Ana and Amanda discussed what “always improving” means when finding ways to optimize the way you work with your HCM system. “Always improving for me is a way to take something that’s working OK, that’s getting the job done,” Amanda confided, “tweaking this and adjusting that to save yourself a lot of stress and make something a little simpler.” It’s about looking at your process every time and looking for improvement opportunities.

Ana had a similar take on what always improving means to her. “You’re not going to be able to grow unless you’re constantly changing, evaluating and moving along with the speed of everything,” she said. “Being in a culture of always improving means staying on your toes,” she added, “and paying attention to capture good ideas and challenges right when they are happening.” 

Think about what that means in your day-to-day world. In all likelihood, you have many unseen opportunities to eliminate inefficiency when processing payroll, employee benefits or even responding to manager and employee questions. There’s always room to get better, so how do you start the process?

Follow the ‘Wise Way’

The “Wise Way,” Ana and Amanda explained, encompasses everything you do to evolve from a merely functional HCM to an invaluable, time-saving tool. Exhaustion with technology implementations is common when rolling out new systems; HCM platforms are especially vulnerable. No one wants to ‘mess around’ with something that is working well enough for fear it will break something else!

To ensure this does not happen, you could benefit greatly from a systematic, proven method to always improve processes: The “Wise Way”. 

You can begin following the “Wise Way” by:

• Establishing a simple system to capture improvement opportunities as the issue or idea occurs.

• Creating a culture of higher expectation through regular team debriefs after each and every payroll or benefits cycle.

• Engaging with managers throughout the organization to challenge the status quo to streamline processes while minimizing errors and maximizing system utility.

• Establishing accountability. 

Recalling her experiences, HCM is “one of those things that you’ve got to evaluate on a regular basis to make sure your processes are taking advantage of the system’s capabilities,” Amanda stressed. Poorly configured IT is inherently a waste of capital if you can’t get the most value out of it right now.

A thorough evaluation goes hand-in-hand with fostering more accountability, but some people are wary of what it means. Ana agreed, adding that “I think accountability gets a little bit of a negative connotation when people think about  it.” Accountability from her perspective is “a way to keep yourself honest and a way to keep yourself organized,” she explained. 

As two of Wise Consulting’s top experts, these women understand what it takes to improve your HCM and related processes. According to Ana, “Whether they’re evaluating their system constantly or using their systems to capacity, everyone in that process workflow really needs to understand what everybody else is doing.” Otherwise, any efforts to minimize errors and maximize system usage will only be slightly beneficial.

Organization as a priority

The complexity of HCM systems may lead to implementation inefficiencies. As such, Amanda and Ana strongly believe in the power of organization when always improving. By staying organized today and as your company grows, you can address minor nuisances before they become serious inefficiencies.

“I think from a very basic standpoint,” Ana recounted, “we all talk about our checklists, but it’s really the bread and butter of a successful process.” Seconding that notion, Amanda recommends that you and your team “just sit down, get a list together of your needs, your challenges and goals.”

“Maybe you have some goals that can’t be pushed to the back burner,” Amanda expounded, “but put on hold until you can get all of the important things fixed first.” By prioritizing needs and goals in one location, you can categorize them based on urgency and complexity. Often, merely getting the most out of your current HCM configuration pays the most dividends.

Create a tool to capture goals on the spot

It’s one thing to hope for improvement and have some meaningful goals, but it takes more to bring your ideas to fruition. During crunch periods, the last thing most people have time for is documenting how to make the process better “next time.” But that is exactly when these ideas must be captured!

A simple tool can make all the difference. Amanda created a solution using SmartSheet. She identified three categories: Fix Me Now, Forget Me Not, and Suggestion Box. The category names are self-explanatory. By providing your team an easy place to capture ideas, challenges, pain points, and goals, these items won’t be forgotten or dropped.

As Ana stated, “we believe that getting organized and really finding a very clear and sharp way to prioritize goals and needs into one place - really applying the “Wise Way” methodology - will allow you to turn some of those goals into action.” You, too, can do the same if you become more organized than ever before.

The “Wise Way” is more than merely being thorough and methodical. It’s about what steps you can take right now to improve upon what you already do well. HCM experts at Wise Consulting, such as Ana Woods-Hill and Amanda Babbidge, know precisely where to start.