Human resource information is critical for any organization focusing on making effective strategic decisions. When the Internet was introduced, there was a significant change in many job functions from manual to automate. Computers were being used to store and retrieve human resource information (Khoualdi & Basahel, 2014). There was, therefore, a need to adopt quality systems for human resource management to manage the complex environment. Professionals have advocated Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) as critical for organizational strategy. Organizations adopting HRIS can maintain complete and updated databases and retrieve them as needed (Al-Hudhaif, 2010). Saudi Electricity Company (SECO) is among the Saudi Arabian companies that have adopted SAP systems for managing human resources. However, according to many experts, HRM applications in Saudi Arabian companies, including SECO, encounter challenges of data storage and retrieval, concerns of social security, training and performance tracking, and hiring and firing. Therefore, the implementation of HRIS in managing human resources requires considering critical success factors to overcome the identified challenges. The successful implementation of HRIS (SAP) in SECO defines how these critical success factors play a significant role in the company’s human resource management.
Organizations use HRIS to acquire, store, analyze, and retrieve information considered pertinent to their human resources. Many firms have focused on using human resources and information technology as strategic weapons to compete as they increase the efficiency of the HR function. Despite the critical role of HRIS in planning, controlling activities, and decision-making about human resources management, the implementation process takes different levels (Al-Hudhaif, 2010). The implementation involves information publication, transaction automation, and transforming HR into a business strategy to change human resource management (Khoualdi & Basahel, 2014). Some companies have intensively adopted HRIS, as others fail to realize the benefits because of misperception and poor managerial foresightedness. Many influential factors play a significant role in successfully adopting and implementing HRIS in organizations.
In the Saudi Arabian context, research on these factors has been essential, considering that many businesses in the country are adopting information systems in their processes. SECO adopted HRIS (SAP program) with a specific focus on the human resource module as the first module that the company implemented as an essential program (Khoualdi & Basahel, 2014). In 2005, the company implemented a massive IT project when it signed a multi-million dollar deal with SAP (Chakraborty & Mansor, 2013). The program, composed of human resources models, was supposed to offer a solution to human resource management in SECO.
Even as SECO adopted and implemented HRIS, the progress of this technology in Saudi Arabia is in the early stages. Despite the multitudinous convenience, most companies in the country are not aware of HRIS, which affects the ability of SECO to implement the program entirely. The problem is related to many factors, including the requirement of the cooperation of other departments and sectors, time management, and lack of adequate support from the information technology (Chakraborty & Mansor, 2013). The slowdown in implementation is facilitated by a lack of flexible and open corporate cultures and large volumes of documents that IT companies handle. Among the issues highlighted in the HRIS implementation include not involving the human resource department leading to the absence of crucial documents and information (Al-Hudhaif, 2010). Lack of financial support, poor attitude of the top management, low innovativeness and expertise, and lack of growth desire are considered issues that affected HRIS implementation in Saudi Arabia and, by extension, SECO. There is a need for support from top management when preparing for the adoption and throughout the implementation process of HRIS in the country.
The implementation of SAP (human resource module) in SECO has successfully provided human resource management solutions since the HR processes became automated. The company has increased its workforce productivity because of the streamlined internal processes, which have enabled employees and management to access reliable information and increase efficiency (Khoualdi & Basahel, 2014). However, the slow pace of HRIS uptake in the country has affected the implementation process following the hostile environment for operation, including lack or limited financial and departmental support.
Therefore, there is a need for alternative consideration focusing on the critical success factors that will impact the process of implementing HRIS in SECO without negative influence from the Saudi Arabian environment. Responses from the contact people at SECO and a search in relevant documents reveal some of the important factors that can be considered to successfully implement HRIS within SECO (Khoualdi & Basahel, 2014). From the responses and research, the majority of the critical success factors were accepted, considering that they affect the implementation process at some levels. Even in situations where contact people declined on the importance of some factors, the research supported them.
Some of the critical success factors are considered to be extremely important in the successful implementation of the SAP-human resource module at SECO. Top management support is a critical factor that shows the company’s interest and enthusiasm for the HRIS program (Silva & Lima, 2018). Since their focus is on the benefits to be reaped from implementing the system, setting the corporate direction becomes an easier task considering the assistance from HRIS. The support by the top management towards implementing the system aligns human resources with the objectives set for the company (Gargeya & Brady, 2015). A key aspect that could ensure that SECO successfully implements the SAP human resource module is the involvement of stakeholders, which requires interdepartmental cooperation and communication.
Cooperation and communication for all the departments should be done as early as possible during the implementation process to facilitate the process of defining what is required and getting the required outputs, including interfaces and reporting. Departments to be considered in the system implementation include Finance, IT, recruiting, training, and payroll. The process needs to consider identifying the key stakeholders and encourage the full participation of each one of them (Chakraborty & Mansor, 2013). Encouraging involvement is important because implementing HRIS leads to changing the existing processes, requiring stakeholders to be involved early enough to increase their acceptability of the new system and cooperate to make its application viable within the company.
The need to focus on project management is considered an extremely important factor that defines the direction of how the system functions after installation. The team that is involved in the management of the project should show competencies. Management is a key aspect in the success of any project because managers and leaders take the lead role in setting the goals and objectives of the program (Khoualdi & Basahel, 2014). In any case, the management team is incompetent; this affects the quality of the targets set and the strategies put in place to achieve them (Khoualdi & Basahel, 2014). Change management and its competency are critical in the success of HRIS implementation. Some situations would require that management is changed to increase confidence in the process of implementation. The change of management considers the culture and trust of the company so that the acquired team can lead the organization to the finish line. The change process also ensures that the time selected is competent and has the required expertise in dealing with the new SAP human resource module adopted by the company. With the right management team in place, it becomes easier for SECO to entrust leadership with the entire process of implementing HRIS (SAP-Human resource module) and involve the rest of the stakeholders.
Stakeholders need to understand the data collected during the process and define what is clearly required should be considered (Al-Hudhaif, 2010). Understanding data requires analysis and conversion, considering that HRIS is a reflection of the data stored and how it is used (Silva & Lima, 2018). There is a need to develop an excellent understanding of the record management system, the requirements of the current data, and a determination of how it would be recorded. The installed HRIS SAP human resource module assists in tracking and retrieval of the recorded data. The conversion process involves the rest of the departments in the organization to help determine the amount of data that each needs and gather the requirements of every department (Khoualdi & Basahel, 2014). The requirements should be clearly defined to configure HRIS to meet the reporting requirements of each department. The process of implementing a new system is overwhelming, especially in situations when companies are already struggling to meet their needs. However, this requires careful planning before the rolling out of HRIS in all stages (Silva & Lima, 2018). This also requires that the objectives are clearly defined and that the company’s needs are well-understood to ensure that the change process is open and successfully implemented possibly.
The aspect of data analysis and conversation depicts the need to set clear goals and objectives for the organization. The consideration of objectives and goals as a critical success factor aligns with the project management idea as well as the competency of the team in charge of implementing the program (Silva & Lima, 2018). By the organization defining its objectives, it helps define the commitment and support offered by top management as it is involved in setting the corporate direction with the help and implementation of HRIS. The objectives and goals in place give direction on what the management will do to ensure that the implementation process is a success through all the stages and levels (Silva & Lima, 2018). This is because objectives define what is required and get the required outputs, including interfaces and reporting, after they have been established. They do serve as a guidance that the project management team works around achieving the set targets by ensuring that there is cooperation and communication from one department or group of stakeholders to another for a successful implementation.
Significant considerations should be given to the way the expectations from the benefits and use of HRIS are managed. The project management team plays an important role in defining the direction of how the system functions when fully installed. Since management is a critical aspect of the success of any project, there is a need for managers and leaders to control their expectations of the stakeholders when the system is being installed (Khoualdi & Basahel, 2014). The incompetency of the management and failure to lead through managing expectations has a negative impact on the quality of the targets set and the strategies. For SECO to successfully implement the SAP human resource module, stakeholders should be aware of the expectations in regard to the objectives and goals set. When expectations are managed well, the process of implementing HRIS becomes easier considering that the existing processes change hence increasing the acceptability of the new system and cooperating to make its application viable within the company.
The research found several critical success factors not important in the HRIS implementation process in the case of SECO. Some of these factors include vendor support, careful package selection, minimal customization, and vendor partnership. Though these factors affect the implementation process, especially for SECO’s adoption of the SAP-human resource module, they cannot be ranked as the best alternatives in ensuring that the company adopts these information systems (Silva & Lima, 2018). There are various reasons attached to this situation, including the fact that these aspects are more associated with the early stage of developing the new system.
During the time of purchase, the company only considers the compatibility of the acquired system in regard to the needs, culture, and financial capability to purchase a particular system (Khoualdi & Basahel, 2014). The information about any system to be adopted by the company should be provided earlier before the implementation process to help define what is required and get the required outputs, including interfaces and reporting (Chakraborty & Mansor, 2013). When these factors are considered later in the implementation process, there is the danger that the management will acquire an incompatible system that may not work long for the company and its needs.
After various critical success factors were considered, the focus shifted to the best-proposed factors that ensure that the implementation process for HRIS (SAP-human resource module) for SECO is successful; the specific and realistic solution relates to the involvement of management in the process of implementing SAP in SECO (Khoualdi & Basahel, 2014). SECO is among the few countries in Saudi Arabia that have embraced the use of technology in managing human resources. As a result, the proposed solution involves effective project management, team competency, and any need to conduct management change to have the right team in place. Support from the top management has been considered critical in the sense that it shows interest and enthusiasm about the HRIS program adopted by the company (Silva & Lima, 2018). The adopted and successful implementation of the SAP-human resource module facilitates the process of managing human resources within the company hence the need to align these resources available within SECO with the objectives set for the company.
When the management is given absolute power to lead through the entire process of implementing HRIS, it ensures that all the people are on board. The process of bringing all the stakeholders on board requires interdepartmental cooperation and communication (Silva & Lima, 2018). Excellent working cooperation can only be achieved by defining what is required and getting the required outputs, including interfaces and reporting. Therefore, first, there is a need to identify the key stakeholders so that they are brought to the table for full participation from an early stage (Khoualdi & Basahel, 2014). As the management considers having encouraged all the people, it makes the entire process of accepting the new system easier and quick while ensuring viability is equally measured to increase the benefits that the system offers. The focus on management is because it plays a role in defining the direction of the system use and functions after installation. Similarly, if the right team is adopted in the implementation process, such a team needs to show the required competencies (Nagendra & Deshpande, 2014). The incompetency of the human resource management process affects the quality of the targets set and the strategies to achieve them.
Many reasons are attributed to the choice of project management and the related success factors as key to the SECO’s HRIS implementation. The company extensively considered the adoption of SAP as a massive IT project that required the attention of all the stakeholders under the direction and leadership of the top management (Al-Hudhaif, 2010). The top management has the critical role of influencing the rest of the stakeholders of the company. The adoption of HRIS causes significant changes in the processes of the organization, requiring that management also adopts various changes to improve its competency toward a successful HRIS implementation and increase confidence in the entire process (Khoualdi & Basahel, 2014). Another key reason why this factor is considered in the case of SECO’s SAP implementation is the requirement for the company to adopt expertise in dealing with this new human resource module (Chakraborty & Mansor, 2013). As this happens, the focus needs to be put in place to ensure that the right team of management is put in place for SECO to entrust leadership with the entire process of implementing HRIS and involve the rest of the stakeholders.
Research has established that SECO adopted intensive IT projects in 2005, which included the implementation of SAP focusing on the human resource module. The successful implementation of this system had various benefits for the company, including reduced paperwork, faster data analysis and conversion, increased transaction speed, and satisfaction of the customers, among other human resource aspects (Silva & Lima, 2018). However, there were problems that emerged relating to the environmental aspect of Saudi Arabia that saw failure in employees satisfaction, a gap existing between the high-tech trainers, and issues to do with financial support and involvement of contractors with employees. As a result, alternative solutions have been identified to offer solutions to the issues that have emerged out of the process. On this basis, the following recommendations will help eliminate some of the obvious issues that SECO faces in implementing HRIS to facilitate its human resource management.
- There is a need to conduct horizontal research to allow the inclusion of more companies operating in Saudi Arabia to determine how successful they have been when implementing HRIS programs in their operations. This would help conduct a comparison with SECO and determine the areas of improvement or where combined efforts are needed.
- The focus should also be on how more factors affecting human resources may be included rather than relying on the issues related to top management as they limit the scope of research.
- Research should be conducted in SECO to examine the entire implications of SAP on the various modules that the company implemented. The action is critical in determining if the system is more effective for human resource management or if another system can be adopted to improve the experience.
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