There has been a persistent push in recent years by the Federal Government to transition processes away from manual, paper-based processes and into the cloud. Despite this push, many agencies that would benefit most from this transition face challenges in addressing those gaps.
Because much of the software and technology currently in use is not specifically designed for the government, processes are not always fully integrated. Transitioning to a new system that meets the needs of an agency can be challenging and costly.
With the advent of programs like FedRAMP to evaluate and authorize cloud service providers (CSP) and their applications for government use, this is starting to change. But there are still issues and challenges that must be addressed, both internally and by CSPs.
Finding Software Designed for Federal HR Use
A major challenge for agencies in past years was finding software originally designed for use in the government. A vendor’s value proposition could be strong, but even an otherwise standard process is different in federal agencies, where necessary requirements and compliance are needed. For agencies seeking a new software solution, stronger fitting solutions will be:
• browser agnostic and able to work within a range of work environments across a complex organization;
• in compliance with FedRAMP requirements for the specific agency in which it will be used, with flexibility for configuration;
• Section 508 compliant to meet the current requirements of government use; and
• when necessary, able to connect and sync data from financial centers for up to date records.
A CSP that has worked with the Federal Government before and completed the FedRAMP certification process is more likely to meet these requirements.
Transitioning Away from Paper-Based Processes
For several reasons, many agencies still use manual processes in HR. Whether due to existing procedures that current software cannot replicate, strict security protocols specific to the agency, or the scope and size of the agency, these processes can take thousands of additional hours per year.
While such a transition is not possible for all agencies and operations, those that can are able to see a time savings of between 40% and 70% for common manually-completed tasks, such as benefits form processing, SF-52 initiation and tracking, retirement application processing and employee on-boarding.
Ongoing Training and Technology Developments
Technology is always evolving. Part of the equation when selecting new software for an agency should be the time needed to train users, the cost of maintaining those systems, and the processes and training required to keep all team members current with the technology. Some of the most common challenges here include:
• Integration with Existing Systems – For agencies with legacy systems, it’s difficult to commit to integration and consistent updates for newer systems. While they may not be as efficient, the current manual processes are time-tested and well-used by the organization. Changing that represents a major investment.
• On-Premises Hosting and Security Issues – FedRAMP exists not just to evaluate CSPs and their offerings before implementation by federal agencies, but to make it easier for agencies to find vendors who have been previously evaluated and certified. Agencies who manage on-premises software solutions, are burdened with maintenance, security, and hosting costs on their own.
• Training for Specialists – Transitioning to a new system for even a simple paper-based HR process can be time consuming and require ample support. It’s important to have resources in place not only for training but for troubleshooting and ongoing training as systems are upgraded.
HR processes in many agencies can be streamlined and expedited while increasing accuracy through the use of technology, but there are factors to consider. These challenges won’t go away overnight unless proper research is done to find a vendor and offering that fits specific needs and meets federal requirements. By finding a tool designed for federal use, it’s possible to improve buy-in and migrate to a faster, more efficient solution for long term success.
We are proud to deliver HR solutions that are designed specifically for federal agencies by former federal HR professionals. We help federal and state agencies to improve their operational efficiency, make better data- driven decisions, and empower State and Federal Governments to improve the effectiveness and cost-efficiency of HR operations to manage the “Hire-to-Retire” lifecycle. From consulting and staffing services to operational and analytical software, we have continued to add innovative and cost-efficient solutions that foster a highly productive and fulfilled workforce for our federal and state clients since 1990. Learn more about Econsys.