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The top nine HR skills your HCM administrator needs

The HR systems administrator will serve an important role in helping the HR team become more strategic. Here's a look at nine skill areas that person will need to have.

To run an effective human capital management environment, the HR skills needed of your HCM administrator are critical. With the right systems support, you'll be more able to run a strategic HR team and, in turn, better contribute to business success.

A plethora of courses and training options exist for current and aspiring HR professionals; however, few programs prepare students with HCM skills. Many traditional HR programs focus on employee-related tasks that are lifecycle-focused, such as recruitment, orientation, employee relations and terminations. The HR skills that HCM administrators need to have are different. The role attracts talent who are typically numbers-focused, technical, curious and very precise when it comes to analyzing and reporting data. HCM administrator roles should not be confused with HR data entry roles, which are typically entry-level positions responsible for capturing data. The HCM administrator role needs to have, and build on, key competency areas to ensure successful HCM management. Here's a look at the nine HR skills needed of the HCM administrator.

Top nine HCM administrator skills

1. Requirements-gathering capabilities

Similar to a product manager role in a software development company, your HCM administrator is the focal point for gathering all change requests and enhancements to your HR systems. With an understanding of the functionality you require or the problem you are trying to solve, he will be able to document the requirements and ensure any solution proposed meets your needs. The scope of requirements gathering can vary from a small change related to a performance management form or workflow to a larger change, such as implementing a new module or product.

2. Technical knowledge

To truly be an advocate and trusted resource for your team, the HR skills needed of your HCM administrator include a sound technical knowledge. A depth of technology knowledge will help when it's time to look for new HR systems to solve business needs and when evaluating software features or products. This knowledge will also play an important role in the administrator's ability to collaborate with IT. With that said, your HCM administrator does not have to be a software developer or possess advanced IT skills but will benefit from having taken technical courses or worked in the high-tech sector.

3. Detail-oriented mindset

The HCM administrator should have the ability to raise issues, work with vendors to identify solutions and ensure implementations are progressing as planned.

For your HCM and reporting to be at its best, the HCM administrator must be detailed-oriented and go the extra mile to ensure that data is being entered correctly, that reports are accurate and that data provided from the system is consistent. When it comes to HR data and reporting, close enough will not suffice. For management to trust the information you provide and use it to support business decisions, it must be accurate. For example, providing a headcount change report that does not balance will take away from HR's credibility.

4. Project management skills

The HCM administrator will have many projects to manage. These range from small projects, such as adding a new field to a form, to much larger projects, where new modules or products are added to the HR environment. Being able to manage these projects and the people-related tasks and activities that go with it are critical skills to ensure that the deliverables are completed on time and on budget.

5. Vendor management abilities

As the primary interface to current and future vendors, the HCM administrator should have the ability to raise issues, work with vendors to identify solutions and ensure implementations are progressing as planned. They should also have business acumen to ensure the company's financial and confidential information is protected. Spending time nurturing these relationships and knowing when to push back will ensure it is a mutually beneficial partnership.

6. Communication skills

There are many areas where communication skills play an important role. These include soliciting feedback from colleagues to make improvements, explaining complex issues to people with less technical expertise, training employees on new features or systems and reporting on projects that are underway.

7. Advanced knowledge of spreadsheet software

Despite the many features available in HCM products today, there will always be a need for spreadsheets. This might be one-off reporting requests, formatting data before an import or data analysis, to name a few needs. The HCM administrator needs a good understanding of the features and functions available in the spreadsheet software to make using these tools efficient and effective.

8. Reporting skills

HCM products all come with some level of reporting functionality and default reports. However, there will always be a need to modify existing reports or create new ones to address a request. There are four key components to reporting:

  • Understand the need: This may not always be clear to the person requesting the data. Through questions and responses, the HCM administrator will be able to determine what information is required.
  • Know the data: The HCM administrator will need to learn what data is currently captured in the company's HCM software, how it can be retrieved and how many years of data have been collected.
  • Have analytical curiosity: The HCM administrator needs to be able to determine when to report at a high or low level and when to incorporate additional content to provide a complete response to the request.
  • Have the skills to create and customize reports: Default reports are a great starting point, but the HCM administrator should be well-versed in the report-building tool so that you can leverage your HCM investment.

9. Service-delivery mindset

For employees and managers to buy in to using the HCM products and associated processes, the HCM administrator must be responsive to requests. Making people wait hours or days for a password reset, for example, can be enough to turn employees off from trying again. In addition, the HCM administrator will need to ask for and listen to employee feedback and work with HR to consider implementing some of that feedback during revisions to the HCM product. This will show employees that their thoughts are valued and that the HCM products are there to make their lives easier, not just for HR's benefit.

Like all positions within your company, having the right person with the right skill set in a role is key to success. The same is true for your HCM administrator. The right person will understand what is needed, help find solutions, partner with IT and deliver great value to employees and management. To reap these rewards, ensure that you know the right HR skills needed of an HCM administrator and that you don't fall back on whatever traditional skills you've looked for in the past.

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