By Cornerstone

27 Jun 2014

Everyone loves a good spreadsheet. But if you have more than a few hundred employees, tracking performance, training, and succession with them is the stuff of nightmares. Spreadsheets and paper-based processes can’t give you deep, real-time insight into how your employees are performing or how to make them—and your company—more successful. But a talent management system can. Our clients shared their reasons for making the switch from spreadsheet to software. Which one tops your list?


Reason No. 1

We never had enough time.

If you’re relying on spreadsheets to track performance, compensation, and training, you’re also spending a lot of time finding and filing information. Manual tracking doubles your administrative workload—which leaves less time for more strategic contributions.

Our clients find that a talent management (TM) system slashes the hours it takes to access employee data, which in turn reduces stress and saves money. Don’t take our word for it: a Bersin study showed companies using integrated talent technology saw 26% higher revenue per employee. (Talent Management Systems 2013: Market Analysis, Trends and Provider Profiles, p. 21)

Reason No. 2

We needed to reduce data entry mistakes.

With all the manual entry involved in spreadsheets and docs, mistakes are bound to happen. Plus, it’s difficult to track reviews and comp plans that require approval from multiple people, and there’s always a risk of compliance snafus if you can’t prove training’s been completed.

When your business grows, these problems only worsen. Yet with a TM system, you can eliminate duplicate efforts and put the kibosh on human error.

Reason No. 3

We couldn’t take action on our performance management results.

Performance management and training plans should work in tandem. Yet creating plans from spreadsheets and annual reviews doesn’t ever really work, does it? Without a way to integrate performance with training, annual evaluations simply aren’t actionable.

A TM system puts purpose and value back into the process. It links performance with recruiting, leadership development, learning, and compensation—from week to week, not year to year. Your success depends on it: according to Bersin, “the effectiveness of an organisation at integrating performance management with all the other elements of talent management can account for one-half of the variability in business performance.” (Talent Management Systems 2013: Market Analysis, Trends and Provider Profiles, p. 9)

Reason No. 4

We couldn’t access data quickly for executives.

It takes time—hours—to compile employee information. Yet your leaders expect you to deliver that information in mere minutes. With a TM system, you can immediately access records, reviews, and succession opportunities—the whole kitchen sink. You’re always prepared for that next audit and ready to meet with your management team at the drop of a hat.

The result? Because you’re up to date on compliance training, you can worry less about regulatory fines. Because you can look across and into your entire organisation to determine future leaders, you’re making better long-term business decisions. As the Hay Group puts it, HR is...“about making sure that the organisation is fit to execute its business strategy.” (Next Generation HR. Connecting strategy, people, and work, p.2) That’s the true crux of a talent system.

Reason No. 5

We needed scalability to manage growth.If you’re struggling with manual tracking now, imagine the paperwork you’ll have when your company grows. Unfortunately, number of spreadsheets and rate of expansion have an ugly one-to-one relationship. Many clients sought us out when they planned for growth and realised their manual processes simply wouldn’t be able to keep up.

The right system will allow you to manage more employees and faster growth due to more efficiency around compliance tracking, succession planning, and recruiting. And businesses in high-growth mode get this: Ernst & Young found that high-performing companies are more likely to invest in talent management to meet their organisation’s financial targets over lower-performers (45% vs. 36%). (Paradigm shift: Building a new talent management model to boost growth, Growing Beyond, p.2)

Reason No. 6

We needed to retain our top talent to stay competitive. Your people are a powerful resource, and recognising top talent is key to keeping them. Yet if you’re relying on paper-based tracking, you’ll never really know who your top talent is or what they’re contributing.

With tools designed to identify and incentivise high performers, a TM system helps you hold onto your superstars. Bersin found businesses with tightly aligned talent processes experienced 40% less turnover of high performers and had a 156% greater ability to “develop great leaders.” (Talent Management Systems 2013: Market Analysis, Trends and Provider Profiles, p. 21)

Reason No. 7

We needed to find the right talent quickly.

Thanks to the growing skills scarcity, the fight for top talent can be brutal. Add the impending talent shortage thanks to the Baby Boomer exodus, and sourcing talent can feel like a scene out of the Hunger Games.

Taking advantage of social recruiting is critical to nabbing the best and brightest new hires. Yet connecting candidate networks with career opportunities while capturing referrals can be difficult—unless you’re using a TM system. According to Bersin, companies with an integrated talent approach have an 87% greater ability to “hire the best people.” (Talent Management Systems 2013: Market Analysis, Trends and Provider Profiles, p. 21.) A TM system helps you use your networks, social media, and employee referrals to find top talent in less time—and with less paperwork.

Reason No. 8

We’re sick of slugging it out with our core HRIS/ERP provider.

Love is a battlefield—and so is the talent management arena. Our clients who relied on HRIS/ERP systems found them good at payroll and recording information but woefully ineffective at talent-specific processes like identifying their next VP or CFO.

There’s a big difference between an HR generalist—most ERP providers—and a true TM specialist. Only a specialist’s tools are designed to help manage people’s engagement and performance in a simple, easy way, whereas clunky ERP solutions frustrate employees to the point they stop using them altogether. Our clients were relieved when they discovered they could get solutions that were both tailored for talent management and easily integrated into their existing HRIS/ERP.

Spreadsheets can’t bridge the gap between people management and your CEO’s business goals. An integrated talent management system helps you find and keep the best talent, plan for succession, and spend less time on data gathering—and more time on strategy. But where do you start? Check out Cornerstone. For more than a decade we’ve helped 1,500 clients source, develop, and retain their talent with tools that are both powerful and easy to use. Start the conversation at

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