The Website and Blog of HR Author and Speaker Lori Kleiman

7 Steps to Completing An Effective and Strategic HR Assessment

seven2It is critical that all managers look at their programs and process on a regular basis. Evaluation allows you to identify weaknesses and confirm that a function is in compliance with relevant laws and policies. Human Resources is no different, and with our compliance obligations, even more critical.

The definition of an audit is a planned and documented activity performed by qualified personnel to determine by investigation, examination, or evaluation of objective evidence, the adequacy and compliance with established procedures, or applicable documents, and the effectiveness of implementation. An assessment generally involves an audit, but its purpose is to provide measurement rather than just to express an option. We generally find the two terms used interchangeable in Human Resources, and our projects include a full scope of both assessment and audit.

Your HR audit should proceed in an objective and linear fashion. Outlined below you will find seven steps in completing an effective assessment of your HR function.

1. Purpose – Define the reason you are undertaking this project. Do you want to understand compliance, best practices, strategy, or another issue that may be facing your organization? Once you have clearly defined the goal of the initiative, you can move onto the next steps.

2. Scope – A full-scale assessment can be a daunting task. Consider if your focus should be one functional area of HR, or the full lifecycle of employment. If compliance is the main concern, consider a recordkeeping audit as a first step. If your organization has a budget for the assessment, you might be able to conduct a full-scale assessment utilizing external resources.

3. Process – Be very deliberate in outlining the procedure for the assessment. You will want to alert members of the leadership team you will be evaluating processes and speaking to members of their team during the assessment. Consider a project kick off meeting to invite team members buy into the initiative.

4. Data Collection – Collecting the data can be the most time consuming part of the assessment. Work with your internal teams and provide specific guidelines and deadlines based on your requirements. Where the budget allows, consider external sources for benchmarking of critical data.

5. Analysis – Being able to objectively review your findings is a critical piece of the assessment. Consider involving additional resources such as peers in the HR community or trusted advisors such as an attorney or accountant.

6. Action Plans – Your action plans should be appropriate for your audience. The plans presented to the executive team should be at a very high level and provide confidence that compliance is in order – or how you are handling the issues you found. Your own action plans should be more detailed and identify the resources you need and timeline of expected completion.

7. Evaluate – As with any new initiative, review the successes and failures of the assessment project. A three-month timeline is generally appropriate to take a step back and consider what went well and what might be improved.

An assessment can be a daunting task. You will find that while it takes time and energy away from other projects, it will provide depth of knowledge into your HR function that you may have even forgotten existed. At the same time, and assessment should be used to ensure that HR is strategically aligned with your organizations goals and providing the services required to move the organization forward. Finally, we would encourage you to think of the assessment as a way for you to gain visibility as leader in your organization focused on organizational triggers.

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