Winter is Coming for Game of Thrones – and Federal Talent Management?

“Winter is Coming” is a key theme of the popular HBO series Game of Thrones. With its warning of constant vigilance, the meaning is clear – no matter how good or calm things seem now, the good times and serenity won’t last forever…and you need to prepare and be proactive to ensure you’re ready for when the tide turns.

While talk of the long, dark winter in Game of Thrones centers around the inevitable attacks of the White Walkers and their ability to conquer the Seven Kingdoms if not unchecked, he could easily have been speaking of the current federal talent management environment for many agencies.

With emerging and growing threats and challenges, if changes are not made soon, winter will surely come for these agencies. Faced with the retirement tsunami, millennial hiring challenges, a leadership and engagement crisis and more, the weight of legacy federal talent acquisition systems, performance management systems is clearly holding back innovation and progress.

Many agencies are encumbered with legacy systems that carry with them numerous problems, but as the list below highlights, there are remedies from modern systems. These systems have been specifically designed with new architecture and a new mindset that helps agencies evolve, innovate and most importantly, address the existing and looming challenges.

Lack of flexibility

If an agency decides it wants or needs to alter its workflow and processes, whether in the talent acquisition, onboarding or performance and development stages of its talent management program, the changes are typically only possible with a major system change that is time-consuming, resource intensive and, of course, expensive to implement.

Modern system fix: Complete flexibility throughout the system that allows minor or major workflow and process changes without changes to the talent management system.

Lack of configurability

Traditional legacy federal talent management systems do not provide the ability to configure the system according to an agency’s unique and ever-changing requirements and parameters. This results in a stagnate system that is unable or difficult to meet an agency’s human capital needs. 

Modern system fix: Configurable options that provide agencies with the ability to modify parameters virtually anywhere in the system. This might also include automating tasks and altering configurations along the way to assess changes made.

Lack of analytics

Without data, it’s difficult or impossible to have a real sense of what is working, what is not, and where improvements can be made. As Yogi Berra once said, “if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.” Most legacy federal talent management systems provide little or no analytical insight, leaving agencies running blind and with no rationale for decisions made.

Modern system fix: Today’s systems capture data from all aspects of an agency’s workflow, including recruitment, onboarding, performance, succession and more. With detailed information available, easy-to-use reports can be created by non-data scientists to provide executive leadership and hiring manager with insightful information that results in faster, data-driven workforce decisions that help agencies achieve their missions. 

An “all or nothing” approach

Without an ability to implement small changes and achieve minor, smaller wins, it’s very difficult for agencies to stay on track as they look to implement change within their organizations. Legacy systems are limited by an inability to allow tweaks for testing different theories and hypothesis, which not only severely limits changes, but lengthens the time period for any change to occur.

Modern system fix: Because modern systems allow fast and easy configuration changes, agencies can easily take incremental yet significant steps on their journey toward a full integrated talent management system. They don’t need to plan with the full requirements in mind at the beginning.Processes can be tweaked and data observed to easily spot where the most beneficial changes can be implemented.

High cost

The dollar hit from legacy federal talent management systems begins early on and never abates. With a steep upfront cost, they typically carry a heavy annual fee as well. But even more importantly, the burden is on federal agencies to support the system from an infrastructure standpoint, meaning big expenses for hardware, security, ongoing maintenance and more.

Modern system fix: Modern cloud-based systems lower costs to agencies significantly by removing infrastructure costs, including hardware and IT personnel costs. Furthermore, because of the inherent flexibility, systems become implemented much more quickly and at much lower costs. In addition, concerns such as security and reliability are transferred from the agency to the service provider. All these advantages provide a strong, clear Return On Investment (ROI).

These heavy burdens hold back agencies from innovating and prevent them from implementing changes that are necessary to address the new landscape. With legacy systems in place and no plan to move away from them, federal agencies face a long, dark winter of discontent in dealing with the realities of human capital management in the 21st century.

A move to lower-cost modern, flexible talent management systems opens a new world to agencies tackling today’s toughest talent management issues — and a bright, hopeful future.

Images: Game of Thrones

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