Emails are what many SAP ERP Human Capital Management (HCM) managers still use as the primary business communications tool. Employees’ inboxes can be just plain exhausting when they scan the number of new messages.An average business user processes between 100 and 150 emails according to the Radicati Group, and this number will continue to grow in the next few years.
With the average estimated time it takes to process these emails – about two hours per day – HR managers can start to quantify the true business cost of sending out just that one single email using a distribution list. If a person chooses to send just one email to 500 people, that one email could cost a “man-day” in time for everyone to read it. Company emails that are not specifically targeted to its audience add up to lower productivity and higher labor costs.
No HR manager deliberately chooses to send emails to these extra employees who do not need to see them, but it happens -- often because the most accurate, up-to-date lists are only available for broad-based groups such as everyone in a division or all employees.
Special risk with HR
But the risk can be greater when HR and executive managers do not effectively communicate with the right people at the right time. For example, imagine a company that is undergoing a merger and rumors are running amok. The inbound customer service department hears they will be shutdown and outsourced, so what would happen next if management does not communicate encouraging news or updates? Resumes and more resumes sent elsewhere -- the loss of good people, which is very costly.
An average business user processes between 100 and 150 emails.
HR is often held accountable to building the trust and expectations during times of change, and emails continue to be a quick, effective vehicle. If immediate access is available to updated, trusted email distribution lists, communications can go smoothly. It’s easy to update an email list manually when a group is small and well-known, but not so for larger groups.
Email publishers no longer need to be dependent on the IT department for new list creations, nor does the list have to be updated manually. HR and executives can take charge of their own lists and keep them dynamically updated.
Methods for managing email distribution lists
Traditionally, email distribution lists have been typically managed to-date by these methods;
- One person in a department manages a list within an email program (e.g., Outlook) and manually updates the list based on first-hand knowledge of employee changes
- Sizeable but immediate group lists are managed manually through Excel spreadsheets
- The largest email lists are requested from IT, going through an approval process. Once the task is approved, a new one-time list is extracted from a database (e.g., SAP ERP HCM, Active Directory). Ideally, this list goes back to IT and is updated each time a new email is sent.
Some companies can derive list generation and dynamic updates available through an IT Exchange administrator, who joins Active Directory attributes to Exchange, but the process to request such a list is one-step removed from the email publisher, and the available criteria can be limited.
Tapping into SAP ERP HCM data for email distribution
The best email list data resides in an HR system. Using SAP ERP HCM data enables companies to have a single employee data source to use as the primary source to feed other systems for other business functions -- whether it’s payroll, benefits, performance or organizational management.
This data can go beyond traditional HR management functions and provide the much needed targeted email distribution lists for anyone who is responsible for communication broadcasts.
Thorsten Gorny from Ingentis comments on how its email distribution product was developed, “A large customer asked us whether we could create a dynamic distribution email list tool using HCM source data. It made sense as that’s where the best and most-up-to-date information and the most referential data resides on emails, including the employee’s current job function, location and reporting structure.”
Say a merger is about to happen and there are rumors in the customer service departments, data storage IT groups and across the sales force. Executives have crafted the first email that addresses concerns that are specific to each group. They want to provide email updates to not only the larger organization but also to the groups at risk. A request is given to an HR manager (or perhaps an executive administrator) who has access to a new Web-based distribution list software.
The HR manager scans through the available employee attributes that have been fed from the SAP HCM data-- for example, job titles, functional groups or geographic area. Using the desired criteria such as “all customer service groups in the east coast” or “all managers with direct reports in national account sales groups and supporting sales organizations”, specific distribution lists are created.
Once these initial distribution lists are created, those who are authorized to publish emails for each list can be identified by the HR manager. Going forward, publishers have easy access to their respective distribution lists, which now stay automatically up-to-date and accurate.
Too much or too little communications – technology is no longer the obstacle
HR and executive managers can be in the driver’s seat - and take control of who receives what email and when -- and not be dependent on other groups or technologies to make it happen. The investment in creating a primary HR data source of information opens doors to many possibilities -- specifically now for how we can communicate to others. Through targeted and up-to-date email lists, emails can be sent to only those people who need to see them. Maybe this time next year our inboxes will be just a little smaller in size.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Liz Garnand is a principal with Newport Consulting Group and a member of the strategy and operations practice with a focus on marketing and business diversification. She has more than 20 years of combined experience in marketing, product and sales management with an emphasis in managing B2B technology products from concept to market launch. Follow her on Twitter (@LizGarnand).