HR&Dev – how HR and development together create new products

HR&Dev – how HR and development together create new products

My name is Rustam Nurdavlyatov, I am the head of one of the development centers at Nexign. For the last year, my team has been creating an HRM system that will meet all business requirements. What made it possible to develop the main modules of the product in a short time and to combine internal needs and market requests? The answer is simple – a product approach to development.

In this article, we will describe the case of creating an HRM system, we will talk about the scheme of joint work of HR and development teams, and we will analyze the product approach to creating HR systems using our own example.

We hope that the material will be useful both to business customers and to those who are just starting to develop large systems for the needs of the company.

What is the problem?

Nexign is an IT company for which it is important to increase work efficiency. We also simply need to use the best tools to attract and retain specialists in order to remain competitive in the labor market.

By 2020, we had four IT systems to implement various HR tasks:

  • Mirapolis – for 360 degree surveys and goal setting;

  • SharePoint – as a Service desk and document repository;

  • “Infopoli” – self-written intranet (division directory, office map, news);

  • Skillber is a self-writing system (communities, profiles, market of branded goods, extended social package “Cafeteria”).

Such a set of systems confused colleagues and caused many questions, required a lot of effort to support them and was simply inconvenient. We realized that the company needed a single system with a convenient user interface, and went to see the market offers.

Ready-made solutions did not suit us. There were many reasons:

  • Legacy UI: the interface does not allow you to quickly navigate the portal;

  • No centralized access: systems do not provide unified access to the necessary information and support for all stages of an employee’s life path;

  • Legacy code: it is difficult and long to implement any changes;

  • High cost of ownership: each revision of the solution for the supplier requires additional costs.

As a result, we decided to develop our own Neon corporate portal – an integrated platform for the formation of a modern open corporate ecosystem.

The portal has combined many functional blocks: News, Communities and Poster, Profile, Employee’s personal account, Office map and FreeDesk.

Time passed, the solution developed, and our corporate portal attracted the interest of other companies, so the decision was made to bring the product to the market. And today, more than 50,000 users from various companies use Nexign solutions. For example, in the company “Megafon” Neon replaced SAP Success Factors on processes that needed to be rebuilt urgently. The company also won for the development of the portal HR-brand award from in the “Federation” category.

But we wanted more…

At the end of 2022, another decision was made: to combine HR and developers into a common team and create a full-fledged HRM, using existing developments. The main requirements for the system: flexible configuration, easy adaptability and scalability, fast implementation process.

In January 2023, we started work and took the existing corporate portal as a basis. They tried to do it in such a way as to satisfy internal HR needs and market demand – the solution should be relevant for most other companies as well.

At the preparatory stage, we decided on the basic characteristics of our HRM:

  • low-code / no-code approach to create a ready-made designer of forms and processes – So that the client can edit modules without the participation of programmers;

  • microservice architecture without legacy code – It is necessary to gradually develop and combine different sets of modules;

  • modern UI – makes the system clear and pleasant to use.

In the standard product approach, the basis of the solution is the Customer Journey Map. In our case, we used the Employee Journey Map with a description of all stages of an employee’s life path – from the first contact to off-boarding.

Life path of an employee

All these stages can be represented as HR products: each has its own owner and product vision, with the help of which the development should be developed.

Development approaches

How did the technology of HR functionality in internal systems work before? The HR client would come and download a whole set of requirements. The Dev team went into a long process of analysis, development and implementation. As a result, only after 6-9 months, the new functional left for the industry.

How is technology happening now? The team realized that it was necessary to change the approach and went the product way. First, we define what we are solving and choose which metrics to evaluate the result, build hypotheses about the ways to achieve it, conduct focus groups, get an MVP (Minimal Viable Product), put a viable version of the product into operation and develop the solution further, gradually adding functionality.

The product approach allows:

  • avoid large systems to modules and microservices;

  • take into account the demand of the market and internal users;

  • make decisions based on data;

  • interact and synchronize at every stage;

  • get the result significantly faster.

Let’s analyze an example

Theoretically, any approach can sound good, let’s understand how the process was arranged in practice.

The goal is to develop the “360 degree survey” module for the most convenient and transparent process of receiving feedback.

Tasks of the module:

  • skill development based on feedback from colleagues and managers;

  • identification of insufficient competencies and formation of an effective personnel policy;

  • identification of strengths and potential for team development.

Step 1. We determine what we are deciding

At the start, 87% of employees participated in the evaluation procedure → we strive to make the indicator close to 100%.

It took about 15 minutes to fill out the questionnaire → we strive to optimize the process and reduce the survey completion time by 30%.

The result was saved in mail or folders on the PC → integrate survey results into other development-related systems.

A solution from an external contractor that requires registration and transfer of personal data of employees → we are creating a module within the framework of a single corporate portal.

Step 2. We formulate a hypothesis

IS internal request to solve the shortcomings of the current system:

  • you need your own internal platform, because when using solutions from contractors, the employee has to go to another resource and transfer his data, but this is inconvenient;

  • complex process: the survey takes a lot of time for the participants;

  • any refinements are implemented over a long and expensive period.

IS external market demand:

  • friendly UI interface;

  • integration with the employee profile and modules “Career”, “Learning”, etc.;

  • quick customization.

At the output, we get a significant set of requirements:

Step 3. Business analysis

At this stage, we correlate the requirements of external and internal customers. We identify the most popular of them and prioritize them. This step is handled by business analysts who collect a complete list and detailed descriptions of functionalities.

Step 4. Grooming requirements

At this stage, all participants in the process meet: the owner of the function (in our case – HR), the owner of the product and development.

The main task is to divide the requirements into three areas:

  • MVP – functions without which the module makes no sense (1 turn);

  • Release – functions without which the module can exist, but they are important and needed (2nd turn);

  • Future – functions with the characteristic “I would like” or “Good” (backlog).

Each participant in the process shares their assessment of a long list of initial requirements. Sometimes decisions can be made unanimously, complex cases require constructive discussion and clear reasoning.

Step 5. System analysis

We translate business requirements into technical language. To do this, we analyze the needs of the customer, the capabilities of the platform, and collect options for solving system problems, taking into account limitations and risks. On the basis of complex data, we give reasonable recommendations regarding the optimal development plan.

In short, for each stage we correlate platform capabilities and business requirements. For example, will we be able to support the platform for 30,000 users? And accordingly, we plan to revise it.

Step 6. Demonstration of layouts

For intermediate synchronization, we prepare visualization examples of the planned modules and discuss them with the customer. This stage allows you to double-check expectations and make timely corrections – until the product is fully ready.

Returning to our example, we will show the layout of one of the modules:

Step 7. Designing the module architecture

Our task, in addition to preparing the module, is to design the data scheme, information flows. Build this piece of the puzzle into the existing platform and organize the communication of one module with others – in our example with Career and Education.

And microservice architecture plays a big role here, which:

  • makes it possible to develop and use technologies and tools that are most suitable for each service;

  • ensures easy use of the new functionality due to the development of a separate microservice;

  • allows for independent scanning of services and quick updating.

Step 8. MVP development

We are approaching the most interesting part: developing and launching the MVP of the product according to the priorities. If you have done all the preparatory stages well, the technology will go as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Of course, we do not forget about testing with the involvement of customer experts. It remains only to present the released viable modules.

We summarize the results

After the work was completed, we tested the new 360 Degree Survey module on Nexign employees.

This is what the results look like.

  • Average questionnaire completion: 15 minutes, now 10 minutes.

  • The number of HR staff maintaining the system has been reduced from two to one.

  • The number of negative reviews decreased from 17% to 0%.

  • The number of employees who completed the survey increased from 87% to 99%.

Let’s remember that at the beginning of the project we wanted to take into account the needs of the market. One of the important external requests was the possibility of customization.

What functions did the implementation of this block of requirements implement?

  • Builder of pages and widgets — to adjust the appearance and content of the employee’s profile, main page, personal account, news and new pages of the portal by adding widgets and adjusting their display.

  • Designer of forms — to create forms and new HR and IT requests without using code and with a link to the relevant business process of processing.

  • Designer of business processes – To manage business processes and agreements.

If we talk about deadlines, it took us 3 months to launch one “360 degree survey” module. In parallel with this, other modules were developed and developed: “Portal”, “Literature”, IPR, “Education”.

Applying a product approach in the work of teams, in less than a year we were able to create the main modules of the HRM system: you can learn more about the characteristics and order a demo at separate Neon HRM page.

And if you want to learn more about the development of HRM and BAP products, then visit a special section of the Nexign career site.

Returning to the article

We have seen a number of advantages in using a product approach. Customers not only have the necessary expertise, but also apply it to the benefit of the product. Open exchange of ideas and discussion of requests allows you to understand what is happening in the market and create the best solution both for your colleagues and for external use. Involvement of all participants in the development process helps to see tasks comprehensively, make decisions quickly and make changes in live mode.

This approach can be useful if you need:

  • gradually implement the product;

  • take into account the needs of both internal and external customers;

  • create a product that can be quickly configured without much effort or additional refinement.

Therefore, the product approach is not just a trend, but also an effective process that helps to solve business tasks so that for all project participants, “expectations” coincide with “reality”.

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