Learning and development activities in most companies focus on the interaction between two groups: employees and managers. Trends today are seeing employees play a more active, leading role in their learning and development than ever before. Great managers are there to help mentor and guide employees on their individual learning paths. Leading Learning Management Systems, like SuccessFactors Learning, can provide great tools to empower learners and managers alike as they grow in learning together within the organization.
Learning management itself, however, doesn’t end with employee and manager interactions. A lot of organizations, especially larger organizations, have dedicated training departments and/or dedicated users within the business who play an active role in the learning and development planning of varying groups of employees. These ‘business partners’ aren’t necessarily focused on day to day training administration duties but instead want to ensure the alignment and progress of the learning paths of the employees within their area of responsibility. Starting in the b1408 release and recently expanded in the b1502 release, SuccessFactors Learning has introduced a new role in the LMS for HR Business Partners that is meant to provide a means for learning management at this level, outside of direct supervisors and traditional learning administrators. In this blog, I want to explore what the HR Business Partner role can bring to your organization within the SuccessFactors LMS.
What are HR Business Partners in SuccessFactors Learning?
Quite simply, HR Business Partners (HRBP) in the SuccessFactors LMS are users who are responsible for managing learning of a group of employees. Think of HRBPs as a cross between the typical Supervisor and Learning Administrator roles in SuccessFactors Learning. HRBPs perform functions very similar to Supervisors, but not just for subordinates. Their scope of responsibility when it comes to users in the system may closely mirror a typical Learning Administrator as they are usually responsible for managing learning for a broad scope of individuals.
For organizations with this type of role already in place, an HR Business Partner type of function in the LMS previously would have been performed in the SuccessFactors Learning Administrator portal with the appropriate security setup for doing such. Those familiar with the SuccessFactors LMS know the administrator interface is really meant for the power LMS administrator type of users. HR Business Partners who are looking to quickly manage a large group of employees for specific actions like viewing learning plans, managing assignments, etc., may struggle with the more involved admin interface. With the new HRBP role from SuccessFactors Learning, the LMS now provides a more intuitive interface to allow these types of users in your organization to effectively perform the functions they need.
What Can HR Business Partners Do in SuccessFactors Learning?
The new HRBP role in SuccessFactors Learning provides an interface for HRBPs based on the existing Supervisor interface, which is more user friendly for managing a defined group of employees for these set functions. HRBPs are provided with a list/hierarchy of employees to which they are designated as their HRBP. From this list HRBPs can quickly view the learning plan/assignments of individuals and perform certain actions for managing the learning of an employee or selection of employees.
To access the HR Business Partner user interface, an end user would access the My Team area of his/her learning portal. This area was previously reserved only for users who are supervisors. Users who are HR Business Partners will find their HRBP view here in conjunction with the supervisor view as well. If a user happens to be both a normal supervisor and an HRBP, an option to toggle between the two views will be provided on screen. The screen shot below illustrates a user with both a Supervisor and HR Business Partner view within the My Team area of their learning portal.
Since the HRBP role in SuccessFactors Learning shares a similar interface with the Supervisor view, it stands to reason that security access for HRBPs shares the same workflows required for Supervisor access in the LMS for end users. The workflows for Supervisor functions that also double now as access for HRBP users include the following:
- Access Subordinates
- Access Learning Plan
- Access Record Learning Events
- Access Record External Learning Events
- Access Registration
- Access Approvals
- Access Curriculum Status
- Access Learning History
There are subtle differences you may notice between what a Supervisor can do and what an HRBP can do. HRBPs are not presented with the Find Learning tile in their view, unlike Supervisors, and they also do not have links to Dashboard and Reports (although reporting for HRBPs should be introduced in an upcoming release).
How are HR Business Partners Specified in SuccessFactors Learning?
HRBP assignments can be viewed on a user record within the Manage Alternate Supervisor area of an individual user record in the admin portal. However, currently assignments of HRBP’s cannot be directly managed from this view. In the current design from SuccessFactors, HRBP assignments are solely managed via the User Connector process.
For customers using the SF User Connector for integrating employees from the core BizX platform to the LMS, direct mapping of one HR Business Partner per employee is supported. The line below can be found in the SF User Connector properties to define the mapping, which is typically done to the HR admin field for a user in BizX (but could be mapped to another field specifying a user ID).
The Standard User Connector and Federal User Connector provides more flexibility in assigning HRBPs to users by allowing for multiple HRBP assignments to a single user. As mentioned previously, HRBP assignments for a user are stored with Alternate Supervisor assignments per user record in the LMS. A new input data file that is processed by the Standard/Federal User connector is now available (user_manager_data.txt) with the following format.
User ID of learner
User ID of alt supervisor or HRBP
‘Y’ – to delete relationship; ‘N’ – Add relationship (default)
‘A’ – Alternate Supervisor; ‘H’ – HRBP
With the introduction of HRBP assignments and how they leverage the same relationship structure as the existing Alternate Supervisor designations, the limit on the number of these relationships per employee has been increased from 10 to 40.
Workflow Approvals and the HRBP Role in the LMS
SuccessFactors has also added the HRBP role as a standard role to be leveraged within Workflow Approval processes in the LMS. The new Approval Role for HRBP (introduced in b1408) joins the likes of the previous standard roles for Employee, Instructor, and Supervisor Level 1 & 2. By utilizing this standard approval role for HRBP in an Approval Process you can define an approval step that will be sent for registration requests to the user’s designated HRBP(s). Approval Roles and Processes can be managed in the administrator portal under References -> System Admin -> Approval Roles or Approval Process.
The Role of HR Business Partners in Your Organization
So how may the new HRBP role fit into your organization? My recommendation is to first look at how you currently manage learning for employees. Are you managers active in the process or do you find them more often than not lacking in their level of system participation in helping actively manage the learning paths of their subordinates? Does the job of learning management fall primarily on your existing LMS system administrators? Do they have sufficient time to play this type of role with users outside of doing their day-to-day learning activities at the core of your LMS?
You may see a need to identify learning ‘champions’ so to speak who sit between your supervisors and learning administrators and perform some level of learning management that fits your organization’s needs. Below are common occurrences I see with clients where either the Supervisor or Learning Administrator struggles to manage certain tasks as actively as they should, and where an HRBP type of role could be defined to fill the gap.
- Supervisors play active role in performance process and helping subordinates with their learning and development plans, but they do not have the time (or take the time) to actively manage planning in the LMS.
- HRBP role can help focus attention on monitoring user learning plans, ensuring individual plans are kept up to date, new assignments are made accordingly, etc.
- In organizations with a sizeable workforce who does not access the LMS, typical LMS administrators may struggle to manage manual learning assignments and registrations of these users to learning items to ensure proper tracking and administration of courses.
- HRBP role can take responsibility for managing registrations for upcoming courses for employees in their responsibility, removing the task from core LMS administrators and helping them focus on course planning and other core LMS administration tasks.
- Organizations who wish to record external training occurrences for employees in the LMS but struggle with Supervisors and/or LMS administrators in having the necessary time to do so.
- HRBP role can spearhead the process here, responsible for following up with the employee for necessary confirmation of attendance and performing the actions to record an External Learning Event within their HRBP view (given appropriate access in system).
In summary, the new HRBP role introduced for Successfactors Learning in the b1408/b1502 releases provides another role for support that some organizations may find critical to managing learning for their employees. The HRBP interface and functionality closely mirrors that of the Supervisor in the LMS. By identifying learning tasks that Supervisors and Learning Administrators currently struggle to manage, you may start to see where an HRBP type of role could fit within your existing learning processes. Transitioning these functions over to selected HRBPs can help Supervisors and Learning Admins focus on more critical learning tasks while allowing a new set of individuals to focus on more effective management of learning tasks that may have not been administered as well as they could have been in the past. Whatever the case in your organization, evaluation of the new HRBP role in Succesfactors Learning should be one of your key review points coming out of the b1502 release.