The concept of self-service technologies originated in customers’ service; the technologies support the idea of customers being able to get a service without direct interactions with service providers. Since the first introduction of the concept at the end of the 20th century, many other business areas have implemented the principles of self-service technologies. This paper will analyze the application of self-service technologies within organizational systems. The paper will explain the technology’s benefits to organizational processes and business efficiency and list the negative and positive aspects of implementing self-service technologies in business.
Key Elements of Self-Service Technology and their use
To analyze which areas and features of the organization could benefit from the implementation of Self-Service Technology (SST), one should start by examining key elements of self-service technology. Existing literature on SST is predominantly focused on the utilization of technology for marketing purposes, like solving issues with the quality of services in the retail business (Lian, 2018). However, according to Lian (2018), one of the key elements of SST is the support of information technology. Implementation of the technology for purposes other than marketing requires heavy involvement of information systems.
In reverse, areas within the organization that heavily rely on information systems are more suitable for the implementation of SST. The processes involving information systems include collecting, storing, and adding records to employees’ personal information, making timetables and schedules, filling out a questionnaire by candidates in the recruitment process, etc. The employees could provide their performance results themselves without the need for additional assessment from managers or supervisors.
Another important factor in SST is reduced operational costs and workload. As SST implies automatization processes and reduces additional workload, the technology could benefit areas of the organization that operate within time frames. Moreover, SST allows for shortening of the communications chain within an organization and increases the effectiveness of organizational processes in terms of time and job duties.
Thus, implementing SST within an organization could be more beneficial in more expensive and time-consuming service areas. In addressing the workload point, the implementation of SST also allows the managers to quickly distribute important news and information about upcoming events directly through self-service portals. The feature also allows quickly setting up important meetings and sending vital information for familiarization before the meetings. In some aspects, self-service portals could substitute for HR or payroll specialists when they are not on-site or available.
Employee self-service portals could be used on any form of electronic device at any time of the day. The employees could check the important information without leaving their workplace and make changes to their contact information or schedule themselves. Thus, as there is no need for unnecessary visits to the HR office, the organization’s efficiency would benefit through reduced time spent on organizational issues. Moreover, as some employee self-service portals support the feature of operating from remote locations, the employee could transfer important information, like changes in schedule in their free time without the need to visit the workplace.
Another element of SST is an employee’s independence and ability to have control over his actions. Self-service portals allow employees to instantly view the current status of their performance and payrolls with objective information. In services where employees do not require constant communication and supervision, SST could help employees master their skills, such as decision-making. Moreover, implementing SST could potentially increase the employees’ commitment to the job and provide freedom in making a choice. Some self-service portals have a feature that could provide employees access to online training and offer employees an opportunity to improve as a professional.
Manager Self-service, Employee Self-service, and Human Resource Portals
In addition to specific areas within an organization, implementation of SST could involve several layers of the organization, including managers and employees. Although implementing SST on different levels would feature similar details based on SST principles, both levels would have differences based on the purpose of SST implementation. The primary purpose of SST for managers is to sort and organize the data received from employee systems to ease the manager’s working process.
The main functions of managers’ self-service portals involve providing access to reports, performance data and evaluation, employment information, and important details on the organization’s property. Employee self-service is more oriented toward the ability to make slight changes in the organizational process without the involvement of HR or payroll specialists. Thus, while employee self-service touches more on organizational issues, the managers’ self-service is more related to the work itself, and their functions depend on the job duties.
On the other hand, human resource portals present a centralized system that provides access to organizational information regarding human resources for both employees and managers and even external job applicants. Human resource portals, in general, could be used to provide access to important information about onboarding processes, organization’s rules and policies, details on positions’ descriptions and duties, benefits enrollment, and administration. In addition to providing information, human resource portals could also be used for quick, direct communication with HR specialists.
Positive and Negative Aspects of SST Implementation
There is a possibility that not all employees will be satisfied with the implementation of SST into the organizational process. Due to a low level of computer knowledge and skills, some employees would still prefer visiting the HR office to self-service portals.
Addressing the issue requires additional training among employees and the involvement of the organization’s financial resources. In an article on self-service initiatives, Casey (2021) noted that self-service technologies mark the shift towards the widespread use of digital services. However, the author also concludes that due to technical challenges, the time for the widespread transition to digital self-services has not come yet (Casey. 2021). Thus, the implementation of the SST requires a high level of computer knowledge across all employees and managers in the organization, especially in the HR department.
At last, because of the ability for multiple simultaneous entries to the information system, the SST implies a high rate of mistakes that could go unnoticed for a long time. Although human resources departments also make mistakes in their work, the employees would make more mistakes because of unfamiliarity without proper training on self-service portal use. Before implementing technology, all employees and managers need to be instructed on the correct use of the system. Moreover, to prevent mistakes during the first few months of using self-service portals, the input data might need an additional inspection.
According to Zielinski (2019), implementing a “fail-safe” role and involvement of a human operator is standard in SST and could be used as a criterion in evaluation. Summing up, implementation of SST is safer and more accustomed when users know that they can connect to the human operator in case of need.
Before evaluating the positive and negative aspects of future SST implementation in an organization, one should consider if the organization suits the requirements for SST. As mentioned earlier, SST requires heavy involvement of information technology in an organization’s working process. Moreover, SST is designed to reduce the workload and operating costs, and its implementation requires additional financial resources, so SST is more fitted for big organizations with many employees.
Besides the negative aspects of high requirements and significant financial expenses for the initial setup, before implementation, the provider should estimate the necessary tools that would be featured in the self-service portal. SST is prone to cybersecurity-related issues and weaknesses, just like any information system. As information stored in the SST systems carries sensitive personal and financial information, the technology requires strong security systems where employees must enter their login and password to access the system. Moreover, the system must provide connection security and data encryption to avoid disclosure of personal information, which could result in fines for the employer.
In conclusion, despite the negative aspects, implementation of SST presents significant relief to HR departments in organizations, where a direct connection with HR representatives is impossible or complicated. For example, in conditions where the main working site is located away from the office, a self-service application could directly connect the employee to the HR departments. Employees have more control over their work and activities as SST promotes self-regulation and optimization. An organization’s efficiency increases through the use of SST as employees spend less time on work-related issues and alternatively could solve the issues away in remote workplaces. Managers benefit through simplified working processes such as the structurization of reports and evaluation of performance.
Casey, S. J. (2021). Towards digital dole parole: A review of digital self‐service initiatives in Australian employment services. Australian Journal of Social Issues, 1-14. Web.
Lian, J. W. (2018). Why is self-service technology (SST) unpopular? Extending the IS success model. Library Hi Tech, 1-20. Web.
Zielinski, D. (2019). Self-Service Technology brings benefits and concerns. SHRM. Web.