Achieving success in today’s uncertain environment is a complex and dynamic task. Companies are forced to make keen decisions for survival, anticipating and even provoking the changes of the environment. In this context, the role played by the employees is the key to achieve such a goal. They are required to develop the adequate skills, attitudes, and behaviors for reaching excellent results in their daily tasks, in order to comply with the adaptation needs of the firm. For an efficient management of the staff, human resources (HR) managers may use several means. Two of most outstanding are the development of competency management practices and the implementation of information and communication technologies (ICT) to support business to employee (B2E) relationships. Regarding the former, current and trendy HR management approaches such as knowledge management or coaching are based in competency models (Fernández, 2005). As for the latter, the use of Web technologies has changed the way in which data and computational resources are brought to the desktop of the employees. Since Web based solutions are easy to establish (Power & Kaparthi, 2002), a plenty and quickly increasing number of resources can be made available in the intranet (Güntzer, Müller, Müller, & Schinmkat, 2007). The intranet’s main advantages are the increase in decision making efficiency and the decrease in the required time for internal and external communication. Both of these result in cutting down on coordination and communication costs, removing bottlenecks in the decision making system, and eliminating duplicated and routine administrative tasks. These positive effects could also be transferred onto human resource management (HRM) policies to lessen their subjectivity, with the help of a rigorous competency management system. This article presents a review and foundation for the design of an intranet for the development of B2E relationships, based in competency management theory as a means for transforming the firm’s HR into sources of competitive success. This proposal is the result of the authors’ research in competency-based HRM, after the HR models used in Spanish, American, or British companies. A stepwise methodology is outlined consisting of six stages: definition of objectives, data collection, intranet implementation, competency map analysis, competencies and job inventory preparation, and control of performance. Suggestions are provided for each stage on ways to leverage the strengths of the intranet application for enhancing the performance of human resources.
The ubiquitous presence of ICT has forced a transformation of every aspect of human society. This phenomenon is almost comparable to a paradigm shift, to the extent of dramatically modifying the basic parameters of time and space (Castells, 2001). Consequently, a successful firm will be the one compelled to both adapt and anticipate to the current environmental changes, evolving from a solid, hierarchical, and mechanical entity to a fluid, organic organization built on information flows (Zimmermann & Koerner, 1999).
The new economy means new competitive strategies based on interrelated intangible sources. Among these, ICT render a necessary service to strategy, since they give rise to strategic changes and lead the firm to strategic adaptation, by developing a proactive role in the firm’s prospect (Benson, Bugnitz, & Walton, 2004; Tapscott & Agnew, 1999).
However, Internet is no panacea, and therefore strategy cannot be subjugated to technology. Researchers like Powell and Dent-Micaleff (1997) or Davenport (1994) show that, even for technology intensive companies, ICT do not deliver that differencing value by themselves. Mata, Fuerst, and Barney (1995) concur on the basis that ICT management skills and ICT managers’ contact grids are more important to firms than technology endowments. This way, ICT are a necessary but not sufficient resource, because of its tangibility, due to technological assets’ easiness of imitation and mobility (this is, firms can buy technology easily). As a result, every firm must treat its technological endowment as a required and pervasive commodity (Carr, 2003; Venkatraman, 1994).
Key Terms in this Chapter
Information System: Set of procedures designed for managing the information of an organization. Its functions are: the retrieval of relevant data, the process of the data and transformation into information, the storage of useful information, and the provision of that information to the decision makers in adequate time and shape.
Competency: The underlying characteristics of an individual (a motive, trait, skill, aspect of one’s self image or social role, or a body of knowledge) which underlie performance or behavior at work.
Intranet: A private computer network that uses Internet protocols, network connectivity, and possibly the public telecommunication system to securely share part of an organization’s information or operations with its employees. Sometimes the term refers only to the most visible service, the internal Web site, generally restricted to employees of the organization.