Position Management - Who Reports to Whom?
This article focuses on the area of position management and how and why it should be inherent within your HRMS solution. Position management can be called different things depending on the HRMS software package. The two most common terms are position management and organization management. This document will focus on position management. Position management refers to the HRMS system relationships between organization structure, jobs, positions and employees with all of their associated characteristics. It also needs to incorporate the process of how positions are created and maintained within the organization. In short, position management is the fundamental building block of an integrated HRMS
Let’s start first with some definitions. A job is a collection of related tasks and responsibilities that are grouped together for the purpose of accomplishing work within an organization. A job has certain characteristics; for example, it has a job description and requires certain skills, education and occupational requirements to qualify a person to hold that job. It has a job grade (for compensation purposes), a targeted salary, and a compensation market value. It requires certain competencies that may be used for career/succession planning or individual performance management. An example of a job could be the CEO, an HR Administrator or in more specific terms, it could be an Accounts Payable Clerk III.
On the other hand a position is a specific occurrence of a job in an organization, or one “chair”. The position is associated to the job. It “inherits” all of the characteristics of a job. So if you have a position of HR Administrator (or possibly some specific title like HR Administrator – Sales Training), it will have all of the same characteristics of the HR Administrator job – the same grade, the same job description, etc. In some cases, there is only one position attached to a job. You could have the CEO job and attached to it, a CEO position. In other cases you might have one job and many positions. For example, in a government department you might have one job, Accounts Payable Clerk III, and 30 positions all of which are fulfilling the role of an Accounts Payable Clerk III. An easy way to think of it is one employee occupies one position, or one role.
At first blush it looks as if a position and a job are one and the same, just different titles. A position, however, will have many additional characteristics beyond those it inherited from the “job”. It is located in an organizational unit (division, department, etc.) and reports to another position, but it may also have positions reporting to it. It has a certain work location, an organizational cost center to charge pay costs, and is assigned to a particular pay company. The position may define a specific budgeted amount for salary, and once filled can define actual and even future salary costs.
When a position is created, historical information on the position is maintained. It will initially be vacant (or could be shown as budgeted but not valid until a future date). When an employee is attached to the position, it will be shown as being occupied by that employee. Should that employee move to another position or resign, the position is shown as vacant. A position can also be deactivated or modified if the circumstances and need for the position is no longer there. Complete historical information is available and can be utilized to perform “point in time” reporting on organization data.
An employee occupies a position. When you place an employee in a position, the employee “inherits” all of the characteristics of the position. As a result, if John Jones is the HR Administrator-Sales Training position, he has the following characteristics: he reports to Mary Smith who is the sales training manager, he is in the Sales Training Department, located at the 123 Main Street location; he is in cubicle 53 on the 9th floor. His cost center is 12071-Sales Training in the general ledger.
The HRMS system will then default all of the characteristics of the job as well as the position to the employee record. So, John Jones also has a job description of HR Administrator. He is a pay grade 6 with a resulting salary range of $25,000 minimum, $30,000 Mid-point and $35,000 maximum. His budgeted pay rate information has been calculated, his eligible benefits have been determined, and his labor distribution data has been retrieved. Meanwhile the position has been changed from a status of “vacant” to “filled”.
An employee will have additional characteristics personal to them beyond those he/she inherited from the job and the position. There will be demographic information such as a name, address, telephone number, benefit enrollment information, emergency contact names and numbers, and so on. The employee will also have a specific salary.
Position management is about creating all of the jobs and positions in an organization and attributing to them all of the characteristics for each job and position. Effectively, you build a blank organization chart of your company and fill in all the information except that pertaining to the employee. The nice part is information about similar jobs or positions can be copied and modified to suit the circumstance.
Advantages of Position Management within Vista HRMS
You use position management to reduce the amount of effort to use the system, improve data integrity, reduce the amount of rework and corrections, and create the infrastructure for advanced features that benefit not only the HR department but also the whole organization.
Within Vista, Job postings can be easily generated using the descriptions and qualifications attached to the position. Vista even provides a browser-based JobNet search function that reports upon open positions.
Vista position management simplifies data entry. When a new employee is hired and position management has been set up, only the employee data needs to be entered and the position number that the person will hold. When that occurs all of the position and job data is automatically attached to the person’s data record, and the chance that an incorrect title or an incorrect pay grade would be entered is eliminated. The same process would be followed when a promotion or transfer occurs. The position number will drive 90 percent of the data entry error-free.
You can use Vista HRMS
to produce reports that include existing positions that are active or vacant. You may prefer to export the hierarchal data to a graphical organization chart tool such as Human Concepts’ OrgPlus.
Having position management allows more accurate reporting and provides better management information about the positions and vacancies in the organization. Position management forces a discipline around the process of creating a position and ensures that all of the approvals and information are collected before entering a person onto the system or moving an employee to a position. Often managers are promoting a person to a new position that no one has ever heard of, much less approved.
Position management provides an invaluable service to the organization by defining the reporting relationships of “reports to” and “supervises”.
Position management is essential to workflow as it defines the reporting hierarchy. If you have enabled a workflow in your human resource system that specifies that the Vice President of Compensation must approve a salary increase over 10 percent, how does the system know who is the vice president of Compensation? With position management, for example, the workflow will specify that salary increases over 10 percent must be routed to the holder of position 12345 (Vice President of Compensation). The system will then calculate the increase, apply the rule and direct the workflow approval to the employee that holds position 12345 or Vice President of Compensation. When a new employee holds that position, workflow does not need to be re-configured so that the approval process will go to the new person. It is directed to the position – no matter who holds it. By the same token, Vista is both employee and position centric, and allows workflow to go to a person no matter what position they hold.
is inefficient without some form of position management. How could you offer manager self-service without specifically identifying the employee’s manager? There are other, more cumbersome ways to identify who a person’s manager is, but position management is the most efficient way to maintain these relationships. If the manager’s name is simply added to the field on the employee’s record then the HR Department will have an incredible amount of maintenance of each record as the organization dynamically changes. Position management virtually eliminates that because it inherently knows the relationship and maintains it for you.
The reporting hierarchy also simplifies the administration of security. Vista knows who reports to whom, so when a Manager logs in they are granted data access to their employees automatically! No need for you to configure unique security definitions to identify access to only their employees.
Lastly, while Sarbanes-Oxley will require public companies to maintain corporate governance type information, such as who reports to whom; who is accountable to whom; what are they accountable for; who has any fiscal responsibilities along with detailed job descriptions and responsibilities, these requirements will become “best practices” for all companies.
Position management simply makes sense.
Adapted from “Who Reports to Whom? A Primer on Position Control” by John Johnston, appearing in the IHRIM Journal, March 2002
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