MacGyver or Clark Griswold?

I recently had to use a few zip ties to fix my dryer, yup, you heard that right.  The big aluminum hose in the back kept falling off despite the clip that was supposed to hold it in place.  I could tell it just needed a little extra support, so I zip tied it to the hoses next to it, this prevented it from shaking so much it would fall off.  That reminded me of one of my FAVORITE shows growing up, MacGyver.  For you younger generations, you need to check it out.  So cool.  Anyways, that led me to think about my clients and their various HCM(Human Capital Management)/Payroll tech stacks. Some companies come to me with 10+ systems scattered all over, some things overlap, there are gaps other places, I call this the Clark Griswold effect.  Then others appear to have disparate tech on the surface but when you dig deeper, there is clearly method to the madness and the systems are as integrated as they can be.  I’m now calling this, the MacGyver effect, ie there is purposeful intent as to how and why they have the various systems they do.  It may not be the long term solution, but, it is built in such a way that supports the company for as long as needed.

Just to take a step back, I help companies every day figure out their HCM/HRIS/Payroll tech stack problems.  I never know what I’m going to be walking into when I meet with a client for the first time.  Some companies started out very small, a few employees, did everything on paper and excel and are now 50++, not knowing where to start with doing things like a “big kid” company.  Some went from 50 ee’s to 250+ and over time, as they encountered new issues under HR/payroll, they went out and found a standalone solution to address that need, and nothing is integrated today.  Some companies are actually sitting on pretty good technology but are grossly underutilizing it and were ready to throw the baby out with the bath water. No matter your size or situation, the main thing is to look at what your needs and pain points are today and what they’ll be 5+ years from now.  It could be possible that there is an “all in one” solution that will meet your needs, and that’s great, it means better data management/quality, one invoice to pay and one customer service team to work with.  On the other hand, where it doesn’t make sense and that “all in one” option doesn’t check the box in a certain area, it makes sense to find a standalone, aka point solution and build bridges between the systems as much as possible.

I can’t really put too much blame on those companies with the Clark Griswold solutions, when problems/challenges arise, it’s a knee-jerk reaction to find a solution fast and get it implemented to keep the business going.  I would just challenge those who feel like their systems are a mess, to take a pause and step back, re-evaluate your needs, and compare that to what you have/don’t have.  From there, determine if it makes sense to reevaluate the “all in one” solutions, or to maybe consolidate as much as possible, and find better point solutions.  In other words, take the MacGyver approach, he does some quality work after all and a good role model.

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