HR: Out of attic, into boardroom

Johannesburg, 11 Jan 2010
Read time 2min 20sec

Traditionally, human resources (HR) has been viewed as a cost centre, not a profit centre, and has as such held low status - that is until recent years, when technology finally became prevalent in strategic HR management.

Emile Bosman, HOD: HR Services at Softline VIP, says that while the HR management function has been changed and influenced greatly over the years by a number of factors, such as employment laws, the most compelling influence has undoubtedly been technology, as well as the retention and management of talent (“the War on Talent”).

“HR was always the last department in a business to be allocated a portion of the IT budget, a true reflection of the low status it held in most organisations. Even as recently as five years ago, you would still find HR offices in small and medium-sized businesses keeping all employee records in paper filing systems, for example. But long-overdue Human Resource Information Systems (HRISes) have quickly evolved into powerful, cost-saving systems for businesses of all sizes.”

The benefits of automating and streamlining the HR function and processes are substantial and systems have become accessible and affordable, even for small businesses. Such systems have the potential to improve organisational effectiveness and cost structures, and position a business to seize a greater share of the market. So, at least considering the adoption of HR technology makes good sense, especially in the current economy.

There are, however, challenges facing e-HR, not the least of these being employee self-service offerings. Bosman believes too many organisations underestimate the impact of technology on their employees. HR needs to spend as much time with employees on “change” as they do on the training and implementation of software. Training should be provided on company time to develop the self-efficacy of the employees and, better still, employees should be involved in the development of the system, so that it's not viewed as just a system for HR.

Another hurdle is that it has long been assumed and accepted that HR departments have to earn “strategic partner” status. HR departments can be better integrated and involved in strategic planning processes if they are able to expeditiously provide appropriate and accurate information through the use of information technology. To bring this about, HR not only has to change its role in the business from a “guardian of justice” to more of a “service/consultancy” role, but also its focus on the most appropriate type of delivery systems, Bosman concludes.

Softline VIP

Softline VIP is a leading supplier of payroll and human resource management solutions in South Africa, Namibia and Botswana. The company now boasts more than 24 000 clients. With three payroll and human resource management products, Softline VIP is able to meet the needs of any size company. Coupled with an extensive service offering, Softline VIP is the only payroll and HR solution geared to meet the challenges of the modern payroll office. The VIP Products are synonymous with ease of use, stability and reliability, with the flexibility to cater to the unique needs of every client. VIP promises long-term sustainability over and above legislative compliance. VIP understands the human resources and payroll environment and offers the client peace of mind by providing a total solution.

* Softline VIP achieved an overall fourth place in the top 10 for medium businesses in the Deloitte Best Company to Work For Survey 2009 and a second place in the industry category “business and professional services”. Softline VIP also emerged one of 48 participants out of an overall 98 to score above the standard of excellence threshold of more than 75%.

Softline VIP products include:

VIP Premier - Softline VIP also supplies leading technology to service large and corporate clients. VIP Premier is geared towards increasing the functionality of payroll systems and provides an uncomplicated solution for medium to large organisations. One of the key features of this product is that it is quick to implement in comparison to similar solutions. Meeting the needs of any payroll office and supplying the most suitable solution is important for Softline VIP as it strives to ensure practical solutions for all users. Our products are easy to use and reliable and the information produced is accurate and complies with all statutory requirements.

VIP Classic - VIP Classic is the perfect solution for clients with bigger operations than the one-man business. VIP Classic provides the same flexibility as larger systems but is aimed at the small to medium sector. This software offers a total solution to users.

VIP Essentials - VIP Essentials is geared to small businesses and contains the same ease of use and stability of all VIP's products. VIP Essentials is an affordable product making it an ideal solution for the small business paying less than 30 employees.

Softline has a solid track record of profitability and cash generation. The group delivers quality accounting, payroll and CRM software solutions that improve the efficiencies of businesses around the world.


Softline is a leading provider of accounting, payroll, CRM and ERP software solutions to small, medium and large sized companies. Founded in 1988 by Ivan Epstein, Alan Osrin and Steven Cohen, Softline was established during the formative years of the software industry and listed on the JSE Securities Exchange South Africa in February 1997. Softline expanded to establish a strong position within its area of focus in South Africa and Australia. Focused on the development of accounting, payroll, CRM and ERP software solutions, Softline has a 20-year track record as a market leader. The group has a broad range of products offering users a variety of software solutions to run their businesses efficiently. Softline's leading brands include Softline Accpac, Softline Pastel (Accounting and Payroll) and Softline VIP. The combination of the group's product offerings provides Softline customers with comprehensive, well-branded accounting, payroll, CRM and ERP software solutions. In November 2003, Softline was acquired by the Sage Group, a FTSE 100 company. The software group includes market-leading businesses throughout the United Kingdom, Europe, North America, South Africa and Australia, supplying business software to the small, medium and large sized business community. Softline has a solid track record of profitability and cash generation. The group delivers quality accounting, payroll, CRM and ERP software solutions that improve the efficiencies of businesses around the world.

The Sage Group

The Sage Group is a leading global supplier of business management software solutions and related products and services, principally for small to medium-sized enterprises. Formed in 1981, Sage was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1989. Sage has 5.8 million customers and more than 14 500 employees worldwide. We operate in over 26 countries covering the UK, Europe, North America, South Africa, Australia, India and China. For further information, please visit

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