HR Vision Podcast #11 – Show and Tell ft. Greg Horn

By FourVision
Aug 25 • 1 min read
HR Vision Podcast Episode 11 ft. Greg Horn

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Give it a try. That’s the first step if you want to change the way you do things. And that’s Greg’s advice.
Greg Horn has an expertise of almost 20 years with Microsoft products and he keeps it simple to this day. He shared with us his approach to HR Technology, Microsoft’s commitment to improving functionalities and what he sees as challenges and trends to look at in the world of HR Tech.

Ivo:
Hey everyone, and welcome to the HR Vision podcast. I'm your host Ivo, and every week I'm going to have a conversation that matters about HR.

This week, I have with me: Greg Horn. Welcome Greg. How are you?

Greg:
Hi! Good, how are you? Thanks for having me.

Ivo:
No problem. Happy to have you. Greg is one of our senior implementation consultants, at FourVision is based in the US, in the great state of Michigan. He has a lot of experience in the world of Microsoft Dynamics. So today we're going to talk exactly about that. About HR tech, so let's let's get to it.

Greg. Imagine that nobody here knows you.

Greg:
Ha, I think you do though!

Ivo:
I do! But for people that don't know you, just give us a small introduction about yourself. Your background.

Greg:
Yeah. Greg Horn, I've been in this Dynamics community for, gosh, almost almost 20 years. I started; I have a degree in accounting. And I started working for a CPA firm as an accountant and a network administrator, as well as my accounting duties. I implemented lower end accounting software for our customers and really enjoyed that more than my tax and accounting duties. I ended up, had a customer that was in construction, that their requirements didn't fit what our software (that I implemented for other customers) were able to handle. So I did a search and I found Solomon software, so that is going to date me on how I've been in the community.

We ended up selecting Solomon. The folks from Solomon wanted us to become a reseller. We actually started our own small resellership in the accounting firm I was in. And found out that it wasn't really going to work out with the CPA firm, and moved on to a Microsoft reseller. Not too long after Solomon, as we know is a Microsoft product now, was acquired by Great Plains software and then Great Plains was acquired by Microsoft. I've been in the Microsoft family covering sales, project management, consulting, ever since; the majority my career. The only respite from that I've had, is I went to work for one of my Microsoft Dynamics customers, and I've been enjoying my time ever since, and now I've been working for FourVision for a couple years.

Ivo:
Awesome. When did that transition happen, or how did it happen, you have a degree in accounting, looking at numbers and suddenly you just have a passion for the technology, or the services, or the implementation that people can use in their everyday lives, right? If you can identify a moment that triggered it,?

Greg:
Yeah I've covered, including working directly for Microsoft, I've worked with many different products in the Dynamics chain. We talked about Solomon, the old Dynamics AX. I've worked with the CRM solution, Finance & Operations. And I really enjoyed that chain of products and I happened to get... it's funny, my my old neighbor. I never realized that he worked for Microsoft. One day we're talking and he told me about about FourVision. There was an opportunity for me at that point in time. But further on down the road, after I left Microsoft, I got. Gave him a phone call and said "Hey is there a possibility?" and it worked out and I started working with FourVision. I've never really been in HR. I mean if you look at my LinkedIn background, I have mainly software and technology implementation experience, but in my couple years with FourVision I've really dug into HR business processes. Obviously how the solution works and learning about customers, HR business processes.

Ivo:
Alright, so HR was never in your mind, let's say. It just happened with FourVision. So what weere the key things that you learned, that makes you like the HR world? Or if you have a preference. Let's let's start there. Do you have a preference after seeing CRM and Finance & Operations in all those functionalities, comparing it to HR? Do you have a preference?

Greg:
Yeah, I really like where I'm at the solution? I think Microsoft is... That's one of the things I saw and I was very surprised. I don't knof if surprised is the right word, but happily encouraged when I got into the solution. Microsoft is putting in a ton of investments. I was shocked to see that almost basically in a weekly basis they're putting new functionality into the product and continue that investment. I enjoy the challenges that it's given me. Honestly I've seen so many customers these days, that in large organizations they are using spreadsheets and word docs. Their level of communication for, be it an employee transition. Or through email. I think as a result of that, it's the customers are concerned that their data is not secure. We have GDPR and data security. You see a lot of breaches and those solutions that they're using are not secure and we need to head towards that, and that's where a solution like Dynamics 365 gives you that comfort level, that things are things are secure.

The other thing from it too, is that the data is not accurate. I can't believe already customers like "Oh yeah, well, we're not really sure that these are good numbers, that these are the true leave balances, that our employees have. And being able to help them bring those business problems into a solution makes me happy and I enjoy seeing customers embrace the solution and genuinly happy about how it is working for them, and solving their business issues.

Ivo:
Awesome, that's great, but going back to that first point. The fact that you're surprised every time you go to large companies and you see how data is not secured. How processes are very rudimentary. Let's say in the sense that they are not using the latest technology, or they're using very rudimentary technology like spreadsheets or email communications on a day-to-day basis. From dealing with those customers. Did you get a feeling why that is? Why are they not moving forward or not thinking about, like: "Is that a better way to do this?" because they are so accustomed to it?

Greg:
I think so. You get customers that say "This is the way we've always done it." and never really looked outside the box to see what other possibilities might be out out there for them. I think we all get into a comfort level. Like when I go and drive to the store and I always park it in a specific location. When I go to get my groceries, we just get into that, day to day activity and changes are tough sometimes. It's that unknown that people like: "I don't know if I want to change." and I've had to deal with that over my careers. Sometimes it gets really; Some people get really entrenched and they have a lot of anxiety over over that change, so I think that's probably the biggest part of it.

Ivo:
Yeah, it's just we are used to this and change change is always hard when, especially when I think, when you have people working for ten, fifteen, twenty years in the same company used to do the same thing or close to the same thing every day. If you ask them to, stop doing things the way they have always done it. It's hard.

Greg:
Yeah for sure.

Ivo:
So in your in your consultant work, in the experience that you had with some customers. What do you think are the must haves of a consultant to make people understand that change is good? That actually updating their process is a good thing to do. Streamlining their business processes with the tools such as Microsoft Dynamics is a good thing. So what do you think are the must haves as a consultant to overcome that anxiety of changing things?

Greg:
You've got to have patience I think. And you need to understand that change management can be hard for some people. Some people embrace it more than others. But you have to have that patience to be able to work with that solution and find different ways to be able to prove to them that this is better. For example, take that problem that they're having, or they're using a spreadsheet for. And solution it in the software and then show it to them, and say "Hey, look, you see how much easier this can be?" and kind of play off the person and how much they will or will not work with the change and I think that's important. But typically I've found overtime that for most people, it's an investment people typically embrace. Embrace the investment and know that change is going to come along with that. I'm seeing fewer and fewer. I've had some really extreme cases where people have reached up and grabbed their anxiety medicine. That's a story for another day, but most aren't to that level of course. They embrace it, wanna learn it and it excites me when I see people learning and will do tasks in the software without us having to coach. Coach them and say, you gotta do this, that or this better.

Ivo:
That's great. I think you gave a great example. Of course we've been having some of our consultants here and talking about these challenges and how to overcome it. I think that's a great example. a workshop, but where you show a real case scenario. Right now you're doing it this way and it works, but now you can do it this way, with these simple steps and you have everything here. So you don't need to do those extra steps that you are doing currently. So I think showing these examples, real case examples based on the company, something that you do often with your customers.

Greg:
Oh yes. Solutioning, we call it uh, some consultants may call it different. Show and tell.

Ivo:
Show and tell, OK!

Greg:
We want to learn what your what your business business processes are. We solution that in the software and then show them: Here's what we've defined, and also try to show the advantages. Of course of why they would want to do it this way. Sometimes we do try to steer them in, another direction and maybe what they were originally. And anticipating, things would be and then we have to coach and coach them a little bit on why. That would be the best way to go.

Ivo:
yeah that's a very good advice. Another thing still on this topic. Of course, change is a challenge convinced them or try to show them that the actually with this software there will be better serves. it will be better off with this new system. Are there any other challenges that you can remember? Like, I'm thinking on top of my head, like data integration. Is that a challenge? Sometimes the fact that data is dispersed, is all over the place. What are the challenges you find commonly?

Greg:
Working integration that you talked about, I ideally, over time. I've always heard the you should always bring all of your, if you've got, say three different products, you should always try to bring it into 'one best breed'. I think it was called; they always called this approach. I don't know if that's always feasible. So you're going to have to work with other solutions, and being able to work with how integrations may have already been defined or how you're defining those integrations, working with those other companies to be able to... because they may have a different mindset in their implementation strategy. We may do things a little bit differently. Then they do when being able to work together. those are, those are some definite challenges that we have.

Ivo:
Alright. Yeah, just moving to the tech in HR that you've seen so far. In your view, you believe this teck is important, otherwise I don't think he would be working with it. So what do you think are the main things about HR tech that people are missing out by not adopting?

Greg:
I think it's being able to bring different things into your software's ability to be able to set up business processes, approval processes. A lot of people have manual approval processes and being able to bring those into the software. Being able to take your data, to be able to rely on your data to the point where you can utilize the daily analytics tools that we that we have and be able to utilize that data to make meaningful decisions. Because if you can't trust your data. You're not going to be able to report on it and make meaningful business decisions out of it. And I think too: more security, as we talked about earlier, I think, especially with the pandemic, I think you've got a lot more people that are that are working at home. I think unfortunately, you've got a lot more people doing nefarious things. I think data hacking is way up. I don't think that's ever going away and with that, especially with HR data, security is extremely important. In the HR system you've got people's social security numbers, where they live, their phone numbers, who they are, their personal account, personal contacts are. And that data needs to be secure and you can have security on a spreadsheet, but it's a lot more secure if it's in a solution, in a Microsoft data center where you can trust that Microsoft has the best of the best, securing their data centers and ensuring that no one can get to that data. Unless obviously it's it's the customer that should have access to that data.

Ivo:
Yeah, do you think people think about that a lot? I think more and more. That's a trend. I see that people are questioning more the data security and where they store their passwords and their logins and their information. But you think companies are getting a bit more aware of that of the importance of securing data?

Greg:
I think so. Yeah, I know I've had some customers of, as of late that have, said that hey, we've gotten. We've had breaches. We've had, even employ employees take sense, take sensitive data. So that was of course top of mind, and I think we're starting to see that a lot more these days. And more and more implementations that I've been working on, they are asking for tighter and tighter restrictions on their security.

Ivo:
Yeah, you mentioned that at the end. The fact that Microsoft of course has the best of the best in their direct data centers. So securing all the data and all the information. But I guess they have many more good things to talk about and so my question to you is do you? Did you work with any other tools besides Microsoft before? Do you have experience with any other tools? Or Microsoft was sort of, like you started there with Solomon and after that it was always Microsoft.

Greg:
Exactly! Yeah, I've always been in the Microsoft family. I keep up with technology I keep up with the competition, what they do, their strengths and weaknesses. But my whole career's been, with Microsoft it always wanted to work for work for Microsoft. I was pleased that I got that, got that opportunity and work directly for Microsoft for a couple years. So I guess I've always been a Microsoft Slappy, so to speak.

Ivo:
No, that's no problem at all. We work with Microsoft, so we're happy we have a a Microsoft fanboy, let's say. In the company... no, but my question to you is: that's for a reason, right? If you are keeping up with the tech, you also see what Microsoft has been putting out to see what other technologies or other companies of the competition are putting out. What I'm trying to find here is for people listening what, do you see are the main values that Microsoft can offer, especially in the Microsoft Dynamics environment?

Greg:
Yeah, specifically on the HR solution. I was, and I mentioned earlier. I was so surprised. The other solutions I worked with would have periodic updates, but when I started working with the HR solution, I very quickly saw that on a weekly basis, they're putting enhancements to the solution, not just bug fixes, meaningful product features that, and they've continued to do that and will continue to do that. So the product feature set is increasing by leaps and bounds. Microsoft will continue that investment overall. Overall, how HR then works with the other solutions. You know, in the Dynamics 365 with Finance, with CRM. That inner working is very important. Call it a seamless integration with those. And then even outside of the Microsoft stack period. Working with the office, solutions.

I also have always been very impressed and of course, very important; security and data privacy that Microsoft has, and have always been a forefront in their mindset. And knowing that I can confidently say that "Hey, when your data is in a Microsoft data center, you can have the utmost confidence that Microsoft is going to keep that data secure and in private.

Ivo:
Yeah, that's very important indeed. Before going to the future, I just have a quick question around. You always worked based in the US, you are from Michigan. As I said in the beginning, you always worked with US clients or you. You also worked with European clients?

Greg:
I've worked with people all around really, globally. I've had customers that I've worked with in Europe, had a couple customers in Mexico and I've worked with some customers in Canada as well.

Ivo:
OK. Because my question for that came up because I we had Jenni on a couple of episodes ago. She is in Australia and I asked her like if she feels like there's a difference in the way Australian companies see HR tech or between Australia and Europe, do you find the difference in the way they approach this? This HR tech or digital transformation? You see any cultural differences in dealing with clients between US and European customers? At all?

Greg:
Yeah, a little bit. It's interesting to learn some of the different requirements like I've the for example, my customers that I've worked with and in Canada. When they offboard, whether the termination is voluntary or involuntary, the requirement is that they have to ensure that individual gets paid and the remaining balance is on a timely basis.
Where in the US, it's not quite as strict. In Canada, if they don't, they can be levied some pretty high fines for that. So making sure, and I guess that's gotta be hard. We talked back, about the, doing stuff on spreadsheets, and emails. I could see how very easily you could really be, racking up some pretty heavy fines as part of that. So learning the different requirements that they have in different locations. I know in Europe they're more based in the tracking of sickness and sickness & leave versus the US. The US doesn't have quite as heavy requirements. Yes it's tracked, but not I think, to the level that I see with our European customers.

Ivo:
OK, so what I was looking for is not like a massive impact on the way we use HR technology or how we implement HR technology right? It's just requirements that might change a little bit because the focus and the mindset is slightly different culturally.

Greg:
Right, exactly.

Ivo:
OK, so looking into the future of HR technology? What do you see there? Are there any interesting trends that you anticipate? Looking at what Microsoft is bringing on with other with other technologies, or maybe the competition. Are there any trends that excite you?

Greg:
Uh, yeah, I think that the future of HR technology. The software and people are gonna need to be more flexible. You know, you've got a lot of people now working from home, being able to have self-service capabilities. We talked about future security, we talked about that quite a bit. So far, the data hacking, breaching. So we need more security, and I think it'll be interesting to see what happens along the lines of artificial intelligence and how that, along with data analytics is going to enter, interplay into this. Being able to give customers the ability to be able to analyze their data and make meaningful decisions out of it.

Ivo:
Do you think this AI and mixed reality is something that's coming that soon? I know it's been talked about but do you think it's gonna be useful really soon? Imagine next year 2022 we're gonna have some already some mixed reality or AI working with HR tech. Because it seems that; I'm asking that because it seems like there's so many companies still using spreadsheets. They have yet to fix the basics. I don't know, I'm not seeing those companies go ahead right away jumping a step, go into AI and mixed reality without fixing the basics.

Greg:
I can see like, I think when when I was working at Microsoft I saw a lot of cool demos of artificial intelligence and one of the ones they showed was, a person in the field. A rookie trying to fix a four wheeled vehicle. They had the HoloLens on and they had the expert being able to tell them in point to them here's where you need to fix the engine. Or I could see in the medical field: same kind of deal, surgeries happening and you can show someone, who could be across the country, across the globe being able to do that. And still struggling a little bit. I think like you on quite where that's gonna fit into the HR world.

I absolutely do see data analytics and the mix that's on the mixed reality. Artificial intelligence. Being able to take your data and make intelligent decisions out of that. Looking at "Here's how your workforce is growing.", "Hey, did you think if you keep growing at a 10% clip or 15% clip? This is what the the costing might be". I could see that more than the mixed reality where I can look in. Maybe for training, onboarding, possibly. That's possible, but I still see, because it's going to be a significant investment to be able to purchase the technology. Things like Hololenses that I should be able to get that in your company.

Ivo:
Yeah, getting that widely available will be a be a tough will be a tough thing to do, but indeed I see more like for training so you can have interactive sessions with that mixed reality application. But I agree with you, I think AI especially in HR for workforce planning for example. Making making the systems, taking some decisions for you, or at least suggesting you the best decision because you're growing at that pace, you're having these skills. If you want to grow this much, you're gonna need these skills too. So like for workforce planning or succession planning, let's say I think AI might help in there. Who knows, I'm the marketing guy, you are working in HR tech, who knows!

Just on the HR trend still. I know during the last five years or so, we've seen this trend of HR going from from administration, like just doing administration stuff to strategy to actually help the business strategize their growth path. How do you think that evolved? Do you also believe in this? Do you see it in your daily job and how? How does data contribute to it.

Greg:
Yeah, being able to see things like succession, performance management, succession planning; being able to track and see who in our organization are top contributers. And being able to see the path between where they where they are now and what they they could become. And if I have positions that I might have some more senior members in, who would be the best person to potentially fulfill that role internally, before we even would go out to look for external external resources, understanding what skill sets those people have. And what would people need? And I think one of the challenges businesses have is that you've got employees that want to grow with the company, but don't see a path to do that.

So if you're able to show them, that yes there is a path. I think that might help things like turnover and being able to know...

Ivo:
Retention?

Greg:
Yup, retention. And making sure that I know that I do have a path, so as long as I'm happy here I can grow with the company and not stay stagnant and I think that's where then they might look to other options.

Ivo:
Yeah, that's very important to point out indeed. Cool.

I just have one last thing for you. It's going to be sort of a challenge, but don't take it as a challenge. I'm asking every guest at the end, like if you had one thing to say to to HR professionals or IT professionals that are maybe thinking about an idea about a solution for HR. Or maybe if they are not even thinking about it what what can you say to those to those people? But if there's one thing to say to HR professionals or professionals about HR tech, what would you say?

Greg:
I'd say: Give it a try. We talked earlier about, give us a chance to take a look at what those business challenges that you might have and let us solution it out and can do a little show and show and tell for you. We typically always do that in presales mode. It doesn't always have to be something that is necessarily a consultancy paid engagement, and I think a lot of people would be surprised at what - and we and we do typically see that when we do demonstrations of D365HR - a lot look at it and they're like "Oh wow, it can do that?". And that's fun to see. And I think you would see if you do give it a try that you'd get. Some of those not across the board, but you at least get enough of those to keep it in worth a worth further look.

Ivo:
I think it's a great message to end this up. I think your dog is agreeing with us for a long time now.

Greg:
Yeah Moose is agreeing!

Ivo:
Moose is agreeing, so thank you Moose and thank you Greg for for this conversation. This was very interesting, UM, and we'll keep in touch. So for you guys out there listening, take care and we'll see you next time.

Greg:
Awesome, thanks for having me.


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