It’s Time to Change the Way We Think About Job Descriptions

It’s Time to Change the Way We Think About Job Descriptions

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By AJ Whalen, Vice President and Publisher

Once treated as an afterthought or simply as a compliance necessity, the job description is now seen as strategic content (much more than a document) that, when managed properly, can support key HR processes by helping to set clear hiring requirements and performance expectations and by providing critical infrastructure for workforce planning, succession planning, leadership and career development. To achieve this, organizations are taking a fresh look at how job descriptions are written, how they are managed, and how they integrate with both core HR technology and the entire talent management suite.

The Evolution of the Job Description

Historically, many HR organizations have primarily viewed job descriptions as a compliance exercise, focusing on regulatory compliance (ADA or EEOC in the US, for example), job analysis and benchmarking key jobs for compensation purposes. As HCM technology evolves and the walls around HR become more transparent, HR organizations are looking at new ways that a consistent, well-structured job description can aid both talent management processes and employee engagement as well. SAPinsider recently sat down with HRIZONS President & CEO, Jim Newman, to discuss job descriptions and how HRIZONS’ JDMS solution is helping SAP SuccessFactors customers properly govern and manage the creation, the maintenance, the validation, the compliance of job descriptions.

In an era of increased integration between applications, job descriptions are a bit of an anachronism for many companies. They contain valuable content about the job, its requirements, and how it aligns with internal policies, but they often end up being created manually, stored apart from HCM and talent management systems, and containing inaccuracies that may be non-compliant, may impact the job holder or even a recruiter’s ability to source the proper talent.

It was these inconsistencies in how job descriptions are created and maintained, along with a forward-thinking vision of a more integrated, job content quality focused, that led HRIZONS to develop JDMS several years ago. When developing JDMS, Newman says he set out to see how a job description library could be efficiently created and maintained while integrating the job content to HR systems to improve HR programs while making job descriptions more transparent and available to employees and managers.

Standardization, Compliance, and Efficiency

According to Jim Newman, JDMS was designed to help customers create more standardized and efficient job descriptions. “We set out to provide customers with a solution that enables them to properly govern and manage the creation, maintenance, validation, and compliance of their job descriptions,” he said. A large part of understanding how to improve job descriptions is the understanding the needs of the various stakeholders across the HR organization. For example, HR and legal are very interested in compliance, compensation wants consistent descriptions they can use to benchmark key jobs and pay structures, recruiters want accurate job descriptions that can be easily converted to job ads to attract the right candidates, and employees want clear job specific responsibilities so they understand how they will be measured.

By synching job content with SAP SuccessFactors, JDMS helps to not only standardize job descriptions across the organization but also eliminates the need for siloed job description libraries that can reduce compliance or increase risk. In the end, the value of standardized, accurate job descriptions can be measured by HR organizations in terms of efficiency (cost/time savings) and engagement (employee satisfaction and increased understanding of job expectations). One HRIZONS customer in the financial services industry who chose JDMS to replace a soon-to-be decommissioned job description library measured the impact of the solution in both time savings and compliance savings. For this 9,000-employee organization, measurable annual time efficiencies related to JDMS are estimated at $225,000 and compliance risk has been greatly reduced.

What Does This Mean for SAPinsiders?

When designed, managed, and governed properly, a fully integrated set of job descriptions can improve an organization’s ability to make better hires, increase employee retention, and make performance evaluation processes more transparent. What steps should HR organizations take when looking to standardize or improve their existing job description libraries and processes?

  • Synchronize your job description content with your SAP SuccessFactors platform. HRIZONS’ JDMS solution integrates with the SAP SuccessFactors suite, including Employee Central. This ensures data consistency and adherence to key job data such as the job code, titles, and other core job attributes such as FLSA status (for US companies).
  • Focus on improving job description governance. Leveraging an integrated job description solution like JDMS can help by incorporating workflows, version controls, and role-based permissions that allow you to protect the integrity of your job data and processes.
  • Standardize your job descriptions across your organization. “Standardization drives better compliance,” said Newman. He added that standardizing job descriptions can help ensure consistency of job data, terminology, and job requirements. This, in turn, can help reduce the risk of inconsistent, partial, or even incorrect job descriptions that might cause unwanted exposure, particularly in more regulated industries, not to mention the efficiencies this creates.
  • Drive better employee engagement by aligning your workforce to job expectations. When there is more visibility into job descriptions across the organization, employees can better understand what’s required of them and how they will be measured.


HRIZONS is an SAP Gold Partner and a two-time Pinnacle Award Winner for SAP SuccessFactors. In addition to its software solutions, HRIZONS is an authorized reseller of SAP SuccessFactors and offers value-add services (consulting, implementation, post go-live and technology). JDMS™ is one of three HRIZONS solutions (along with PAD™ and OrgInsight™) available in the SAP App Center.

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