HR Indaba Africa 2018: Aspiration Talent Software offers a unique approach to capability development

We speak to Aspiration Software founder and director Brian Fenton who is an acknowledged expert in the field of HR and Talent development with over 30 years' experience. 

With only days left before the inaugural HR Indaba, the anticipation from partners is palpable. In this article, we speak to Brian Fenton, director of Aspiration Talent Software, about why he is looking forward to the event.

What does Aspiration Talent Software do, how long has it been around and what was the reason for starting the company?

We provide performance and talent management software aimed at creating a culture of high performance and capability. Our modules include Performance Management, 360 Review, on-the-job capability management, training and succession management. Our capability development approach is a unique process-plus-software implementation that is used in several high profile South African companies such as Distell, ABInBev and Engen to develop their talent. We have been around since 1999 and, over time, have developed a state-of-the-art cloud-hosted software solution for organisations to manage and develop their human capital more efficiently. 

How do you differentiate yourselves from your competition?

We put a lot of focus on the user-friendliness of our platform and our price competitiveness. Our target market primarily comprises organisations within the 100-1000 employee range, so although we have several large corporate clients our focus is on small to mid-sized companies. We are small compared to the large ERP companies that market similar solutions. This makes us agile and allows us to add functionality much faster than those larger software companies. We are also able to offer customisation if we feel that the enhancements will benefit all our clients

I'll give you an example: A while ago, one of our clients suggested that we develop a specific report for them that we hadn't thought of before but was nevertheless a very good idea; and within three weeks we had that report up and running for all our clients. 

Why have you signed up for the HR Indaba and what should attendees look forward to seeing from you at the event?

We are excited about fact that the HR Indaba provides us with a very good opportunity to build our brand in the marketplace. The delegate pricing structure of this event encourages much larger participation than most of the other HR, Talent and HR Tech conferences do. The expected large attendance gives us an excellent opportunity to showcase our products to a much larger audience. We also believe that the conference topics will attract good decision makers and will provide a very good opportunity for them to hear what thought leaders are saying about what is happening in the profession. This will also help us gear our own business for the future and enable us to better meet our clients' needs.

What would you say is the biggest challenge facing the HR profession?

One of the biggest challenges is that there is not enough leverage for developing people in Africa. I feel that we need to put a lot more effort into getting people upskilled and we need to improve engagement when it comes to things like employee performance.  And that's where the technology element comes into play because it can provide line managers with the ability to engage with their direct reports on matters of performance and capability development. That has a significant effect from a resource leverage point of view because now, instead of one trainer you can have, say 40 trainers. Secondly, software drives employee engagement whereby managers are able to constantly and consistently talk to their reports about the work and how to get it done properly. 

HR has a huge challenge in getting line managers to understand and accept their accountability for key people management functions such as on-going performance management, coaching and capability building and career management and retention. 

Lastly, I think that the increasing focus on cost-cutting is a big challenge for HR. The economic environment has caused many companies to restructure and, in some cases, retrench many of their employees. It cannot be stressed enough how tough this is on the HR divisions of companies. HR is tasked with the challenge of ensuring effective people engagement and performance with increasingly limited resources. HR is expected to partner effectively with Line Management in the delivery of company strategy, performance and key objectives so the pressure is on for HR to justify their existence.