Overcoming roadblocks when creating an HR systems strategy

It’s increasingly imperative for HR to have a technology systems strategy for success—but strategic planning cannot be relegated to a once-a-year function.

According to Stacey Harris, chief research officer and managing partner of Sapient Insights Group, HR leaders need to rethink how frequently they raise the issue with business leaders. 

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“How do you take that from a one-time conversation to an ongoing conversation?” she asked the audience at Monday’s HR Technology Conference work session, “How to Build an Adaptable HR Systems Strategy: A Workshop Focused on Outcomes.” In an 8:30 a.m. keynote session Thursday, Harris will exclusively debut the findings of the Sapient Insights 25th annual HR Systems Survey.

An incoherent HR systems strategy could create roadblocks to a successful tech implementation and lead to HR leaders deploying pricey tools that could be rejected by employees, Harris cautioned. The number of HR technology systems companies are using is on the rise, she noted, but “these solutions are often not connected to the work of [the] organization.” 

To create a strategy focused on the tools an organization truly needs, HR leaders need to know how their organizations make money and what internal and external factors can impact their bottom line. “Everyone here knows human resources and technology but you should know your business,” Harris said. “What are [the employer’s] challenges? You need to know how HR and system strategy fits within the overall business strategy.”

And, when discussing budgets for new systems in the annual planning sessions, be prepared to make your case for how the HR tools will impact the broader strategy. “My finance, marketing and business operations partners didn’t wait [for the annual meeting] to make their requests. They knew the numbers before anyone told them the goals for the year,” she said. She added that business goals change every six months in the current business climate, so it’s best to keep re-evaluating.

Audience members of the work session shared their own roadblocks when serving their employees with new HR solutions. One participant from Nigeria said that the population in her country is mostly Generation Z “and they don’t do paper,” she said, referring to their preference to view information primarily on mobile phones. “And the older workers don’t do technology,” she added. 

Competing priorities like these can create additional roadblocks when it comes to designing HR system strategy, said another audience member. Harris agreed. 

“As a business leader, I have to decide who gets those resources,” Harris said. “Everyone has competing priorities.” 

So, how can HR leaders tear down the roadblocks and create a successful HR technology systems strategy? How about lunch?

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“Take your IT, finance, marketing and legal colleagues out to lunch and get to know what they are working on and about their job on a day-to-day business,” said Harris. “Understanding how they do their work and getting them to understand you is important.”

Education could mitigate roadblocks as well, suggested Teri Zipper, CEO and managing partner for Sapient Insights Group. She recommended that HR leaders looking to master HR technology strategy need to set aside 30 minutes each week to learn about the new advances taking place in the field of HR technology. 

“You have to ask yourself and your team, ‘Am I informed? Are we ready for the new changes taking place now and the new issues that are coming?’ ” said Zipper.

“We all have 30 minutes, right?” she asked the crowd.

Phil Albinus
Phil Albinus is the former HR Tech Editor for HRE. He has been covering personal and business technology for 25 years and has served as editor and executive editor for a number of financial services, trading technology and employee benefits titles. He is a graduate of SUNY New Paltz and lives in the Hudson Valley with his audiologist wife and three adult children.