Do you have an HR tech wreck?

How to frame your HR tech strategy

Posted by Chris Havrilla on November 22, 2019.

Many HR organizations acquired their technology stack gradually, as a function of new business, new leaders, and new key initiatives. As such, it’s common to find that an organization’s HR tech stack is a “wreck” of different systems, with a maze of applications, workarounds, spreadsheets, reports, and decks that don’t align with one another. It’s rarely planned, integrated, consolidated, or optimized. In many cases, it’s “owned” by different groups. In such a scenario, the care and feeding of this technology, along with tech- and data-heavy transactions, constitute as much work as the work of service delivery.

These issues are particularly surprising when you consider that 74 percent of survey respondents in Deloitte’s 2019 Global Human Capital Trends report cited HR technology as important or very important.1 Organizations have spent billions of dollars on new cloud platforms to make HR systems more simplified, personalized, and data-driven. Yet, 65 percent of respondents reported that their technology is inadequate or only fair at achieving its overall objectives. Only 6 percent said their HR technology is excellent.

The challenge is that technology alone cannot solve technology problems. What often doesn’t occur with these tech investments and implementations are the corresponding changes to how people work and how work gets done. Many companies fail to do the complementary transformational design and work—including, but not limited to, redesigning their work, operating model, data architecture, and the human experience.

So, they remain in the morass—with new chaos, challenges, and tech in the way of getting things done. Everything is a challenge—even the simplest request for data or insights. This is where the fear, loathing, and distrust of “everything tech” happens—because technology wasn’t the “silver bullet” after all.

How to Frame an HR Tech Strategy

The scope of this kind of transformation is much larger than the technologies that are implemented. It should be a holistic look at key processes, systems, digital capabilities, and data through the lens of the workforce experience. Many organizations have made progress in their digital transformation process by implementing cloud-based HR systems that have helped them begin to address HR’s messy back office. But the 2019 Global Human Capital Trends report also clearly shows that to better support innovation, raise employee productivity, and lower cost, organizations must rethink their HR technology strategy.2

This is where Bersin’s™ first-ever High-Impact Technology Strategy study comes in. We aim to help you on this journey, starting with the publication of a framework that outlines the needs around such a strategy and defines the strategy’s principal components, focus areas, and fundamental elements.

An effective, impactful, and customized HR technology strategy will help an organization:
• Respond to the rapid pace of technological change
• Integrate new tools
• Build a technical architecture that is flexible for future growth

The 2019 Global Human Capital Trends report states that leading today’s social enterprise requires nothing short of full-scale reinvention—foundational change that uses technology at the core.3 How can organizations, particularly the HR function, alter their technology strategy and use it to enable needed change? They can do so by designing a compelling digital worker experience to help:
• Increase workforce collaboration
• Improve HR service delivery
• Enhance productivity

And then, by integrating robotics, cognitive automation, and artificial intelligence with HR technology, this can result in:
• Transparent data
• An efficient workforce experience
• Flexibility and automation in processes
• Reduction in costs

It is possible to transform your “HR tech wreck” into a useful technology architecture that supports HR, business leaders, and management, but it’s a journey. Along the way, you need to know and understand:
• Where you are (current state)
• Where you want to be (future state)
• What the desired outcomes are
• Why and how HR technology aligns to your functional and business goals
• And, most importantly, how that technology removes pain points and makes a positive impact

For all of this to happen, organizations must remember that technology alone won’t address their problems, challenges, and opportunities. It starts with the voice of the customer and understanding stakeholder needs, and then addressing them through defined strategic goals. Done in this fashion, the result won’t likely be the impact that we would have traditionally seen: more work for people with little to no gain and, at times, even more issues.

The right journey focuses not on IT program management but on keeping your eyes on the prize—creating real value for the organization and its workforce, candidates, partners, suppliers/vendors, and customers. It will include process excellence—identifying optimization opportunities to increase efficiency and standardization to determine how HR will deliver on the human experience vision. At that point, an organization can decide on ways to add to or consolidate, decrease, or optimize existing capabilities through a forward-thinking HR technology portfolio that helps to enable, automate, and augment the work, not be the work.

Your Journey, and the Target of Your Strategy, Is Unique

While there is no single HR technology strategy that will work for every organization—as each organization is different—our High-Impact Technology Strategy Framework can help HR, IT, and business leaders clarify the objectives, or the target, of their technology strategy as a starting point. The framework can help these leaders design a method for hitting this target by defining the principal components of a technology strategy and explaining the important details within each individual component for a cohesive and complete approach. The framework is an important reminder for organizations to consider any dimensions that should be assessed and considered to achieve those outcomes.

Bersin members can access the Interactive Technology Strategy Framework by clicking this link

Chris Havrilla is a vice president and the HR technology and solution provider research leader at BersinTM, Deloitte Consulting LLP.

1Leading the Social Enterprise: Reinvent with a human focus, 2019 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends, Deloitte Insights, 2019.
2Leading the Social Enterprise: Reinvent with a human focus, 2019 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends, Deloitte Insights, 2019.
3Leading the Social Enterprise: Reinvent with a human focus, 2019 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends, Deloitte Insights, 2019.

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