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HR Technology: Making the Case for Investment

Andrew Wayland

To review the original article click here 11th Sep 2018

The huge value of HR technology is now universally recognised by senior practitioners operating in the sector. Workforce analytics, for example, have the potential to revolutionise talent attraction, performance management and training and development strategies – yet too many HR leaders still struggle to get the buy-in, and financial backing, they need to implement change.

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) latest HR Outlook study, adopting new technology is a top five organisational priority, with around a third (30%) of respondents citing this as a key concern. The same report also found that, within large organisations (10,000+ employees), 70% of HR professionals have a lack of confidence in their HR technology’s ability to flex with the changing needs of the business. Even in the smallest firms (under 50 people), this figure stands at 53%.    

Despite these concerns, it is a widespread phenomenon that HR can be overlooked when it comes to technical innovation. At any one time, it is commonplace for several teams within an organisation to be going through digital transformation – but IT departments have limited resources – and only those with the most solid propositions will get a slice of the pie.  

The secret to overcoming competition for resources lies in learning how to make a case for investment effectively, and that begins by understanding and harnessing the tools which HR has at its disposal.    

It has been quantifiably proven that candidate and employee engagement is intrinsically linked to not only wider brand perception, but also organisational outcomes. When Virgin Media discovered that 18% of rejected candidates were also Virgin Media customers – and that a poor recruitment experience was costing the company £4.4 million per year in cancelled subscriptions – it was able to secure investment to reverse this. However, it was only through analysing available data that the company was able to determine that 6% of unsuccessful applicants cancelled their direct debits. 

While the above example may be extreme, it demonstrates that in order to swing decision makers, there needs to be a solid and demonstrable business case for investment.

 

Any bid should clearly detail the reasons why changes need to be made, what these will look like, how much it will cost and, crucially, the results it will achieve. Anticipated hard benefits should also be outlined. Use units that resonate with your audience, such as work hours, firm percentages and hard cash.

Soft benefits can also be included to help tell a story around the business case. Appeal to the c-suite by emphasising the potential impact on employer brand, access to talent and staff retention – and how strength in these areas generates cost savings.

Focus on how strategic workforce planning correlates with wider business strategy, and so needs to be part of the strategic conversations at board level. It is worth keeping front of mind that senior leaders are not making a technology decision, they’re making a business decision, so in order for your project to be prioritised, it is vital that it is directly affiliated with wider organisational objectives.

According to the CIPD, under a third (29%) of HR leaders believe that their discipline is ‘very aligned’ with the organisation’s priorities. To improve these figures, HR leaders must become ‘multi-lingual’ and learn to speak the language of both business and IT to forge closer alliances with contiguous teams.

Eversheds Sutherland’s HR 2020 Report points out that, while technology can be an important aid in freeing up HR’s time, the function’s skills and approach also need to change in order for HR to be a successful strategic partner to the business. Talent management is integral to organisational outcomes - and we must communicate this in a way that the board understands to maximise the potential of our people through technology.

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