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    Entries in IT HR (2)


    HR and IT - Part 2: Does HR need IT?

    Last week the Creative Chaos Consultant guest blogged on the importance of the relationship between HR and IT, arguing that an effective partnership between the two departments is critical for long-term success and effectiveness.  And traditionally HR Technology projects have relied on this inter-departmental collaboration for many, many initiatives.Flickr- Bigarnex

    Historically, HR Technology implementations followed a fairly common or consistent process. The HR leadership identified a business process or function it wanted to automate or enhance, the IT department was engaged and consulted in the RFP and vendor evaluation process, and once software was selected the IT staff would be responsible for installing and maintaining the new software. This installed software would then become just another part of the corporate systems portfolio that IT was called upon to support and manage.

    But today HR Technology solutions that support traditional 'Talent Management' processes are primarily deployed in the Software as a Service (SaaS) model, (Taleo, Halogen, SuccessFactors , etc.). And there is a seemingly endless supply of either free or relatively low cost solutions available for internal collaboration and communication, that organizations and HR departments are increasingly evaluating and implementing. These platforms ranging from internal micro-blogging (Yammer), to wikis (like PbWorks or Socialtext), and activity steams (Socialcast) and almost always deployed in the SaaS model.  And on the surface, software solutions deployed in this manner, do not require significant IT involvement.

    For example, I wonder how many organizations that have experimented with Yammer, have actually involved the IT department at all?  Signing up for Yammer is free, no specific software is needed, the solution is hosted by the vendor, and no integration is necessarily needed between Yammer and any other legacy enterprise systems. Similar arguments could be made for numerous other collaboration platforms, as well as some of the Talent Management systems that support functions like Performance Management or Compensation Planning.

    Many organizations like to test these solutions in a 'pilot' manner, with a small group or department as kind of a proof-of-concept focus group.  Testing with pilot groups normally avoids internal IT involvement. User accounts, log in information, and 'core' HR data can often be manually created (or re-created) in the new solution, as the number of pilot users is typically kept to a manageable level. The lack of technical requirements for integrating or interfacing data to these new solutions can lead to IT being left out of at least the initial planning and testing of the new software.

    So with the increasing ease and ability of HR departments to select, test, and deploy important new functionalities without significant involvement of corporate IT, does this mean that HR does not truly 'need' IT as much as in the past? 

    Certainly in larger organizations, even solutions offered via SaaS and hosted by the vendor typically need some integration with enterprise directories for user authentication and possibly with the core HRMS system to pass important information like the organizational and supervisory hierarchy. These efforts by definition are the domain of IT.  HR departments certainly will continue to rely on them for these important activities.

    But the changing nature of software licensing and delivery itself is naturally changing the ways that the internal dynamic between HR and IT will function. I expect that IT will be confronted with more and more instances of HR (and certainly other business groups) experimenting and deploying software solutions without IT's knowledge. The key question for HR will be just how early and to what extent to involve IT in these activities. 

    I agreee with the Creative Chaos Consultant in that HR and IT need an effective partnership, but the changing nature of software deployment and the sheer speed that most organizations need to see positive results from new projects are forever changing the dynamic between the two groups.


    Guest Post - HR and IT, Part One

    Note - This guest post is from the Creative Chaos Consultant, a 20 year retail professional and HR practitioner. He currently works for a major fashion retailer with operations in more than a dozen countries. His focus is primarily on employee relations, compensation practices, change management, and compliance.

    In this post, the Creative Chaos Consultant examines the relationship between HR and IT and offers some observations on how to enhance the partnership.  In Part Two, I will examine some of the current trends in this dynamic, particularly the issue of HR or the organization side-stepping IT in the introduction of new technologies.


    Aside from HR no other department gets more of a bad rap than IT. Blaming them for the bad day you're having is the game that everyone loves to play. Who else gets more angry phone calls and e-mails when the following happens:

    That's right, it's IT.

    That's a big mistake to make, especially amongst us HR professionals. For one thing our roles tend to be more similar than not. The bulk of responsibility that IT and HR handles is administrative or tactical (although that's changing). Oftentimes both groups work without having enough resources. They don't always get the respect they deserve. And of course, they both utilize technology to get their respective jobs done.

    Second, IT has one major characteristic (and advantage in my opinion) that HR lacks-they speak their own language. The field is a technical one at its core so the terminology reflects this. This works to standardize processes and ensure smoother operations. And while some terms have become more common, most of them are unique to the field. This is an advantage because it means that you have to work with them. This is a position that a lot of HR folks wish they were in. However, this adds to the frustration that people can have about IT, especially when things aren't working right.

    Third, and most importantly, if the IT department doesn't support an initiative, it doesn't get done. Remember that fancy HRIS you want? IT plays a crucial part in the vendor selection process. If IT says no (for example, the organization can't support the hardware/software requirements) then you can't have it. They help to define what tools an organization uses. This, in turn, defines the organization's strengths and weaknesses.

    HR pros must develop stronger partnerships with their IT brothers and sisters. This would help serve to bridge misunderstandings, get crucial projects supported, and lessen the frustrations that people may have with both groups. And the first step of the process is to understand the language of IT. With that, I know that  Steve Boese reviews most of the key tech-related terms that every HR professional should know in his HR Technology class, and it is certainly an essential first step in the Tech education of an HR Professional.