by Sarah K. White

How to get IT and HR on the same page

Oct 26, 2016
CareersIT LeadershipIT Skills

If your company views HR and IT as two separate departments, it might be time to reevaluate your thinking.

Digital transformation has eliminated a lot of the daily grunt work associated with the human resources role. Perry Oostdam, co-founder and CEO of Recruitee says that HR used to be a department bogged down by paperwork, but the automation of things like payroll, salary records and benefits has taken away much of the mundane work, and freed up HR pros to focus on more strategic initiatives and analytics.

“The productivity and efficiency brought by technology are undeniable. What is even more important is that technology gives HR department the power to innovate. Instead of spending the whole day maintaining bits and pieces of data on piles of papers, HR now has the time and tools needed to optimize and reinvent the process,” he says.

However, as more tech enters the door, HR pros will need to evaluate their relationships with the IT department. Oostdam says that for many companies, there has traditionally been underlying resistance between the two departments, but that the growing focus on digital transformation is quickly changing that outdated attitude.

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Finding HR software requires collaboration

There are so many HR platforms on the market that it can be overwhelming to find the right one, but IT can help HR departments sort through and identify the best tools available. They can also ensure smooth deployment and help organize training to get everyone up to speed on how to best utilize the latest HR software.

“More and more, we’re seeing HR departments play a larger role in organizational efficiency, so it’s crucial to have the right technology to drive it,” says Kris Duggan, CEO of BetterWorks.

Just like IT has to stay fluid in order to keep on top of constantly evolving technologies, so does HR. Duggan says HR and IT are similarly focused on “the trend of what’s happening between people and technology.” And as people are more adept at day-to-day technology, they are growing to expect the same type of convenience at work.

But this type of collaboration has to start at the top. If the CIO and chief HR officer (CHRO) have a strong relationship and open communication, it will trickle down throughout the department, according to Gordon Laverock, U.S. managing partner of Presence of IT, a global consulting firm that focuses on the HR industry.

A strong relationship between the CIO and CHRO will not only encourage IT and HR workers to collaborate, but it will help develop best practices around technology for the entire organization. Every department, from marketing to finance, relies on new and innovative software and hardware — but not every department understands the implications of implementing new technology. Since IT and HR are two departments that deal heavily with sensitive data, these executives can work to create guidelines that will help inform best practices for every department looking to adopt new digital strategies moving forward.

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“Creating a governance structure that not only focuses on the technology evaluation and implementation phases but also establishes ongoing governance processes across every part of the organization will engender stronger chances of success,” says Laverock.

HR needs IT security know-how

There are plenty of tools aimed at helping HR professionals, and it makes sense to implement that technology into the workplace, but HR also deals with an enormous amount of highly confidential data. The last thing companies want is healthcare, salary or other sensitive employee data getting into the wrong hands once it’s living in the cloud or on a server. A company could find itself in legal trouble if HR data becomes exploited or lost — and that’s one of the biggest areas where IT can help HR, says Oostdam.

“When you’re talking about protecting private, HR-related information, it’s always best to have IT involved — it’s not a task that the HR department should handle alone. IT is best equipped to assess whether an enterprise software vendor is meeting the security requirements of the company,” says Duggan.

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If your IT and HR departments collaborate only on one thing, it should be security. Working closely with IT is the only way to ensure everyone stays protected; especially since HR arguably deals with even more sensitive information than IT, making security a number one priority.

Buy-in and user experience

Employees expect a certain level of usability with enterprise apps, and HR software is no exception. IT is no stranger to considering user-experience when choosing new software or hardware, so they are more than qualified to guide HR in the right direction to find the most user-friendly options, according to Duggan. Choosing the right HR software can ultimately improve employee satisfaction, engagement, productivity and efficiency, which results in less turnover, wasted time and customer or client dissatisfaction.

Aligning IT and HR boils down to revenue

IT and HR are both fundamental departments in every business and a lot of what they do directly impacts the bottom line of the company. If HR can evaluate engagement and happiness, they can ensure the workforce stays motivated and reduce turnover. For IT, if they can get the right tools into the hands of the employees, they’ll likely become more productive and efficient at their jobs.

“The modern relationship between HR and IT should focus on the employee experience that both departments want to deliver. Instead of deploying an HR program in a silo, do it in an integrated fashion. Employees are interacting with various tools and technologies throughout their day, so the key is for HR and IT to integrate an HR program into the organization’s current technology stack,” says Duggan.

Happy employees and more efficiency boils down to better profits and more consistency throughout the organization. “By combining a CIO’s 50,000-foot view in designing, deploying and maintaining an enterprise-class solution with HR’s granular workforce understanding, they can cultivate more effective collaboration and drive greater value to the business,” says Laverock.