Why HR and IT Teams MUST Work Together For New Workplace Technology Success

HR and IT must work together when bringing in new technologyGot a new HR platform or planning on implementing a new technology across your organization? Be aware…The statistics on IT projects are grim.

According to research conducted by McKinsey and the BT Centre for Major Programme Management at the University of Oxford, half of all large IT projects significantly exceed their budgets (on average running 45% over budget and taking 7% longer than predicted).

But scarier still: 17% of large IT projects go so badly that they can threaten the very existence of the company (source).

So how can you avoid becoming a statistic? The answer is that IT needs to work with HR to get the project running smoothly.

Get Employee Buy-In Early

A study done by IBM found the biggest barriers to IT project success were “people factors.”

“The most significant challenges when implementing change projects are people-oriented – topping the list are changing mindsets and corporate culture,” write the authors of the report.

You’ll want to start any project by getting employee buy-in before they even see the solution. This can begin during requirements gathering — meet with the employees likely to be most impacted by any change and discuss what the current processes are and what sticking points exist within those processes.

Then, later on in the process, you can use a pilot program to create end-users willing to champion the project and help with the process of rolling it out to everyone else.

Plan for Backfill Support

Employees often look at new technology as “extra work” — work they just don’t have time for.

You can help alleviate resistance (and reduce your chances of failure) by allotting extra time for that extra work.

There are a few ways to do this:

  1. Plan training and launch dates for the times employees are least busy
  2. Extend deadlines on non-essential projects while getting employees up-to-speed on the new system
  3. Bring in extra help, temporarily, to help maintain the status-quo so employees can focus on learning (and setting up) the new systems.

Ensure You REALLY Understand Your Functional Requirements

In a report from Software Advice on ERP implementation failure, 36% of the cases they examined failed due to functional requirements that were not met.

They lay the blame on a combination of the organization itself, its implementation partners, and the ERP vendor… the organization for not doing its due diligence, the consultants for not understanding the organization’s needs, and the vendor for overhyping their capabilities.

Implementation is not the time to realize a program will not do what you need.

If you’re not sure whether a program will do what you need, find an unbiased 3rd party who can come in and do an audit — looking at your requirements and the system you’re considering — then offer their opinion. This should be someone different from your implementation partner (who obviously has serious skin in the game).

Make sure you have a strong understanding of what you need a technology platform to accomplish, have communicated that thoroughly to any consultants you’re working with or your in-house IT team, and have really verified that the solution you’re considering can do all the things you need it to. Talk to other customers; ask for referrals.

Ask them things like:

  • What do you wish you’d known before implementation?
  • What needs did you have of the system? Why were you unhappy with your previous system?
  • How well are your needs being met now? What problems did you have to overcome to get there?
  • How long was the project supposed to take — and how long did it actually take?

Get IT & HR Working Together Early & Often

At this point, you may be noticing a trend… planning appropriately in advance is critical to successfully implementing new technology. And because it involves technology and people, that means bringing in your IT and HR teams TOGETHER.

IT is likely to point out things that might otherwise go unnoticed — like potential security vulnerabilities — and they’ll be able to help ensure your timelines and your budgets are actually realistic. This is their area of expertise; make sure you consult them as the experts they are. Whether or not the project is directly an HR technology, the HR department needs to be involved to manage the human element and keep employees onside.

Plan for Technology Success

By creating a plan that includes appropriate change management to ensure employee buy-in, support for a temporary increase in workload, verification that your chosen vendor is really the best solution, and establishing a true partnership with your organization’s IT and HR teams you can set yourself up for success.


Author: Melissa Breau

Melissa Breau has spent the last 5+ years at the intersection of business and technology. Today she is the Digital Marketing Specialist at Surety Systems, which provides Enterprise Resource Planning Consulting Services for companies using JD Edwards, Lawson, and Kronos.

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