We are living in a world where, for the first time, consumers have better technology than businesses.More people are using technology to do everyday tasks in real time. We have access to data and information to make intelligent decisions in ways we have never had before. And, we are living in a world where employees, managers, applicants and executives have expectations for better technology to help them do their jobs.
We have the best job in the world, and we have an opportunity like never before; now is our time to act. So, the question becomes, “Where do we start?”
Many in the HR and workforce technology space are used to working against timelines that are imposed on them by business cycles, such as: “Performance reviews always happen at this time” or “Our annual merit process must start on this date.” When you dig into these statements, the only reason these dates and deadlines exist is because work has always been done that way. I would propose two steps that we all should take to seize the opportunity sitting at our doorsteps.
First, take some time to truly reimagine your business goals and understand what outcomes your organization is trying to achieve by deploying technology. These should not only be on a high level as lofty marketing goals; these should be measurable goals that are achieved on day one when the technology is deployed, and which produce data via the reporting and analytical tools provided by the technology.
Yes, I am saying that analytics and reporting should come first, not later, and must be thought through before technology is configured and deployed. Too often, organizations make decisions about a new piece of technology, get through the procurement process and move into implementation mode without ensuring the configuration of the technology will achieve these goals in phase one, not phase “later.”
It is much better to take the time upfront to reimagine and rethink your goals and objectives for a solution and make sure it is the business’ goals and objectives, not HR’s, before any configuration begins. It is not easy, but trust me, as someone who has seen thousands of implementations, I can say if you don’t take that time upfront, you spend much more time later trying to recover and may eventually replace the technology when it does not meet expectations.
The second involves testing. I love what happens when I use the word “testing,” because most business people immediately turn their heads and say, “I don’t have to worry about this because it is an IT job to do testing.” This could not be further from the truth, and this attitude causes more rework and re-marketing of solutions than almost any other single cause of failure in the industry.
Testing is not just an IT function, nor is it an end goal in itself. Testing needs to be comprehensive of the entire solution, from how employees and managers access a solution to how they perceive its value; from how they interact with the solution to what outcomes it provides; from how managers and executives use the data from the solution to how the outcomes of interacting with it are communicated back to employees and managers.
Yes, it is an exciting time in our history to leverage technology and do truly innovative, groundbreaking things in HR and talent management, because we have more users and more customers than ever before. By taking the time to put a new lens on our work that focuses from the workforce into HR and talent management instead of from the function out to the workforce, our chances of success increase drastically, and all of our initiatives going forward will be focused on the right things, not just the same old things in a new technology.