How to Make Friends With IT

Building a lasting partnership with the information technology department may not come naturally. Many employees from IT speak a different language, i.e., “techie,” have different interests, and, in some cases, may spend their weekends playing computer games like “League of Legends.”

But if HR takes the time to get to know IT and learn its lingo and value, the relationship can prove invaluable.

Experts offer the following advice on how to kick things off:

Start with business strategy. Whether a company wants to lower attrition, expand into new markets or reduce overhead, tying a human resources technology project to the strategic goals of business will help IT and HR find alignment, said David Dougherty, vice president of customer experience and business intelligence for The Results Cos., a customer services provider in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
“When you have a common vision, it is easier to work together,” Dougherty said.

Ask for their help. Instead of simply telling IT what the HR function needs from a tech point of view, share the challenge the function is facing and ask for advice, said Bruce Moore, president of corporate services and an IT specialist at Hospital Housekeeping Systems in Austin, Texas.

“When you show the IT team that you value their input, they will return the favor,” Moore said.

Take ownership. If talent leaders want an HR technology service that will actually meet the needs of the function, they will have to take an active role in managing that project, Dougherty said. IT may bring the technology skills to the project, but HR has to drive decision-making around what that technology should do and how people will engage with it.

“HR will be the one using that tool, so they need to take accountability for the results,” Dougherty said. 

Put an analyst on the HR team. A lot of companies are adding business analysts to the HR department or creating an extension group to manage workforce analytics technology while acting as a bridge between HR and IT, said Derek Beebe, director of HR technology at Towers Watson & Co. These analysts can help both teams make decisions about workforce technology and how to use data more effectively.

“As more companies embrace workforce analytics, having analysts on the team is becoming a priority,” Beebe said.

Get educated. Above all, HR should get educated on technology as much as possible, said Scott Klososky, founder of Future Point of View. “If you don’t understand basic workforce technology concepts, you run the risk of becoming obsolete,” he said.

Klososky advises HR professionals to start small, like reading tech blogs and attending tech-focused sessions at HR conferences. “If you invest a little of your own time into learning about the technology that drives your business, it will help you stay relevant and make it easier to communicate with your IT team,” Klososky said.