Cleaning Up the HR House before Moving In New Technology


More and more enterprises know that upgrading their Human Resource (HR) technology is a smart way to get ahead in today’s competitive market, but it isn’t as simple as plugging in a new system and pressing the big red “that was easy” button. In fact, preparing the ground for successful configuration of HR technology may be one of the most important ways to secure a full return on the investment. By “cleaning house” first and identifying opportunities to improve processes throughout the organization, HR leaders can save significant time, effort and cost in the long run. After all, technology is only as good as the processes it automates.

A company that builds inefficient processes into a new self-service technology without improving them first will see only partial benefits from the move. When a manager processes an employee resignation, for example, he or she may have to pick from a drop-down menu describing the reason for the resignation with as many as two dozen choices left over from the old process. Was it for better opportunities or to receive more money? Overwhelmed by the number and redundancy of choices, the manager picks one. Another manager in a similar situation picks another. The information, which is collected and analyzed later to help the company make important talent decisions, is inconclusive and unreliable.

Meanwhile, a company that cleans up its processes before deploying new HR technology can expect improved efficiency that creates a ripple effect across the organization. Whereas an HR employee processing a colleague’s promotion prior to process improvement would have required lots of interaction with the employee’s manager to answer questions about salary increases and titles, he or she instead can now complete the promotion using self-service automated functions. This means the HR employee is free to focus on valuable talent-building questions, such as: is this person the best choice for this promotion or how will we challenge her next? Process improvement and new technology moves HR from handholding to a consultative, talent-building role and raises its game in talent recruitment and retention.

Note: the key to this work is that it is done beforehand; “process procrastination” leads to inopportune project delays, costly setbacks and decreased efficiency. Processes that are not improved ahead of time and are later found to cause specific problems in data collection or decision-making will require inefficient patch fixes or reconfiguration. Not only does automating an inefficient process fail to make it more efficient, the likelihood of rework will drive up the total cost of technology.

Making the most of new HR technology requires three steps: inventorying current HR processes, analyzing them for areas of improvement and making any necessary changes to processes. Read more about how process redesign drives optimal HR technology deployment in this ISG white paper co-authored by my colleague Patti Boggi-Gibbons, First Things First: How to Identify Process Improvement Opportunities before You Deploy Your New HR Technology.

About the author

Deb leads ISG’s Human Resources Technology practice, drawing upon extensive in shared services, outsourcing and HR management to help clients define and implement their HR technology and service delivery strategies. Deb helps enterprises assess the business case for Human Capital Management software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions, understand the capabilities and experience of leading HR SaaS providers and integrators, and formulate and execute effective negotiation strategies for HR SaaS software and implementation. She has authored ISG’s annual survey on HR Technology and Service Delivery Trends since 2014. Deb has 29 years of experience and has been involved in more than 150 HR engagements across HR administration, payroll, benefits, talent acquisition and HR technologies.