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HR needs the CIO - a new law of attraction

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21st May 2015
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HR is just one example of the major business functions that is consuming more IT bandwidth from the CIO as it becomes increasingly reliant on technology to improve the way that it functions. This technology can take multiple forms, including an HR solution to track employees’ performance, an e-learning platform for training initiatives or an HR analytics platform to monitor workforce productivity.

However, for HR to continue being successful in delivering more impactful services to the business in the long-term, it will become imperative to develop a closer working relationship with the CIO. Almost two thirds of HR leaders believe a closer alignment with IT will be vital in realising their department's ideas, but just 12% currently work closely with their CIO.

Although challenges exist, the potential is great: IT can use its deep domain knowledge and a bevy of cloud and big data tools to manage business services for HR better than ever.

To get ahead, here are five areas that the CIO and HR director can collaborate on to deliver greater value to the business.

Ultimately, when HR and IT work together, the new bonds can create mutually-beneficial outcomes. 

1. Stop the misuse of email in HR - a big source of pain for organisations is one of the most common practices - using email for requests. Workflow processes in email remain unstructured, invisible and unmanaged. HR service requests come from across a company and span a huge range of queries - from onboarding for new employees to holiday requests – and email is far from an efficient tool to process everything. However, if you can build custom apps around processes for HR, from the initial request to approvals and fulfillment, you can enhance - and automate - practically any business process in HR. This also offers the IT team an opportunity to align workflows onto a single management system that delivers a bird’s eye view of operations.

2. Expand self-service for employee self-reliance - today's digital natives have grown-up with an inherent understanding of technology. They use it to quickly get what they need, through self-service tools that are user-friendly and high speed. IT teams can model that efficiency for HR departments by launching easy-to-navigate service catalogues for employees. Some people call this self-service but more often I see it as self-reliance. This ensures employees have 24/7 access to areas including HR benefits, appraisal forms or payroll details. Building a comprehensive service catalogue can help cater to different needs and provide users with a one-stop-shop for HR services.

3. Limit shadow IT by mentoring the business on a strong service culture - HR wants to deliver a strong internal service experience to employees but many lack the tech know how to make it happen. As a result, HR teams may be tempted to turn to cloud-based systems and bypass IT altogether. By fostering a closer relationship with the HR director, it’s possible for CIOs to mentor HR teams on the ‘how-to’ and help everyone at the company become more efficient. To facilitate this, HR needs to share their pain points as a first step and get behind the IT department by cultivating ‘citizen developers’ within the business that can shepherd tech projects and determine what will be a success or failure. Ultimately, the more IT can influence HR, the fewer shadow IT projects they’ll be wrangling later in the year as unknown technology projects start to appear.

4. Help HR deliver “data-driven” decisions - one example hardly indicates a trend, but a (data) picture tells a thousand words. If the CIO can help drive initiatives to move unstructured email and phone requests into structured ones, then HR can start to glean greater insight into its operations. This ability to track case management processes can provide actionable insight. For example, if HR can see that a large percentage of employees are asking questions about employee benefits, then it can promote that information prominently on a portal to pre-empt future inquiries.

5. Move off the HR treadmill and innovate - even though most companies tout innovation, most HR teams will tell you that the majority of their time is dedicated to tasks that “just keep the lights on.” If IT can automate mundane, repeatable tasks for the HR department, then it will deliver one of the most valuable services to HR – more time to invest in things like talent development or recruitment initiatives. CIOs should ask themselves how they could impact the business if HR colleagues got 10% of their time back, thanks to IT?

As HR departments seek to automate routine admin tasks to focus on strategic initiatives, successful organisations will find that there is a new law of attraction for CIOs and HR. In the long term, greater collaboration between the two divisions will help booster employee engagement and save the organisation time and money. Ultimately, when HR and IT work together, the new bonds can create mutually-beneficial outcomes. 

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