Buckling under the pressure?

This article is originally published in the HRD.

Research from Deloitte indicates that 56% of HR leaders are being pushed to take on a larger role in driving their organizations toward digital transformation.

It’s something Neil Baker, director of people & culture at law firm Cooper Grace Ward, has witnessed firsthand. In his view, the number one challenge facing HR professionals is technological change and the impact that’s having on virtually every aspect of business and life.

“The challenge also lies in executing that strategy while remaining flexible enough to deal with the ongoing changes that we’re going to face and be able to maintain and engage workforce using whatever technology is available to assist that workforce to deliver the outcomes we need,” he said.

However, Michael Gretczko, Deloitte’s HR transformation principal and general manager of ConnectMe, said HR leaders who aren’t as versed in digitalization shouldn’t feel pressured to instill this transformation on their own.

“Digital HR is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’ proposition,” Gretczko told HRTechNews. “It has become essential for innovation and for keeping employees engaged in their organizational mission and careers. HR professionals have an opportunity to lead their organization’s digital transformation by assembling interdisciplinary teams that include not only HR and IT, but also sales, finance, customer service and others that are capable of leveraging the specialized expertise of their workforce to redefine the employee experience.”

He added that most large HR departments would have internal IT specialists, and many also have dedicated digital transformation offices or have placed HR members in leadership roles on their corporate digital transformation teams.

“Coming from Bersin by Deloitte’s research, 51 percent of high-impact HR organizations are encouraging collaboration with other organizational units such as IT and finance, and are more likely to work cross-functionally,” Gretczko said.

Alec Bashinksy, Deloitte’s CHRO Asia Pacific Region, has been heavily involved in his organization’s shift from Oracle to SuccessFactors. He said that critical to that project’s success was getting the right stakeholders involved.

“I set up a steering committee which encompassed finance, IT, HR with my own project lead. We met once a month in the early days of the project as we did up a plan of attack. Then I had a catch-up once a week with my direct report who ran this particular project,” he told HRTechNews.

“I’m actively involved for two reasons. Firstly, to see how we are tracking. I want to make sure what we’re looking to do is being delivered or can be delivered. Secondly, there’s an education piece. If I understand where the changes are occurring, I can sit with the executive team and say ‘this is where the impact of this particular rollout will impact in your business.’ The more you involve that senior level, the smoother things will run.”

Gretczko has seen instances where the wrong stakeholders have been involved in HR tech decisions, but he warns that the success of digital transformation often depends more on proper change management than on the technology itself.

“Poorly designed processes, and ignoring or undervaluing stakeholder input, will inevitably lead to low adoption rates. It’s a process that compounds itself, making the next project that much more difficult to execute,” he said. “That’s why it’s essential to involve individuals from across the organization who are willing to champion transformation initiatives.”

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