STRATEGIC TALENT MANAGEMENT BLOG

Human Resources Vision, Strategy and Execution: We’re with you all the way.

Today’s global workforce is expansive,but companies are finding that talent with the skills they need are in high demand. That means competing for talent requires the utmost in awareness for finding great workers, and maximum responsiveness for ensuring candidate and employee satisfaction. Technology is a big part of the equation.

From tools to augment applicant tracking systems to larger ERP platforms, innovative and flexible solutions are now being implemented that bring talent processes together across the enterprise. But here’s the challenge: a talent technology solution is only as good as its ability to make life better for every user and stakeholder, right out of the gate.

So, what stands between a great technology platform and an implementation that puts everyone on edge? Years of experience have taught me a simple, yet oddly elusive, answer: avoid avoidable problems.

In talent and business, you have to fight the fires that are burning right now. Talent decision-makers struggle with new issues every day as they navigate the demands of leadership, evolving technologies, and the competitive market for scarce talent.

The conditions of the present also put pressure on larger efforts that should be focused on the future. For example, initiatives to implement new HR technologies or processes tend to focus on the needs and conditions of the present, even when known events in the near future would demand re-work soon after go-live. This flawed approach could be called, “present-tense planning.”

Whether you’re implementing an applicant tracking system, managing changes in organizational structure or geography, or supporting a corporate initiative, getting stuck in the present can be risky. With a technology implementation, you may find yourself deploying a system that needs to be changed, expanded or updated immediately after go-live — an expensive prospect.

In my previous post, I’d laid out the scenario many of us find ourselves in: wrestling with difficult initiatives or technology implementations, complicated projects with challenges that take on a life of their own. With full disclosure, I am a successful “third-party” consultant / project manager (PM) by profession, and I have years of previous practitioner experience.

In my consulting career, I’ve heard clients repeatedly look back and reflect on the value they achieved in bringing in an outside senior project / program manager early in their technology implementation projects. At the same time, many companies who haven’t been through the implementation process may still be considering the pros and cons of external PM support.  Why not just manage it internally?

Like most HR and business decision-makers, you’ve probably wrestled with difficult initiatives or technology implementations. These are complicated projects with challenges that take on a life of their own. At some point, you or someone on your team will start to wonder why people are being so difficult. You long for the project to be over so you can focus on your day job. Maybe you find yourself relying on hope as part of your strategy for success!

Have you ever heard your project manager (PM) say… “Gosh. Managing that project was much easier than I expected. It didn’t distract me from my regular job at all.”

As I’m sure everyone knows, President Trump signed an executive order banning the entry of nationals from seven countries into the U.S. for 90 days, along with other suspensions.  The action stirred loud voices on both sides of the issue. The opposition has been widespread and loud, but many polls show that more people support the action, even if they do so more quietly. Regardless of the pros and cons of the action, there is one point on which nearly everyone can agree: the way the order was rolled-out was problematic. In examining these problems, there are valuable lessons about change management.

Simplicity.  It’s a tenet embraced in both business and life, but the practicalities of a complicated world can get in the way. In the realm of talent management strategy and technology, I have struggled with this conflict first hand when helping companies manage a complex function or project in the simplest way possible. Yet often the real goal of simplicity gets lost.

Technology implementations have been a fundamental part of business for many years. By now, you would think companies would have figured out how to do them right, every time. Or at least how not to do them wrong.  But they haven’t. Why? Is there a way to make sure your technology investment, talent technology in particular, delivers its bang for the buck?

 

You’re standing in front of the conference room. The people at the table are listening, mostly.  Sometimes they glance at their phones or sip at their coffee. You’re here to make a technology recommendation. Get this right, and you’ll have the budget for that long overdue HR technology initiative.  Get this “not quite right,” and they’ll thank you for your thoughts and promise to “keep this as an option for further consideration moving forward.” 

From clients embarking on technology implementations, we often hear the expectation of how the implementation will “transform” the organization. Using HR as an example, these expectations may be for HR to enhance its tactical level of service, and/or to enable more effective contributions at a strategic level. However, declaring that an implementation is actually a transformation does not make it so!