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A look at how an HR department can get business executives to understand the benefits of HR technology solutions.


The start of a new year is always challenging on an HR department. One minute they’re wrapping up the year-end report and the next, they’re bombarded with requests for training and on-boarding for new hires. The problem is that, while HR is stretched to the limit, executives aren’t supporting them.

According to a recent global survey by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and the Economist Intelligence Unit, only 4% of senior business executives believe their HR function is highly effective in addressing the needs of the business. 96% of execs said that HR needed some, or significant, improvement. But, even though executives see the need for improvement in HR, many are reluctant to support the department with more budget, staff or technology to help them get their job done. Why? For starters, executives are hesitant to let go of money they’ve already invested in poorly-executed solutions or technology that is not working. They’d rather try to fix what isn’t working, than start again. Also, since the previous solution didn’t work, they’re unable to see the benefits of well-executed HR technology.

If HR wants to make a real difference, and get the exec buy-in they need to do their jobs properly, they have to sell HR technology solutions to the Powers That Be.

Here’s how you can do it:

Get the free trial

Most technology providers will offer you a free trial of their software – use it. It’s not a marketing ploy; it will actually allow you to see how the technology works in a real environment. If you like it, and have mastered how it works, set up a meeting with your executive committee to show them how it would work. They’re more likely to agree if they see it in action (provided you can use it without a hitch).

Involve the whole company

Spend some time talking to other departments, finding out if they have any big projects, plans or needs coming up. Can your proposed technology help them at all? If executives see something can benefit more than just one department in the company, they’ll be more excited to sign on the bottom line.

Get user buy-in

If the business’ employees are going to be using the technology, get them to be part of the squad, cheerleading for its implementation. Gather a group of employees, and get them all access to a free trial of the software for a month (or, enough time to truly see its inner workings). Once it’s done, ask them to create a report, give an opinion or even make a presentation outlining what the technology would mean for employees – and use that to help convince the boardroom.

Create an ROI prediction

The biggest worry for executives is that they will lose money. Spend time creating an ROI prediction that outlines what the solution will cost, versus what its financial benefits could be. Will it allow you to develop internal staff more effectively, cutting down on the need to pay for recruitment costs, for example? Go even further by backing up the features with stats; gather figures that show your current shortcomings, and provide numbers on how the tech could fix it. The provider should be able to help with this…

Choose technology that drives business goals
Let’s face it, business heads are going to be more interested in HR technology that helps them drive their business goals. Set up a meeting with the leaders, and find out what the business strategy is for the next five years. Once you know that, find technology that will allow HR to help drive those goals. It will keep your department more focused, and impress the executives enough for them to offer more support in the future.

Get IT involved

Another concern for executives is how the technology will be implemented and integrated into your existing systems. Sit down with IT and explain the HR technology solution to them – and find out how they could make the implementation secure, cost-effective and easy. By the time you meet with the bosses, have an IT solution in place. IT teams are also much happier when they’re consulted on new technology before it’s purchased, so they can make sure you get the best solution for your system.

Allow them to visualise HR data

We keep telling business executives that data can transform their business strategy, but without anything to look at, “data” can sound like an abstract notion with no tangible results. Let those in charge actually visualise the HR data that software can collect. Try an interactive dashboard from data visualization tools such as Tableau, which will allow you to see what data can be collected (how many staff members you have moving retiring in the next five years, for example) simply and clearly.