Sooner or later, every company will have to start thinking about how to streamline their HR processes – and whether getting an HR system would help them with transforming their practices for the better. Combining the expertise of knowledge of both the HR and IT departments will help you steer the course right from the start.

Yes, IT systems in general must be cost-efficient and provide direct value to the business. On top of that, HR systems must also bring a pleasant user experience to the table and are expected to contribute positively to the overall employee experience. What better way to ensure the HR systems will support both the business and human goals, than close collaboration between the HR and IT users?

Moving closer towards each other

Until just over a decade ago, getting an HR system was, in most cases, really just that: purchasing an HR system. At that time, the focus was heavily on getting functional but separate systems. Integrations were carried out only when necessary – if at all. Teams were mostly concerned with buying systems that suited their particular needs, rather than looking at solutions that would cater to the needs of the entire company.

However, times have changed. Today, most organisations specifically want to find the puzzle piece that seamlessly fits their IT ecosystem and that is easy to integrate with existing systems, thus allowing them to get the most out of their investment. This holistic approach generates better results, but it requires companies to challenge traditional practices, to adjust HR processes and to ensure that the organisation (or its partners) are able to carry out integrations smoothly. Close collaboration between HR and IT is often key to getting these jobs done.

Today, most organisations specifically want to find the puzzle piece that seamlessly fits their IT ecosystem.

New and unforeseen opportunities

In other words, most organisations nowadays realise that it pays off to consider your HR and IT as a combined effort, also in the long term. When purchasing an HR system, planning and building a well-oiled machine from the start pays itself back later. It results in an overall improvement of the employee experience and self-service functions are easier to build on top of a solid structure.

In fact, when HR and IT collaborates and approaches the project as a common one, they often end up finding dimensions and benefits that were not initially anticipated. Unexpected benefits can arise when HR master data is located in the HR system instead of the payroll system. For example, with an HR system, data management can be shared, reporting capabilities expanded, the user experience improved, and the flexibility to integrate with other software is often better than with a more traditional payroll system.

From an IT-perspective, integrating the following interfaces or software with your HR system can open up many new possibilities:

  • Identity Management Systems (eg Active Directory and Okta). The user can be given access to the intranet, selected applications, etc. directly from a place where the HR data is always sure to be up to date: the HR system.
  • Customer-specific master data inventories. HR data can be reported onwards and can also be enriched with data from other sources.
  • BI tools (eg PowerBI, Tableau and Qlikview). Information can be collected from many different sources and converted into relevant, business-friendly reports.
  • IT ticketing systems. Both for problem situations and for equipment and license orders for a new employee, for example. In these types of operations, the benefits multiply as the number of employees increases.
  • SSO (single sign-on). If access control is built on top of HR master data, it becomes invisible to the end user, as there is no need for several passwords or separate logins for different systems.

Opening up the lines of discussion

Perhaps the biggest obstacle in reaping the full benefits of the collaboration between IT & HR is the inability to foresee all the possibilities. Finding (and monetising!) the potential requires opening up the discussion lines between HR and IT and plan the necessary architecture together.

The equation HR + IT really adds up to more than the sum of its parts.

Being able to communicate these benefits forward in the organisation and showing the actual savings a well-planned architecture can give you is crucial. Preparing a solid business case for buying your HR system will get you far. Gathering arguments that show the value from all sides – HR, IT and the end user – really helps your case when presented to the management or other stakeholders guarding the budget.

The equation HR + IT really adds up to more than the sum of its parts. So, I encourage you to boldly open a discussion with each other and see what benefits a collaboration between HR and IT can bring to your own organisation – whether you’re acquiring an HR system or otherwise just thinking about how you can get more out of your IT ecosystem.

"I’m glad that the IT department was involved in the HR system implementation project from the beginning. It allowed us to make adjustments early on.

- Patrick Thörnlund, IT Project Manager at Sabis