The changing shape of HR - IT partnership | Deloitte Netherlands


The changing shape of HR - IT partnership

An uneasy partnership that missed the momentum of Cloud HR

In the last 10 years, the use of technology within HR has rapidly increased. HR have worked in a close partnership with IT, who have been instrumental in standing up HR platforms, connecting to the IT landscape and providing technical expertise across a diverse range of IT related topics. That said, in many organisations the status quo is an uneasy partnership between HR and IT when it comes to managing HR technologies and getting the most out of them. Does this sounds familiar to your organization?

We believe that the HR - IT partnership that has existed so far, is destined to come under increasing tension, as trends such as Digital HR, Employee and Human Experience and the desire to self-manage cloud HR technologies take greater hold. Therefore we will introduce a blog mini-series addressing this often discussed partnership. Topics we will explore in this introduction blog:

  • Why the tension in the HR and IT partnership is not new
  • Why many organisations missed the chance to reinvent this partnership during their Cloud HR implementations

In our two future blogs we will explore:

  • Why is now the time for HR to reopen the discussion with IT? The top 5 reasons why this partnership is under more pressure than ever before.
  • Our perspective on the future HR - IT model: How the partnership between HR and IT needs to change. Which capabilities does HR need to prepare for, in order to be ready for the future?

But first, let’s start with understanding how the partnership has evolved over time.

This HR - IT partnership has always been built around the competing priorities of HR and IT…

We often see that, from an HR perspective, unease in the HR - IT partnership is
the result of IT needing to balance development time and capabilities with a
broader set of priorities. Sometimes, for example, in
the case of a vendor managed product, IT is at the mercy of the vendor to
fulfil a change request, which often leads to delays outside of IT’s control. It is notably rare for the unease to be the result of degraded
service quality.

Conversely from an IT perspective, HR can be perceived as running
ahead with technology changes, vendor engagement or contravening enterprise IT frameworks for example; security, infrastructure, network, communications. Another typical shift we see impacting IT is that as HR works to
deliver an improved human experience (formerly ‘employee experience’), they are challenging the boundaries of the HRIT landscape, including the boundaries of cloud-based HR technologies.

…and HR and IT have on the whole compromised to resolve these tensions over time

Of course, deciding who will be on point for HR technology is not a new challenge (we can hear you say – and you’re right). Most HR teams have already addressed their partnership with IT. Most have formed a governance model for managing HRIT, that includes shared decision making with HR to manage change, more often led by IT and still more or less the same as how things were governed 20 years ago. 

Taking into account that cloud-based HR technologies should be ‘business owned’, and the role of IT is being reshaped to strategic advisory on the (HR)IT architectural landscape and delivering integrations, ask yourself the following question: “Is this model still realistic in 2020?”

But wasn’t Cloud HR supposed to put us back in control?

Traditionally, it has not been feasible for (HR) back-office teams outside of IT to perform technical development activities. However, now that HR Cloud applications are (generally) more about configuration than customisation, the barriers to managing change are lower which has introduced the potential for HR to manage more of its own applications. 

Solving this issue was the promise of many Cloud HCM implementations – yet it has failed to translate into reality. Many HR teams have not radically benefited from the agility of being able to rapidly configure new processes or manage change associated with new requirements. This in itself does not render the HR - IT partnership ineffective, but it does raise the call to revise the status-quo way of working, so HR can finally untap the full potential offered by HR Cloud technologies.

This is re-iterated in the Deloitte Human Capital Trends 2019. HR have not seen the agility they were expecting to see – many of our clients are telling us that they are not achieving the end-to-end efficiencies and experience they bought into when they chose to go down the road of cloud-based HR tech. 

Background reading

In this article, we wanted to dial into the challenges we see HRIT teams facing, rather than discuss the HRIT market in general. However, if you are interested into how the market sees cloud HR at the moment, take a look at the Deloitte Human Capital Trends 2019.
Cloud computing has gone mainstream, and organizations have spent millions on new platforms to make HR systems more engaging, personalized, and data-driven. Yet while cloud systems have gone a long way toward integrating the messy back office of HR, they aren’t all that's needed to better support innovation, raise employee productivity, and lower cost.

In the next blog, we will discuss the question: Why is now the time for HR to reopen the discussion?

Until then, thanks for reading!

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