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How Human Resources and Information Technology Together Can Optimize Operations

Business deal failure concept as two businessmen on a road bridge that is breaking down and disconnecting as a failing corporate relationship crisis symbol.
September 9, 2016

Bridging the Gap Between HR and IT

Why the Disconnect?

The functions of Human Resources (HR) and Information Technology (IT) for all businesses have shifted rapidly as the rate of change in technology continues to increase and the functions of HR include far more practice areas than simply hiring and firing. No matter your vertical, the methodology for doing business overall has been completely upended given the prevalence of tools like big data, the majority of communications functions taking place online, and mass digitalization in general. Doing work and managing people simply are not done the same way as in the past, and as a result, a noticeable gap is growing between IT and HR for many organizations.

So, why the divide? Well, the matters for contention between IT and HR vary among organizations, depending on the main objectives of each business unit and the extent to which those objectives do, or do not, align—but there seem to be a few common themes.

To begin with, HR and IT are two different functions, and their objectives can sometimes be contradictory. For example, when mapping out plans for budget allocation and adopting new functionalities, HR is more likely to assess where they’d like to use their dollars based on more employee-focused objectives—such as the cost and usage of employee benefits, as well as demographics in general. But IT’s focus emphasizes the demands of deploying and managing new technology. Is it secure? Is it complex? Does it put the business at risk? Given the persistent risk of data breaches, IT is understandably worried about risk and ease of management.

Ultimately, I think HR and IT are disconnected because of a lack of communication, and the divide exists not because of people making a conscious decision to have one, but because they are really two separate functions. If you look at your HR team as your business partner, you can leverage the talents, tools and experience they have in order to help you better manage your team and employ a team that is cohesive in nature.

A lot of people have the perception that you only go to HR when something bad happens. In reality, HR should be leveraged all the time—when things are going well, and when there’s potentially a problem. Of course, HR is in place to help manage conflict and employee relations, but it should also be leveraged to celebrate successes and readjust the trajectory for progress when employee dynamics may be off track.

On a related note, according to TechTarget, it’s common for IT to feel like HR doesn’t necessarily understand what IT does from a technical perspective, nor do they have an awareness of what is required to fully manage production around-the-clock. This can negatively affect the recruiting process, as well as the ability to properly understand how IT needs to be spending its time.

Lastly, there are a lot of HR processes that could be automated, allowing HR to focus on more strategic initiatives such as managing and recruiting top technical talent and improving communications, but HR can sometimes be hesitant to let go of more laborious processes that are best suited for people.

Bringing HR and IT Together for Better Results

There can certainly be a tendency for HR and IT not to be on the same page, but it doesn’t have to be that way; HR can help IT, and vice versa. It’s all a matter of aligning objectives and improving communications. Here’s the thing—when it comes down to it, HR uses the same systems IT does on a daily basis, so it’s critical that they work together as partners.

  • As noted by the Society For Human Resource Management, a compromise is necessary between HR and IT. Working well in tandem will foster ROI on employee benefits.
  • As a starting point, sitting at the same strategic planning table isn’t a bad idea, from both a recruiting and systems implementations perspective. When both business units openly and continuously communicate their objectives, they know what’s needed from each other and how to foster a supportive environment.
  • Further, if IT feels like HR doesn’t have adequate technical acumen, then either train them, or hire an HR leader with a specialization in IT; they’re out there, and they’re worth having on board. This person will be invaluable when it comes to recruiting, plus they’ll make a good communications liaison when both business units need to communicate.
  • Figure out how new technology can support human resources initiatives together, and work on an implementation plan. When HR sees how many intuitively designed tools and processes are available to streamline some of their more administrative work, they’ll be more willing to put their resources into objectives that better support IT—and IT will feel comfortable with HR’s new investments, because they’ll have made the decision together, so security and ease of management won’t be a looming concern.

HR and IT Working Together Here at Peak 10

At Peak 10, we strive to keep HR and IT in communications at all times, especially being a technology-driven company. We need all of our tech experts to be top-tier and on their game, and we need HR to know how to find them; not to mention, we want to support each other’s initiatives rather than complicate them.

At Peak 10, I leverage our HR team heavily – they help me make the right decisions from a managerial perspective, and make sure I am doing the right thing for the employees. It’s a matter of communications and really seeing your HR team as your partner.

We also recognize that IT employees require their own ecosystem of IT training, so our HR team makes a conscious effort to stay on top of education and development initiatives. Technology changes every day, and we want our specialists to stay current with its ongoing evolution.

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About Peak 10

"Our values are the foundation for everything we do at Peak 10, and are ultimately what enable us to earn our customers' business and their trust."
David H. Jones,
Board Member, Peak 10 + ViaWest