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Eleven benefits of a close partnership between HR and IT

Project management, contract review and price negotiation are among the many IT skills that can benefit HR before and after software implementation.

The introduction of cloud-based applications has presented HR with an opportunity to implement new HR systems without...

needing significant technical resources. Nevertheless, a partnership between HR and IT is still a much better approach.

While vendors provide the technical resources needed for configuration changes, your company's IT team can provide valuable input for many other aspects of the implementation. For example, the IT team can document your requirements, review the software's features, evaluate how HR and other departments can use the HR system, negotiate prices, review the contract and assist with implementation tasks.

Let's look more closely at the capabilities IT brings to the table when HR and IT work in close partnership.

Documenting requirements. Documenting the requirements for your application is a critical step in the purchasing process. It clarifies the need for the application and ensures you don't omit important features. Vendors can also use the requirements to determine whether their software meets your needs and to prepare quotes.

Reviewing the feature list. IT understands the language vendors use to explain the technical aspects of their products. With IT's help, HR can select an application that meets requirements and adheres to corporate standards.

Making the most of the HR investment. While the primary purpose of the HR system may be for HR, other departments within the company may also benefit. For example, IT could receive notifications of new hires that need to have network accounts set up. Finance may need to know when requisitions are opened so they can ensure that the money is in the budget. Corporate communications may be able to use the new system to better communicate with employees.

Negotiating the price. The IT department is skilled at negotiating contracts for software and services because of its ongoing software needs. It is familiar with the different pricing models, potential discounts and questions to ask the vendor to ensure HR understands what features and services are included.

Reviewing the contract. While the legal department should review the contract for HR to ensure the company's interests are protected, IT can also review the wording that relates to the software and services the vendor is offering.

Assisting with implementation tasks. In many cases, the HR department is responsible for tasks outside its area of expertise, such as project management, process mapping and data conversion. The IT department often has these skill sets because of the technical projects they run on a regular basis.

HR and IT partnership continues to pay dividends

Partnering with IT is not only valuable when acquiring and implementing software, it also provides many advantages once the application is live.

Ongoing configuration changes. No matter which product you implement, there is always a need to change the configuration. While HR or the vendor may be able to make the changes, it might be more efficient and effective for IT to handle them. For example, performance review forms and workflows are often updated annually to reflect current requirements. Depending on the application, this may involve technical changes that are beyond the HR team's skills.

Explaining technical features of the product. This is also an area where IT can help. Many applications have features that aren't currently used and new features are added on a regular basis. In some cases, understanding the benefits of the features and how they work may be too technical for HR employees.

Knowledge sharing between HR and IT employees. Having HR and IT employees work together on the project can increase their knowledge of each other's fields of expertise. Employees from HR can expand their technical and project management knowledge and employees from IT can benefit by gaining a better understanding of the role HR plays in the company, as well as the department's unique requirements.

Ensuring the success of the implementation. Implementing software is a challenging process, with many well-documented failures. For the project to be a success, HR needs to take advantage of all available resources regardless of the department in which they reside. By including employees from IT, HR is improving the odds of a project being a success and meeting or exceeding its goals.

Developing a mutually beneficial relationship. Finally, showing that you can partner with IT and use their skillset will build a solid foundation for future requests. There is no doubt that HR will require assistance from IT at some point in the future and having them on your side may go a long way.

HR departments have historically been weak when it comes to technical and project management skills, two very important aspects of a software implementation. Therefore, establishing a strong partnership between HR and IT is always a good plan, and one that will pay dividends long after the HR system is live.

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