Lessons From SHRM Chicago: The 3 Big Misnomers About HR Technology

One of the big things that hits you right across the face when attending SHRM’s national conference is all the technology that is being peddled at the event.

Hundreds of companies are all there competing for your HR dollar on how they are going to make your HR life easier. The problem is, I don’t really get what these companies really do! There’s no real differentiation amongst any of them, and I actually follow the industry.

It seems like the current popular ones like Ultimate Software, SilkRoad and Halogen can do everything! I mean everything but actually “do’”HR.

Changing HR with changing technology

That’s the trick right? You get sold on the fact that “this” software is going to change how you “do” HR forever, but you still have to “do” HR. It will definitely change how you do HR, no doubt.

The problem is, of the thousands of HR Pros who are attending SHRM this week, 99.9 percent couldn’t tell you what one of these companies does from the next. They all claim to be able to solve an HR issue that ails you.

shrm_2013That’s one of the biggest issues I see with most of the all-in-one suites. If you have one problem – let’s say it’s succession planning – you really have to convert everything over to their entire platform because they have work flow that integrated.

That isn’t a bad thing, but put on your work boots, because you’re about to take on a gigantic project and change your entire way of doing HR to solve that one problem you were facing!

Three HR tech things to remember

So, here are the 3 giant misnomers of HR technology:

  1. HR Technology makes HR easier. HR Technology doesn’t make HR “easier.” It makes HR faster. The technology allows you to do things at a higher rate, gives you more capacity – but not easier.
  2. HR Technology will make you better at HR. Again, it’s a piece of software. If you’re a crappy HR Pro, you’ll now be a crappy HR Pro with an expensive piece of technology! Way too many company executives fall into this trap. We’re bad at HR, so let’s go spend a boat load of money on technology and then we’ll be good at HR. No you won’t.
  3. HR Technology will save you money. The one thing you’ll find when looking into purchasing HR technology is that tech sales pros are exceptional at delivering to you an ROI model, so it seems like HR all of a sudden went from cost-center to profit-center overnight! It won’t. Good HR Tech costs money — implementation, upkeep, training, etc. The savings are “soft” dollars and hard to sell to a finance person who gets reality.

Sounds like a I hate HR Tech, doesn’t it?

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Learning from free Demos

I don’t – I love it! I just see the blank stares and confusion on the face of my fellow HR pros when the walk the Expo floor.

Do you need HR Technology to be good at HR? Yes. Competency in HR Technology is probably one key ingredient to being a “great” HR Pro – something very few of us actually have!

How do you get it? Free Demos baby! All of these tech companies give free demos – use them! Teach yourself. Make a friend in IT and ask questions when you don’t get it.

If you went through one demo per month on a piece of HR Technology, you would be amazed at how much you would actually learn about HR, your own HR shop and things you can do to improve yourself and your organization!

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.


4 Comments on “Lessons From SHRM Chicago: The 3 Big Misnomers About HR Technology

  1. Tim, thanks for the nice piece here. One of the most common objections I hear is “oh, my you’re not part of my fully integrated suite from (name any larger HRIS provider)” which provides ample justification to take a pass at what may be a very helpful new technology for an organization. If you wait for the innovation to come solely from the large players…..well keep waiting. But if you are willing to attend those free demos, learn and try new products you’ll create a much richer HR Tech echo-system all around. Remember, if you try the non-integrated solution and like it, it will not take long at all for those larger HRIS firms to hear your plea and work toward integration – further helping the ecosystem by making these solutions available to the broader market.

  2. Nice work. Very often technology is needed to execute a strategy but all to often we get confused and before we know it the technology IS the strategy. We need to start with the business goals and then map functionality on how it will help us acheive those business goals, and then the finance people can get on board.

  3. Bingo. This goes for EVERY industry. Software is only as good as the folks who know how to use it. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I agree about demos. Very useful as are customer case studies. I have no affiliation with them other than having attended several of their webinars, but HR.com is a good source for this kind of thing.

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