5 Steps to Harness HR Tech to Solve Business Problems

March 12th, 2020

We’re starting to see that HR tech isn’t really about HR. Sure, tech tools can help improve HR processes so they’re more intuitive and “in the flow of work” for employees. But, when you select the right tools for your organization, their effects can be much more wide-ranging. They can help solve real business challenges so the company can continue to grow and thrive.

Here’s the basic process of linking business problems to talent problems so you can make the right HR tech decisions. This is taken from our HR Tech Workshop, which has a new session in the Josh Bersin Academy starting on March 16.

Step 1: Understand the business problem: The best way to do this is by talking to senior and team leaders and get them talking about their challenges. Be specific and ask: “What is the biggest challenge you have?” If you don't have a direct line to those leaders, look for other ways to understand the problems your organization is facing. Read annual reports and updates from leaders, dig into news about your market and competitors.

Step 2: Uncover the people challenges: Once you understand the business problems, connect them to talent issues. If you’re talking with leaders, ask them directly: “What are the talent issues that are connected to the challenge? Are there people issues that we can address to help achieve their goals?” Then let them make the connections between business and people challenges. If you’re not in conversation with leadership, use your research (and work with your team) to brainstorm possible correlations.

Step 3: Synthesize your findings: Once you’ve identified the business and people problems, put it all together. What are the patterns across your research and conversations? What are the key people issues that need to be solved? Where is the biggest opportunity for improvement? Are there areas where HR itself needs to upskill? If multiple priorities are emerging, go back to the leaders you spoke with to find out what is most important to them.

Step 4: Clearly articulate the goals: From your findings, identify clear goals. One or two new tools won’t solve all of your business and people challenges at once, but the right tools can move the needle in the direction you want to go—so you need to know what that direction is. Aiming to drive innovation or increase efficiency? These are the kinds of goals you’ll want to articulate.

Step 5: Determine the HR Tech areas involved: Take your goals and review the HR tech categories that might fit (we’ll go into these in more detail soon). Which tools or types of technology seem most likely to address your needs? Is your primary HRMS working, but you need a better engagement layer to increase team productivity? Do you need to introduce a platform for continuous performance management to increase transparency? Begin to dig deeper into the category or categories that seem the most likely to help address your issues—and set aside the others.

Once you've got these clear goals and HR tech areas in place, you can start your technology search in earnest—a subject we tackle later in the HR Tech Workshop. To dive in, join the Josh Bersin Academy today.