New year, new solutions: Making a compelling case for HR technology in 3 steps
Whether improving HR processes through adopting better technology is a New Year’s resolution or simply a task you’re hoping to tackle in 2016, reality is sure to settle in once the ball drops and spring semester begins — especially when it comes to budgets.
“Universities have to watch their budgets; we were never going to get more budget,” said Bev Das, articulating one major challenge she faced as director of HRIS, employment and compensation at Villanova University — doing more with less.
Georgia Southern University experienced similar struggles. “We did not have the money in our budget but I went up the chain and I made a business case for upgrading to a more intuitive talent management system,” said Demetrius Bynes, director of employment services.
Both Bev and Demetrius knew that to procure the budget for recruitment and talent management technology, university decision-makers would need to see how the solutions could benefit their institutions. By building business cases that showed the advantages of new technology, raising interdepartmental support and showing the overall value of talent management resources, you too can make a compelling case to adopt HR technology to better serve your academic mission.
Here’s what you need to know when building your business case:
Step 1: Consider your audience
Creating a compelling business case begins with assessing the interests of your audience.
“If you’re talking to compliance officers, ‘Hey, meet your compliance needs,’ would be the message. For people like HR directors, show how it gets them and their staff out of certain paperwork, so they can think about the more important things,” Bev said. “And the message for the highest level is, ‘We want our department to become strategic and less transactional. And with performance management, for example, we’ll minimize paper, get away from physical signatures and start getting an audit trail.’”
Demetrius considered his audience, and then decided to shape his business cases by first talking about the cost, then the consensus of the staff: “I began to have conversations up the chain about the cost of upgrading and identifying advantages for us meeting that financial need,” he said. “One of the things I pointed out was that their staff below them believed that we needed a more intuitive, user-friendly system.”
Step 2: Gather support
Demetrius also made sure he had support from members outside of the HR department when presenting to university leaders. “One of the key things we did was we sold the idea to our IT folks,” he said. “When we got IT on board as a strategic business partner, the project began to move because when the Vice President of IT said, ‘We need to go in this direction,’ then the conversations changed. It was no longer perceived as something only HR wanted.”
By discussing the change with IT, Demetrius also uncovered another compelling argument for the technology: data integrity.
“IT’s concern was from an audit standpoint, since they were not providing any support for our current system. So when we said we wanted to go to a new system, they said, ‘Fine. We can support that for you and we believe that it is the right direction to move.’”
Step 3: Highlight direct and indirect benefits
Use input and feedback from your partners to help identify ways that talent management solutions benefit HR and the institution’s overall mission.
“The selling point for applicant tracking is it frees up resources. For us, it freed up two people to deploy to other, more important areas,” Bev said. “Tight budgets mean you might not have the opportunity to make as many hires as you used to, so HR is under a little bit more pressure to make sure hires are really good, and this helps.”
Demetrius: “When we looked at the grand scheme of things, the budget increase that we were going to encounter was going to be small in comparison to the value for our customers,” he said. “We just had to convince them how it would help the campus overall.”
An effective business case convinces leadership that the investment in new talent management software or solutions is realistic, aligned with your institution’s goals and mission, and is financially sound. With the help of others at your institution, you can develop a business case that gains wide support and establishes a clear course of action for putting new technology into place.