I recently read an article defining the term “behavioral IT” as outlined by IT professional, Prem Kamble. He defines behavioral IT as the “behavioral aspects of IT driven transitions, particularly the stage of implementation when there is maximum people involvement and also maximum impact due to behavior, traits and fears of people.” And he further points out:
“Whereas there is enough emphasis so far on the behavioral issues in the software development process, what has been relatively ignored is what typically gets left out in most IT projects – the last mile, i.e., the implementation or actual transition from the old system to the new computerized system and people acceptance of the new system. In an IT project, the last mile is the most important and most difficult part of the journey.”
That’s some pretty important stuff.
When developing a human resources technology strategy, HR will have primary responsibility of defining the strategy and looking at policies, processes and procedures as well as the business results they wish to achieve.
This is about much more than just incorporating a new piece of technology, and during all phases of selection, implementation, and adoption, it’s critical for HR professionals to pay attention to the transitional aspects that will impact people. The successful implementation or transition to a new system includes human elements related to acceptance, adoption, and continued usage.
So while HR will drive the HR technology agenda, a partnership is advantageous; IT and HR departments that work closely together will be much more successful when navigating change and achieving success.
HR professionals don’t need to be IT experts but should approach HR technology evaluation/selection with a baseline knowledge of tech capabilities and a general understanding of how technology can meet organizational and department needs. As HR technology is not merely a one-time investment but instead has the potential to be of long-term benefit, it’s helpful to partner with the IT Department when one is reviewing and evaluating various systems and solutions.
And while there is a need to have a thorough understanding of tech capabilities, the primary role of HR professionals is to understand human behavior in order to plan for and manage the activities related to adoption and use of the workforce.
There are some key areas related to this including the assessment of employee readiness (ability and willingness) and the planning and management of adoption activities including communication, training, and overall organizational development strategies. Long term value from any organizational technology investment will only come about when employees change their behaviors, and HR must lead that change.
The Role of IT
With the rise of SaaS and HR technology being deployed in the Cloud, the old days of the IT department having supreme responsibility for all technology is gone. HR teams are now fully engaged and have responsibility for their HR technology agenda. An effective partnership between HR and IT is still crucial though and IT professionals can participate on the planning team and serve as educator and adviser by sharing knowledge of topics such as data security, system requirements, and integration issues.
In the study The Evolving Workplace: Expert Insights, a global project commissioned by Dell and Intel, TNS Global explored key future trends and themes pertaining to the workplace and workforce. The intended audience for this report is IT professionals but it’s a great read for HR practitioners as well. Topics discussed include the democratization of global workforces through connectivity and device integration and the rise of employee-led innovation. The consumerization of IT (and work) means that employees are aware of their options (software, devices, access) and are demanding the same level of connectivity and interaction at work that they demand at home!
And that’s a critical point that both HR and IT professionals need to understand. Let’s face it, in our organizations there are often two department that are seen as the overlords who monitor employee activity and write endless policies attempting to govern behavior—IT and HR. But we can work to change that stereotype together.
When deploying HR tech solutions HR and IT professionals are dependent upon each other and can effectively interface together to bring about success for the organization and the people/users. A technology transformation includes incorporating new processes, streamlining work flows, and ultimately sustaining behavior change within the organization.