How HR can be agents of change during digital transformation
- 4 Min Read
With technology changing the way we live and work, we look at how HR professionals could be crucial in ensuring that there is a smooth transition into the digital world.
Technology is totally embedded in the way we work today and is determining how businesses adapt to keep up. It influences all areas of the enterprise, with evolving applications and technologies such as AI and the Internet shaking up both front and back-office functions.
By Andy Bell, from leading UK SAP consultancy Edenhouse Solutions
For many business leaders, digital transformation has become a strategic priority – and the HR department is no exception. There is plenty of scope for technology to make HR processes more efficient. For example, analytics can facilitate access to key information about the workforce, while routine tasks such as filling in timesheets can be streamlined using AI.
However, embarking on a digital transformation journey is about much more than simply implementing the technology. It requires a shift in workplace behaviour and culture too – people within the business must be on board with the change to ensure it is a success in the long-run.
This is where the HR department, with its direct lines to the unique needs of the workforce, can play a key role in driving forward digital projects across all departments.
With the right digital tools in place, HR can not only improve internal productivity but put a greater focus on empowering individuals. Through digitising working processes, employees’ lives can be made easier and closer collaboration built between teams.
There are plenty of new technologies impacting the world of HR which highlight how existing processes could be made more efficient. Chatbots can be used to automate employee requests for holidays or absence, for example. Data analytics can play a vital role in guiding business decisions, making information easy to access and understand. Better insight on the data they hold enables HR teams to more easily measure and act on matters of employee performance or wellbeing by quickly spotting any unusual patterns.
HR can set a company-wide precedent by maximising the use of such technology in its own operations. However, when it comes to the strategic side of digital projects, HR teams aren’t always viewed as business-critical – they will be given new technology to test but their role might not extend beyond that.
Wider communication role
In fact, according to a recent report, only 5% of business leaders felt the HR department should be the people to lead and manage a digital transformation project. As their focus on people touches on every department however, they can take a more central role and lead by example in making the business case for change.
One such area they can have an influence on is change management, which is a big challenge during digital transformations. Often, this won’t fall under IT’s remit and its importance is frequently underestimated – but it will go a long way to ensuring projects are a success. Employees may be reticent about adopting new systems or processes if they have been using the same methods for many years.
Before they embark on the journey, organisations should consider how they are going to reach their end destination. Any project should involve drawing out a roadmap, evaluating where existing processes could be improved and what success would look like. Consistent communication is essential from start to endpoint – cloud-based communication tools, for example, can build new levels of collaboration in the workplace and break down any existing silos.
Keeping everyone on board and on the same page will be important should there be any bumps in the road and will help them to understand that change is a positive end goal.
So, where do you start? Ultimately, to achieve enterprise-wide integration, organisations will need to undergo a level of large-scale tech change. This starts with removing legacy systems that are slow and clunky and replacing them with next-gen solutions which can address both today’s and tomorrow’s challenges. This is where ERP systems, such as SAP’s S/4HANA, can be huge enablers.
Benefitting from a strong digital core can be a differentiator in helping to drive change strategies forward. Maintaining this stable foundation will enable departments to bring in new tools and technologies while ensuring all systems remain integrated.
With their experience in managing people and growing integration of technology, giving HR a central role in managing change during digital projects can prove beneficial for the entire enterprise. Maintaining this balance between people and tech is what will drive through the most effective transformation.