Innovation“If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.”

― Albert Einstein

This quote has been attributed to a variety of people over the years, and it still makes a valid point. When you think about it, the problems HR faces on a day-to-day basis are not new. Since companies have been employing people, there have been challenges with attracting, retaining, and engaging talent. What’s important to remember is that these are not just HR problems, but business problems in a broader context.

Over the next few blogs, I am going to focus on how technology can help to solve some of those challenges; but first, we need to address a common pitfall.

Broken Processes, Broken Results

One of the most common problems I see when companies are looking for technology (whether HR or otherwise) is that they are trying to simultaneously resolve process and scalability issues with the new tools. This is an excellent way to set yourself up for failure, because all this gets you is greater efficiency at doing the wrong things.

For example, let’s say the current recruiting process requires the following steps:

  • A hiring manager identifies a need and notifies a recruiter to open a requisition
  • The recruiter drafts the requisition based on the manager’s input, then asks the manager to review
  • The manager revises the draft and both parties agree on the final version
  • That final version is then reviewed by a senior manager who authorizes the transaction
  • The recruiter posts the job and starts trying to fill the opening
  • The hiring manager realizes that a key requirement was missing and needs to revise the requisition
  • Under current policy the recruiter must unpublish the job and start all over at step one

As hard as it is to believe, this is fairly common. It’s not hard to imagine how frustrating it would be for both the hiring manager and the recruiter. Some might expect that implementing technology could make this process better; in reality, it can be even more painful because there is now an additional technology element to consider.

Bottom line: broken processes lead to poor results, whether technology is in place or not.

Right Processes, Right Results

Once a process is defined in a way that makes sense and delivers the most value, HR leaders can select and implement the right HR technology to solve their problems. And thanks to today’s Cloud technology, your solution should be able to scale, expand, and reach a far broader audience with less hands-on work required. I call that a win-win.

What is exciting is that problems across the spectrum of HR, from performance management to benefits enrollment, can be resolved with the right technology applications. It requires someone that thinks critically about problems and how to solve them. Unfortunately, talent initiatives are one of the least likely areas companies consider when prioritizing innovation. According to Deloitte’s Business Confidence Report:

When leaders prioritize innovation, they almost exclusively focus on product and services (51 percent of CXOs) or customer experience (48 percent CXOs) and are missing critical opportunities to explore innovation outside of these boundaries. For example, only about one in four companies are focused on investing in other key innovation areas including staff, organizational models, and business process.

HR problems require innovative smart processes and carefully selected technology. In many companies, HR is seen as a place for innovation to die. It’s time to change that. And you can start by asking yourself these questions:

Does your organization use HR technology to help solve business problems? Have you addressed any process issues that could interfere with the results you’re trying to achieve? 

Written by Ben Eubanks, Principal Analyst, Lighthouse Research & Advisory