Fixer: Bosses won’t fund HR tech

9 Apr 2021 By PM Editorial

How can I persuade our directors that people management software is standard among people teams now?

I’m an HR manager in an SME with around 200 staff. The company has grown a lot in recent years, but our HR systems are stuck in the dark ages. We have a programme to run payroll, but the rest is largely still done in Office documents and spreadsheets. Any mentions of people management software are dismissed by our directors, saying it’s not a necessity, and I can only dream of being able to have people analytics or engagement platforms. How can I make my bosses realise this kind of tech is standard among people teams now and convince them to upgrade?

I am sure there are many SME HR managers out there who can relate to this conundrum. Particularly in recent years, the strategic benefits of sophisticated people technology have been much validated, but we are often still justifying the spend. 

For HR business case purposes, the charter concept of writing down the opportunity, goal and scope of the changes you’d like to see is helpful. Looking at the opportunity or problem, what is the tangible business ‘pain’ being experienced right now by each of your employees, people managers, and HR itself? We are likely talking about frustrating access to information, lack of people data and excessive processing or rework time respectively. Do you have robust data on all of those to really help argue your case? If we look at the goal, we are talking the opposite of these – ie delighting employees with online self-service information, managers with insightful data and HR with significant time savings to proactively engage in more strategically beneficial focuses. 

Lastly, scope creep is usual with any business improvement initiative, so clarifying which elements are included, and even more importantly which are not, will be critical to ensure that what is hopefully approved by your directors will not be impacted by additional items. Subsequent robust project management (for example, a phased approach of ‘measure, analyse, improve and control’, keeping your sponsors and stakeholders informed throughout) will also set this transformation up for success.

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