6 Key Ingredients to Manage an HR Digital Transformation

You have recently completed an HR technology evaluation and selection initiative. Whether a full HCM cloud suite or a function-specific solution for talent acquisition, you need to assess readiness for implementation and mobilize your team to complete the work required. You must mitigate risk and increase the adoption to accelerate the return on investment. Now more than ever, your workforce expects your technology-enabled service delivery model to be customer-focused. This means your HR team must be aligned on the future service delivery model before introducing technology-enabled interactions. Both HR practitioners and the resources that sustain your technology-enabled business processes need to adhere to the technology-enabled service channel defined in your interaction model. If not, your deployment is unlikely to meet its objectives.

Interaction Model and Intentional Enterprise HR Process Design

Establish a clear vision and intentionally design the “To-be” processes that you seek to enable your technology. For example, your interaction model should consider the service access channel for each HR delivered program and service available to your workforce. High-volume transactional processes and routine requests that are designed as self-service interactions in your model need to include necessary knowledge base content and enabled transactions in your HCM or other designated technology.

As we all know, technology is an enabler, not a solution. You have selected the technology and vendor based on your prioritized business requirements and the supplier’s software product that provides the best match to your business needs. Before you embark upon the configuration of the software, you will want to critically review your HR business processes and redesign or adjust them to be standardized for the enterprise. You will want to explore the delivered business processes provided by the software supplier and understand the configuration option supported and which options is best suited for your business. The technology will only be as good as the end-to-end processes it is configured to enable, and if your current ones are fragmented or delivered by functions that operate in silos, then you are simply layering the technology onto broken ways of working.

Job Architecture, Job Catalog, Role Profiles, Skills, and Competencies Are Critical for HCM Software

A foundation requirement to take full advantage of talent management features and functionality delivered in modern HCM software suites is well-defined job architecture, Job Catalog, and Job/Role profiles with applicable skills and competencies identified. Leading HCM software vendors are including features and functionality to better enable the creation of these profiles which are critical to the utilization of other included product features and functionality. To fully utilize software features reviewed during your supplier selection process, such as position management and talent journeys, your implementation team needs to understand your “as-is” job architecture and organizational data to assess readiness for migration to new technology-enabled processes. You will also want to ensure that enterprise-wide business processes, which rely upon job data, are considered. For instance, robust job profiles that include role-based access requirements for enterprise and business unit-specific technologies can stream-line provisioning for new hires (new joiners) and talent mobility within the organization. Your colleagues in IT have certainly been working on initiatives to improve and streamline access to enterprise and business unit or function-specific technologies. Their Identity and Access Management (IAM) strategy includes technology enablement designed to leverage these robust job/role profiles. This collaboration between HR and IT has enabled organizations to reduce reliance on manual processes and eliminate new hire system access request forms by defining system access profiles that are standard based on job duties. This is one example of cross-functional collaboration during implementation planning to enable operational efficiency, effectiveness, and improved employee experience.

Enterprise IT Partnership

Speaking of our partners in the IT function, successful HR technology initiatives require cross-functional collaboration and partnership. Your IT colleagues have been transforming their function to provide enterprise technology portfolio management services to ensure that the full enterprise technology stack is both rational and cost-effective. As an example, coincident with the global pandemic, each corporate function has experienced increased demand for services provided to the workforce virtually. An ‘Enterprise’ service management technology strategy initiative led by IT is an example of the type of initiative that HR should join. A unified strategy to deliver an improved employee service management experience via a single platform with robust knowledgebase, case management, workflow, and analytics capability can be leveraged by all the corporate functions vs. each function selecting disparate tools. Another area where a strong partnership with IT is critical is defining role-based security profiles within your new HR technology environment. The ability of your selected software supplier to fulfill enterprise data privacy and information security policies has been evaluated by IT function colleagues during your supplier selection process. As you prepare for implementation, the configuration of role-based security in the new HR application should also include input from these resources. Your business process technology enablement and business process configuration will include decisions tied to role-based security privileges and workflows such as transaction request approval. When this foundational component of your technology configuration is considered during implementation planning, you will mitigate risk and increase the likelihood of a successful implementation.

Define Success Criteria Upfront

You have partnered with IT and the technology is now deployed, so that must mean the project is a success. What if you were asked to prove this was a good investment; do you have the data and operational metrics to demonstrate the achievement of the expected return on investment that your technology investment business case indicated? More importantly, are all inquiring parties aligned on what success means? The answer is likely, no, and to avoid confusion and misaligned expectations, we recommend defining success criteria and metrics upfront. Your evaluation and selection process should include an analysis of results achieved by other customers that have deployed the proposed software supplier’s product. Test out the success criteria drafted by your software selection team with business leaders and stakeholders to gain alignment and sign-off, so you can confidently illustrate success upon, and post-go-live, and eliminate any surprises.

Also, recognize that metrics will change throughout the journey. Adoption of the technology by employees and people managers may be an early metric to help show progress. Upon initial deployment, an organization that has implemented a service management system may look to employee and manager self-service use as an indicator of the system being intuitive, saving employees time, etc. However, after a year, the organization wants to see increased utilization, but in addition would be looking for how the service center teams adjusted their processes, procedures, etc. based on employee feedback to demonstrate a continuous improvement culture. The latter would not have been an initial expectation but evolved into a success metric as milestones were achieved and the team continuously evaluated success. Start with your initial criteria but continually evaluate success throughout the project and beyond go-live to adjust and set metrics that make sense for where you are in the deployment and adoption journey.

Change Management and Stakeholder Engagement

This is always an interesting conversation topic – we know how to manage change around here; we do not need change management help. Sound familiar? Change management is often brushed aside as an extra or something everyone knows how to do. However, having a change management strategy and plan in place for an HR tech implementation is often something that is not done well, or even done at all. Organizations tend to focus on what is changing, often not considering how or who this change will impact and the downstream effects it may cause.

The true value of change management lies in helping to de-risk your deployment, creating buy-in from stakeholders, and, speeding time to productivity and value back to your organization. Take the time upfront to define why you are deploying this technology and what problems it will solve, and clearly communicate this to the organization. Identify the audiences affected, determine how roles will be impacted, and establish a two-way feedback loop to listen to stakeholder concerns. This insight will help you to employ specific engagement tactics depending on each group’s awareness of the change and depth of impact.


Technology is an enabler, not the solution. We cannot stress that enough. There is foundational work to complete before implementing an HR technology to mitigate risk and increase the likelihood that goals you have established will be attained. This journey begins with intentionally designing your service delivery model, “to-be” HR business processes, and establishing your technology-enabled customer interaction model. Next, you need to ensure you have well-defined job architecture, Job Catalog, and Job/Role profiles with applicable skills and competencies identified to capitalize on features and functionality available in the HCM technology currently and as enhanced features become available. Partnering early in the process with IT will ensure you stay aligned to enterprise technology objectives and gain a supportive ally who is familiar with the implementation process and can help. Finally, clearly defining your success criteria and change management strategy upfront will help to mitigate risk along the way and keep expectations in check. You are beginning a journey. Embark well prepared.

Erica L. (Miller) Arnold
The Hackett Group | + posts

Erica L. (Miller) Arnold, director with The Hackett Group’s Strategy and Business Transformation Practice specializing in global HR Transformation. She combines strategic and innovative thinking with practical application, building trusted, lasting relationships with clients. She has led and supported transformation initiatives across several industries, with a focus on change management and HR operating and service delivery model design, among other areas. Her experience allows her to successfully partner with clients to design pragmatic and sustainable solutions. She can be reached at [email protected].

Brian Buck
The Hackett Group | + posts

Brian Buck, senior director with The Hackett Group’s Strategy and Business Transformation Practice specializing in global HR Transformation. With over two decades of experience in financial services and consulting, he has focused on leveraging technology to measurably improve the enterprise’s operational efficiency, effectiveness, and workforce experience. His areas of expertise include HR transformation, HR function and technology assessments, HR strategy, organization and role design, governance, sourcing strategies, HCM software supplier and service provider selection, process re-engineering, program/project and change management. He can be reached at [email protected].

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