How Technology is Transforming HR-A First-Hand Look

Debbie Lynch, CHRO, Ansell

Debbie Lynch, CHRO, Ansell

Three years ago when I joined Ansell, a global leader in protection solutions, I learned that the majority of employee tracking was done on traditional spreadsheets. Both the Board of Directors and Executive Leadership team supported moving to a technology-driven solution. Having a single source of record for all employee data in place would create a true competitive advantage, potentially enabling us to outperform the competition in terms of human capital management as well as better serve our internal clients. As a result, Ansell began implementing a Human Resources Information System (HRIS) for employee data on a global scale.

 “Once you decide to embark on a technology journey like HRIS, the first key element is assembling a great project team.” 

It’s a Long, Challenging Journey–Pace Yourself! 

Once you decide to embark on a technology journey like HRIS, the first key element is assembling a great project team. Getting the right talent in place to lead the project on behalf of both HR and IT is a critical first step in chartering a successful journey. 

If you choose to have an implementation partner, it’s important they have the right expertise, temperament, and cultural fit–all critical components to the project’s success. There are long hours ahead both in planning and implementation. If you have not implemented on a global HR scale previously (which Ansell hadn’t), be ready to build in time for the unexpected. There may be people issues, cost issues, unforeseen implementation issues or vendor issues. My advice is to stay flexible, as I guarantee there will be at least one (if not several) unexpected surprises that need to be addressed.  

For the ultimate success of the project, contingency planning is critical. There were times when we had several contingency plans at the ready, allowing for flexibility in objective setting and deadlines.  

Several times, we made the hard call to extend the deadline to ensure quality was not compromised – never easy when internal clients are counting on you to deliver a product on time, on budget, and with superior quality. 

Leadership and Teamwork Will Drive Success 

Being involved, agile, calm, positive and solution-oriented streamlines the journey. The CIO and I were co-executive sponsors of the HRIS project, and I was extremely involved in the initial design.  

Our HRIS roll-out involved the following preliminary steps: 

  • We educated the HR team on what the future HRIS system would look like and how it would enable us to advance as a strategic business partner. 
  • We conducted workshops with both the HR and IT teams in each of the four Ansell global hubs to ensure we understood local country and regional needs. 
  • We established an 80/20 rule to ensure global consistency but still allow localized functionality. This provided flexibility and buy-in at the local level, rather than dictating a top-down solution.  

Leadership will bring success. You can plan and anticipate for a few obstacles, but others will be complete surprises. Listening, leading and working together as a team will generate innovative solutions to keep the project moving forward. Also, remember to have some fun and laughter along the way. The HRIS system at Ansell had its successful go live in 2014. 

The Journey Continues 

Once the base system in place, determining the next technology module is easy. Listen to your internal clients.  There is no “right” order in which to implement HR modules. Whether you choose performance, talent, compensation, learning or recruiting, it really depends on your current and future business needs. The next evolution in the journey of HR development is the ability to increase the level of critical thinking to synthesize and evaluate the new data now available through the technology in place. 

The Future of HR 

Technology and the speed of change are radically transforming the role of the HR professional. There are a number of useful emerging models that focus on the future competencies of HR professionals. The change challenge is managing the time needed to assimilate new information and keep up. Our clients need more from HR today than ever before, and they need it faster.  

How do we accelerate HR development? Numerous research studies talk about talent shortages as we in HR race to get predictive analytics. We must be technologically and financially savvy and use our consultative and critical thinking skills to lead in this new reality. Are you ready? Is the HR profession ready? I believe that there is awareness of the new reality and professionals eager to learn and emerge as leaders for tomorrow.  

As today’s leaders, we need to nurture this interest and provide a safe space in which HR professionals can step outside of their usual practices and embrace a new future. Technology is transforming the HR function in a way that provides opportunity to be a game-changing part of the business.  

The time is right for HR to lead business transformation through technology. 

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