HR and IT: A Match Made in Heaven?


Strategic Roadmap, Strategic Services

HR and IT: A Match Made in Heaven?

If you’ve worked in an organization big enough to have departments, then you know that these departments don’t always get along. Sometimes it’s personality-driven, sometimes it’s policy-driven, sometimes it’s resources-driven – whatever the reason may be, it impacts people’s ability to do their work.

The two groups most cited as obstacles are HR and IT, and it’s not hard to guess why. Departments look at HR as the “Policy Police,” hindering the flow of operations at all times, trying to find reasons to say no. And IT gets blamed for every computer issue imaginable – including user error, hurricanes and power outages.

Ironically, these two departments, which should be united in their role as corporate outcasts, tend to be more at odds with each other than any other department. As software solutions have evolved from on-premise to the cloud, the role of IT has shifted from doer to advisor, and HR’s role has moved from user to owner – and neither group seems comfortable with the transition. Transformation is hard enough without the added stress of in-fighting.

The heart of the problem

Historically, IT “owns” systems, and it has been hard for them to let go of “owning” a cloud-based system. And, historically, HR has only been a user of the system. Now fast forward to the cloud. As the transition from on-premise to the cloud takes place, HR is trying to take on the role of configurator and owner but are getting some headwinds from IT.  In some ways, the pushback is understandable – when the traditional roles change, it can be difficult to find a new normal and there can be friction. With collaboration between the two teams, this change can be positive, and the right responsibilities will end up in the right organization.

HR is closest to the work and can leverage their knowledge of the organization’s strategies to ensure that the right priorities are being set. What HR does not want to take on are integrations, single sign on set up, and coding – they would want to leave that up to the experts. HR and IT just need to collaborate, collaborate, collaborate. This will not only help these organizations but help the entire organization.

Building a strong relationship

Obviously, there are a lot of ways that IT and HR get in each other’s way. So let’s focus on the ways to maximize the partnership between them:

  • Recognize common goals: In most cases, both HR and IT have the same goal – enable the success of the business. It’s easy to lose sight of this when change anxiety creeps in and people start protecting territory. By acknowledging common goals, HR and IT can work together to find the best possible outcome.
  • Clearly define roles and expectations: You’ve heard the saying, “If everyone owns it, no one owns it?” This is especially true in this case. Take the time to answer the who, what, why, how. Defining these will help the entire organization clearly understand business processes and who owns what, mitigating frustration and finger-pointing.
  • Give up the ego: Just remember, you all work for the same company. Posturing isn’t a good look on anybody.
  • Learn the business: This is just good advice in general, and it applies equally to HR and IT. Ifyou don’t know what is going on in the business, then trying to help them is practically impossible.
  • Establish a strong governance process: Once you’ve established the new normal, you need to make sure you can maintain it. Knowing how to intake requests, manage releases, manage incidents, and prioritize the work is crucial to keeping your software working FOR you, not against you. We can’t emphasize the importance of this enough– we see this as a big fail with most companies. In fact, it’s typically the catalyst for major optimization projects.

No matter what industry you’re in, or the size of your organization, IT and HR need to find a way to work together. The good news is, it can be done. Taking the time to establish defined roles and a good governance system will save you time, money and heartache in the long run.

Written by:

  • Kimberly Carroll

    Kimberly Carroll loves change and helping others through her role at IA. Kimberly’s clients look to her as a sounding board, therapist and mentor. She is passionate about change and using her background to influence HR leaders to truly transform their organizations.


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