One of the interesting things about being a product manager for OnTask is hearing the reasons why potential customers are hesitant to implement an automation solution for their business. There’s all the usual pain points you might expect, like cost concerns and implementation obstacles. But one of the most frequent concerns I encounter is a lack of buy-in from within the organization.
Sometimes that means leadership isn’t fully committed to making a new purchase, or the IT team is leery about adding a solution to their existing tech stack. In many cases, though, it’s a fear of resistance from employees that keeps companies from disrupting their status quo, even when that status quo is failing to deliver the results they need.
Securing buy-in throughout the organization should be one of your first priorities when exploring a new HR automation solution. That means ensuring everybody understands why you’re making a change and how it will make their lives (and jobs) easier before you embark down the path to implementation. In my experience, implementing new software and processes goes a lot more smoothly if you’ve already put in the hard work to win over hearts and minds.
Convincing leadership that a new HR solution is necessary is the most important hurdle to clear because they’re the ones authorizing the purchase! However, that’s hardly the only reason to make sure they’re fully on board with the decision. If there’s one thing sure to stop an HR automation project dead in its tracks, it’s a lack of sustained support from leadership.
Whether they’re actively opposed to the new solution or simply not invested in whether it succeeds or fails, department heads and C-Suite executives can have a tremendous impact on how the rest of the company perceives the new solution. If it’s clear that they’re not committed to its success, it will be difficult to convince anyone else to buy-in.
Fortunately, making the business case to leadership for HR automation is usually a straightforward process. You can demonstrate how automation will improve efficiency, increase transparency, and enable better workforce planning, all of which combine to reduce overall costs. Be sure to highlight how much time will be saved by automating repetitive tasks and examples of how that time can be spent on higher value priorities like employee engagement, recruiting, and development. Automation is a force multiplier for HR departments, so demonstrating what it will enable your team to do in the future is a great way to secure ongoing support from leadership.
Internal IT teams are generally tasked with implementing new software solutions into the company’s tech stack and making sure everything works smoothly. When an HR department proposes adding some new platform to that infrastructure, IT leaders are usually less concerned with the potential benefits of that solution and more focused on the technical challenges of implementation.
In my experience, it’s usually best to involve IT leaders in any software purchase as early as possible. This gives them the opportunity to raise important technical considerations that HR teams may not be aware of and begin thinking about how to best implement a new solution. Many concerns they have about security, reliability, and integrations can be addressed right away by bringing them into the decision-making process. I’ve found that IT departments can be among the strongest advocates for HR automation solutions when they’re brought into the process earlier rather than later.
Although automation tools are designed to make life easier for HR professionals, they may be greeted with dread by teams that are comfortable doing things the way they’ve always been done. This can be true even when nobody is satisfied by the status quo. Even clunky, inefficient processes that everyone dislikes have the “advantage” of familiarity. The prospect of learning to use a new automation system can be daunting, especially if they feel like it’s just one more piece of software they need to manage.
One of the best ways to secure buy-in from HR teams is to communicate early and often. Gather feedback to determine their biggest pain points and then show them how your new automation solution can solve those challenges. Work with them to find the best way to automate existing processes in ways that help them do their jobs more effectively and enable them to focus on higher value tasks.
As you begin the implementation process, be sure to provide the resources to support your team and make the transition as seamless as possible. This could include creating documentation, instructional videos, or scheduling workshops that help everyone use the new system to its full potential.
Most HR departments recognize that support from leadership, IT, and their teams is important for adopting new automation software. But they sometimes forget to think about how that new solution will affect employees more broadly. Implementing a new HR system can have a tremendous impact on employee experience and, by extension, engagement. Even a well-designed automation solution will struggle to deliver efficiency benefits if employees are slow to buy-in and interact with the system as intended.
As with other stakeholders, communication is critically important. Employees may have concerns that automating elements of the HR process will make it more difficult for them to access their benefits or have their voices heard. They may also be worried about privacy and how the new system will utilize their personal information.
It’s also important to remember that many of the pain points experienced by HR teams are invisible to other employees. They may not realize how much time is wasted on inefficient, manual processes, so the potential benefits of automation may not be apparent to them.
Be sure to highlight how streamlining HR processes will allow your department to do more for them. Talk up the ways automation will speed up services, reviews, and approvals, or how it will allow you to provide the professional development resources they’ve been asking for. Take the time to make sure everyone knows how to use the new system by offering guided training and other educational resources as needed.
Not everyone learns the same way, so it’s a good idea to provide employees with multiple ways to learn and reduce as many friction points as possible. The faster everyone buys in and begins using the system as intended, the faster you’ll be able to realize the benefits of HR automation.
Implementing an automated HR platform is a journey that involves your entire organization. From the C-Suite down to your newest intern, everyone has a role to play and a vested interest in the project’s outcome. By taking steps to secure buy-in from stakeholders at all levels, you can ensure that everyone is working together to achieve the same goal and make the implementation process as smooth and successful as possible.
About the Author
Since the company’s inception, Steve Wilson has dedicated his time at OnTask to making workflow automation simple and accessible for businesses of all sizes. Steve also serves as Head of Product Development, working with the team on new updates to continue improving the product. In his spare time, you can find Steve coaching youth basketball for his two sons or saltwater fishing.