In a typical corporate environment, departments such as HR, Marketing, Finance, and IT tend to work in their own silos, keeping their blinders up and focusing only on their tasks at hand. The individual values of each department can be seen as drastically different, making it difficult to meet in the middle.
However, there are only two groups in every organization who interact with employees from the time they first walk in the door as a new hire until the time they leave the company – HR and IT. Given this unique role within organizations, the need for IT and HR to align themselves as a united front is more important than ever. Corporate services teams need to recognize they are all working towards the same common goal for company success.
Today, the need to break down these walls is more prevalent due to the increase of cyberattacks, shifting workforce models, and lack of employee awareness around IT. Corporate functions responsible for these areas must unite to become more of a dynamic team working together to form a strategic alliance. New technologies specific to human capital management, cloud computing, mobility, and analytics are launched regularly. These constant updates create the need for HR and IT to move beyond disjointed communications and relationships to understand each other’s departmental initiatives.
Jeff Bathurst, CIO of SC&H Group, recently spoke at the Chesapeake Human Resources Association meeting on the topic of HR and IT working together. His presentation included information on the challenges they face, and the significance of information security awareness within the HR department, and organizations as a whole. The presentation began with three important questions:
- Are you satisfied with your current computing technology?
- Are you effectively communicating with the IT department?
- Are you satisfied with your relationship with the IT department?
These important questions can open up communications between these two corporate groups, and can serve as the foundation to overcome common challenges that hinder success.
The first challenge discussed was technology. Technology continues to revolutionize business functions and provide a competitive advantage ― if implemented properly. Technology roadmaps used to require a 3-5 year strategy, and now are a 12-18 month cycle that should be produced with consideration of all corporate goals. Due to new products and solutions evolving regularly, organizations find themselves encompassing the “don’t know what you don’t know” mindset. This mentality can result in impromptu investments that may not align with departmental or information security goals. For example, HR may invest in new training software without consulting with the IT services team. IT may have more secure, cost effective, software recommendations that could provide long term benefits. This is one of many situations that can lead to a disconnect in technology and an insufficient return on investment.
Beyond software and technology, another common challenge is the relationship – and ultimately lack of communication – between these groups. For instance, both teams often function in an “I vs. we” mentality, creating barriers that impact corporate operations and profits. When HR and IT departments communicate, and get to know each other’s departmental goals, the relationship is invaluable.
The last important challenge to note is the need for strong, cohesive guidelines on information security. Employees are the greatest risk to a company’s assets. Issues arise if they are not trained properly and regularly on the fundamentals of information security. Today, policies, procedures, and processes require specific details around information security to spread overall awareness and protect company data. Company handbooks are rarely updated, and are typically structured as broad policies that focus on overall company protocols. It is up to HR and IT to work together to educate employees and make regular handbook updates to avoid potential liabilities. Everyone in the organization has a role to play.
In conclusion, when HR and IT departments rise above the challenges they commonly face and form a strategic alliance, everyone succeeds. At the end of the day these two teams share a common goal (whether they currently recognize or not) of creating an effective, secure, technologically advanced, and profitable company.
As an HR professional, is your department properly aligned with IT? Do you find yourself facing these common challenges? SC&H Group’s IT Advisory Services team can help mitigate these challenges. Please contact Jeff Bathurst here if you would like to have a conversation about your corporate IT strategy.