3 Giant Misnomers of HR Technology

One of the big things that hits you right across the face when attending SHRM’s national conference is all the technology that is being peddled at the conference. Hundreds of companies are all there competing for your HR dollar on how they are going to make your HR life easier.  The problem is  – I don’t really get what of these companies really do!  There’s no real differentiation amongst any of them – and I actually follow the industry!   It seems like the current popular ones like Ultimate SoftwareSilkroad  and Halogen can do everything!  I mean everything but actually ‘do’ HR! That’s the trick right?!  You get sold on the fact that ‘this’ software is going to change how you ‘do’ HR forever – but you still have to ‘do’ HR.  It will definitely change how you do HR – no doubt.

The problem is, of the thousands of HR Pros who are attending SHRM this week – 99.9% couldn’t tell you what one of these company does from the next.  They all claim to be able to solve an HR issue that ails you.  That’s one of the biggest issues I see with most of the all-in-one suites – if you have one problem – let’s say it’s succession – you really have to convert everything over to their entire platform – because they have workflow that integrated.  That isn’t a bad thing – but put on your work boots – because you’re about to take on a gigantic project and change your entire way of doing HR – to solve that one problem you were facing!

The 3 Giant Misnomers of HR Technology:

1. HR Technology Makes HR Easier. HR Technology doesn’t make HR ‘easier’.  It makes HR faster.  The technology allows you to do things at a higher rate, gives you more capacity – but not easier.

2. HR Technology Will Make You Better at HR.  Again – it’s a piece of software.  If you’re a crappy HR Pro – You’ll now be a crappy HR Pro with an expensive piece of technology!  Way too many company executives fall into this trap.  We’re bad at HR – let’s go spend a boat load of money on technology and then we’ll be good at HR! No you won’t.

3. HR Technology Will Save You Money. The one thing you’ll find when looking into purchasing HR technology is that tech sales pros are exceptional at delivering to you a ROI model so it seems like HR all of a sudden went from cost-center to profit-center over night!  It won’t.  Good HR Tech costs money. Implementation, upkeep, training, etc.  The savings are ‘soft’ dollars and hard to sell to a finance person who gets reality.

Sounds like a I hate HR Tech, doesn’t it?!  I don’t – I love it!

I just see the blank stares and confusion on the face of my fellow HR pros when the walk the expo floor.  Do you need HR Technology to be good at HR?  Yes.  Competency in HR Technology is probably one key ingredient to being a ‘great’ HR Pro – that so very few of us actually have!  How do you get it?  Free Demos baby!  All of these companies give free demos – use them!  Teach yourself.  Make a friend in IT and ask questions when you don’t get it.  If you went through one demo per month on a piece of HR Technology, you would be amazed at how much you would actually learn about HR, your own HR shop and things you can do to improve yourself and your organization!

5 thoughts on “3 Giant Misnomers of HR Technology

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    • Sally –

      Thanks for pointing this out – but I like the word ‘Misnomer’ better than ‘Myth’ which is used way to often in blog titles. Here’s wiki’s definition –

      “A misnomer is a word or term that suggests a meaning that is known to be wrong”

      So it somewhat fits the context of what I’m trying to get at it. Justification be damned – you’re correct – myth would be better – I was just tired of it…

      Thanks for allowing be to be stupid and pointing it out,


  2. Hello Tim,

    [Disclaimer: I am one of these HR vendors. I will release soon a Recruitment Software].

    I agree with you on item #2. Giving a good ATS to a bad recruiter won’t do miracles! If he does not know his job, technology won’t help him. The same goes with almost every kind of HR softwares I can think about. So yes, technolofy will not make you better at HR.

    I somewhat agree with your item #1. I think it’s difficult to say when a software is making your job faster, easier, or faster AND easier. For instance, you can prepare a payslip manually. You need a calculator, a pen and a piece of paper. Or you could use a payroll software. It will make your work both faster and easier. But I get your point so I won’t argue on this one…

    I disagree on item #3. You don’t consider SaaS softwares. While it is true that a traditionnal HR software can be very expensive, it is not the case when it comes to online web applications. No implementation cost, no upkeep, almost no training (if you need training, the vendor has not done his job). You don’t need an IT guy. You don’t have to purchase equipments. And so on, and so on. I could give you more details but it would be pretty boring (but I am going to post this week an article on my blog related to all the “hidden” benefits of SaaS).

    When you say: “Good HR Tech costs money”, it seems that you think that SaaS applications are not good enough. Or you may just have forgotten them!

    Then, instead of use free demos, why not taking advantage of the free 14-day trial (or even 30 days) that most SaaS providers are offering? This is definitely a great way to learn about HR technologies without the having to install a software.



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