Top 8 LEHRNings from HR Tech Expo

We've always believed that software doesn't deliver business improvements, people do. Which is why we have so much fun attending enterprise tech conferences! The conversations are typically laced with tech jargon spewed by geeks who can't help themselves. But LEHRN's HR Tech Expo was different. Sure the focus was on technology. But the passion was on people. That inspired us to generate these eight take-aways to empower employee engagement first, implement technology second.

1. Successful software implementation is driven by people who care about people. The success of your technology is shaped early on by how it’s handled and presented to your people. Focus only on pricing, implementation deadlines and software integration and your technology may earn a questionable reputation and lukewarm reception, at best. At every step along the implementation path, relentlessly ask the question, “How will this decision impact our people or improve the way they work?” You’re not just connecting software and systems — you’re connecting people.

2. Leverage the fact that HR is the only business function to touch all employees. That’s huge. So what’s HR’s role in selecting and introducing new tech in your business? Think “Critical Advisor.” Nobody knows the organization’s culture – and those tricky underlying subcultures – better than the team on the front lines of supporting your people. Neglect to involve your HR folks in software or tech implementations and you may miss important connections or insights into the real flows of your business. Internal synergies, departments at odds or disruptive conflict – your project could be either a success or a scapegoat if you’re not fully informed upfront.  Remember, HR sees your business through the lens of the employee; a unique vantage point that’s critical when you need everyone to jump onboard with your tech implementation.

3. Evolve from the “IT Devil’s Triangle.” (Try frank’s “5-Star Success” model.) Michael Krigsman (@mkrigsman) described typical tech implementations involving three main stakeholders – the internal buyer, the external vendor, and the partner system integrator; otherwise known as the “Devil's Triangle.” Hmmm... notice anyone missing from that three-headed beast? How about the voice of the employee? Without a focused approach to communicating through the voice of the people, in the context of the business changes that are about to occur, the tech implementation project will stand on wobbly legs.

frank’s 5-Star Success model bolsters project success by including communications and organizational change management (OCM) experts to the implementation team. The Devil’s Triangle knows your business requirements; your Comms and OCM folks understand the needs of your employees. Together, they make a beautiful team.

4. Why “The Competence Learning Matrix Model” is the perfect Expo metaphor. Attendees walking the floor at any business tech expo typically have one thing in common: a desire to learn and grow their understanding of how today’s technology can improve their business and the success of their people. Same with this year’s LEHRN HR Tech Expo. When you overlay the model of the “Conscious Competency Theory” to the folks engaged in inspiring conversations with the tech vendors, you could almost see their progression from a point of “consciously incompetent” to becoming more “consciously competent” about the new systems and solutions. Cloud platforms, fully integrated systems, and end-to-end solutions designed to support the full employee lifecycle: these topics and more were shared through conversations that helped the LEHRN conference community build their knowledge and overall level of competence – positioning them as “consciously competent” experts as they return to their businesses and share their new learnings.

5.  BYOD: It’s ITs way of keeping up with sweeping enterprise tech change. IT departments are facing increased pressures in satisfying the demands of their internal customers. For the first time in history, employees are now using more sophisticated consumer technologies than are available to them in the workplace. During the LEHRN keynote panel session, Jason Averbook (@jasonaverbook) recalled his days as a youngster, trekking into his father’s place of employment to use a computer or communicate using the fax machine. Today employees typically have better access and connectivity away from the office. Progressive IT leaders implement strategies that balance the most powerful consumer-level devices with the business requirements of security and process efficiency. Handled effectively, BYOD is a win-win for all, and builds a foundation for next-gen, enterprise tech advancements.

6. “Rip & Create” trumps “Rip & Replace." Bill Kutik (@billkutik) introduced the distinction. Given today's business speed and constant change as the status quo, simply replacing old systems (and old thinking!) with new technology is no longer enough. Tech shouldn’t define your internal processes – you should re-design your internal processes using best practices, then evaluate and adopt the right tech to support your new way of working. Align your tech to your business strategy by asking questions such as, "Where do you see your business 5, 10 or 15 years from now?" "How will the technology grow and scale your business?" "What degree of organizational readiness exists for new tech?" Data cleansing is also a must. The best technology solution will fail if it’s built on dirty data. Also launch change communications to get in front of old, rigid behaviors before the implementation. Determine what new attitudes, behaviors and actions need to change for the technology to be truly effective. Now that's creating success!

7. Life in the cloud vs. burying your head in on-site solutions: what’s the 3rd way? Chances are you’re not starting your tech implementation from a blank-slate environment. Instead, you’re evaluating new business technology that needs to integrate with legacy systems and with solutions that are both on-site and in the cloud. It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing game. With today’s fully integrated solutions, you can build an effective technology stack that works with licensed on-site systems alongside your cloud software. Maybe your licensed, onsite Payroll and HRIS systems serve your needs just fine. No need to replace them; the better, “3rd way” may be to integrate them with best-of-breed, cloud-based talent management solutions.

8. A seamless HR Tech Expo is a great lesson for seamless tech implementations. The 2013 LEHRN HR Tech Expo was a model of efficiency! From the pre-event communications to on-site registration, from the expo floor to the “Shopper Track” and break-out sessions, the event was an easy, enjoyable experience. Think about how you can apply these same standards to your technology implementation. "What will the experience be like for the actual user?" "How will they easily navigate from one area to the next?" "How can we support and reinforce their learning as they move throughout the experience?" The LEHRN leadership board and volunteers did it right: they focused on the end users. As they aimed at creating a winning experience for their members and attendees, the end result was enhanced credibility, knowledge sharing, and support for their mission. A strategy and approach worth adopting for your own software or tech implementation!

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