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CIO and CHRO Collaboration: Cloud Software and the Opportunity to Rethink Work

Ann Blakely, Principal, Baker Tilly

Ann Blakely, Principal, Baker Tilly

I think we can all acknowledge that historically the CIO and CHRO did not have a lot in common, didn’t share a lot of objectives, and probably felt it difficult to align on common goals. With the evolution of HR technology, those days are over.  When the CIO and CHRO came together, powerful things happened—costs reduced, processes got enhanced, and ultimately the way the organization works could be reimagined.  So how are CIOs and CHROs collaboratively navigating to the future?  What do they need to address and discuss?  Every organization is different; there are no answers below—but there are plenty of questions. Here’s a sampling of what we at Baker Tilly are hearing as we guide executives through roadmap sessions that help set the stage for significant business transformation through the adoption of cloud software.

1. An Overarching Technology Strategy – At this point, the question is not “if” but “when” the organization will move enterprise applications to the cloud.  What is the strategy to do this?  The first step is to look at the organization’s current state: how are the on premise tools we have in place meeting the needs of the organization including functions such as HR, finance, payroll? What’s the financial benefit of moving to a cloud platform? What does the cloud afford us?  Does cloud software offer more modern and sophisticated processes and practices that vastly improve our manager / employee experience, or that enhance the effectiveness of our most vital human capital initiatives? How important is it to be on one platform vs. multiple vendors?  These and other cloud technology discussions will propel an organization forward in its thinking, and change the nature of work in the organization.

"Every roadmap and cloud engagement is different and should be tailored to the unique circumstances of the CIO/CHRO and organization in question"   

2. The Management of Change – Speaking of change, managing change within an organization is likely the most essential activity that both the CIO and CHRO will jointly oversee. Do we have the appetite to move to something so drastically different? Do we have pockets of the organization that are resistant to change?  Who are the champions in the organization that will evangelize these shifts in our thinking?  How will the roles in our departments change, do we have the people, skills and organizational structure in place to govern these new tools? Change management isn’t just a training session at the end of a project.  It starts now.  Like, right now.

3. Managerial Decision-Making – How well is our organization leveraging data to make wise decisions? Decisions about the workforce, productivity, revenue and costs.  Do we have the appropriate managerial dashboards in place to bring real time analytics together? Are we thinking about “the right” analytics that actually drive decision-making? Maybe we have some good reports and dashboard analytics, but what does it take to create them – innumerable data sources, spreadsheets and hundreds of hours to create?  Are we thinking in a more strategic manner about what the data is telling us: Trends, probabilities, predictions?  Organizations that most effectively harness data drive multiples higher than their peers in key business metrics.

4. Globalization – How international is our business, how diverse is our workforce, and what requirements to we have of our enterprise tools to manage our global (or growing global) organization?  Can our current platform handle the ever-changing international legislative requirements?  Are we compliant? Are our localized processes and practices managed well? What about managing currencies and languages?  Have we thoroughly considered the way global data is managed and secured around the world?  Growing internationally puts new pressures on organizational tools to be unified and harmonized centrally, yet remain adaptable, flexible, and nimble globally.

5. M&A as a Catalyst – What M&A activity is on the horizon? What does our merger partner have for systems?  How do we reconcile what we have with what they have – whose is best?  Or does this activity actually provide a catalyst to move to a new, single, more modern cloud system?  Once a flexible, modern cloud tool is in place, can it actually function as an asset in our integration strategy - can we make our acquisition integrations nearly “turnkey”, maximizing efficiency to realize synergies more quickly? 

We hope you find these questions to be a reasonable start on your journey to cloud software.  There are hundreds more questions to ask along the way; and as we said, there are no pat answers – every roadmap and cloud engagement is different and should be tailored to the unique circumstances of the CIO/CHRO and organization in question. Both parties need to listen closely to the other, take a lot of notes, and formulate a roadmap.

Your next challenge:  Walk down the hall and start up this conversation with your colleague; your organization will never be the same (in a good way).

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