The UK’s rich IT history does bring up a major obstacle for British organisations. In recent research by IDC and sponsored by Cornerstone OnDemand, titled Future business: Unleashing your talent, Legacy IT systems were shown to be the second biggest barrier to digital transformation after cultural resistance, with over a third (34 percent) of UK organisations facing this issue today. Legacy IT systems are a particular issue in the UK when compared to other European countries, only Germany ranking higher.
Crisis of confidence
When HR and line-of-business managers were asked how their organisation compares
to peers in its ability to leverage digital technology to drive changes in business models, only 23 percent of British business leaders felt they exceeded their peers or were best-in-class. Swedish respondents were the most confident with 39 percent, followed by the Dutch respondents with 30 percent and German respondents with 27 percent.
But, UK organisations needn’t lack in confidence as there are many ways of overcoming the barrier of legacy IT systems and implementing a digital strategy that can have immediate impact without a total overhaul.
Leaders may look at their current systems and determine they are not fit for purpose when it comes to competing with more nimble competitors, but my advice is to not automatically think ‘rip and replace’.
Instead, leaders should be agile and evaluate systems based on what will support their digital strategy, and that may mean keeping elements and layering other capabilities that bring new benefits such as modern and engaging interfaces, more efficiencies, and data insights.
Equally, it’s good to remember that transforming HR is about more than just good management of different processes – it’s about developing a people strategy that supports business goals. Technology enables a good strategy, it doesn’t drive it.
HR must look at systems and tools that match the speed of change when it comes to workforce planning, recruiting, developing and retaining employees. People are first, not systems.
Evaluate your HR systems
When evaluating your HR systems, you’re likely to find you have systems that don’t need replacing or that are complicated to replace, or that aren’t worth replacing because the cost and time replacing it outweighs the benefit. Systems like payroll, for instance, may be different in various regions the organisation operates in, making it more complex to overhaul. My advice is to focus on systems that supports the goals of the business – that could be recruiting experts, retraining employees, or facilitating more internal mobility to develop a workforce that align to the strategy of the business. This puts focus on systems that enable better recruitment, onboarding, development, training, collaboration, and compensation of employees. This type of technology can be layered onto existing systems like payroll – essentially keeping what works, while also unifying your workforce data, digitising what matters, and driving business success.
A second important consideration is implementation time. You cannot wait years for a system – organisations are required to be nimbler than that. Review systems that will drive an immediate impact to the organisation. We’ve implemented systems in less than three weeks for some of our clients – it can happen fast.
And in any of today’s industries, you cannot sit still for a minute because digital innovation is disrupting us all.