One of the most vexing challenges facing human capital leaders today is understanding technology’s role in managing their workforce. To say there are a lot of  tools available is an understatement, as new solutions seem to roll out on a daily basis, adding to the vast ecosystem of HR technologies.

Josh Bersin, the noted human capital analysts and researcher, last year wrote that a “typhoon” of disruption is coming to the HR technology market, led by vast spending in organizations’ workforce and in investment capital. He notes that companies have grown their budgets for technology by 10% in the past year, far ahead of GDP growth in most markets. This isn’t surprising considering the pace of innovation occurring in this sector.  

Traditional enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms such as Workday or PeopleSoft have been undergoing transformation for some years. These companies are pushing out updates and additional functionalities on a regular basis. At the same time, a huge collection of point solutions is accumulating, performing everything from video interviewing to learning and development to minimizing unconscious bias in hiring.

The impact of all this innovation on the workforce has been clear: acquiring, managing and retaining talent have become more efficient, effective and timely. Furthermore, many of these tools offer in-depth analytics to facilitate decision-making and remedial actions. One of the most important functionalities is to create a differentiated experience for talent, such as the deployment of chatbots to engage with job applicants at the top of the recruitment funnel and throughout the hiring process.

With so much innovation around, it’s a great time for human capital leaders aspiring to instill a more data-driven, AI-directed approach to talent management. That is until you get down to putting all these tools to work. Then it can become overwhelming and distracting. And that’s something no HR leader looks forward to.

Like any technology, HR innovation requires effort to implement and adopt. The more functionality a tool delivers, the more internal change and training are needed. Then there are the technical aspects requiring collaboration with IT, legal and other departments to make them all work. Concerns about data privacy, user inertia, CapEx and OpEx costs and many others should be considered well in advance of any investment. And in truth, organizations annually spend a considerable sum on shelfware that never gets off the ground.

What can you do to avoid such problems in your organization? To ensure you get the maximum value of your HR technology spend, focus on these four areas within your organization:

change management

As with many other corporate initiatives, this may be the most important consideration if you want to ensure success. HR tools are designed to accelerate the output of your processes and people, but that won’t come easily if you don’t clarify the purpose of your investment to all stakeholders. You need to gain buy-in and commitment to your investment ahead of implementation. Furthermore, the fear of technology is real, so provide assurances to your workforce that they won’t become redundant. For internal customers, set realistic expectations, and be prepared to help them change habits through training and by demonstrating the benefits.

close collaboration

Don’t underestimate the importance of IT’s role, no matter how insignificant you think an investment may be. Especially in matters involving data, make sure both IT and compliance leaders are aware of the implications of bringing in new tools. Failure to consult with these functional heads can delay and even lead to scrapping projects so make sure they are brought into discussions early on. IT often times are not consulted until late in the process, upending the best laid plans of HR.

PMO responsibility

Too many organizations approach acquiring HR technology in an ad hoc way, dividing up responsibilities too broadly and leaving no one accountable for the overall success of the implementation. By dedicating a project leader, you ensure someone has a global view of all activities that need to be completed, is aware of all functional leaders who need to be consulted and has a direct line to stakeholders – including executive sponsors.

external support

Very rarely do companies have in-house expertise in the new technologies they acquire. If that’s the case in your organization, consider seeking not only guidance from the product vendor but also your other service providers such as a recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) partner or managed services provider (MSP). Some of these organizations are technologically agnostic or have deep experience with the type of technology you are investing in. The more input you get from experts, the more likely implementation will go smoothly.

If you adhere to these measures, you’ll likely avoid buying shelfware or experience delays in rolling out new tools into the field. More importantly, your return on investment will make the result worth the effort put into assessing, acquiring and implementing HR innovation.