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It’s Time to Fix HR and IT: Here’s What You Must Do to Get Budget and Buy-In


October 3, 2017

5 minute read

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For many organizations, joint HR and IT operations like onboarding and offboarding run a bit like a car with a hole in the gas tank. Sure, the job gets done, but it isn’t terribly efficient. In fact, it can even be dangerous.

Since neither HR or IT completely owns these tasks, the problem is often ignored until frustration boils over. This frustration comes in many forms, but it commonly manifests as an irate business lead who can’t “activate” her new staff within an hour or a disgruntled ex-employee who takes advantage of improper offboarding.

In these cases, what happens next is typically a plaster-patching exercise. Instead of building a new foundation for modern HR and IT best practices, organizations typically treat the symptom instead of the cause.

If you’re reading this and nodding your head in agreement, then it’s time for a change. It’s time leadership gives the problem the attention it deserves.

Together, HR and IT must drive almost quantum action to seamlessly (and safely) execute user lifecycle management (ULM) tasks that can greatly impact the bottom line. To do so, HR and IT need the support and sponsorship of the C-suite. However, for obvious reasons, executives aren’t always thrilled to dedicate time and money to reconstructing an internal process–especially one that, from afar, appears to be working just fine.

So what can HR and IT leaders do to get the budget and buy-in?

Gather Data to Expose the Dangers of Ineffective HR and IT Processes

When making the case to executives for significant change, you need to articulate the likely negative impact of an inefficient HR and IT relationship, especially on an organizational level.

It helps to answer the following questions and present the results to leadership:

1. How many working hours will be wasted while employees wait for access to applications and other resources?

To find this information, survey recent new hires, consultants, and contractors. Ask them the following question: “How many hours did you spend waiting for access to the right technology during your first week?”

Once you have the average number of hours wasted per employee, multiply it by the average hourly pay for an employee at your organization. Then, multiply that number by the expected number of new hires to be made in the next six months. It will look something like this:

~8 hours wasted per new hire * ~50 expected new hires = 400 hrs total wasted * $30 per hour = ~$12,000 wasted

This example equation shows that a company can expect to waste $12,000 on future hires over the next six months.

2. What sensitive information does an employee have access to that can cause reputational damage if leaked or deleted? How would a client react when notified?

The average data breach costs $3.62 million, according to the 2017 Ponemon Cost of Data Breach Study. While this number is simply an average, it is still a sobering statistic that should gain the attention of executives. To drive the point home, use real examples of data disasters caused by offboarding mistakes. For example, Georgia-Pacific and Lucchese Bootmaker are two powerful examples of breaches caused by flawed offboarding procedures.

3. What are the penalties for failing an audit?

Failing an audit due to a lack of proper HR and IT procedures is costly. Organizations are at risk of reputational damage, voided contracts and loss of future business, litigation, massive fines, internal costs for corrective measures, and many more harmful side effects.

For example, the penalty for not being PCI compliant can range from $5,000 to $500,000. HIPAA audit failure can easily cost $50,000.

4. What would be the cost to your brand equity if you failed an audit or suffered a data breach?

Should a breach occur, the reputational cost is devastating. According to a Delinea report, on average, companies experience a 5% drop in average stock price the day a breach is announced, 7% loss of customers, and 31% of consumers discontinue their relationship with the company.

Putting a dollar value on the problem helps drive the project forward and ensures the proper attention is placed on the issue. When delivering this information, present it in a way that’s digestible and says clearly: “This is what’s at stake.”

On top of the quantitative data, be sure to add compelling anecdotal evidence, industry research, and any other related information to build a strong case for change. This case should include first-hand input from HR and IT leaders and staff, with each demonstrating their own challenges and frustrations. Additionally, make sure to collect real-world examples from other departments across the organization. This will help demonstrate the breadth and depth of the problem.

Presenting a Path to Success

Keep in mind that when presenting your concerns to executives, the focus shouldn’t just be on the problem; adequate attention should be given to the solution as well. Start by identifying the areas of greatest risk or reward, as well as some easy or tactical wins.

If you’re more security-minded, focus on ensuring all former employees no longer have access to applications or company data. Otherwise, focus first on improving processes that directly benefit the bottom line–this will likely be getting new hires up and running faster.

One thing to avoid is an overwhelming scope. Changes don’t need to be revolutionary at first. Instead, they should be coordinated and realistic. It’s vital to show how (and articulate) how small, consistent change can lead to significant benefits and transformation over time.

It will take patience to develop, implement, and embed new HR and IT processes. And it will take money to invest in new applications that streamline those processes and improve the chances of success. Understand that changing the way people behave and work is extremely difficult and must be executed with a common goal.

Change management will be required, which is one of the primary reasons executive sponsorship will be necessary. A multi-departmental change program is never easy to implement. There will be resistance and roadblocks.

Being able to remove these barriers will be one of the primary roles of the executive sponsor.

This is the first post in our HR and IT series (co-produced by Namely and BetterCloud). Click here to read the next post in the series, which provides tactics for HR and IT to deal with evolving employee types and increasing demands.

About the Author

Gavin WhatrupGavin Whatrup (@gwhatrup) started out helping people do innovative things with data. Nearly 30 years later, he’s now helping organizations protect that data, take advantage of cloud-based opportunities, and reimagine the role IT can play in the new age. An early adopter of virtualization and hybrid cloud, Gavin recently managed the migration of his organization to Office 365, across 12 companies and 1,000 users. From small data analysis company, via marketing start-up, media, and advertising agencies to marketing communications group, Gavin has tracked the rise and rise of IT as a core corporate function, which at its heart is a people-based service, doing amazing things on a daily basis.