Highlights From Matt Burns, a Leading HR Technology Strategist

Adopting the right HR Technology and strategy is no small endeavor – but lucky for us, we were able to spend some time with Matt Burns at Weevr.io to talk best practices in HR tech. As one of BC’s leading HR Technology sStrategists, and Founder & Chief Innovation Officer of Bento HR, Matt took the time to answer questions asked by HR professionals across Canada in great depth. 

To set yourself up to create world-class HR technology best practices, dig into the recording with Matt here. Or read on to capture the highlights of our conversation below!

Q 1: How do I get buy-in from senior leaders on HR technology?

A: Build an air-tight business case and create stakeholder engagement.

Build a Business Case

When building a persuasive business case to fund digital transformation, HR would do well to consider these three areas:

  1. Cost. Unless the CEO is explicitly asking for a particular technology, most people operations teams will increase their chances of funding technology by saving costs in other areas of the organization. Matt gives this example, “If you wanted to invest $100,000 in your HR tech stack, first look to see if you can save money elsewhere in the organization to fund your project. “Do I have the right resources deployed in the right areas? …What money are we throwing down a well that we can reinvest in [HR technology]? [This] gets you in the front door.”
  2. Bandwidth. Ask yourself, does the organization have the bandwidth to assume the bulk of this project? “Transformation isn’t something you do off the side of your desk,” says Matt. “If [you do not have enough resources], you need to assume a bigger budget to do the work.”
  3. Politics. If you aren’t packing quality data into your business case to justify funding, the loudest voice or political sway can derail even the most sensible HR technology solution. 
  4. Risk Mitigation. Think through the digital transformation risks and talk through various scenarios with the organization. For example, you are on a “twelve-month project, and six months in, your project manager leaves. Most companies stop it, and the project is killed,” says Matt. “You need a plan to continue it.” If you don’t have answers to the questions your leadership team will throw at you, there won’t be a project. “Walk in anticipating what [that] conversation is going to be like.”

Create Stakeholder Engagement

Before presenting your digital transformation to the board or leadership team, Matt advises, “Have a meeting before the meeting.” Meet with stakeholders ahead of time to get their feedback and blessing on the business plan. That way, when the board meeting for your funding request happens, your stakeholders can give a thumbs up to the CEO on your behalf and you are off to the races.  

Q 2: How do you implement HR technology? What are some best practices?

A: First, identify what specific problem you are trying to solve.

Matt simplifies it as this: “Start with the end in mind. What problem are you trying to solve? It sounds like a really simple question but you’d be surprised how many people either:

  1. don’t know the answer to that, or
  2. there’s differences of opinions around the org as to what the problem actually is.” 

Clearly identifying the problem and engaging stakeholder buy-in increases the chances that the framework for your digital transformation project will be successful.

Matt also noted that leaders should be careful about how much digital transformation they take on at the same time. “I don’t recommend five digital projects [new ATS, HRIS, LMISk etc.] in 12 months!”

Q 3: What are some recommended practices in selecting HR technology vendors?

A: Run each vendor through at least these three questions. 

  1. Do you have open APIs? API’s are “Application Interfaces,” and they allow two separate technologies to talk to one another, thereby eliminating the need for duplicate data entry. While some leaders may opt for large enterprise solutions that take care of all HR technology needs, you may be interested in flexibility. API integrations will give you the flexibility to pick and choose ‘best-of-breed’ HR tech while maintaining a fluid, automated experience. For instance, at Weevr.io, we have integrated our Talent Referral Technology API to communicate with Applicant Tracking Systems for a seamless experience.
  2. Do you have Single Sign-On? Also called SSO, this allows you, your team, and IT one easy login and prevents the need to remember multiple passwords.
  3. Where is the data hosted? Cloud-based server? On-premise? If you are a public institution in Canada, you will have some restrictions on where personal and private information can be stored.

These three questions provide a first initial vetting of potential vendors. They will also help you create, as Matt mentioned, “an intentional HR technology architecture that relieves the workload of other people in the business and not just transfer it over to IT.”

Q 4: What data should we be collecting that can feed into Predictive Analytics Technology?

A: Your data ideally should consist of key metrics such as the following:

  1. Wages: What you are paying from a salary perspective and the rate of increase over time can provide insights such as the predicted cost of your future workforce.
  2. Turnover: Make sure to do segmentation on tenure, position, performance, etc. “Regrettable Turnover” is a powerful piece of data to analyze for HR functions who are trying to find cost savings in other areas of the organization (that they can hopefully attribute to more wonderful people programs). Matt expands here: “Who are your highest performing employees, what is their profile and why are they leaving?” With these employee profiles in hand, ideally, the HR team meets with these employees to have “Stay Interviews” which help reduce Regrettable Turnover. Calculate the cost savings of reducing high performer turnover with its impact on productivity, etc. A difference in turnover of 5% may allow HR to plan and predict cost savings substantial enough to fund additional HR projects.
  3. Learning: More workplaces are investing in increased funding into learning and development to meet the skills gaps of today’s market. Collecting quantifiable data on the ROI of your learning programs wherever possible will help your organization maximize their training investments and predict future needs.

Q 5: What are your top five takeaways you hope every [reader] can take away? 

A: Matt recommended investment in:

  1. Stakeholder engagement
  2. Understanding the problem you are trying to solve.
  3. Treating quantification as a requirement – not a nice-to-have. It will show you the fruits of your labor, the ROI of your investments, and quell unnecessary non-data-informed politics.
  4. Automating items within your department that are not adding value and tying up resources (e.g., chasing people down for new hire forms, etc.).
  5. Being kind to yourself. 

No one expected that we would be where we are today and “digital transformation is no longer an event, it is part of what you are going to do [as an HR or business leader] on an ongoing basis.” Matt continues, “ just know you don’t have to do this in six months. You can start building a foundation to incrementally move towards a future state… Be kind with yourself, be patient with yourself. You have a big road ahead but you have lots of resources and people here to help you as you go through this journey – you are definitely not alone.”

We hope this information has helped equip you for your digital transformation needs. For more information on our talent referral technology, Weevr.io, we’d love to connect.