Are you often disappointed with HR tech? I know I am!

Even self-confessed tech enthusiast, David Creelman, says HR technology leaves him feeling very disappointed. Here he helps banish the tech blues:

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Oct 4, 2023

Pretty much anyone who knows me, meets me, or reads my articles, should all know that I’m a die-hard technology enthusiast.

And yet I’m often disappointed with HR tech.

Have you had the same experience?

There are many reasons for this and several ways to reduce disappointment both for you personally and for other stakeholders.

Let’s talk this through.

The many causes of disappointment

One of the reasons new technology is often disappointing is that it can fall short in a surprising variety of ways.

Some of the most common problems are

  1. Unmet expectations: If the technology is over-hyped, which it often is, then there will inevitably be unmet expectations.
  2. Missing features relative to the existing tool: It’s often the case that new technology is missing some features the existing tool had, so it is in some ways it becomes worse than what the users had before.
  3. Poor integration: New technologies need to work with existing systems, and if they don’t integrate well, it can cause frustration and disappointment.
  4. Lack of reliability: New technology can be unreliable, especially when it is first rolled out.
  5. Not being suited to HR’s needs: Sometimes software is chosen because the IT or finance department wants it, not because it is the best tool for HR.

This is not an exhaustive list, but these are some of the things you should be prepared to deal with.

The general lesson here is that CHROs need to temper the excitement you have around a new technology since there are many ways it could end up being disappointing.

How to minimize the problems

A seasoned HR leader recently told me: “Often you have to hype the benefits of an innovation to get any attention in a big corporation.”

This puts us in the unenviable position where disappointment is inevitable because we were, in effect, forced to make promises we couldn’t keep.

There isn’t any tidy solution to this dilemma, but if you understand the dynamic then at least you’ll be prepared for it.

There are a few simple things you can do to minimize disappointment, even if you can’t eliminate it.

Here’s the checklist:

  1. Rein in your promises: You may have to hype the technology a bit to get a project off the ground but rein yourself in. It will feel good to over-promise now, but you’ll pay for it later with unmet expectations.
  2. Acknowledge problems: Admit at the start that you know that (along with the benefits), there will be problems. When people report problems take them seriously, even if in your view the problem is not that important. If people know you care, then they will cut you some slack when difficulties arise.
  3. Involve the stakeholders early and often: Involving stakeholders is the best way to get their commitment. This is a cliché, but it is important. It will create a situation whereby users help you overcome problems rather than just blame you for them.
  4. Take your time and test: Leaders tend to push for unrealistic deadlines. If you don’t push back a little, then you are setting yourself up for problems. In any tech implementation, there are lots of details to be considered and lots of testing that should be done. Rushing a project creates unnecessary risk and you will have to articulate that risk so that leaders understand it.


Don’t get me wrong.

HR technology is great, but it’s just not as great as we want to believe.

There are many reasons why it can be disappointing which are exacerbated by the tendency to over-promise.

As someone taking the lead on promoting new technologies, you need a clear understanding of what tends to go wrong.

Keep the above checklist in mind and you will minimize future problems.

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