I often tell HR professionals that they need to adopt more technology. I also often tell them that since they probably won’t get the funding they need right away, they should put their technology wants onto a technology roadmap.
So perhaps it’s worth spending a moment to think about how to create such a roadmap and how to use it when it’s done.
Start by being realistic
Imagine that you create a thoughtful and detailed five-year plan for the HR technology you want to implement. Now ask yourself this: What is the chance that, five years from now, you will look back at it and think “Yep, we executed that plan exactly”? In most organizations, plans are only loosely related to the reality that follows. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A plan is, in a large part, just a way for you to better understand a situation. The point is, your plan, or your roadmap, should begin only as a tool for thinking things through, not a set of firm commitments.
What exactly is an HR tech roadmap?
One of the annoying realities of business is that one is forever being bombarded with terminology that makes you feel like you are missing some important information. Do you need to take a course to learn how to make roadmaps? Do you need the textbook? Well, not really. A tech roadmap is, at heart, simply a list of what you’d like to do, and when.
It doesn’t take any special training to create a list. What you do need, however, is a good awareness of your HR priorities; a good awareness of the range of possible tech solutions; and some experience implementing new technologies so that you have a sense of the difficulties involved.
Once you have the list of what you would like to do, then you can get real about what you can do with the available resources – that is the order you should do things in, and what integrations will be important.
It’s traditional to show a roadmap as a colorful Gantt chart (pictured), illustrating in some detail the different sets of activities that will be involved in selecting and implementing new technologies.
At some point though, you will need a level of project management. But don’t let the objective of eventually having a nicely illustrated plan deter you from making the first draft of the roadmap. Remember this is just a list of what and when.
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Setting the stage
You probably have a good sense of what HR needs, but far less clarity about what tools are available. For instance, you’ll probably hear terms like “talent intelligence” and “learning experience platforms”.
It will no-doubt take some digging to determine what these tools do and if it’s relevant to your HR function. But I always recommend HR professionals to take a look at the Talent Tech Labs Ecosystem Map to get a feel for just how complex the tech ecosystem has become. That map only looks at talent acquisition tech.
HR tech is important, often complicated, and requires resources to adopt successfully. You should approach HR tech in a planned way though. This means writing out a roadmap of what you want to do. From there you can figure out what you can realistically accomplish in the next few years.
Be sure to continually build your understanding of HR tech so that you are aware of what’s possible and can distinguish the hype from the reality. This means keeping a constant eye on tech by going to trade shows, talking to peers, viewing demos, and running pilots. You need awareness of possibilities before you go too far in writing your roadmap.
But finally, remember that a roadmap is a just thinking tool. It isn’t likely that you’ll follow it exactly, but it is the way to get started.