An HR technology consultant helps companies implement new technology and tools relevant to the company's human resources department, such as HRIS. The HR consultant also helps assess if the company needs any changes in the first place. Finally, an experienced professional can also help automate HR procedures such as hiring, payroll management, legal compliance, employee relations, etc.
Even an experienced HR professional will go through a robust HRIS implementation only once or twice in their career. Since not many HR employees focus on how the technology works, companies hire a single advisor or a consulting firm to help with strategic planning.
Larger organizations especially can have a hard time integrating a new system. Since the integration shouldn't hinder daily HR tasks, consultants offer innovative solutions and support.
This article provides all the information about what an HR technology consultant does, required skills, and duties. Let's start.
What Exactly Does an HR Technology Consultant Do?
Larger companies have a dedicated HR technology team. The team oversees systems, business processes, and technology capabilities related to HR. The daily work focuses on process definition, ways to improve the existing systems, necessary support, and figuring out the most optimal practices.
Businesses that can't afford such a team typically hire a one-time HR consultant to help with the overall technical design and improvements to meet their business needs. Even an enterprise might employ a subject matter expert to help with specific tech development.
Here's everything an HR tech-consultant might do:
Assess Technology Capabilities & Needs
About 74% of businesses in the US actively plan to increase the HR technology budget. But while every HR department needs HRIS the help meet primary human resources needs, introducing new software won't necessarily solve an issue.
A tech consultant will help assess if new technology is worth investing in does the solution lie somewhere else. Tech consultants have an equivalent combination of tech and HR skills. As such, they can provide valuable insight into technology and general employee relations.
They also interview stakeholders and pinpoint solutions such as human capital management software to assess the following:
- Employees that use the technology - What roles and positions do the employees that use services hold. Are they HR managers, recruiters, or payroll specialists?
- Solution usage - How do employees use the solution? Are there any issues? How does the solution impact the business's efficiency?
- Technology assessment - Are there better alternatives? Is the current solution implemented correctly? Does it have all the features and the latest updates?
It's possible that a company doesn't need a new system but an update of the current one. That way, the consultant can save business teams money and time.
Provide High-Level Understanding
Tech consultants can't jump to integrating solutions. A professional will discuss with stakeholders and ensure they understand the problem. More importantly, the advisor will aim for alignment on expectations.
A technology requirement doesn't mean the company has the resources to afford such services and programs. Before moving on to the integration process, the consultant must present solutions and costs. Otherwise, they are running the risk of starting something the organization can't afford.
Companies often don't understand what it requires to implement a human resources tech solution. It's the consultant's job to assess while adding consulting on implementation, costs, and time needed for the client to rip benefits from the technology.
Provide Innovative Solutions
If a business decides to go with specific HR tools, it will expect the HR consultant to help determine the right vendor. By this point, the tech consultant should know the right solution.
One business will look to automatize general supervision or HR policies overview. Another will want to improve the overall employee experience. For every goal or a set of goals, the consultant needs to provide the best solution possible.
When deciding on the vendor, here are the required steps:
- Create an RFP - The consultant should know how to write an effective request for a proposal. This way, the consultant gets a clear idea of what the vendor is offering, eliminating issues that would happen in the integration phase.
- List company's requirements - Since every organization is unique, it's helpful to list exact requirements. That way, the consultant can pinpoint the best solutions quicker.
- Do demos - After the consultant creates a list of solutions, they must present them to stakeholders, ideally, through a demo.
The consulting process should result in a precise market overview and insights. By that point, the consultant and stakeholders should identify and decide on the best human resources solutions. The next step where consultants help is implementation and integration.
System Implementation & Integration Tools
While implementation means introducing a new solution, integration is the process of combining all the systems related to human resources. The tech consultant offers consulting and expertise for both services.
The process' complexity depends on the company size and services in question. Implementing a simple fee earner headcount or a solution for pinpointing the best employees is far easier than implementing a new HRIS or people strategy management for the entire HR department.
When implementing a more complex solution such as a human resources information system, there are three general steps:
- Planning - Create a detailed timeline and a plan
- Building & Testing - Technology design, process development, user acceptance testing, and feedback
- Go Live - Roll out the technology
But just because the main task is over, that doesn't mean that consultant's duties are over. Businesses might decide to partner with the consultant after the initial job.
Although technology is developing, HR still faces the same issues it faced two decades ago. According to research by PWC, the three main challenges are HR analytics (39%), recruiting (39%), and HR system modernization (36%).
With that in mind, consultants can join or partner with the company long term. Instead of the business searching for new consulting services, employers might decide to stick to the existing HR tech consultant.
In that case, the HR consultant provides ongoing consulting support. The support ensures the HR team masters the technology, helping with any issues that might arrive, and focuses on insights that can make the HR team's jobs even more efficient.
Besides consulting, the HR tech expert might also liaison between the HR department, the IT team, stakeholders, and 3rd parties. In that case, the consultant offers support as a streamlined exchange of information.
As further support, the HR professional should watch the industry and market. They can offer to consult if any new services and processes appear.
Let's check what the requirements are to become an HR technology consultant.
Since different companies require different HR solutions, employers will look for a tech consultant that can provide tailored solutions either for the department or the industry the business is in.
Furthermore, tech consulting jobs require specific knowledge that combines HR and technology to provide exceptional service. Here are the general requirements for the tech consulting position.
Understanding of Human Resources & Tech Concepts
Technology, in general, is developing rapidly. HR tech consultants have to stay on top of the latest trends in HR technology. As HR professionals, they also need to understand the latest trends in human resources.
Since an experienced consultant will offer work as a consulting contractor, it's paramount that they proactively stay updated on the latest changes in the industry. This means employers and partners will look for a tech consultant with three to seven years of HRIS management experience.
According to SHRM, during the height of the pandemic, remote collaboration was the top tech investment in HR. An HR tech expert would recognize the trend and act accordingly.
Additional knowledge can be human capital management software and ERP applications.
Agile Project Management
Since implementing a solution is a big part of the consulting job, tech consultants should be familiar with Agile. That way, they provide not just targeted implementing services but also strong support in case any issues arise.
Furthermore, the Agile approach enables better communication with the IT team on required procedures.
Excellent Communication & Leadership Skills
Although the consultant isn't a leader, they act as an authority on HR technology. A business may ignore the consulting efforts if there's a lack of authority.
The two primary soft skills are communication and leadership. The consultant can describe the problem and offer solutions effectively with trustworthy communication. Strong leadership skills can ensure that the HR department accepts the solution and that the training goes smoothly.
Consultants need at least a bachelor's degree in human resources or a related field for formal education.
Although not mandatory, employers will prefer consultants with valid certifications such as SHRM and HRCI. Furthermore, although a master's degree isn't a strict requirement, it's a welcomed addition.
Below you can find the most commonly asked questions and answers about tech consulting and HR software.
What technology does HR use?
In modern human resources, departments use technology for all main HR tasks such as workforce managing, recruiting, performance tracking, benefits, and compensation administration. Many current solutions offer all-in-one services where a single solution provides all HR essentials. But since every business has unique requirements, they will hire a consultant to help with deciding on the best solution.
What do HR consultants offer?
Tech consultants offer expertise and knowledge that help companies implement the latest HR tech solutions. Additionally, they also help with upgrading existing software and assessing if such a change is necessary or not. Although they may act, the end goal is to ensure the HR department can function independently from the consultant.
Why is HR Tech important?
Since human resources work with a lot of data and administrate vital parts of a business, having technology that reduces stress is essential. It makes the HR department more efficient, but it also minimizes the risk of mistakes when dealing with delicate tasks such as compensation and benefits.
Josh Fechter is the founder of HR.University. He’s a certified HR professional and has managed global teams across 5 different continents including their benefits and payroll. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.