“Thanks Harry but we’re dealing with it internally”


Sound familiar? Whether you’re an external party looking to partner with People leadership teams or if you’re an internal stakeholder “dealing with it internally” the question I want to ask is, do companies have the capacity to “deal with it internally” when it comes to HR Transformation?


To begin the blog I thought I would throw a little practical exercise in here. I want you to write down 5 activities that you MUST do during a typical working day?

Done? Great.

I now want you to write down 5 key things that YOU think are important when delivering a HR project?


Please go back to the original 5 things that you noted down (typical day). Put a mark next to them for what you’d deem as a BAU task and something you’d say was a strategic/project task.

The feedback that we typically receive is that no more than two deliverables, come under the strategic/project banner as being activities that you MUST complete every single day.


Right, so let’s get to the point. Far too many HR leaders I speak with say that they are dealing with it internally. How can you deal with something internally that is so crucial for the reputation of the current HR function and future HR functions to come, when you only spend 40% (2/5 tasks) of your day on it?


Some might say 40% is good.  When you consider the fight that HR goes through to get the BCJ signed off, Budget allocated and get things going in the first place. Would you want to go through all that to only then spend 40% of your time on the projects and probably bring an interim on an extortionate day rate, who’s CV was more than likely  “CTRL & F’d” by the internal recruitment team who are also looking after another 20+ roles? Yes they might have the required skills however, are they the right culture fit for your business?


I personally spend a lot of my time speaking to HR Leadership teams, whether that be HR Directors or alternatively HR Operations professionals and learn more about where they are on their HR transformation journey. Of course, HR as a function has been and still is trying to move away from a traditional administrative state, into one that is a valued strategic partner to the business.  This includes developing and driving the People Strategy with ‘Value Creation’ outcomes directly aligned with the goals of the business.


 HR transformations rely on 3 key factors:


  • People – this is the people inside the organisation. Without doubt the most important factor and worryingly the one that is most often missed off of the change management agenda. The reality of the situation is the performance of your employees is crucial for the productivity and quality of service you offer – if you make changes that don’t enable them to perform better/engage them further, then is it really a good move for your business?


  • Process – these are the policies and procedures that are embedded into your organisations DNA. We can always have more efficient processes and we can always look to streamline. However, other factors can often efferent how effective your internal processes are. For example:
    • Time – the amount of time that you have to invest in process analysis and redesign
    • Budget – one of the key challenges modern day HR functions face is fighting for budget. Not only is HR a back-office function but it also competes with the likes of IT and Finance.
    • Knowledge and expertise – at the end of the day your existing processes were put in place by a member of your organisation, if you don’t know any different or how to change, then why would you change?


  • Technology – Technology is fantastic and in the 21st century a lot of people would question how they would cope without it (yes, the world did exist before your iPhone…).  Technology is an enabler, it does NOT solve your talent management/recruitment/engagement or any other type of issues. Far too many businesses treat HRIS implementation as IT projects, this leads to a role out of “a system” just like any other system in your business. HR is all about people, therefore, let’s remember that our HRIS is used by people.


“I’ve been asked to deliver a Workday implementation by 2019 but I still also have to lead our HR Business partners and ensure they’re performing to a level that suits the business needs”

“We’re supposed to be trying to move to a new TOM however, how can I even look at that when I have so many ER cases on my desk?”


I wrote this blog following on from conversations with Réncái’s HR Leadership community. A lot of the professionals I speak to are under pressure to deliver modern day People Strategies. However, at the same time I rarely come across HR functions who have the availability of time, alongside the ongoing commitments of their role, to move these initiatives forward at the rate needed for the business.


The one thing I would say is that there are numerous businesses out there who have invested into HR and not seen the benefits or ROI (dependant on what you define a benefit to be). The question remains; Why are businesses not seeing improvements when they’re providing their HR leaders with budget/resources etc?


External companies trying to support with your HR transformation are there to HELP. Believe it or not… they’re not all there to milk your budget, they want to help because similar to you, they’re people focused. They have the time to build up a network of trusted advisors who have a broad range of Subject Matter Expertise skills and aligned project experience to add value to your team. The best bit is once you bring one of those Trusted Advisors in, you’re not getting someone who’s “met the job description” – you’re getting someone who a HR transformation expert, so they won’t just look after their work stream, they can get involved with absolutely anything you want (within reason).


Really interested to get your feedback. I am sure people will have plenty to say about it – some of the most likely responses will be “why would we not just build our project team internally? Why not bring a contractor in?” You can do… and alongside this you could consider partnering with a business who has delivered many HR change projects, who can accelerate your project success and benefits gained due to a deep expertise resource and focus to spend 100% of their time on YOUR project.

Keen to get everyone’s thoughts, however, I ask you the question:

Do internal teams have the capacity to deliver projects on this scale whilst excelling at their day job?