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Does your organizations create talent management policy in one part of the organization and the supporting technology in another? How about HR data and analysis? Yet another part of the organization, perhaps? If so, you’re not alone. The reality is that although most organizations have an HR office, too few have organizationally co-located resources dedicated to HR technology or HR data analytics. And by “organizationally co-located” I don’t mean the policy office consults with the techy people once all the policies are written and tells them “here…design me a system that does this.”

So what’s the big deal?

Isn’t the policy what’s most important anyway? I would argue that policy, data and meaningful metrics, and technology are equally important and the success of one is tied to the success of the others. Why is this true? In today’s technology-centric environment where most employees have a Facebook account and do their banking online, many HR initiatives don’t become “real” to employees and supervisors until they “see and use” those policies using software. Performance appraisals are the classic example. There are likely tens of pages of policy on conducting performance appraisals in organizations that NO ONE (except HR, attorneys, and the unions read), yet the appraisal process only becomes real to people when they try and use the technology that captures the assessments for the first time. And guess what happens when they don’t like the technology? You got it…they don’t like the new policy!

And why are data and metrics so important? Well, how will you know what types of information to capture and display in your software if you don’t think about the data behind the policy? How will you know if your new appraisal program is even working if you don’t create and analyze meaningful metrics? You won’t.

So what can you do about it?

For HR programs to have the greatest impact, organizations must execute in an environment where policy, technology, and data carry equal weight. They should involve the right people from the start and keep them involved throughout the design and implementation of the HR initiative. Have the IT folks mock up what the application will look like, or better yet, build (or configure it) it as you develop your policy. “Seeing” the solution that will implement the policy will undoubtedly help policy makers think through the details of the policy.

The #1 rule

NEVER underestimate the importance of technology to the success of an HR policy. Bad software can easily destroy the best programs.