The topic of digitization is currently omnipresent and particularly affects the HR area of companies. In addition to the technical implementation, the accompanying organizational development is also critical to success.

The “digital” in digitalization puts the focus on technology, although at its core it is about massive changes in the life and work habits of employees. For this reason, it is not enough to simply introduce new technologies as a cloud-based HR system; modern tools can only be used successfully if the organizational framework conditions are right and the workforce supports the new solution.

In order to successfully accompany the digitization of HR, we at WAHLER HR see three focal points in projects with our customers:
We have to demonstrate added value for the different user groups, we design trainings, communication measures, organizational development measures actually with the added value for the executives and user groups and importantly we actually accompany and measure the changes to be able to assess the effectiveness of the individual measures.

1. Create acceptance: Make needs and the new roles and added values of the various target groups, HR staff, employees and managers transparent.

For a long time, topics such as change management and training were focused on HR as part of on-premise implementations. Basically, these systems were for the operational HR unit, which had to deal with them, which means that all measures in this regard were naturally also geared to HR. What clients are increasingly finding, especially during projects, is that there is a realization that managers and employees need to be involved. Because self-services are inherent in the new cloud systems, and therefore we can naturally also integrate the most diverse roles into the business processes and provide access to the system. That’s the key change: with the new cloud tools, we address all employees, all managers in the company, give them access to HR data and, of course, also have to get them to use it. A critical success factor in the introduction of new HR cloud solutions is to create acceptance among employees and managers to also use these new tools.


2. Demonstrate added value to specific target groups: Adapt communication and training to the respective target groups

The involvement of other target groups, in addition to HR, i.e., all managers and all employees who were not affected at all in the past, must of course take place very early on and over the entire duration of a project. In addition, it requires anticipating resistance from these target groups and breaking it down. The HR employees were often happy to get something new and powerful and were very enthusiastic, but with the managers it is sometimes a different story. We have to work very intensively with them and show them the added value they will have in the future and not just the disadvantages that they are now confronted with more HR processes.


3. Select, accompany and measure organizational development measures in line with the culture, framework conditions and maturity level of the organization.

We select suitable organizational development tools and, together with the client, adapt them to the framework conditions and the culture in the company. To do this, we start with an inventory with selected stakeholders, i.e. where do the companies stand in terms of their maturity level, what culture do they have and how high is the readiness for the introduction of HR cloud solutions. Only after that are suitable measures selected and designed. We repeatedly accompany these measures with interim measurements in order to be able to assess their success.


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The current framework conditions are consistently driving digitization forward. This is often a challenge, especially for personnel organization. But also for the HR department it is an essential task to think more about the digitization of processes. For Human Resources (HR), this means switching from paper-based processes to digital processes, such as application for leave or sick note for example. This requires a targeted and sustainable selection of HR software.

But how can you find the right HR software for you and the needs of your company among hundreds of HR applications?

The decision to digitize HR sounds simple in theory at first, and in practice it is often immediately planned which processes can be mapped in which new tools or how existing tools can be used even better.

Unfortunately, that’s where the challenges often only begin. It is no longer just a question of clarifying the operational questions, but also of the strategic orientation: Should the future HR software be as integrated as possible or are various special applications better suited for different processes? Should the software be operated in-house or in the cloud?

The most important question that is often lost sight of is above all the question of the benefits and added value of a new HR software solution. How can the new HR software solution support the company and HR strategy? What are the short, medium and long-term advantages of a new HR software solution for the company, managers, employees, the works council and the personnel organization?

The compass of HR software selection in the system jungle is a proven and structured approach

Kompass der HR-Softwareauswahl

Only after the strategic issues have been clarified and the strategic priorities of the personnel organization have been documented, the requirements for future personnel work and also the personnel organization and the personnel processes should be derived. Based on these considerations, it is advisable to develop a target image together with all relevant stakeholders. This usually already includes technical aspects and functionalities. But who in the company knows what the new software you are looking for can or should look like? Due to the large number of potentially suitable systems and their rapid further development, it is almost impossible to answer the essential questions about the company-specific target image and alternatives on your own. Selective external support in this process can save a lot of time and money and avoid frustration in your own organization. Finding the right tool from hundreds of offers cannot be comprehensively achieved through Internet research alone, because the essentials are not on the providers’ websites. Especially through qualified workshops with the providers and the most structured and an objective assessment by the technical experts, things can be identified that are essential but not obvious.

We at WAHLER HR, through many years of experience and our special consulting approach, can make a significant contribution to the objective and fast selection of the suitable HR software application and provide targeted support during implementation. In particular, the development of the internal organization, due to the new digital processes, self-services for employees and managers and the associated change in the tasks that the HR department experiences, is an essential task. Good communication and a corresponding organizational development lead to significantly increased acceptance and thus in the long term to an optimized return on investment for the company.

Compliance and risk minimization through digitalization

The introduction of the EU GDPR and in particular the current corona crisis show impressively how important the introduction of a digital infrastructure is.
The creation of suitable framework conditions, taking into account data protection guidelines for long-term economic success, is crucial, especially for small and medium-sized businesses.

It is not just the current crisis that shows the importance of offering digital jobs and processes. However, the prerequisites must be created for this right now, as opportunities and risks are very present and are experienced by many themselves.
The challenges can only be mastered in the future through the consistent use of digital media, processes and systems.
The HR department in particular, together with the IT department, will therefore become the driving forces behind digitization in the company.

The technical possibilities of HR cloud systems in particular are driving digitalization and enabling compliance with the GDPR.

Find out more about our services in the field of HR digitalization here.

Opportunities and risks of HR digitization – The goal must be more than just increasing efficiency, it must bring real added value for HR customers.

We therefore advocate a comprehensive perspective in the discussion about digital personnel management, which comprises the following five dimensions (Appel / Wahler 2018) (Fig. 1). These are due to technological innovations on the one hand and the needs and expectations of HR customers on the other hand under constant pressure to change:

  1. First of all, the tools have to be called: for example, mobile devices, but also sensors with which performance can be measured in the commercial sector, as well as software such as cloud solutions.
  2. All HR processes will be affected by digitization to varying degrees. In the first place, the recruitment process is often mentioned, which could be done by automation, at least for standard profiles, in a few years without the involvement of a personnel manager. In the area of ​​(initial) qualification and further training, the transition to “social learning” and learning is being carried out with automated learning recommendations and adaptive learning platforms (Spies 2019).
  3. Big data in digital human resources work means a huge increase in the amount, heterogeneity, rate of change and complexity of data and their relationships with one another. For example, email traffic in companies can be evaluated to see who the informal know-how bearers of the organization are.
  4. The structures of HR work will change. For example, the trend towards outsourcing through process standardization will increase sharply. Coupled with the increasing scarcity of personnel experts in the middle qualification segment, this will also greatly favor offshoring.
  5. Digitization will trigger a major change in leadership. Managers have to deal with the management of technically heterogeneous, decentralized and “virtual” teams even more than before, as well as with individual working methods and different working hours. This development must be flanked by cultural work to promote openness to agile structures and methods.

Modell der Digitalisierung von HR

Acceptance of digitization also plays an important role in creating added value.

“Why do I have to enter data in the system as a manager? Isn’t that the job of an HR expert? ”, Executives often ask when self-services should be introduced. In the case of previous automation spurts from HR, the argument was made to relieve the managers. In fact, however, they experienced a consolidation of their activities with the simultaneous loss of support resources in service units. Many managers are therefore suspicious of the digitization campaigns in HR. In addition, employees and managers continue to perceive personal interaction with HR as the better form of communication, which is also more appropriate to the nature of HR work – and this often even with purely administrative concerns. Given the concerns about overload and the desire for personal communication, the digitization of HR processes seems to be primarily desired by HR – and less by the customers of the HR function.

In order to increase the acceptance of HR digitization, its advantages for employees and managers must be presented clearly and group-specifically. A comprehensive change approach should be used to support digitization. Added value must be worked out and communicated personally. The classic application training can be largely avoided by additional programs, so-called in-system guides such as Walkme or Userlane, which automatically guide the user through the application. Figure 3 shows the acceptance model of digitization for the target groups employees, managers and HR managers. “Behavior” means the willingness of employees and managers to work with the new applications, while “understanding” aims to understand the advantages and necessities for change. Skills for the correct use of the applications, which are described in the following section, as well as digital leadership round off the framework.

Akzeptanzmodell der Digitalisierung

To learn more, you can find a teaser of the article here.

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From HR data management and digital files to workflows to HR intelligence and task management.

HR excellence is defined by the four parameters strategy, organization, portfolio and efficiency. A key driver for efficiency is the support of the processes with appropriate IT systems. The right systems and their integration increase both the performance and the quality of the processes and thus lead to HR efficiency. Therefore, HR-IT is increasingly proving to be the engine and drive in achieving HR efficiency and thus HR excellence.

HR work is supported in all companies today by IT systems. Even small businesses with only one employee indirectly use software for payroll accounting with their tax advisor. As the number of employees increases, the requirements for personnel work increase. It is therefore essential that the selection of IT support for the HR processes has to be adapted to the peculiarities, requirements, culture and strategy of the company and should therefore be appropriate. IT support for large corporations should certainly be different than for SMEs. Efficiency can therefore only be measured relatively, always depending on the appropriateness and form of the systems. Efficiency drivers, however, can be defined independently of the company-specific framework.

Two maturity criteria: level of system support and integration

Efficiency can be assessed using two maturity criteria: system support and integration. It is important to work out which efficiency drivers should be supported in which form with IT (system support). A support with Excel or Word is usually better than paper but less powerful than a dedicated application. Nevertheless, a solution with Microsoft Office components can be appropriate from an economic perspective.