Creating a collaborative relationship between IT and HR

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CIO Managing Your Boss

Human resources and IT don’t always view each other as collaborators, but people run IT departments, and HR is the ultimate gateway to getting and keeping the best contributors. Scott Crowder, CIO of BMC Software, Inc., explains how his company created its great HR relationship.

CIO_Q and A

The Enterprisers Project (TEP): As you focus on innovation, how do you keep HR in the loop?

Scott Crowder: It’s a collaborative process between IT and HR as well as our line of business partners, which include communications. You want to make sure the communications path is open and involved from the start, so there aren’t any surprises and there’s better buy in from the beginning. At BMC, IT is part of the overall HR and employee experience team, so that gives us a unique perspective.

TEP: Management structures are constantly analyzed and debated. What have you found works best in your IT department?

Crowder: Within IT, it’s important to eliminate ambiguity and have clear lines of ownership and financial accountability. It’s also good to look at trends in the industry. We did that when we reorganized IT a while back, building out specific teams or parts of the organization that were focused on key trends with respect to technology. It also helped streamline functional overlap. For example, we had a unified communications organization. We made sure we also over-communicated with our line of business partners and over-communicated during meetings. We brought value to the table too. When we noticed something while working with our business partners, we would highlight what we were seeing and then brought forward innovative solutions to address what we saw, versus just being an order taker.



TEP: How do you know when it's time to restructure your department?

Crowder: IT leaders, and business leaders in general, always have to assess what’s working and what’s not and then fix it. This job is never done and you will need to continuously tweak the organization over time. When we see things that aren’t working or could be run better, we take those opportunities to fine-tune the organization. It helps if you can identify and then address the areas of the department you need to focus on and optimize over time. 

TEP: How will close cooperation with HR help drive your digital transformation?
At BMC, IT has partnered closely with HR to make sure we are always thinking about the employee first. Digital transformation comes in different ways. It could be workplace transformation, encompassing the employee environment and how workers collaborate with each other. It could be digital workspace transformation, like the devices employees use and making sure we enable our staff to work anywhere they want to and on any device without having to be connected to a VPN. It could also be from the perspective of business systems, like using cutting edge SaaS technologies to further enable the business. Or it could be about finding new ways to supercharge the overall business operations, like accounting or HR systems, sales enablement etc. – all the different digital systems that our employees are working on. 

In other companies, digital transformation might look different, such as getting rid of certain processes or using robotics to drive costs. Or let’s say you’re a retailer, in which case it could be about the customer experience first, such as providing mobile apps that enable customers to engage however they want with a retail brand from their phone.

Damon Brown is a consultant and advisor for potential entrepreneurs, budding startups and established media companies. Damon’s latest book, "The Bite-Sized Entrepreneur: 21 Ways to Ignite Your Passion & Pursue Your Side Hustle," shares the tactics he used to lead his last startup, Cuddlr, to acquisition within a year.


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