Embrace technology to transform HR’s delivery HR

Most people who know me are aware of how dysfunctional I am in relation to anything technical. I learned to text as a means of communicating with my children, but this limited success is balanced by the need to have my iPod programmed by others, and I often fall off the treadmill at the gym as I struggle to change the preset programmes.

I don’t think I am on my own. It is fair to say that many HR professionals do not have a natural interest in IT. After all our business is people, not machines.

We enjoy developing people strategy and solving people issues. We pride ourselves on being good face-to-face communicators. While computers are part of everyday life, many of us still find them unexciting and ‘functional’.

However, our traditionally-held views are limiting the potential of technology to help us deliver modern and innovative HR services. In my experience, this is particularly true of HR development. Modern technology comes into its own in this area, and can help us to transform and raise the profile of services such as learning and development.

You would think that my astounding level of technological incompetence would prevent the HR team at the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) from doing anything interesting in IT while I am around, but nothing could be further from the truth. The trick I learned a long time ago is that you don’t have to be an anorak to get the IT outcomes and solutions that we require in our profession.

At the CPS, we have recently developed a virtual prosecution college, which will be the main hub for learning and development across the service. It combines a range of approaches including e-learning, forums and virtual classrooms, alongside the more traditional approaches to learning. Not only is it a cost-effective means of developing our staff, but it also enables us to develop others across the legal profession both in this country and abroad, bringing together many high-level specialists in criminal law.

Effective partnerships with external suppliers are critical to developing innovative approaches. We often talk about ‘partnership working’ with the private sector. In this area, it is critical to producing a high-quality meaningful product. This takes time and commitment on both sides, and we should not shy away from articulating what we want and letting the IT specialists translate our needs in conjunction with our learning and development experts.

As HR professionals, it is incumbent on us to know what technology can offer, and how we can use it.

Go to www.personneltoday.com/31587.article for more on choosing HR software and keeping up with IT developments

Angela O’Connor
HR director, Crown Prosecution Service

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