Current State

How HR is currently structured is not very different from the way it was 20 years ago. But how the job is executed is so different, it is almost unrecognizable. Everything from the amount of strategy involved (as opposed to the day-to-day report filing of begone days) to the digitalization and automation of processes has fundamentally changed the way the modern HR practitioner goes about their job. However, that does not mean that all HR practitioners are aware of what resources they have available and which ones they should use to take advantage of modern systems.


The problem with the HR resources is not scarcity; it’s an overabundance of choice. There are entire industries built upon providing services and technology to HR practitioners at every level, in every discipline. However, time and budget constraints, along with the specialized needs of each businesses, limits the amount of resources realistically at your disposal.

The most challenging aspect of determining what resources you should use is figuring out how exactly a particular job aligns with the goals of the business as a whole. Once that determination is made, then the second step is to decide which resources will have the biggest impact relative to their time and expense.


Being unable to objectively determine the correct resources to use has two main long-term effects. One is that for an HR practitioner operating at less-than-optimal efficiency, the groups that practitioner supports will suffer as a result and that will necessarily have a detrimental effect on the ability of the organization to reach its goals. The second long-term effect is more personal; the HR practitioner will not be putting their own abilities to greatest use and will have stymied their own development, which affects their growth and their company’s as well. Making use of the right resources at the right time is therefore a win/win for both the HR person and the company, and a lose/lose if the opposite is true.

Critical Question

To decide which resources an HR practitioner needs the most, organizations and practitioners must be in alignment about what constitutes successful HR practices. Simply being more efficient or getting a job done faster is not sufficient if those practices are unrelated to overall business success.

Questions organizations should ask include:

• Which HR services do leaders consider the highest priority?

• Who are the major stakeholders for HR service and delivery?

• What constraints of time, budget or other resources are your HR group working within?

• Which groups are poised to support HR in terms of people and skills?

• What technological resources are available, or what resources can become available, if a business case is made?

Brandon Hall Group POV

Brandon Hall Group research shows that there are a set of skills within HR that are considered standard for all HR practitioners. By looking at the skills needed — regardless of geography or industry — it becomes easier to determine which resources can be used to bolster those skills if they are underdeveloped or lacking.

Which of the Following Skills Are Integrated into Your Standard HR Processes?

Skills such as Design Thinking are integrated in only a third of companies surveyed. That means determining the right resources for HR to use by most organizations will be very difficult because they failed to consider the interconnectedness of the HR function.

Consider the example of people data and analytics: There may be data scientists in the organization in another department who could be included as a resource, but without understanding exactly how a change in data from one group might be reflected in a change from another, no meaningful insights can be drawn. That is why it is critical to take a big-picture view of your organization, then break down the resource available into people/skills, technology/tools and structure. Having resources such as specialized skills may be available, but they should be deployed only if the case can be made for how that benefits the business. Technological resources may be available in other systems or already inside the HR systems available now, but were dormant because the right questions were not asked. Finally, understanding the systems and structure of an organization is key to knowing what lines of communication open, which leaders can be called upon to champion an effort and the policies and procedures for HR activities and programs.

If an HR team is serious about finding and developing resources within their organization and making the right call about which ones are the best to use, the first step must be aligning themselves to the business, then work from there to determine a strategic plan for identification and execution of those resources.


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Cliff Stevenson

Cliff Stevenson is Principal Analyst, Workforce Management Practice, for Brandon Hall Group. He came to Brandon Hall Group in 2015 from the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) where he was a senior analyst since 2012. Cliff's experience as human capital research analyst has focused on data and analytics, performance management, recruitment, acquisition, retention, and attrition.