With technology enabling advances in human resources, HR departments can’t just toss their requirements over to the CIO’s office; they need to work with IT to take charge of technology projects, said Roland Edwards, deputy chief human capital officer (CHCO) at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Speaking at SAP’s Attracting | Engaging | Empowering Tomorrow’s Federal Workforce event on June 19, Edwards noted the importance of joint development over a waterfall approach.

“Within the agency, the HR community will sometimes not take ownership of the HR IT, and we have to take ownership of HR IT portfolio. We can’t hand that over to the information technology side of the house in order for them to implement it on our behalf,” he said.

While not using the language of IT, Edwards advice to the crowd closely aligned with a more agile approach in implementing new technology.

“We know the requirements and sometimes we think just because we handed them a list of requirements, we’re expecting a system that functions the way we want it to function, and we’re not giving our time to actually test the system along the way and be part of the creative process,”

Edwards highlighted the strong relationships across DHS’ c-suite, and cited the benefits his department has seen as an example.

“I think that’s one of the challenges we had internally for a while, and that’s one of the reasons we had a few stumbles,” he admitted. “We were like, ‘What are we doing? We’ve got to co-lead this with our CIO partners. We have strong partnerships across the entire management directorate, so if you don’t have those partnerships, I challenge you to go get it right now.”

Edwards also noted that IT modernization in the human resources area is key to enabling better performance across government – including the competition for cyber talent.

“We have an authority we’re looking at right now, which is pretty innovative, looking at how the civil service can actually be reformed, and we’re focusing on cyber. And that’s going to have a lot of enabling technology that we’re just not ready to implement right now, because the systems we have aren’t designed to handle something that innovative,” he said.

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MeriTalk Staff