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Throughout my career, I’ve had the pleasure of partnering with some amazing organizations helping with them through their digital transformations. While every client engagement is unique, project teams always seem to have one thing in common — they all suffer from “shiny object syndrome” (SOS).

Due to SOS, a lot of customers truly believe an investment in the “latest and greatest” technology will solve all their problems. For example:

  • The slick user interface will create a better user experience for the workforce, and self-service will finally become a reality
  • Our performance management tool that supports ongoing feedback will make our people managers better coaches.
  • We’ll have the proverbial one-stop shop system to complete all HR transactions and our processes will now inherently be seamless, etc.
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Unfortunately, the features you saw during a demo that initially got you hooked never quite worked out that way at your organization and many are left confused.

As I take a step back to try to figure out what went wrong, I ask myself “what created this disconnect between client expectations and technology delivery?”

As a consultant, I’ve led many design sessions in which I’ve learned of 3 possible reasons for this disconnect (hint — it’s not technology):

  1. The concept of “Best Practice”. I would love for everyone to stop leading every design conversation with “this is best practice.” What’s considered “best practice” for one organization is (and in many cases should be) very different for another organization. Furthermore, it’s imperative that you first establish your own unique DNA of “who are you” and define a true vision for “where you want to go.” Be your own “best practice”. If you haven’t figured out first who you are and where you want to go, you’ll quickly find yourself in a compromising situation with others directing you down a path of the dreaded “lift & shift” implementation (i.e., doing things the way you’ve always done, just with slicker tech).
  2. Design teams don’t do their homework. Often times clients will wait until the design phase to actually begin design and document their system requirements. By then, it’s typically too late. Everyone is driving toward a go-live date, which may or may not allow sufficient time for thoughtful design. Not having a good sense for what your ideal future state should look and feel like puts the “technology” in the driver seat. You should walk into those meetings fully empowered thinking, “this is how we want the system to enable our process” and then allow the technology partner to let you know what’s possible and/or provide some alternatives. Make sure your voice is heard.
  3. Design sessions are too technical. I know we’re trying to design a technical solution, but we should consider the makeup of the participants. Typically design workshops are filled with SMEs from all areas of the HR function who are asked to make decisions for how the technology should be configured. However, with HR roles continuously being redefined, those in the room may play more of a strategic role in the future — less likely to be in the system day-to-day. These workshops are also usually long in duration, fast-paced, confusing and can lead decisions being made without fully understanding the impacts to other processes or work streams. This can lead to less-than-desirable outcomes, such as a disjointed user experience or the same data being captured multiple times. This recent Webinar led by my colleague Ryan Malkes is a great primer on the value of human-centered design thinking and how to apply it to HR.

At Leapgen, we want customers to be successful without taking the shortcut of ‘let’s just leverage what the technology does out of the box;’ and as our CEO Jason Averbook writes, we really encourage our clients to approach digital transformations with a heavy emphasis on “mindset, people and process” before investing in technology.


Questions we ask:

  • What’s our vision?
  • What outcomes are we seeking?
  • What should people’s roles and responsibilities in the new world be?
  • What data do we need from our processes (e.g., to make informed talent decisions, to improve HR operations)?
  • How are we going to drive adoption and utilization of our solutions?

Technology should be the last thing you think about. Otherwise, no matter how “shiny” the object (i.e., the technology) may be, you’ll run the risk of making compromises to your solution along the way.


Elizabeth is passionate about helping customers truly transform the way they work. Her primary focus is to provide guidance to organizations who want to enhance their digital workforce footprint, empower them to think differently and equip HR teams to make decisions that fit their needs. Elizabeth comes to Leapgen with 12+ years of experience as both a technical consultant implementing Workday & SAP platforms as well as a business strategy consultant. Elizabeth has led several engagements across diverse industries including healthcare, financial services, and retail globally. Her engagements regularly include design thinking, fit-gap analysis, future state process mapping and business process optimization.

Leapgen is a global digital transformation company shaping the future of work. Highly respected as a visionary partner to organizations looking to design and deliver a digital workforce experience that will produce valued outcomes to the business, Leapgen helps enterprise leaders rethink how to better design and deliver workforce services and architect HR technology solutions that meet the expectations of workers and the needs of the business. Contact us to get started.