There’s no doubt that technology can play a huge role in helping HR become a more effective business partner. It puts the people data needed to inform business decisions at their fingertips and cuts out time consuming admin, so there is more time to concentrate on the proactive aspects of their role.

Senior management are often keen on the principal of modernising and streamlining people management too, but getting approval for the budget for a new solution isn’t always easy. Boards are often concerned that systems will be costly, complex to implement and that it won’t make enough of a difference to justify the outlay.

Overcoming these objections can be a challenge, particularly if leadership teams have previously been involved with IT-related projects that haven’t gone according to plan. So what can you do to put forward a convincing case and get ready to move HR up a gear in 2016?

1. Build a the business case

The key to putting together a strong business case is to link it to what the leadership team see as their key business challenges.

If one of the firm’s objectives is to take productivity up a gear, emphasise the role that a performance management system can play in keeping people focusing on priorities and at the top of their game. If changes in the market you operate in are calling for new skills, highlight how an HR system can help you identify skills gaps, plan and monitor training or bring the right talent in from outside. Make sure you spell out exactly how the new system will benefit the business and why you are confident it will be a success.

2. Get an idea of acceptable budget

Once you’ve drawn up your short list of ‘must have features’, take a first look at the market to get a feel for how much money you’ll need to spend and what the implementation route looks like. There is nothing more frustrating than wasting time on vendor demos if the required investment means your project just won’t get off the ground. If you have a feeling for what kind of budget is acceptable, you’ll find it much easier to focus in on the solutions that are going to be the best fit for your business.

Most modern online HR software providers publish pricing on their website, and those that don’t can usually be persuade to provide a ball-park figure. The costs of HR software and implementations vary enormously, and it’s worth remembering that thanks to the latest technologies, the most expensive solutions, aren’t necessarily the best for you.

3. Get the IT team on board

If your IT team is likely to play a role, get them involved early on. They may already be sold on Cloud-based systems, because it means there’s no need for the business to buy new hardware or install and support software that constantly needs updating. However, they may have concerns about data security, how the system will integrate with single sign on, whether it’s usable on a Mac, tablet or Unix machine and a host of other issues too. Establishing their wish list early on will keep them on your side. Take the IT team into the pitch with you, so that they can back-up your case and explain how a new system will also help them free up valuable time and resources.

4. Use internal ambassadors to support your case

Line managers spend an inordinate amount of time on the mundane but necessary admin that comes with managing people. They are keeping track of holidays, monitoring sickness, managing performance, authorising training, recruiting new people–and so the list goes on. So it makes sense that most of them would bite your hand off if you offered them a system that would streamline HR processes, give them rapid access to the information they need and allow them to lead their teams more efficiently. Get a few key line managers on board early on with the general principle of an online HR solution – and then use them to whip up support within the business and add weight to your case. If you can demonstrate that a new HR system will give managers more time to focus on hitting targets and driving new projects forward, the board are more likely to view your proposition favourably.

5. Pitch to logic and emotion

In a recent article in Forbes magazine, digital marketing expert Daniel Newman suggests that personal emotions have a key influence on business buying behaviours – and can sway the final decision much more than logic, reasoning or any amount of data or statistics. In fact, a recent study by best practice technology company CEB found that 71 per cent of buyers who see a personal value in a B2B purchase will end up buying that product or service. What this means is that in your pitch, you need to tell a story that resonates with the people making the decision on a personal as well as a logical level. Emphasise how the system will help them make better business decisions, improve their ability to prepare the organisation for future challenges and just generally make their life easier on a day-to-day basis. Use case studies or endorsements from existing users to emphasise the cost-effectiveness of the latest pay-as-you-go pricing models offered by some vendors and to provide reassurance that implementation is generally quick and pain free and successful.

Erika Lucas author image

Erika Lucas

Writer and Communications Consultant

Erika Lucas is a writer and communications consultant with a special interest in HR, leadership, management and personal development. Her career has spanned journalism and PR, with previous roles in regional press, BBC Radio, PR consultancy, charities and business schools.