Disrupting HR Tech Consulting: The Power of Customer Communities

Disrupting HR Tech Consulting: The Power of Customer Communities

The Consulting Conundrum

When I started IRD in 2020, my goal was to deliver exceptional HR tech consulting services to my clients. Drawing from my experience as an HR ops system admin on the client side, I understood the challenges faced by organizations implementing and optimizing HR systems. I quickly gained traction and was able to charge premium rates for my expertise, but I also recognized that these rates put my services out of reach for many smaller companies who could benefit from the same level of support.

As I worked with more and more customers, I noticed a common thread: while we were able to solve their immediate problems, they often struggled to maintain and build upon the solutions we provided. It became clear that the traditional consulting approach, where experts swoop in, fix the issue, and then leave, was not setting clients up for long-term success. Moreover, this model was inherently exclusive, catering only to organizations with significant budgets.

The traditional consulting approach, where experts swoop in, fix the issue, and then leave, was not setting clients up for long-term success.

The Missing Piece: Customer Collaboration

It dawned on me that the reason I could charge high fees was not solely because of my expertise, but also because my clients lacked access to a collaborative community. They were relying on consultants like myself to bridge the knowledge gap, but this approach was not sustainable and left many organizations, particularly smaller ones, without access to the support they needed. This realization led me to question the status quo and explore alternative solutions.

I started to realize that the most valuable insights and knowledge about HR tech were not always held by consultants, but rather by the HR ops professionals who managed these systems on the client side. These individuals, who work tirelessly to implement and optimize HR systems, possess a wealth of expertise that is often untapped. It became clear to me that the key to disrupting the expensive and exclusive HR tech consulting industry lay in bringing these professionals together in an authentic community that could benefit companies of all sizes.

The key to disrupting the expensive and exclusive HR tech consulting industry lay in bringing these professionals together in an authentic community that could benefit companies of all sizes.

Vendor Community Sites: A Mixed Blessing

Many HR tech vendors have established their own community sites to engage with customers and provide support. While these vendor-hosted communities serve as valuable resources for technical documentation, training materials, official corporate communications, and issue escalation, they often fall short in fostering authentic social engagement among HR ops professionals.

One of the primary drawbacks of vendor community sites is their formality. The presence of the vendor in the space can have a dampening effect on spontaneity and open sharing. HR ops professionals may feel hesitant to discuss their challenges, share unofficial workarounds, or engage in candid conversations, knowing that the vendor is monitoring the platform.

Moreover, vendor community sites are typically not built on platforms that are purpose-built for social sharing. They often lack the intuitive features and user experience that facilitate meaningful interactions and knowledge exchange among members. As a result, the level of engagement and collaboration on these sites is often limited.

Vendor community sites are typically not built on platforms that are purpose-built for social sharing.

While vendor community sites undoubtedly have their place in the HR tech ecosystem, they cannot replace the value of independent, customer-driven communities where HR ops professionals can connect and collaborate freely, without the constraints of vendor oversight.

A Community Solution for HR Tech Adoption

With this vision in mind, I founded System Admin Insights (SAI), a vendor-free community platform designed specifically for HR ops professionals. The goal was to create a safe space where these individuals could collaborate, network, and grow together. By fostering authentic connections and facilitating knowledge sharing, SAI empowers HR ops professionals to learn from one another and overcome challenges collectively.

By fostering authentic connections and facilitating knowledge sharing, SAI empowers HR ops professionals to learn from one another and overcome challenges collectively.

The response to SAI has been overwhelming. HR ops professionals from around the world have embraced the platform, eager to connect with their peers and tap into the collective wisdom of the community. Through discussion forums, webinars, and virtual events, members are able to share best practices, troubleshoot issues, and stay up-to-date with the latest trends in HR tech.

The impact of this collaborative approach extends far beyond individual members. As HR ops professionals become more knowledgeable and empowered, they are able to drive better decisions within their organizations. They can now confidently navigate the complex landscape of HR tech, armed with insights and strategies gleaned from their peers. This, in turn, leads to more successful implementations, improved employee experiences, and ultimately, better business outcomes.

Disrupting a Space Based on Siloed Information

The rise of SAI has not gone unnoticed by the HR tech consulting industry. Traditional consulting firms are starting to feel the pressure as customers realize they no longer need to rely on expensive, siloed services. Freelancers and businesses that have built their models around hoarding information are finding themselves at a disadvantage as the power shifts towards collaborative communities.

Freelancers and businesses that have built their models around hoarding information are finding themselves at a disadvantage as the power shifts towards collaborative communities.

As the founder of both IRD and SAI, I am proud to be at the forefront of this industry disruption. By creating a scalable solution that brings customers together and facilitates authentic collaboration, we are challenging the status quo and democratizing access to HR tech knowledge.

The future of HR tech consulting lies in fostering customer communities and empowering HR ops professionals. As more and more organizations recognize the value of collaborative learning and shared experiences, the expensive, siloed consulting models of the past will become obsolete. It’s time for the industry to embrace change and put the power back in the hands of the customers.

When to Hire an HR Tech Consultant

While the rise of collaborative communities like SAI is transforming the HR tech landscape, there are still situations where hiring a consultant can be beneficial. Here are a few scenarios where engaging with an HR tech consultant may be the right choice:

1. Implementation Support: During the implementation phase of a new HR system, having an experienced consultant on board can be invaluable. If your organization lacks in-house expertise, a consultant can guide you through the process, ensure best practices are followed, and help you avoid common pitfalls. Their knowledge and experience can streamline the implementation and set you up for long-term success.

2. Fast-Tracking New Professionals: For HR ops professionals who are new to the field or taking on a new HR system, one-on-one advisory from a consultant can provide a significant boost. A consultant can offer personalized guidance, share industry insights, and help new professionals navigate the learning curve more efficiently. This targeted support can accelerate their growth and enable them to contribute more effectively to their organizations.

3. Temporary Coverage: In situations where your in-house HR system administrator goes on a leave of absence or transitions to another role, hiring a consultant can fill the gap. A skilled consultant can step in to maintain the system, provide support to users, and ensure continuity until a permanent replacement is found or the administrator returns. This temporary coverage can prevent disruptions and keep your HR operations running smoothly.

4. Outsourcing HR Tech Management: For organizations that do not have a dedicated in-house resource for HR tech management, outsourcing to a consultant can be a viable option. By partnering with a consultant, you can access specialized expertise without the need to hire a full-time employee. This can be particularly beneficial for smaller organizations or those with limited HR resources.

Choosing the Right HR Tech Consultant

When considering HR tech consultants, it’s important to choose the right partner. There are three main categories of consultants:

1. Freelancers: Independent consultants who offer their services on a project basis. While they may have specialized skills, their network and resources may be limited. It’s important to note that freelancers are often incentivized to extend contracts as long as possible, as they lack formal business development capacity. This can lead to prolonged engagements and potentially higher costs.

2. Large Consulting Houses: Well-established firms with a broad range of services. They have extensive resources but may lack the specialized expertise and personal touch of smaller firms. These firms often hire contractors who work in isolation, which can limit knowledge sharing and collaboration.

3. Boutique Specialized Consultancies: Focused firms that specialize in HR tech consulting. They combine deep product knowledge with business process expertise and are often well-connected within the industry. The best boutique consultancies use W2 employees who collaborate with each other, fostering a culture of knowledge sharing and continuous improvement.

When selecting a consultant, look for those who possess both product and business process expertise. They should have a proven track record of successful implementations and a deep understanding of industry best practices. Additionally, consultants who are looped into a network of colleagues can bring valuable insights and connections to the table. Avoid “hired gun” contractors who lack the contextual knowledge and industry relationships that can make a significant difference in your HR tech journey.

Consultants who are looped into a network of colleagues can bring valuable insights and connections to the table.

Even if you decide to hire a consultant, it’s essential that they are integrated into an authentic customer community. No consultant has all the answers, and fostering a culture of continuous learning within your team is crucial. To complement the consultant’s work and avoid over-reliance on external support, ensure that someone on your team actively participates in customer communities alongside the consultant. This dual approach allows your organization to benefit from the consultant’s expertise while also tapping into the collective knowledge and experience of a vibrant community. Keep in mind that a consultant’s engagement is typically temporary, but a well-connected community can provide ongoing support, insights, and a platform for continuous growth long after the consultant has moved on.

At SAI, we are committed to leading this transformation and creating a brighter future for HR ops professionals worldwide. Together, we can disrupt the expensive HR tech consulting industry and pave the way for a more connected, collaborative, and successful HR ecosystem.

Alex Marcus brings HR ops professionals together in a safe, vendor-free space where they can help each other use software more effectively. To join the revolution in HR tech consulting, visit http://systemadmininsights.com/ and become part of a thriving community.

 

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