HR and IT Don’t Really Agree on HR Technology Responsibilities

In the recent annual CedarCrestone HR Systems survey we asked the following question: Please identify the PRIMARY OWNER for the following HR technologies responsibilities in your organization. HR, specifically HRIT respondents, reports a different view from IT.


Among respondents from HR (first graphic on the left), the HRIT group owns everything, in fact, leadership and strategy, communications, and end user training is their responsibility almost 100% of the time! However, from IT’s perspective (graphic on the right), 60% of the IT respondents report they are responsible for user security (vs. just 28% from HR’s perspective). They are essentially 50/50 split with HRIT  for governance and budget and for all other responsibilities they are more involved. Quite a divergence.

What is right? We asked two representatives and here is what we heard:

  • From HR’s perspective:As HR practitioners, we are dealing with great amounts of employee data that is governed not only by our own  corporations but also by  many governmental agencies worldwide, especially with regard to privacy. In my experience, IT has made a number of missteps by not taking the privacy issues seriously. Most IT resources are not trained and do not have a good understanding of the HR function which creates risk when they have oversight for data and security administration.Historically, the HR data in systems was minimal and only what was necessary to pay an employee. When HR technologies first came on the horizon, it seemed appropriate for IT to own configuration, security, etc. Over the years, we have seen this ownership flip flop between IT and HR because of changes in legislation, the emergence of subject matter experts with advanced skills including technology, and more progressive leadership in both HR and IT. As the technology continues to evolve, I think we will again see a shift of responsibility for configuration and security administration back to the HR function.


  • From IT’s perspective: HR has the worst habits for putting data that can be stolen on their computers – i.e. creating Excel spreadsheets that they then take home. So at a minimum, IT should own security – user ids, password resets, and the assignment of roles and permissions based on HR requirements. HR needs to own communications and even end user training – they better understand how to communicate with employees. We’re way too technical. But some of these areas need to be jointly owned: Governance and budget primarily, especially when considering reporting and analytics.

While I let our data speak, I would agree with IT. Especially as organizations move towards providing workforce analytics, HR needs support from IT which includes budget support for enterprise solutions. For example, they can piggyback onto the enterprise warehouse and reporting approaches that have been in place for some time, serving finance, marketing and operational areas.

What do you think?

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