Tools Matter

The primary implication of the saying “a good carpenter never blames the tools,” is that you can, and should, get the job done regardless of the resources at your disposal. However, despite how often it is cited, the quote is wrong. Tools do matter.

Let’s say you need to drive in a slotted screw (the screws with one groove across the top). You open the drawer, and happily find a screwdriver. But this screwdriver doesn’t have a straight tip. Instead, it’s got a cross — a Phillips head screwdriver. You can try to push, twist, and turn the screw all day long. You may even get it to move a bit, but ultimately you are going to end up in a worse place than when you began. The screw will be stripped, your hands will be sore, and you won’t have accomplished your goal. A  screwdriver was the correct tool, but the Phillips head was not. Right church, wrong pew.

Just as certain screws require certain screwdrivers, certain tasks in your organization require their own set of tools. And unfortunately for some, the solution to everything is not the spreadsheet (a.k.a. the Swiss Army knife of business processes).

In the world of Human Resources, the tools of choice aren’t screwdrivers or Swiss Army knives, but software. But there are a million types of HR software designed for a million types of HR duties. Where should you begin to find the correct tool? We don’t have a junk drawer full of screwdrivers in the HR kitchen.

Start by identifying the main process you are trying to improve or fix from among your HR categories: Payroll, Time and Attendance, Performance Management, Benefits Administration, Learning Management, Recruiting and Talent Management, etc. Which can be improved? And which can be most impactful? 

To add an additional layer of considerations, try to identify the specific requirements for each process, which will be unique to your organization. These include the overall size of your company, your geography, your industry, your group’s technical proficiency, and how deep your HR team is. 

There will be tools which claim to solve everything. Almost always, they can’t. And what you’ll find is that quality was sacrificed for convenience. Organizations benefit from having the right tool for the job. And once you’ve got the proper (quality) tool in hand, you’ll be on your way to building the best team.