The Silent Revolution: Cost of misaligned roles between IT and People Ops

Summary of Part One: In Part 1 of this Article The Silent Revolution: People Ops Reclaiming HR Integration Mastery, we discussed what exactly HR integration is, the role of IT, and why People Ops teams are reclaiming the role as an imperative to the HR system and vendor integration process


Drawing from Shannon Whitley's anecdote, the chasm between an expert coder's approach and the practical needs of HR becomes evident. While coding remains essential, understanding HR processes is paramount.

Real-life Disparity: Coding Expertise vs. HR Mastery

Here are some lesser-known scenarios where coding fails and People Ops succeed:

  • Coding alone cannot distinguish between full-time or part-time employees; however, People Ops can ensure that the integration accounts for both. 
  • Coding alone cannot anticipate changes in legislation; however, People Ops have the domain expertise to quickly adjust as needed for compliance. 
  • Coding alone cannot detect redundancies in data entry; but People Ops can eliminate manual intervention and streamline processes. 

Clearly, coding may add value to HR integration projects, but it's only the first step. People Ops are key to realizing successful integrations.

The Unseen Costs of Misaligned Integration

Inefficient integrations don't merely translate to wasted hours. They mean growing costs paid to third-party consultants to maintain those one-off integrations, missed opportunities and a dip in employee morale. A study from Gartner suggests that companies can lose on average $8.2 million annually due to poor data integration.

Let's discuss a scenario: when companies opt for IT solutions over People Ops, they confront "The False Sense of Security" -- a situation where employees think their data is secure due to the presence of technical elements such as encryption and authorization. However, a true sense of security comes from understanding how to use these technologies and being aware of inherent vulnerabilities. This requires HR expertise that only People Ops can provide.

Decoding Integration Challenges

Multiple systems like UKG, ADP, Workday, and more have different data formats and proprietary change detection schemes. Add to this, the ever-changing employee data due to lifecycle changes—promotions, transfers, exits—and the challenge magnifies. Systems often lack seamless communication, leading to redundancy and errors.

Here are some of the most unique and lesser known integration challenges: 

  • Cross-Departmental Dependencies: HR doesn't operate in isolation. There are cross-functional touchpoints, whether it's collaborating with finance on compensation structures or with facilities for office accommodations. Such dependencies often require specific data points to be integrated in particular ways. A generic IT-driven integration might overlook these subtleties.
  • Dynamic Compliance Landscapes: With evolving labor laws, the requirements for storing and processing employee data are constantly changing. Be it GDPR, CCPA, or other regional laws, staying compliant requires agility. People Ops, being closer to these regulatory shifts, can better adapt to integration requirements.
  • Cultural Sensitivities: This might seem surprising, but cultural factors can play into integration. For instance, certain demographics might have naming conventions that don't neatly fit into 'First Name' and 'Last Name' fields. Or, public holidays in certain regions might affect leave management systems. People Ops teams, with a finger on the pulse of organizational culture, are best equipped to anticipate these needs.
  • Employee Lifecycle Fluidity: While IT might see employee statuses as 'active' or 'inactive', the reality is far more fluid. Sabbaticals, parental leaves, temporary assignments abroad, or even temporary role changes—all these require nuanced integration strategies. People Ops, given their direct engagement with such scenarios, can drive more effective and empathetic integration.
  • Feedback Loop Essentials: Often, it's the end-users (employees) who provide the most crucial feedback on system efficiencies or inefficiencies. While IT departments might not have direct channels for such feedback, People Ops teams do. By staying closely connected to the employee base, they can quickly identify integration pain points and work to address them.


It has become obvious to many teams the cost (time, funds, employee experience, etc.) of misaligned HR integration set-up or the lack thereof. Watch out for Part 3 where dig deep into why HR and People Ops teams are the natural owners of HR integrations.