HR Vision Podcast #06 – HR Tech Consultancy ft. Jennifer Lepper

By FourVision
Jul 21 • 1 min read
HR Vision Podcast Episode 6 ft. Jennifer Lepper

Listen-on-Spotify-HR-Vision
Listen-on-Google-Podcasts-HR-Vision
Listen-on-Apple-Podcasts-HR-Vision


Share article

Straight from Australia, Jennifer Lepper is one of our most experienced consultants. The passion for her craft is evident as we talk about what is like to be a consultant. In this episode we discussed HR Tech Consultancy, the must-have skills to help clients, day-to-day challenges and how can change management be successful.

Ivo:
Hey everyone and welcome to the HR Vision podcast. I'm your host Ivo and every week I'm going to have a conversation that matters about HR.

This week I have with me, Jennifer Lepper. Welcome Jennifer. How are you?

Jennifer:
Good, thanks Ivo. How are you?

Ivo:
I'm good I'm doing great. Thank you so much. Jennifer is a lead consultant at FourVision and today we're going to take a different route. We're going to talk about the consultancy life and a bit of HR tech. Of course, sharing the expertise Jennifer has. So Jennifer are you ready?

Jennifer:
I am.

Ivo:
Good. So yeah, let's start like we we normally we normally start. So I'm gonna ask you just to share a bit about your about who you are your experience in the field of HR tech.

Jennifer:
OK. Well I'm obviously a lead consultant and I've been doing HR now for, probably getting close to 20 years. I originally started as an accountant and I think it was a logical move into tech because it's very. It's a very logical, it's very number kind of driven, and there's there's certain logic about it. So I was always very interested in the HR side and working in the HR side of the business and managing people and that sort of thing, and so for me it was a natural progression from moving from an accountant which was very numbers-driven and a little bit... not too people driven. Moving into the people side of it and providing a software solution for people. I really enjoy being a consultant. I enjoy helping people and organizations. Develop a good HR package and I used to do payroll as well, so there's that. There's another thing, and so I really enjoy providing a software solution for businesses so that they can look after ther people within their business, and also produce all the legislative stuff that they have to do. That's that's what I really enjoy doing.

Ivo:
Alright, you said you started as an accountant. When when did you feel that, you know that "HR calling"? At some point you were tired with the numbers? You wanted to have more people in your life. What what happened there?

Jennifer:
I think as an accountant it can be very stressful when you're doing month-end and year-end and things like that. And I moved into a small business. So I was managing the accounting and also the people-side of it. And I found that I really enjoyed doing the people-side of it so that and managing the people side of it. So it was kind of a dual role and from there I thought I didn't want to do month end and year end anymore. The number crunching was getting a bit much and so for me it was a natural progression. In turn moving into consultancy and it just so happened that the consultancy area I moved into was HR and Payroll?

Ivo:
OK. That move towards HR was sudden, was a natural progression, was within the same company. I guess. Yeah, numbers are one thing, I guess software and tech for HR is another. So did you do a training ?How did you move to that to that area, or just the company you worked with gave you the opportunity?

Jennifer:
I think I've always had. I started working on computers very early on and so the first computers I worked on were tape systems. It was a long time ago.

Ivo:
Wow, yeah!

Jennifer:
I was very interested in the computer side of it and so the tech side of it, because I've had a natural affinity towards it. The organizations that I work for a utilize my skills in that area, so in understanding software and getting software to do the things that you wanted to do, I think particularly you know. When there was the DOS era, you had the blue screen of death. So a long time ago, and so that sort of thing really interested me and also creating systems where you had information available at your fingertips. You didn't have to go hunting through spreadsheets and things like that. So you could have that information available to you. So it was a kind of a natural progression from accounting into tech into HR and managing that side of the business. Yeah, it was a bit of a journey. But I've always enjoyed, and I think one of the things I always. Enjoy as a challenge so it's you know and updating my skills and and keeping those skills up today, which is very important in HR or actually in tech. You've got to keep your skills up to date. You've got and understand your legislation and you've got to make sure that you're keeping up with the latest trends and things like that.

Ivo:
Yeah, that's true indeed. So, you moved into into this area of HR slowly, I guess. Did you? Did you get to the consultant side of it real quick or internally you were just setting up systems to get the best out of the HR processes? How did you get into consultancy?

Jennifer:
OK, so what happened was I moved countries 'cause I was in New Zealand and I came to Australia and I wanted a career change. A roll came up in HR and consultancy. And so I thought I would apply for it and I'm OK and yeah, and from there on I've stayed in the consultancy side of it because it's what I really enjoy.I really enjoy setting up software solutions, I really enjoyed training people and interacting with people and that sort of thing. So I really yeah enjoy that side of it. That's that's how I ended up as a consultant.

Ivo:
Alright. You've been a consultant for a long time now. How is it, you know, working as a consultant for HR, for an HR Tech company? I'm most interested to know like, what are the must haves that you feel that a consultant needs to have? Of course I guess the passion for HR tech, the passion to have people around them and to improve people's lives. But what else do you think are the must haves of a consultant in HR tech?

Jennifer:
I think you have to be flexible. You have to be. You have to have the ability to think on your feet and change direction fairly quickly depending on what the customer wants. It's really, really important to listen. To listen to what the customer wants, to get a really good idea of their business and understand their business, and understand what they want to gain from doing an HR implementation. So I think those skills, and the ability to be fairly agile. You know, as I said before, you've got to keep up with the latest tech. So you've got to understand it. If they're talking to you. If a client's talking to you, they expect that you will know the latest HR landscape. The latest changes. So you've got to keep up with the legislation or that sort of thing.

But I think consulting now is quite different in the COVID-era, than it was before then. There used to be a huge amount of travel so you're always traveling. You were always on the road and so you lived out of hotel rooms and things like that. But now we've moved into the doing things online. That's good in some ways, 'cause you're not doing so much travel. But on the other side, you're not physically meeting people, and so you're not building that relationship, and I think that's one of the most important things that a consultant can have. You have to be good at building relationships. You have to be genuinely interested in people and not just in a business. Just interested in them as a person, and that transfers to it all coming together on the side of an implementation. Because you form a relationship and. I find it's all about relationships, you know I've got some people that I've worked with over the years. Clients and I still keep in touch with them. So it's yeah, and so it's kind of. It's just, it's relationship. It's all about relationship and all of the things that come with building your relationship. And I think you have to genuinely like people. To work as a consultant you have to genuinely like people. You're gonna make some interesting characters along the way, but most people generally they, like you and I, they're just out there making a living and they want to make the best of it and enjoy what they do.

Ivo:
Absolutely. That's that's a very interesting so. From what you're saying. Do you miss traveling? Do you miss meeting people in person? I'm sure.

Jennifer:
I do. I miss it a little bit. Well, I probably more than a little bit, yeah I do miss it. But I think this is part of being flexible and being able to pivot quite quickly. You have to be able to adjust to whatever circumstances you find yourself in, and you have to be flexible and you have to understand the limitations that we currently have. So yeah, I really. I do miss meeting people. But then, the other side of that is I'm working with a lot of global companies at the moment, and so I was never gonna travel to meet them anyway.

Ivo:
OK, fair enough. OK, maybe the business changed the date as well for more global companies. Because of of of COVID.

We talked about the must-haves, let's talk about the challenges as well of being a consultant. I guess not being able to travel during this time is a it's already a challenge. You know for to get to know people and and create and build those relationships. But what other challenges do you see a consultant normally has.

Jennifer:
I think it's, you know you're going into an organization and whether that's online or physically. You're going into an organization and you're bringing change to their organization. And lots of people are very resistant to change, and so they struggle with that whole "You're changing what we're doing. I'm going to have to learn a new way, and I don't want to learn a new way." And so I think it's it's really good to have some understanding of people's thought processes and how to get the best out of the situation that you're in, particular change management. You're part of in an implementation. As a consultant, you're part of this big change management machine, that there's a lot of people in the organization who don't want change. They can't see the need for change, and so that's one of the challenges to get alongside those people and help them understand that there is a need for change, and that you're not the enemy. So that's one of the biggest challenges, I think, is trying to work out how to get the most from people.

Ivo:
Yeah, do you think. As I was thinking here. Do you think, the fact that there is no, I think we can all agree with this, there is no perfect platform. You know there is no perfect system to actually. It's going to make your life easier 100%, you know. Do you think that's also a challenge for that change management mentality? You know, just. Because you will never be able to satisfy a customer like 100 percent right?

Jennifer:
Yeah, and I think you have to go for the 80/20 rule, right? So 80% of it is really good and 20% of it there's going to be some work arounds or you're not going to be able to do it. But I think that helps if you really understand the product that you're taking to them. And I think if you're taking a product to them, you have to be honest. You have to be honest and you have to say it doesn't do that. It can do this. But it doesn't do that, and so it's understanding your product. And it's understanding, you know the impact it can have on the businesses. Sometimes they'll say, "Well, we want it to do this." well, it's not going to be able to do that. It can do some of that, but some of it you're going to have to do manually. And so I think it's understanding that every product has its limitations. Every software solution has its limitations, and so it's understanding your product really well and making sure that you're honest with the people that you're dealing with and what it can and can't do.

Ivo:
Yeah, I think that's a very important point indeed. To to just keep it real, basically. You've been working lately, of course with FourVision, with Dynamics 365 from Microsoft, I believe you worked with that even before. You always work with Microsoft, or did you work with other platforms? No, yeah, I've worked with a lot of other platforms. I think Microsoft is the one, as you said, it can't do everything. But I like Microsoft because it fits into the whole ERP solution. So it gives a whole business solution and so I like Microsoft because obviously that it works in with the Microsoft Office that works with Teams. So there's that integration there that you don't have to build, that the product comes with a kind of an already written integration. And I think I like the product. I like the product, I understand its limitations but overall it works really well. I think I started out on AX2009. And then I went to AX2012 and then there was a a brief surge on AX7 and then we went to D365. But I think I just like the Microsoft product and how it all works together. Particularly HR as a piece of the puzzle, if you like.

Jennifer:
OK, uhm, that's good too. That's good to get that idea of integrations. I think it's really important. I don't know if a lot of people think about that, the way our integrates with systems that you probably don't even notice that you already use and they are from Microsoft, right?

Ivo:
Yes.

Jennifer:
I think for a lot of us we are so used to Microsoft Office for example. Or Teams nowadays, that you don't even realize it. "Oh, it's already Microsoft, so I can integrate this with the ERP software, HR software". So I think that's an important remark to make for sure.

Ivo:
Now, like on a big view. What do you think is. I would like to get your take on a HR tech. What is the importance of it? You know, what do you see people's lives; Recruiters, HR professionals, IT lives, change when you implement successfully, one of these products? What do you think is the importance of HR tech?

Jennifer:
I think what it does, is gives HR professionals the ability to have some things that are automated, that they were doing manually. And so it provides a much better solution so that they can concentrate on the things that are important. So, basically on the tech side, you're taking away the mundane stuff that they have to do, and you're letting them shine in the role that they have, right? Because they're not spending the whole day filling in screens and putting that information. It frees them up to actually perform their role a lot better and their role is obviously looking after the people within an organization. And that's that's very, very important. It's very important to look after the people with the new organization and have the time for them. It frees up their time, so that they can do things that they usually don't have the time to do because they're too busy filling out forms. Or, you know...

Ivo:
...Excel sheets.

Jennifer:
Yeah, and so it frees up their time so they have that available to them.

Ivo:
Uhm, going back to that change management, and the change that people don't like to do. Do you think it's hard for them to realize that they're wasting a lot of time with the tasks that actually shouldn't be. Those are, there's a better way to do that. Do you think they don't realize that at the at the beginning and then they end up thanking you. I don't know. I just want to know if there's such an example. You know.

Jennifer:
Yes, there is. I think that in every implementation that you do, the reason that you're doing the implementation is because they want to have a better HR system. So at the end of it, they always have a better HR system. And so there's always that, when you're coming in and you're doing the initial stages and they're not sure you're going to be able to provide, and then there's the "But I like doing it this way, 'cause I have more control over it and I don't necessarily trust computers". And then at the end of it, you've got the "This is awesome. Now I can do all that stuff that I haven't been doing because I've been taken up with the process".

Ivo:
Yeah, yeah, that's really...

Jennifer:
That happens with every implementation. Every implementation that's the same. There's always that resistance in the middle piece, where they're saying "This isn't working properly" because they don't understand it. They can't get it to work properly. They have to change how they do things and you know, anytime you're doing change and new learning, it's difficult. Everybody struggles with them.

Ivo:
I think it happens in every area, even in your personal life. When you need to change something at your place and "Oh now I need to change this. This wall" or whatever it is. "I don't want to do it. Look at this problem." Then at the end, like, "It really looks nice. You know, this works". So yeah, I think it happens. The same with with HR Tech I guess.

Jennifer:
Yeah it does. I mean, I liken it, you're going... You've got a supermarket right? And you go into the supermarket and you know where everything is. So you go in. You're up and down the aisles. You're getting everything. And then suddenly they change the layout and you go in and you can't find anything. And there's always that sort of process in a project where people are going: "I can't find it. This isn't working for me." But at the end of it, they get used to it right? And so then then they're like, "OK, this is awesome. Now I can do all this other stuff."

Ivo:
That's a great analogy indeed. So you're obviously, well. We didn't mention it in the beginning of the podcast I believe, but you're in Australia right now. I am in the in the Netherlands. You're working for an European-based company. Let's say, so I would like to understand. Maybe it would be nice for people listening to try to see if you can see any differences between the Australian market landscape in terms of HR tech. With the contact that you've been having with Europe or at least with our colleagues at work, consultant colleagues. But what do you think?

Jennifer:
I think that it doesn't matter which country you're dealing with. Everybody wants the same technology and I think it's, we are in a global world. And things have got a lot smaller in terms of companies. Because what companies are trying to do is, they're trying to get all their systems working together, so they've got one source of truth for HR. They're not going to every different country and getting information.

I really enjoy working with global companies. The time differences can be a little bit disconcerting. But I think you would adjust to it and I really enjoy working with people that are as passionate as I am about HR. That's what I really enjoy. You know, some accountants are really passionate about finance. I've come to the conclusion that I'm really passionate about HR. I want to provide a good experience for everybody in the company, and I think you know, when we're doing an implementation, always in the back of my mind is the user experience and what they are going to have available to them. At the end of this so that they can see the benefits of having an HR system. But I think in Australia we're very much the same as all countries across the world. With COVID now, we have to have better policies in place, better systems in place to manage our people and to keep track of what's happening with our people. And so I think Australia is very much the same as the rest of the world. There's not a huge amount of difference. I think they're all looking towards the same thing. Which is better HR systems.

Ivo:
OK that's fair enough. Sort of the last question. It's the future. You know the future of HR technology. Obviously you have a lot of experience with it. You see some trends, of course in in the Australian market, so I would like just to get your opinion or your feeling about where. Where is HR technology leading us? What is your opinion on that?

Jennifer:
OK, I think the technology is leading us to, and I've touched on a different points. It's leading us to manage the people within our organization better. To provide more help-systems, to provide a better understanding of the business requirements for the people within the business, so that they have a better understanding of what the business is looking for. One of the big trends is Health and Safety, and so that's one of the things that's really. It is starting to take on a little bit of momentum, where people are saying "Yes, we have to have a health and safety system. We have to be able to analyze the risk." You know, if we've got people that are that are are working on their own, how we managing them and they're working remotely. How we manage them to make sure they feel part of the organization and they can also do their job. So there's those sorts of things that are happening and in terms of the landscape. So I think HR has always been one of those kind of afterthoughts, right? We keep we keep the information on an employee so that we can pay them. But now what they're saying, what people are understanding is that they need to actually have better systems in place to manage their people and to look after them. And to, I suppose in some sense to keep them keep them and their knowledge within the company. It's really important that people feel important that they feel like they're contributing to the business. So, and of course, now that we're in the online world, yeah, people can move around a lot more, and so it's kind of like, "OK, how? How are we providing? What are we doing for career path planning? What are we doing for succession planning? How will we be managing that for our employees so that they are doing - within your organization they are growing in terms of their career and what they want to do?". So that's the sort of things that I see coming out of HR and becoming more important.

Ivo:
Alright, interesting. OK, I sort of ran out of questions. I think this went really well. I just want to yeah to thank you for taking the time and and talking to me this morning. This afternoon for you. Do you have any any final remarks? Something that you would like to say?

Jennifer:
Look if you've got a passion for people and you enjoy meeting people. Certainly consider being a consultant. It's one of the most rewarding things you can do.

Ivo:
That's a nice message to end this one. Alright, Jenni, thank you so much for your time. And we'll talk later!

Jennifer:
OK, thank you!


Any questions or want more information. Let’s talk

Get in touch

Related articles in news


Subscribe to our monthly newsletter