Why HR Practitioners Make Great Consultants

September 21, 2020

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Written by Laura Palulis


Many considerations come into play when selecting a consultant to work with on your Human Capital Management (HCM) project. Whether you are looking for day to day support, a system optimization, or a full-scale implementation, choosing to work with a consulting team comprised of former HR practitioners is a wise decision. Here’s the unique expertise we feel HR practitioners bring to the consulting table.

  • Many consultants have excellent technical skills but have never worked in the world of HR and Payroll. While technical skills are certainly valuable, they are not enough to be a great consultant in the highly-nuanced HCM technology industry. You want to work with a consultant who has end-user experience with one or more HCM technology systems regularly. Someone with this experience will not only know the technicalities of how to configure the system, but they also have the bird’s eye view of how the system can best be configured according to your business processes, which will also make your HR team’s operations more efficient.


  • Former HR practitioners understand what it is like to walk in your shoes. We have “been there and done that.” This gives us the ability to translate the business challenges you tell us about into configuration requirements that ultimately result in a system configured perfectly to match your organization’s needs, making your work life a whole lot easier. We understand HR lingo. Therefore you’ll save time by not having to explain why you need to perform a function in a specific way, something you might need to explain several times over if you partner with a firm that’s an implementer rather than a true strategic consulting partner. We have used salary-grades, we have set up earnings and tax categories and have experienced the mountain of work that comes with year-end. We have been through open enrollment, and we know how critical illness benefits work. All of this prior knowledge enables us to make the best recommendations for your organization when it comes to implementing, optimizing, or supporting your HR technology systems.


  • HR practitioners have also seen what does not work. In our previous practitioner roles, we have most likely seen poorly configured systems that left us wishing we could have proactively participated in system design conversations rather than reactively feeling frustrated by a less-than-optimally designed system. We have made errors of our own within HR systems and had to fix them. But, that means we have learned from our mistakes and can help prevent you from making those same mistakes.


  • We know how to troubleshoot technical issues. We have workarounds to share, we can write reports to supplement the system-delivered standard reports, and we have learned to think creatively to respond to organizational needs. For example, many technical consultants can configure your General Ledger export. Not all of them will have experience with processing general ledgers, or be able to teach you how to interpret the data and provide maintenance advice going forward.


  • HR practitioners have worked with cross-functional teams on projects. We have collaborated with C-suite executives, benefits experts, HR managers, Payroll Departments, Finance, and IT. When cross-functional stakeholders ask questions or share concerns, we’re able to assuage those questions or concerns, by using terminology familiar to each stakeholder, and explaining how a project impacts their role. We can explain to a Benefits manager how their plans data will flow in and out of Payroll. We can teach HR to create job codes, and then show Payroll the impact on Worker’s Compensation. We can explain the general ledger system process to the CFO and interpret data security parameters for IT. Most importantly, our cross-functional experience helps us bring all of your organization’s stakeholders together to create the best possible system design for your project, whether it’s creating an HR technology strategy, evaluating and selecting or implementing a new system, or anything in between.


The next time you’re beginning an HR technology project, and are in the process of finding the right consulting partner for your organization, remember why HR practitioners make the best system consultants and factor that into your decision making.

HRchitect’s team of consultants averages over 15 years of HR practitioner expertise, allowing them to pair real-world knowledge with consulting expertise – a combination that is hard to find elsewhere. If you need help with your next HR technology project, contact us to get the conversation started.

About Laura Palulis

Laura Palulis is a System Consultant with HRchitect, the leader in HCM systems strategic consulting. Laura has over 20 years of experience in the payroll and tax field and was an Ultimate Software customer for 18 years. When not working with customers, Laura can be found hiking, quilting, and traveling the world.