Just like information technology (IT), human resources (HR) serve the business; just like IT, HR is not taken seriously enough by the business.

Maybe it has got something to do with maintenance. Ask for perceptions of such functions and many employees immediately think HR exists simply to help serve core business operations, such as finance, sales and purchasing.

It would be anathema to suggest finance is a second rate service that is not crucial to the business. So, why is it OK to simply write-off HR as a second tier service? In short, it is not – and your business is likely to miss out if you take such a blinkered view.

Tough economic conditions mean organisations, particularly in the hard-hit public sector, will be looking to cut costs. Staff reductions are often seen as the first, rather than the last, resort – meaning the HR function is regarded as a means to handing out redundancy notices.

But how can the business know it is cutting the right people? And should it really be cutting people anyway? The answers to such complicated questions can only be provided though a more strategic HR department.

Such a position relies on HR contributing to boardroom debates, something that is often missing in large organisations. Providing such a meaningful focus will rely on clear analysis and reporting.

HR, therefore, needs to take responsibility for facts and figures covering a host of crucial areas, such as productivity output, training value, absenteeism rates and engagement levels.

Corporate performance management – HR-focused business intelligence that includes methods and metrics – will provide the type of detailed analytics that will help HR directors and managers illustrate organisational success.

The right tools will allow you to share HR information across the business. And with the right information to hand, HR directors will be able to take their rightful place at the top table and provide an extremely valuable contribution.

No longer just a service, HR needs to be seen as a strategic function that helps the organisation prove that people really are its most valuable asset.