Choosing the BEST People Related Software

Written by: Rainee Busby
09 Sep 2015

For the most part companies are behind the times when it comes to HR related software solutions. Typically money is spent on other systems such as finance, procurement and other operational systems, but time and time again HR gets the boot. We talked before about people being our most valuable asset, and how they can also be the most costly. So why wouldn’t you, then, invest in the tools you need to ensure this critical asset is leverages to it’s greatest potential.

Having critical data about your employees to aid you in making your decisions as a manager or leader is not optional anymore. Too many companies are lacking people related data that these types of high level people related software systems produce. If they do have data, the data is scattered, has questionable accuracy and is tough to analyze.

The purchase of a software system or new technology to help automate and streamline your people related operations is a costly endeavor. I highly recommend you take a structured approach to ensure you’re getting what you paid for and that it will do what you need it to. Do your own research and double-check all of the facts that your vendor provides.

Listening to vendors is helpful when trying to understand what they do and how it’s different from their competitions but it’s important to keep in mind they are not necessarily looking out for your best interest. That’s your job.

Here are some key questions you need to be able to answer before you get started looking at solutions.

    • Why do you need a tool or software package? What value will it create for your company?
    • Is it one tool or several that need to be implemented and integrated with other systems? Are you looking for an HRIS (human Resource Information System), talent management, or an applicant tracking system?
    • What are the business drivers? Specific value added reasons, are you streamlining efficiencies, remapping processes, self service for employees? Capture this because its will help us develop our ROI
    • What is the ROI? How do you calculate the ROI? How quickly will you get a return on your investment?
    • Do you have a budget you need to work within? This will help you decide what kind of system you will be buying. Have this well defined, so you don’t get carried away with your purchase
    • Who are your stakeholders? Be sure to clearly define your decision makers and who will be involved with the project.
    • Are there other software systems you currently have that need to interface with this system? This would include an IT strategy that you will need to work with.
    • Do you have staff you can allocate to the project or will you need someone to help implement it? At Rainee Busby.com, we work with companies to help implement when their employees are already fully allocated, we come in and play the middle-man so you staff can keep their focus on their projects and you can get your updates without disrupting your projects.
    • Is there existing data that will need to be migrated into the package? If so, how clean is the data? Data in is data out. You need to clean up your processes and your data before implementation, so you don’t end up with a bigger mess than you started with.
    • How soon do we need to make a decision?  Do we need to work around any major business events or holidays? You should expect 4-6 weeks for selection and 6-8 weeks for implementation.
Again, I do not recommend a company rush through this process. You should feel free to call a few people, reach out to your network for opinions but overall every company is different and they have unique requirements. Don’t assume a package does what you need, because it works for your friend. They are all different.

Create a Selection Process

I suggest creating a selection process unique to you. One way that we have done this in the past, is to select the top 3 vendors you are considering, based on your budget.

Most of software will fall into three separate tiers. Tier 1 is typically a larger company that will cost you at least 1 million dollars. Tier 2 will be more mid-range companies and alittle bit more cost effective at under about $500,000. Tier three is going to be a smaller system with limited functionality, but may be best for where you are right now. If you need to change systems in the future you can. Just choose what fits your needs based on that size.

It is important to look into selecting an industry specific vendor. This will give you access to a module within a larger suite of products or a stand alone that is specific for your purposes. It will also make it easier for integration if all from the same company if you choose to ever expand your services.

Another resource to utilize is the HR Tech conference. This is an annual conference that is typically attended by people from across the United States and almost all HR technology companies will be in Attendance. Bill Kutik started it all in 1998 and now has a radio show. I recommend utilizing him as a resource as well to help narrow your search.

It may also help you to actually listen to the Internet. In our world today, there are reviews of almost every product that has ever been in existence. You will hear a lot of chatter about what is working and what is not.

Another benefit you can use is capturing your requirements and related information. You can create templates for yourself where it outlines what types of functionality, reporting, security and company background you would like to include.

At that point you will want to contact vendors and submit requirements for a response. Make sure that when you request to be contacted you can ensure that critical people will also be available to be involved in the initial meeting. You don’t want to approach your IT department after you have made the purchase without including them first. In the demos, ensure you ask critical questions about what of what they have shown today is currently available. Many vendors include future functionality in the demo, but it won’t be available in the software that you purchase. Take notes throughout this process and refer back to them when you are making you decision.

The next step is to consolidate all requirements and highlight what needs attention. Were any of the vendors missing critical functionality? Your objective is to find the top 2 vendors and then ask for referrals from each. You can then contact them with a list of prepared questions and use their feedback to make decisions.

Getting to the Final Decision

This last part should go pretty smooth for the most part. We now want to think through everything we’ll need in relation to writing a contract. Gather and look at the results of the requirements, client referrals, notes during demos and any other data you think may be key.

Another contributing factor is to get the pricing from both of your final vendors. Break the pricing down into specific questions/responses. Sometimes the value you will receive is difficult to measure. It is not always the most expensive that will be the best service and the least expensive may not give you the ROI you are looking for.

Some other contract terms to think about include:

    • Do you need special reporting?
    • Any interfaces that will need to be included?
    • What about training and support? How will that training be delivered and what level of support will they give you during implementation?
When discussing final pricing don’t be afraid to negotiate. They may be able to give you discounts based on the length of your contract or if purchase once instead of and month-to-month.

As you can see selecting software is not a quick and easy process. Well, it could be if you want to settle for whatever you get. But, this is not recommended because these purchases are typically 3-year agreements and are usually cost well into the 20+ thousand dollar range and up depending on what you need. I recommend you make sure you capture the facts and data related to why this decision was made. I can’t begin to tell you how often I’ve referred back to the requirements doc when discussing implementation specifics.

In our next show we’ll be talking about workforce planning. I’m talking about predicting your future talent and skill needs not managing resources. Talent is tight in the market so we need to be sure we are developing our people based on what those future needs are. We need to track what’s going on both internal and external to your business. Many companies are moving quickly to put workforce planning in place due to current labor shortages such as healthcare and IT. What are your plans? 

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