HR Software: What do YOU want?

It’s often easy to point the finger of blame at sales teams of software vendors when we find that software isn’t necessarily fit for purpose. Having been both an HR tech customer and HR technology vendor implementation specialist I’ve experienced this finger pointing first hand from both sides of the fence.

Maybe sales aren’t to blame, maybe it’s time HR became more accountable.


Buyer Beware

Ahead of doing the coast to coast a good few years back, I needed to buy a new bike. So I asked the sales guys in the shop that my Cycle Scheme vouchers would be accepted at for advice, and I bought a bike from them. During the 140 mile bike ride I spent a lot of time with my friend so far in front of me that he was almost a dot on the horizon… how did he find it so much easier. We’d trained about the same?

Truth is, my bike was not fit for purpose. It was 3kg heavier than his, and had tyres that seemed to absorb the road. I’d been completely mis-sold by those devious underhand sales guys!

Of course, they’re not to blame. I asked the opinions of people who had likely never completed a 140 mile bike ride over varying terrain with some terror inducing climbs. It was their job to sell me a bike, they did their jobs. I was the consumer, I was accountable for the choice. I shouldn’t have asked a salesman for advice, I should have asked my peers, I should have sought opinions from those who had done the journey, who knew bikes better than I did. I was to blame.

The same is true when buying HR Software… or anything for that matter, but I work with HR software, so we’ll stick with what I know!


Peer to Peer Learning

I might be generalising here, but in my experience, the sales teams at HR Software vendors have rarely worked in HR. You understand your role a lot better than they do.

So, if you want to purchase HR tech to help improve your processes, reporting or employee engagement, don’t simply rely on vendor salespeople to educate you. You can’t expect them to be objective, or give you all the answers, or really even suggest anything other than the solution they are selling.

Instead gather advice from those who’ve ‘done it’ i.e. your peers and colleagues. As well as industry analysts, consultants or organisations like the CIPD that enjoy a degree of objectivity.

They can help you get a better understanding of the bigger picture and to decide what you need (and importantly what you don’t).


Key Steps in Buying HR Technology

Here is a helpful overview of the steps to go through as you investigate HR technology options which will help ensure you make the most appropriate HR tech purchase for you and your organisation:

  • Document your processes:  What do you do now?  Write it all down.  Spend time on this as it is vital in providing the basis of what your system requirements will be. Pay extra attention to items that are must haves, if you’ve got ways of working that are unique and important to your business, detail them, as your new system must be able to accommodate these.  Also look to the data used in these processes… are any fields absolutely mandatory to allow you to work effectively? Remember to also catalogue the infrequent events like redundancy, adoption leave, probationary period failure etc.
  • Look for improvements:  Okay, so you’ve documented all your processes. What’s working for you, what do you need to keep the same, what do you want to change completely and what could do with just a little hand from technology?  Categorise your processes as such and you’ll be able to see which products on the market will bring you the most benefit
  • Document your requirements:  This is an important step, document as much as you can, you can find templates for requirements gathering and for statements of requirements all over the internet for free.  I’d suggest finding one that uses a MoSCoW system (Must have, Should have, Could have and Wont have). Once you’ve documented your requirements, apply the MoSCoW system to it.
  • Share your requirements:  You’ve got your requirements, before you ask any vendors to come and provide a demo, let them see your requirements.  This gives them a chance to prepare a demonstration that shows that their solution will work for you.
  • Demonstrations:  This is the product of all of your work so far, there’s no point in any of this if you don’t physically see the products doing what you want them to do. You shared your requirements with vendors, they’ve had an opportunity to clarify those requirements if unclear. Make sure, especially for those must haves, that you see them in action.  This is on you, if it’s truly a must have you need to see it, you can’t complain afterwards that the product isn’t fit for purpose, you know your job, you know your company, you know your data, you know your requirements… see that it is fit for purpose or don’t purchase the product.
  • Business case:  Okay, so you have another job to do before you can breathe, the groundwork is done, but you want to make sure that your investment proves worthwhile.  Build a business case, explaining the financial outlay, the expected benefits, the required resource and the reward you believe will come following a successful implementation.  Justifying the spend will equip you with the knowledge you need to make sure you get the most from the product and that you get buy in from stakeholders at all levels in the business.  Again, you can find templates for business cases all over the internet, maybe even just ask peers in public sector for these templates, they’ll probably have experience of having to build statements of requirement and business cases as part of their procurement process.  Once your implementation is complete, come back to your business case and make sure you’re getting those benefits.

If you go through these steps you can be confident that you will know what you want from the HR technology at the outset and then select one that is fit for purpose.  And those poor, innocent sales guys and gals are no longer made a scapegoat and can sleep easy.

If you would like to discuss any of the points raised in this article do get in touch.  I’m always happy to share my own experiences if you’d like to know more or ask any questions, feel free to connect and send me a message

Sage acquires Fairsail and announces Sage People

It was announced today that Fairsail has now been fully acquired by Sage who were previously a minority shareholder.  This acquisition will allow Sage to build on the success of their existing partnership,  where the Fairsail product was sold under the Sage People brand.   This announcement will allow Sage to accelerate their people management offering as it integrates seamlessly with their other products and delivers a more comprehensive offering to their large number of global customers.

Thomas Schilling, Tugela People’s Managing Director, says: “We are delighted with the news today as it will allow us to strengthen our existing relationship with Sage.    We look forward to developing new opportunities for Sage People both here in the UK and across the globe in the coming months.

Why Use a HRIS Implementation Partner?

One question we are frequently asked is – why should a business investing in a new HRIS system use an implementation partner? Here are the main benefits of using an HRIS implementation partner as we see it:

Broader HRIS and Technology Expertise:

A partner can bring experience of different sectors, systems and approaches. These elements can help deploy the new HRIS system more efficiently avoiding pitfalls that cause delay. They can also bring impartiality to configuration discussions and the impact of those choices on the organisation’s HR system. This infusion of specialist expertise can help avoid the “If I knew what I know today, I would have done things differently” situations.

Service and Speed:

Partners often provide a more flexible, personal service especially for small or mid-sized firms that are not likely to be the biggest client. A partner’s specialist skills will also speed up the implementation process so that internal resource can be focused on adoption and training rather than navigating the learning curve of the setting up phase.

More Choice:

Selecting from a pool of HRIS implementation partners allows you to select a partner that you are comfortable working with. This personal chemistry between the internal team and the outsourced team members is crucial to meeting project deadlines, translating business requirements and aiding in knowledge transfer.

Immediate Credibility:

A credible HRIS partner with in-depth knowledge of the HRIS space and best practice can accelerate buy in from internal stakeholders. Usually this works best when the partner has a broad understanding of processes and issues pertinent to particular stakeholders. This also helps to facilitate take up of the system among users.

Committed Preferred Supplier:

A third party HRIS implementation partner that is committed to the system (demonstrated by participating at the provider’s conferences, receiving partner certification, recognition or awards, and collaboration with their sales team) has an in-depth understanding of the system’s capabilities and limitations which is a beneficial in getting the most of a system.

Partnering Pitfalls to Avoid

However, it is also worth noting the potential pitfalls of outsourcing to a third party and these tend to become an issue when the following issues are not addressed:

  • Accountability – prefer a single company that is responsible for the deliverables of all work being proposed.
  • Execution – partner’s inability to execute on the deliverables based on lack of experience, training, and overall calibre of consultant(s).
  • Partner’s Viability – partner’s financial stability, leadership and proven ability to deliver results.
  • Project Ownership – “finger-pointing”. Problems resulting in the partner blaming the HRIS sales team, while the sales team blames the consulting team.

HRIS Consultancy: Phase 2 for Westminster Abbey

westminster-abbey_938x183-banner-2We were delighted to commence with Phase 2 of the HRIS consultancy project for Westminster Abbey. In the Spring we audited their existing HR processes and suggested process improvements and helped to create the HRIS brief.

The second phase is focused on helping them manage the implementation of their selected system, Midland HR. Working with the team at Westminster Abbey we will ensure that the implementation project remains on budget and on schedule.  We will also help embed the new system within the organisation and ensure that users are properly trained.

If you are looking for expert HRIS consultancy support contact HRIS expert, Thomas Schilling, on 01327 317701.

How to Successfully Embed your HRIS System

Our handy pointers on how to successfully embed your HRIS system into your organisation….

1. Engage your users early in the buying process

Nothing encourages users buy in more than when you get their input at an early stage. Allow them to express their opinion of the functionality of the HRIS system and its key attributes. Gather both their positive and negative feedback and suggestions. This will also help with addressing potential issues with your Implementation partner so you can embed your HRIS system with less hassle.

This early interaction will help users understand what it is that the business is looking to achieve and help them to adapt more quickly to the new HRIS system.

2. Create a plan to introduce the new technology

Develop a plan of how to train all employees so that they know how the new system works. Whilst cloud based HRIS system, like Fairsail, does make adding new absences or holiday requests, simple to administer you still need to cater for all levels of technical ability and remember that change can be daunting for some users.

Apply various training approaches to reach all users, from classroom training, to coaching, video’s or virtual webinars. Also, provide reference material and don’t forget about new starters training. The aim should be to get them into the habit of using the new system regularly.

We find it useful to select key change agents to help engage end users and gather feedback for you.

3. Highlight the benefits for users answer i.e. “What’s in it for me”

Focus on the ways that the new system will save users time and improve performance. Also, drip feed users tips and insight about the system functionality. This needs to start as soon as possible, not at the implementation stage. These positive messages will help to build excitement about the new system.

4. Continuous learning and improvement

Remember that coaching / training your employees to use your HR system is not a one time learning experience. You need to constantly update your employee’s knowledge. Use system reports to see how the various processes are being utilised and where there are gaps (e.g. where performance reviews are not being completed). Then use the data to drive awareness and coaching sessions.

Use the employee self-service functionality to engage and communicate with staff about new or improved features to the system or connect systems (e.g. payroll, time & attendance, expenses, etc.)

5. Make top notch technical support available when its needed

Create a support network to ensure users can get issues sorted out as soon as possible. Firstly have manual guides that contain enough information to make your employees feel safe handling the system. This avoids having to resort to technical support whenever a problem arises. Try to find a permanent solution for common problems.

Secondly, consider having one or two well-trained super-users who are your internal go-to people for first line support. This will speed up the issue resolution process and help improve the system set-up based on users’ feedback.

6. Reward users for engagement

We find that a competition and reward get greater system engagement. For instance, at the outset you could have a fun naming contest amongst employees or during the training do run quizzes. Similarly based on things like number of login’s or general usage of the system consider recognising users who shine. Finally, some systems like Sage People offer functionality to run snap polls to gain quick feedback about areas of the business, or even the system itself – this feedback can improve HR process and system set up.

7. K.I.S.S.

Remember less is more so only include the most needed features. The simpler the system and processes are, the easier it will be to train your employees and improve user adoption. In addition, the adaptation process will be easier if you limit yourself to include only those functions essential to achieving your immediate company goals.

This will also make maintaining the system going forward and adapting to changes in the company that need to be applied to the system (e.g. a company restructure).

8. It you don’t measure it you can’t manage / improve it

Lastly, do not forget to measure the success of your efforts. Run reports to see how well the system is being used and which aspects are maintained as required and which aren’t (e.g. gaps in data, late or no entries, etc.)

Run short polls to determine the general feelings towards aspects of the system, but best of all, go out and gauge the mood and get employee’s opinions by speaking to them.


If you would to discuss how to embed your HRIS System call HRIS implementation specialists Tugela People on 01327 317701 or via the website.

HR System Selection Checklist

HRIS Vendor selectionWell done – you have secured the budget. You have recognised that the benefits of cloud-based HR Systems i.e. shorter implementation time, lower upfront costs and scalability and now like the majority (70%) taking part in the 2015 HCM buying intentions study, you are looking to buy a cloud based HR system.

Before you start shopping consider these elements as part of your HR System vendor selection process when reviewing HR technology.

1. Credibility and stability

How reliable is the vendor in the industry? Take up references. Check they have the relevant experience of the sector / geographical region you operate in and that their subject-matter expertise is up-to-date and compliant with new legislation. Do they have an inward investment ethos and do they get best practice workflows and processes?

2. Service ethos

When investing in a new technology, the service component is vital. Don’t be dazzled by the sales team, look at whole company’s service ethos. Do they offer guarantees or service agreements? Do they outsource their implementation / after sales service? If yes, how accountable are partners?

3. HR System Security and data protection

Data legislation is continually evolving and as such the vendor needs to keep up-to-date and ensure they prioritise remaining compliant and keeping HR and employee data safe.

Examine their security and data protection policies, also check if the vendor has security certifications.

4. Single-code functionality

This relates to how the vendor adds additional functionality to their system. Does a vendor add capabilities by acquisitions and partnerships? Check as this can create implementation issues and pose a support risk. Whilst a single application will reduce the number of errors vs. multiple ones. Acquired modules also sometimes come with a separate database and a separate technical code, which makes it harder to support or keep data synchronized.

A flag may be when a vendor brings different solution consultants to demonstrate different parts of the application. Often this means that they have added capability through an acquisition or a partnership.

5. HR System Usability

The usability of the HR system is important, mainly because it is a key factor in how quickly and easily the various internal stakeholders will embrace and use it which impacts on realising the return on investment.

It can be difficult to access when is buying stage but having different types of users involved in the evaluation stage can be helpful, also ask for third party validation of how they rank for usability.

Good luck with your HR System vendor selection. If you require help in evaluating or selecting an HR Systems call the experts, Tugela People, on +44(0) 1908 030361 or contact them via the website.

Automating HR Processes – is it Worth it?

This is a recurring question we come across …automating HR processes – is it worth it? Do the benefits outweigh the costs of automating HR processes, or similarly is it worth it? For us it is all about context, when answering this question.

Information relating to the impact of HR automation and self-service on small and medium-sized businesses is scarce and primarily vendor driven. Unsurprisingly, they suggest that in general, HR automation results in significant time efficiencies and cost reductions.

Based on our experience as HRIS consultants and implementation experts, we have repeatedly seen the transformational effect HRIS can have on businesses. However, there is a ‘but’. We have found that sometimes, for the reasons discussed below, automating HR processes isn’t the best option yet for a minority of SMEs.

You can lead a horse to water…

HRIS cloud based technologies are a major step change in how things are done. We know that this can be a bridge too far for some MDs or CEOs who are wary of the internet and new-fangled technology that they don’t understand. Unfortunately, we find without the boss embracing HRIS automation fully, it can be difficult to realise the benefits and ensure they outweigh the costs.

We have seen instances where progressive HR managers have managed to get the go ahead to purchase a HR automation system but fail to implement it because of internal roadblocks and lack of support from top management. Implementing an HRIS is a considerable project and needs top level support to be effective.

Tactical versus strategic importance of HR in a business…

HR can be divided into three broad areas: transactional work (can take up to 65 percent of HR’s time), employee services, (which may consume 30 percent more) and HR strategy (the remainder). The first two on the list have to be done, and done properly, but unlike HR strategy they offer no return to the business.

SMEs that don’t value the strategic potential of HR and its ability to impact on the bottom line rarely want to capitalise on the benefit that automation affords of allowing HR more time to focus on higher-value, higher ROI tasks.

When automating HR processes size does matter…

Having worked with numerous SMEs over the years we realise that there is a threshold above which the implementation and management costs of an automated system can’t be justified. This even applies to cloud-based systems like Sage People which have been specifically designed to be cost effective for smaller and midsize businesses, and do not require a large capital outlay or an IT team to install and update the software.  We find that these tend to be either start-ups where resources are tight or on the other end of the spectrum established local businesses that are not in a growth mode, and have fewer than 25 employees with a very low staff turnover.

In conclusion automating HR processes…

So when determining whether HR automation is worth it. It is important to first check the appetite for change and the importance given to strategic HR thinking, before looking at the numbers (budget, size of the business, number of employees, how many new recruits, or how much spent on HR/payroll/benefits admin).

To assess whether automating HR processes is worth it for your business call the HRIS experts, Tugela People, on +44(0) 1327 317701 or contact  them via the website.

Does HR Self-Service technology boost Employee Engagement?

Does HR Self-Service technology boost Employee Engagement? Yes, in our experience employee HR self-service technology can help boost employee engagement if it is implemented properly. It empowers employees to manage their own personal data and boost the employee experience.

HRIS Drives Employee Engagement by…

Increasing Employees Input to Decision Making

With advances in mobile platforms and an exciting array of pulse tools, feedback apps, and anonymous social networking, employees can easily and quickly provide input into decision making. Research, by the Institute for Employment Studies and Towers Perrin, shows that enabling employees to provide input into decision making is one of the top drivers of employee engagement.

Increasing Autonomy

Employees can now view and amend personal data, make requests for leave, and access company information. Research from the Aberdeen Group has shown that more control over personal data leads to increased autonomy and higher employee engagement.

Drives Employee Empowerment

Self-service technology increasingly allows employees to take responsibility for their personal and professional development. Latest advances in the technology provides employees with more control. They gain responsibility for their own performance and development. Consequently, their career planning is increasingly being managed by the employee, freeing up their Managers time.

Why Driving Employee Engagement is important?

It’s important because engagement is seen as an important lever that HR can use to drive productivity in the business. Research by Gallup reveals that world class organisations have a near 10-1 ratio of engaged to disengaged employees while average organisations have around 2 to 1. So introducing self-service technology will drive employee engagement and productivity, when implemented properly.

If you would like help implementing effective HR self-service processes call Tugela People on +44(0) 1327 317701

Sage People Recruit Implementation

New Sage People Recruit Implementation Project

We were delighted to meet the team at CCP Games, a video game developer and publisher based in Reykjavik, Iceland this week. Tugela People will be helping them with their Sage People Recruit implementation project over the next 4 months.

Fairsail Recruit Implementation Partner

What is Sage People Recruit?

Sage People Recruit is a robust Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) cloud based application. It enables HR Managers to better manage their recruiting procedure. This intuitive applicant tracking system allows managers to find, filter and manage the whole candidate life cycle.

Sage People Recruit can handle the entire recruitment process, from specifying the initial vacancy requirement, right up to the final offer stage. It can also assist with advertising the position, tracking applications and getting interview feedback. It can even integrate vacancies on websites using one or more Recruit Candidate Portals, plus enable recruitment agencies to submit candidate details in a controlled way through the Recruit Agency Portal.

Expert Implementation Management

We look forward to helping improve CCP Games’ HR efficiency using Recruit’s various innovative functions (like the automated job postings, requisition management, applicant tracking and the new instant messaging) so that they can have more control and improve the overall experience for candidates.

Their dedicated implementation project manager will use a partnership approach with our structured methodology to deliver the agreed outcomes in the agreed timeframe, and ensure that they maximise their ROI by using Sage People Recruit to its full potential.