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.
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