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

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.

Which HRIS System is Best for SMEs?

Well unfortunately there is no ‘one right answer’ but if your organisation is looking at HRIS software systems then as a starting point you should first decide which of these two main options suits you best…


1) Do you take advantage of the HR systems that payroll suppliers offer as an additional part of the package.

Providers like ADP, NorthgateArinso, MidlandHR, etc. all offer really good HR systems that connect with their payroll solution, and have remote access based on assigned admin privileges. The main advantage is that the system is already linked to the payroll providers system, this helps ensures that the HR system is maintained properly to ensure that employees are paid on time and accurately.

The downside is that companies are reliant on the supplier of the system to configure process in line with the companies’ requirements which adds to the costs, takes away control from the company and reduces flexibility of the system.


2) Or do you invest in a package offered as a service (SaaS) such as Sage People, and Cezanne.

The benefits of these hosted packages include the fact that you have more control in maintaining and configuring the system, also the packages are upgraded regularly as part of the deal, so the system can grow and change with your organisation.

But potentially on the downside to get the best of these types of solutions does require somebody to actively manage the system and to link it to other solutions (payroll, finance package, etc.) to ensure that true return on investment is realised and the right behaviours are enforced.

A useful website is HR Comparison that lists many HR systems to choose from based on the high level requirements.

Whichever option your organisation decides to pursure it is worth first undertaking a needs analysis to determine what is required; then approach potential suppliers to present their solutions in line with the requirements.

So if your organisation employs between 250 to 5000 staff and is looking at HRIS software options, we can help. Contact us at Tugela People we have not only researched the market extensively but also gone on to purchase, implement, and evaluate a variety of HRIS software packages for clients in the mid range corporate market.