Helen Armstrong of Silver Cloud HR outlines what you should do when choosing new programs for your business

Finding the correct HR system for your organisation isn’t always easy – and sometimes you can get it wrong. So what should you do to make sure you do it correctly next time?

Helen Armstrong, managing director at Silver Cloud HR – an independent HR and payroll technology consultancy – shared her tips for making HR systems selection projects a success in a recent CIPHR webinar. Here’s a recap of her advice.

 

1. Be clear about your business case

“We’ll often go into an HR company and ask: ‘what are you trying to achieve?’ Typically, the answer is: ‘we’ve got a legacy system, it’s not really doing what we want, we want to go online, we need a bit more service… so we need a new system.’

“And that’s great – but you need to be clear what your case is to get it signed off. So we say: ‘what are you trying to achieve with this HR system?’ If you need sign off from the senior leadership team, you need to be able to talk about the impact of the system.”

 

2. Define your decision-makers early on

“Work out who is making the decision on systems and get them involved at the start of the project – don’t wait until the end for them to sign it off.

“And be clear who those decision makers are: it’s not necessarily the person signing the contract. You’ll find people within IT and finance – maybe even your sales and marketing teams – will have an interest. It will affect them because people’s data now goes across the business.”

 

3. Do your research

“Some companies will either underestimate what HR technology can do now, or have what they think is a novel idea but we have to say: ‘we’ve had that for a long time, and we’ve moved on quite a bit from that.’

“So do your research and get up to speed with what’s happening with HR technology. Even if you think you’ll look for a new system in a couple of years’ time, start looking at what’s out there now – not just for your project, but also so you know what HR tech is here to stay.”

 

4. Explore different system types

“Having an HR and payroll program with other integrated modules will work if you have generic requirements – but if you have specific needs, a best-of-breed approach would be best because you select the best module for each HR area.

System integration is key, so make sure you can do that too. Once your system is in place and people see what amazing data you have available, they will want it. You will need to be report on the data in the required format.”

 

5. Set a selection process project plan

“Before you begin, document all the steps you think you’ll need to go through, the resources that need to be involved, and properly plan it out as if it were a project.

“A bad selection process is one where it goes on for too long. The longer it drags on, the more things will change and the more likely you might have to start again.

“You will also want to communicate your plan to the software vendors you’re working with. Once you start the process, you can be clear when they’ll be working with you and when their resource will be needed.”

 

6. Get a project manager

“Don’t assume your project is going to run itself. You need someone running your project and has the capacity to run it.

“Being a project manager doesn’t need to be a full-time role, but it does need to be a role in itself, so things keep moving along.”

 

7. Manage expectations

“Make sure you communicate what you’re doing with the project all the way through. We do gather information on what the customer’s users see are the current frustrations and what they think could be improved on, rather than going through a tick-box exercise of seeing if we need to record someone’s name, their known last name, their last maiden name, etc.

“We call this ‘information gathering’ so people aren’t coming away from that meeting thinking: ‘I’ve told HR exactly what I want’ – and then they’re disappointed when they don’t get it.”

 

8. Set realistic expectations

“Companies and their requirements are so varied, and you will never find an HR technology provider that can give every organisation everything it needs.

“Choose a system [that suits] the majority of the end users, not [one] for the rarer situations that you might be able to deal with using workarounds.”

 

9. See what you can do with the price

“There’s always a deal to be done – you’ll manage to knock down the price one way or another.

“With cloud-based systems, you’ll have an annual license fee based on the number of employees, there might be a support charge on top, and then you have the implementation fee. But look at the annual license fee and see what you can do to get that down.

“Also think about what you might need in the future if you’re planning to acquire a new business or double in size soon: it might be you can buy extra licenses now and get a better deal.”

 

10. Check the small print

“Get everyone to check what you’re signing for and ask your vendor what’s not included in the contract. If you’ve got a legal team, ask them to check it too – plus your IT team from a data security point of view and with the service level agreement (SLA).

“We sometimes find issues with the contract at implementation because someone will say, ‘when are we implementing the mobile apps?’ And then you’ll hear you haven’t planned for or paid for it, and it’ll be an additional cost.”

Want more system selection advice? Watch the full webinar below.