1 December 2020

5 steps to building a strong business case for an HR system

By defining your business needs, and highlighting the benefits of a HR system, you can prove why a HR system is important for your organisation


Maryam Munir

Maryam Munir

Maryam Munir worked as a content marketing writer at Ciphr from 2019 to 2021.


HR transformation Technology


By defining your business needs, and highlighting the benefits of a HR system, you can prove why a HR system is important for your organisation

The decision to invest in an HR system is one that can pay off in many ways for HR teams, senior leadership, and employees – organisations can effectively manage their people data, improve efficiency, and save admin time. In order for an organisation to recognise such benefits – and to then invest in an HR system – HR teams need to build a strong business case for HR systems. Here are the steps HR teams can take to build a successful business case for an HR system.

1. Define business needs

Every organisation has different needs and, as a result, different reasons to invest in HR systems. In a recent Ciphr webinar, Helen Armstrong – founder of SilverCloud HR – said when building a business case for HR systems, you should think about and note down the reasons why your organisation needs the system.

“You want to start by asking yourself what’s the current situation with systems and processes, and why you are looking to change it. A starting point might be that your current HR system is old and not cloud-based.”

Similarly, Armstrong adds that there might be a need for your HR team to avoid data duplication – “you shouldn’t be rekeying data into systems more than once because one, it is inefficient, and two, there’s a data security risk involved with having multiple people handle data.”

HR teams all have their own reasons for needing an HR system but by clearly defining your business needs, you can show others in the organisation that an HR system can make a big difference in helping achieve goals (both strategic and performance-wise).

2. Identify the benefits

From improving the employee experience to helping you save costs and improve your regulatory compliance, investing in an HR system can benefit your organisation in many ways.

When building a business case, you should make sure you describe exactly how a HR system can benefit not only your team but others in the organisation as well.

Using data to show how HR systems can benefit your organisation can also be helpful said Armstrong. “It’s always hard to measure something but if automation is one of your key priorities, you should have data that shows what your costs are with current HR processes.”

3. Research the market

In order to make a well-balanced decision about which HR system you want to go for, you need to research the market – by comparing the cost, reviews, and compatibility of the HR systems that are out there, you can find the best fit for your organisation.

“You might want to research the market before you put your business case in, or you might need to get the business case signed off before looking at the market. Either way, you need to start doing some research so you have an idea about HR systems and what’s on offer,” said Armstrong.

“Ask yourself what your guiding principles and priorities are, and why you are doing this. Speak to the HR system providers and get as much information from them as possible. There are so many HR systems out there and it’s hard to see the unique selling point of those systems so if you’re able to share your objective with the HR vendor, they can tailor demos for you.”

During the webinar, Ciphr’s David Richter added: “You can also try to get references from existing customers from a vendor before you commit to one or visit review sites which can help point you in the right direction.”

4. Get stakeholder buy in

A successful business case involves getting buy-in from key stakeholders. Without their buy-in, you’re unlikely to get very far.

Armstrong said: “It’s important that you quickly get in front of the CEO, the CFO, the relevant IT person, someone in finance and someone in the payroll. Once you start bringing people in and engaging them in your business process to choose a new system, they’ll feel a lot more aligned with you and the business needs.”

She also added that it’s easier to get your business case signed off when you’re holistic about the whole process and are able to communicate the wider business priorities to stakeholders.

When trying to get stakeholder buy-in from the CFO in particular – who is likely to be concerned about the cost – Armstrong said “do your research upfront so that what you’re going and asking for budget wise is accurate. It’s not a good start to the project if you’re already under-quoting what you need.”

5. Create a detailed plan

Finally, you should make sure that you create a detailed plan which covers all of the resources you’ll need in order to implement the HR system, the schedule for implementation, roll-out and training, the cost, and the predicted return on investment (ROI).

This plan can help you cover all of the key elements involved in choosing and implementing an HR system and can ensure that your business case covers all relevant areas.