19 October 2022

What not to do when selecting an HR system – top 10 mistakes

6 minute read

Author

Louis Wellings

Louis Wellings

Louis Wellings is a content marketing executive at Ciphr. Much of his writing focuses on topics related to HR software, HR systems, payroll software, and the employee experience.

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HR systems selection Technology

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It can be difficult to know where to start when selecting a new HR solution for your business. There are so many different options available, each with its own set of benefits and drawbacks. However, making a few common mistakes can quickly lead to disaster. This blog post will look at the 10 most common mistakes organisations make when selecting a new HR system, and provide some advice on getting things right. 

In this article:

  1. Getting the research stage wrong
  2. Failing to involve key stakeholders
  3. Forgetting to build your business case
  4. Promising and expecting too much
  5. Not adopting an end-user mindset
  6. Focusing on the past, not the future
  7. Ignoring that the world of work has changed
  8. Overlooking the power of integrations
  9. Not developing a project plan
  10. Making assumptions

1. Getting the research stage wrong 

The world of HR tech is constantly changing, but it’s important to stay ahead by staying informed. If you don’t conduct any proper market research, you may end up with an HR system that doesn’t align with your organiation’s strategic goals. 

That’s why your strategic goals should determine which solution you go for. As there is a lot of choice within the crowded HR software market, conducting an analysis of different vendors’ offerings will help simplify your selection process. The systems you’ll be looking at will depend on your organisation size, your industry – as some vendors will have specialisations – and what functionality you’re trying to achieve. 

It’s worth bearing in mind that there is no single system that can do everything, so make sure to manage internal expectations by seeking external insight using your own network and gathering references, while being open-minded. 

2. Failing to involve key stakeholders 

If key decision-makers aren’t involved in selecting the right HR system, the overall process doesn’t tend to go as smoothy as possible. By conducting a stakeholder analysis, you will better understand who your stakeholders are, what their priorities are, when they want a new HR system to be in place, and how your plans and actions will affect their goals. And make sure to plan ahead – it’s much easier to get buy-in from decision-makers before a project starts.  

The IT, finance, and HR department are most likely the areas of the business that will need to be engaged with the most when procuring a new HR system. You may also want to include a group of employees and managers; don’t forget, your new HR software will be used by everyone in your organisation.  

3. Forgetting to build your business case 

Not building a business case means there is no clear understanding of the potential return on investment for the new HR software. This lack of analysis could lead to overspending or choosing a product that does not effectively address the business’ needs.  

While functionality is important, your ‘wish list’ should go a bit deeper than that. What exactly are you trying to achieve with your new system? Consider aspects such as automation, employee experience, predictive analytics, and what benefits these could potentially bring to the business. Lastly, what would be the potential risk of not changing your HR system? For instance, you may start losing employees if they don’t feel engaged enough, or you may find that without the right data you might not be making the right people decisions. 

4. Promising and expecting too much 

As previously stated, an HR system won’t do everything. Be realistic about project timescales and deliverables, otherwise you may risk placing your existing teams under pressure. Do you really have the resources to dedicate to selecting and implementing your new system? Some organisations choose to go out to the market and buy temporary external resource to help implement a solution. Think about what skills your organisation has in-house, and what you might need some additional help with.  

5. Not adopting an end-user mindset 

As your HR system will be used across the whole business, you need to make sure your workforce actually want to use the system. Technology is moving at an exponential rate, not just in workspaces, but also employees’ social lives. Most of your workers probably use social media, and will be wanting to use workplace software that’s just as initiative. Choose an HR system that makes it easy for them to self-serve and complete tasks such as booking holiday and accessing their pay slip 

Also, how will this project impact other teams and day-to-day tasks? To drive change well, you must engage with employees. Communicate early and often to boost engagement and understanding, whether it’s by email, intranet, senior leadership videos, or notifications.  

6. Focusing on the past, not the future 

When selecting your new solution, challenge the way you’re doing things today and don’t merely replace it like-for-like. Your new system should improve your organisations’ processes, not replicate its existing functions. For instance, if you’re currently using paper-based methods of executing certain jobs, think about how automation could help you. 

This is an opportunity for change. Remember, your new system is not a spreadsheet, nor is it the same as your current system – which is a positive thing. In your business case, you need to make it clear that the new software is an enabler for ongoing change. It’s not going to change your culture overnight, but it’s going to give you the tools you need to make that change in the long term. 

Changing your processes along with your system is going to require some change management, so build that into your business case. If you’re going to be devolving responsibility to line managers, for example, this needs to be communicated and included within your business case. 

7. Ignoring that the world of work has changed 

In recent years, have your needs changed? What are your organisations’ remote capabilities now that we’re post-pandemic? Are you experiencing any workforce management challenges? When you’re exploring the market for your HR solution, make sure you and your people are ready for the change, and think about the future.  

The pandemic has accelerated the adaption of digital technologies across many industries, and HR is no different. Most systems today will allow you to manage user access to a fine degree, automate remote hiring workflows, track the healthiness levels of your employees, and so much more. Organisations that embrace these changes and adapt to the use of new HR technological innovations will be better placed to foster a great company culture and employee experience. 

8. Overlooking the power of integrations 

Integrations are needed for most organisations, not just for your current HR/payroll systems, but for other business software too. For instance, your finance teams could benefit from custom HR data feeds, your IT teams could drive the active directory employee user access from the HR system. Ultimately, the people system user journey begins with HR. 

Make sure to bring in key stakeholders to gain a full picture of all the integrations needed. There can be a variety of integrations available with the best HR systems, such as application programming interface (API), SSH File Transfer Protocol (SFTP), and various plugins. These can be extremely beneficial as APIs need much less manual intervention (and less resource) than integrations achieved using CSV files. 

9. Not developing a project plan 

Selecting a new HR system is much like conducting any other business project. You should think about how you’re going to go from not having a system selected, to actually starting the implementation. If you choose not to create (and follow) a project plan, you may find that you’re not getting the right pace and traction you desire, and certain key decisions may take a lot longer to finalise. 

It’s best to decide early on who will take ownership of the HR system implementation and drive the project forward. This could either be the senior HR leader within your organisation, or an external resource (such as a consultant) who has expertise in these sorts of projects. Either way, create high-level detailed timescales and deliverables for each stage, and try to structure your system demos effectively.   

10. Making assumptions 

Your project won’t run itself, and the market moves very quickly, so don’t let your hard work go to waste. Consider bringing in external support for accountability, motivation and to help mediate between you and vendors. You can still champion the project internally, but continue to ask questions. 

How Ciphr can help 

Although it’s tempting to rush into a system project, follow our steps and spend time doing research and planning work upfront to help make your new HR software a success. Whether you’ve already drawn up your requirements list, or want to explore how switching to a different HR system could benefit your organisation, Ciphr is here to help. Book a demo with our team today and see how our HR software can help streamline your processes. 

This article is a short summary of a webinar hosted in partnership with Silver Cloud HR. You can watch the full webinar below.