If you’re in the market for a new HRIS, the first step before talking to vendors is collaborating with stakeholders to build a requirements checklist. Here are 53 questions they’re likely to ask.
Building a requirements checklist is a critical stage in researching HR systems, because it gives you a framework to narrow down providers. This checklist should integrate input from broad stakeholders, to:
- Get early buy-in, to reduce resistance to change and increase adoption
- Accommodate everyone’s needs, so you make a better final decision
- Identify and address potential challenges early
- Spot new use cases, and build a more compelling business case
- Enrich the vendor selection process with diverse perspectives
This guide helps you steer this process, giving you an overview of the typical questions your major stakeholders might have so you can lead informed conversations and move the project along speedily.
Before we get started, though:
Who decides on the purchase of an HRIS?
Nowadays, it’s typically HR stakeholders who lead the project to find and purchase a new HRIS. They will, after all, be the system’s primary day-to-day users. But, as we’ll discuss in a moment, stakeholders from across an organisation should – and will want to – be involved in the selection and buying process, if you are to choose the right HR software for your business and for the investment to pay off.
Choosing an HRIS: key stakeholder priorities
Here are the key stakeholder priorities you should keep in mind when choosing an HRIS, from the HR department through to the CEO.
HRIS checklist: HR’s requirements
The pains of an outdated or poor-fit HRMS system are felt throughout the organisation, but HR own the project so let’s start there.
1. Does the system have the functionality we need?
Your exact HR software requirements here depend on your systems, processes, organisation size, sector, and priorities – but here’s some of the most common functionality you might want from an HRIS:
- Training and learning
- Performance management
- Pay and rewards
- Absence management
- Mobile access
Seek input from domain-expert stakeholders to contribute to your requirements list. For instance, payroll might need software that’s RTI compliant and offers BACS-approved bureau services.
2. How will the HRMS system help us achieve more with less?
Once you’ve established the functionality you need, the next priority is understanding how these features translate into benefits for your business. These might include:
- Automating processes
- Increasing efficiency
- Optimising HR spending
- Reducing errors and rework
- Mitigating compliance risk
- Reducing training costs
- Cutting turnover costs
- Improving the employee experience
3. How easy is the system to use?
Usability should be a major priority because even the most sophisticated HRIS is only as good as the use you get from it. If your software makes life harder, not easier, it won’t add value.
4. Can we customise our HRMS system branding?
Most HR teams want an HR system that looks and feels uniquely theirs, to strengthen their employer brand.
5. Does the vendor have experience supporting organisations in our sector and of a similar size to us?
This is a common priority, because it means your chosen vendor has experience tackling the problems you face. Charities are likely to prefer vendors who offer HR software for charities, and so on.
6. What’s the implementation process?
Fears about implementation are often front-and-centre for HR teams. Knowing your preferred provider has a transparent, standardised implementation process will give your team confidence and ensure you can commit enough resources to deploy successfully.
7. What training and support does the vendor offer?
Good training and support helps your team get up, running, and seeing value from your HRIS faster.
8. How much does the software cost?
HR software is a significant investment, with upfront and ongoing costs, which HR needs to understand to decide whether the software fits with its annual budget (or to ask for more funding).
9. What integrations are available?
In 2021, HR analyst Josh Bersin found that the average large company uses an average of 9.1 core talent applications, up from 7 in 2018. In this complex landscape, it’s vital to choose software that can integrate with other systems you use.
Or choose an HR system that integrates many of your people functions into one platform, to simplify and streamline your tech stack.
10. Does the provider take security seriously?
When you handle sensitive employee data, breaches can do major harm to employee trust as well as carry legal consequences. HR teams will want to trust that providers take data security as seriously as they do.
11. What customer support does the provider offer?
In other words, will we be able to get help when we need it? This speaks to HR’s concern that your new HRIS is valuable for years to come.
HRIS checklist: finance’s requirements
Finance brings deeper financial scrutiny to the vendor selection process, looking to understand financial impact, risks, vendor stability, and the broader impact on financial operations.
12. What return on investment (ROI) does the platform offer?
HR leaders might care about issues like employee engagement, but finance leaders want to see the investment quantified in concrete terms, to understand how the HRIS will impact the organisation’s overall financial performance.
Cost savings and efficiencies are typically especially compelling for financial stakeholders. Perhaps HR loves your preferred HR system because it will reduce manual work – but could you quantify that in terms of full-time employee hours saved?
13. How long does it typically take to realise ROI?
Finance teams will also likely ask about payback period or time-to-ROI, so they can understand how long the investment will take to realise value.
14. How does the new HR software impact financial operations?
Finance will want to understand the implications of the proposed software for operations like payroll and benefits, to weigh up the broader consequences of investment.
15. What’s the total cost of ownership?
Finance leaders will want a granular understanding of total cost of ownership. This spans the entire lifecycle of the product, and can include:
- Licence fees
- Implementation fees
- Integration fees
- Training costs
- Technical support costs
- Maintenance costs
Finance will also likely want to understand the process for reviewing and renewing contracts, when the time comes.
16. Is this a risky investment?
Risk is a primary concern for financial stakeholders, whose role is to protect the organisation and ensure long-term stability. They’ll likely want to understand how the vendor handles security and compliance, as well as seek assurances about the provider’s reputation and long-term financial stability.
HRIS checklist: procurement’s requirements
If your organisation has a procurement team, they’ll likely have a prescriptive set of requirements that govern vendor and systems selection.
There’s nothing worse than going through the vendor selection process and choosing an HR system you love, only to discover insurmountable procurement roadblocks – so make sure procurement is part of your project from the start.
17. Does this process comply with our procurement policy?
If you have a procurement team, they’ll likely have robust internal policies that govern any new investment. Learn this process so you can operate within the lines.
18. Does this process comply with external standards, policies, and laws?
Procurement is also responsible for ensuring new investments comply with relevant external standards, like anti-corruption laws. Uncover these needs upfront, to save major headaches later.
19. Is the vendor trustworthy, reliable, and financially stable?
Like finance teams, procurement typically has an adverse view to risk, so they’ll likely want assurances around the provider’s reputation, credentials, track record, and financial stability.
20. Do the vendor’s values align with our procurement policy?
Procurement might also want to know how your chosen provider stacks up on issues like sustainability in business, especially if these are important priorities for your organisation.
21. What is the total cost of ownership, and does this align with our procurement policy?
As with finance, procurement teams will typically have concerns around the total cost of ownership. They might have specific requirements around pricing model, and they’ll want to understand the contract renewal process, too.
22. What are the risks of procuring this new HR system, and what legal protections safeguard us?
Procurement’s role is to protect your organisation from risk when making new investments, so they’ll typically want to understand what happens in worst-case scenarios.
They might want to know more about dispute resolution processes, understand potential liabilities, and collect comprehensive information about contractual terms and conditions.
23. What ongoing support does the vendor offer to make sure the system is used effectively and safely?
Procurement is often concerned about the provider’s ongoing training and support offering, to ensure risk doesn’t grow over time as new users or data is added.
HRIS checklist: IT’s requirements
IT brings technical depth to the vendor selection process, seeking to understand how the proposed investment will and could impact the organisation from a broader IT perspective.
24. What are the technical requirements for the HR system, and is it compatible with our existing IT infrastructure?
Where HR are predominantly concerned with functionality, IT cares most about what’s under the hood: hardware and software requirements; cloud-based or on-premise hosting; underlying programming language, and so on.
IT will likely have fairly inflexible requirements here based on what aligns with the organisation’s overarching tech environment and philosophy.
25. What does implementation involve from an IT perspective?
IT will want to ensure your new HRIS can be integrated into the existing technical infrastructure and security frameworks with minimal disruption.
They’ll also want to understand how much IT support HR will need to implement and maintain the system. The sorts of things that usually matter here are the vendor’s support system, training offering, escalation procedures, and response times (often referred to as service level agreements, or SLAs).
26. What does maintenance involve?
As well as initial implementation, IT will take a long-term view across the lifecycle of the product. How will the HRIS be maintained and upgraded, and what does that mean for IT? (This is one big benefit of cloud-based HR software, because your vendor handles software updates seamlessly).
27. How does this platform comply with data protection regulations and our IT security policies?
This is fundamental for IT, who’ll want to evaluate the system’s security features and procedures. IT’s priorities here are to ensure employee data is protected, ensure compliance, maintain audit trails, minimise risk, maintain access integrity, and allow for speedy resolution of potential incidents.
These requirements can vary depending on your sector. For instance, IT leaders within finance will have a view towards SMCR compliance, while those working in schools will have requirements around the single central record and safeguarding obligations.
Like procurement teams, IT leaders usually want to understand the worst-case here, and therefore may wish to know about your chosen vendor’s disaster recovery and business continuity plans.
28. How does the system accommodate future change?
IT stakeholders typically have an eye to the future and will want to know whether your chosen investment is scalable and future-proof as your IT infrastructure changes.
HRIS checklist: the CEO’s requirements
Ultimately, any major new investment needs sign-off from the CEO, although the extent of their input will depend on your organisation. Usually, the CEO doesn’t need a granular explanation of functionality but does want to understand at a high level how your proposed system contributes to organisational goals.
29. How does this HR system support our key strategic goals?
For the CEO, it’s critical to relate investment in HR software to the organisation’s overarching strategic objectives.
For example, perhaps your preferred HRIS will make absence management easier and improve employee engagement. That’s an obvious benefit for HR – but why should your CEO care?
On the other hand, if you communicate how the online HR system will allow you to better manage and reduce absences, to improve workforce efficiency – that’s a much more compelling benefit.
30. What data and analytics does the HRIS provide, to inform strategic decision-making?
Many CEOs today expect HR to play a strategic role, and the data and analytics available in your central HR software plays a crucial part. To get behind investment, your CEO will likely want to know how your proposed software will empower you to leverage people data for business insight.
31. Can I trust that this procurement process been thorough?
The CEO might not play a central role in selecting HR software, but they’ll want to know they can trust the recommendations you’ve made. This is where involving a broad group of stakeholders upfront pays dividends – it proves you’ve considered all angles and makes trusting you easy.
32. How will this software impact other operations?
Before signing off on your new HRMS software, the CEO is likely to consider the broader consequences of investment. How will your proposed investment impact other functions? How much resource will it demand, now and on an ongoing basis? Could there be any unexpected consequences?
33. What does success look like?
For any proposed investment, CEOs typically want to see a clear vision for success. What does success look like and how will we assess it? How will we know where to improve? Your chosen provider should work with you to develop firm goalposts here.
34. Is this HRIS future-proof?
Of all your stakeholders, the CEO typically has most focus on the future. They might want to see your preferred supplier’s development roadmap, for example, to understand how your preferred software will evolve with the organisation.
You should also be prepared to field questions about emerging capabilities like artificial intelligence.
35. Are these partners we want to work with?
Aside from the actual HR software, the CEO is likely to care about the software providers. Do your values align? Are they trustworthy and reliable? Are they a good team to work with? Are you happy to associate with them?
There are enough HR software providers out there, you don’t need to choose a team you don’t like.
HRIS checklist: managers’ requirements
Managers might not have decision-making sway but they’re often make-or-break for the success of your new HR system.
If managers dislike or don’t understand the software, they’ll be reluctant to use it – often resulting in slow, manual, non-compliant, inconsistent workarounds you have no visibility into or control over. The upshot? You need managers on-side.
These are the questions managers most often care about:
36. How does this HRIS make my life easier?
37. How does this software help my team succeed?
38. Is the software easy to use?
39. How do I access support if I get stuck later?
40. How long will training take before I can get back to work?
41. Is there training for new team members joining my team?
42. Will my team members like and use the system?
43. Can I access the software remotely?
HRIS checklist: employees’ requirements
Like managers, employees might not be decision-makers, but you still need their support for a smooth roll-out.
Involving employee representatives early helps secure buy-in, pre-empt concerns, smooth teething problems, and create champions to speed adoption.
Employees might initially approach new tech with some scepticism, so this is a fantastic opportunity to surface and address concerns head-on. For your new HRIS to be a success, you need to show employees why it makes their lives easier and isn’t “another HR chore”.
44. How does the proposed HRMS make my life easier?
45. How does this software help me grow my career?
46. Is the new system easy to use?
47. Why is new software even necessary?
48. Who should I speak to if I have problems?
49. Will you use the system to micro-manage me?
50. Will I get in trouble if I use the system wrong?
51. How long will it take to learn and use the software?
52. Can I access the software from my mobile?
53. Does the system protect my data?
And that’s that – 53 questions to help inform your requirements list for a new HRIS. If you’re currently researching HRMS system vendors, we’d love to chat. Download our brochure to learn what Ciphr brings to the table. Or book a demo to see our tech in action.
This article was first published in May 2023. It was updated in August 2023.