Do me a favor. Stop for a moment and think, “How does HR learn how to do HR?” Or more specifically, how does the average HR practitioner figure out which software to purchase?
Outside of bad experiences and urban lore, it’s not like we learn how to select HR technology in college. Family is no help; they barely understand what we do for a living. Heck, even SHRM doesn’t put that much emphasis on vendor selection in its book of knowledge. And yet, every single day HR practitioners all over the world are out there buying and using this technology.
Wouldn’t it be swell if there were a process to follow that would help HR practitioners select the best HR tech software for their needs? Of course it would. And guess what? All you have to do is keep on reading.
Start the HR technology selection process by identifying your strongest need
It's easy to feel overwhelmed by the ever-growing and expanding HR technology landscape — that’s a given. When it comes to tech vendor selection, sloppy and haphazard is the norm and, ultimately, what we want to avoid. Because, as is too often the case, selection failure is both predictable and just around the corner.
To combat this, start off by identifying the most significant need. Determine whether the technology in question is critical, important or not needed. To help decide, ask yourself, “If this was the only purchase I could make this year, would this be it?” The answer will help point you in the right direction.
Crowdsource reviews and opinions
From here, make a list of potential solutions and ask for input from other HR practitioners. Reach out to peers and former colleagues and see what technology they’re using. Put out a generic ask to like-minded people over social media. Contact organizations of similar size and scope and get their opinion on the tools you’re considering. Every HR leader in the world will take that call. Work that network.
Gather as many opinions as possible and apply that feedback to your initial list. Strive for ten vendors, even if it’s a stretch. As with most things in life, it’s better to have more options than not enough.
Establish parameters and ask questions
When scheduling vendor meetings, set the parameters. Your number one should be live software only, with a focus on what meets the critical needs. Live software is software that is live to all customers. Not features on a product roadmap. Not PowerPoint demos. Not slides from a beta. Because, in the end, vendor selection isn't about signing a contract; it’s about finding the tech that does the job. Never look at anything other than live software – this is non-negotiable (unless you’re looking to turn into a guinea pig). We can’t stress this enough. Likewise, don’t skimp on the Q&A. Be consistent across vendors and pose knockout questions. Know that a good sales team may answer no to your requests or inquiries about half of the time; otherwise, they’re likely overpromising (only to underdeliver at a later date). Price should be the very last thing discussed.
Weigh strengths and weaknesses
By now, the original list of ten can probably be whittled down to the top three through a straw vote. Pause and communicate those results to everyone participating in this process — even the vendors who didn’t make the cut. It almost always pays to be friendly.
Before setting up the next round of meetings, request references from those that remain in the running: current customers, lost business and anyone else willing to talk. Try to get a sense of the strengths and weaknesses of each tech software, as well as any previous errors and how these were handled. No vendor is perfect, and admitting to faults is a part of running a successful operation. We’re all human after all (even those touting artificial intelligence).
The final step(s)
Provided that all the references check out, there may be three vendors that remain. In an internal meeting, take a couple of hours to grade each vendor. Consider how their software solves your critical need and talk through change management, implementation and contract negotiation. Review the roadmap, cost and any additional factors that may pop up “after the buy.” Have each stakeholder rank the final three and work through the result until there’s a consensus. Last but not least, inform vendors of your final decision.
Boom. There’s the process we’re looking for — and it’s a relentless pursuit versus a one and done. No wonder good ol’ mom and dad weren’t able to help out with this one. But lucky for you, if you follow these steps in the order mentioned above and with these outlined considerations, it’s possible to find a direct path to what’s needed and select the HR technology vendor that best aligns with your organization.
That’s the point, isn’t it? And let’s be honest, only after the ink dries does the real work get underway because the selection is just the beginning. There’s still migration, training, roll out and more left to go – and the HR game continues.
William Tincup is the President of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. Find him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Indeed.