1.Review and evaluate the current situation
Identify your main business reasons for investment; have you outgrown your current software system, or do you not have any HR software at all? Is your current HR solution outdated and out-of-step with future plans? Understanding what needs to change is crucial for defining a criteria list for the new technology you need.
2.Prepare ‘essential’ and ‘desirable’ lists
Think carefully about what functionality needs to be delivered, the problems it may have to solve and the extent to which it must grow alongside your business. Establish whether you’ll need a detailed tender document for a new system, or whether you’d be satisfied with a concise list of criteria. Once this has been ascertained, split your requirements into two clear lists of ‘essentials’ and ‘desirables,’ you will be clearly able to define your needs to providers.
3.Define a budget
Obtain a budget from senior management and stick to it! Consider a modular system that allows you to add or take away modules depending on your level of need – this will ensure that you never end up paying for unneeded functionality. Configurable technology is often more expensive by month and per employee than an off-the-shelf solution, but many providers can offer the option of paying an annual subscription for the entire company.
4.Do due diligence on target providers
In a crowded marketplace, it can be difficult to narrow down your viable options and successfully differentiate between providers. Attend targeted industry events, such as trade shows, to understand what is available, and speak to industry peers to ascertain what systems they use and the pros and cons of each. Always ensure that any payroll technology is HMRC-recognised for your own peace of mind. You can also request reference contact details from current clients to aid you with due diligence.
5.Insist on a detailed system demo
Seeing truly is believing when it comes to gaining a comprehensive understanding of how a potential new system operates, as seeing functions in action is always more beneficial than hearing about them in principle. Take control of the demo so that you don’t just see edited ‘highlights,’ and consistently refer back to your predetermined list of criteria. Ease of usability is of crucial importance to all employees within your company.
6.Select a reputable vendor
All businesses have different needs, but there are some key features that all good vendors should be able to offer you if required. These can include an integrated HR and payroll system, configurable screens and fields, and built-in reporting capabilities as standard. Editable and configurable data could be hugely important to all businesses, as is an intuitive built-in report writer as standard.
7.Consider system integration
An integrated system, if needed, will be able to alleviate the need to complete unnecessary processes such as the import and export of data between separate systems. Single data entry will improve admin efficiency and accuracy, with integration encouraging cooperation and harmony between departments.
8.Think about business reporting needs
Gaining insight from technology is crucial – what are you solving for your business beyond operations? Define what is critical to your business from a reporting context. Ensure you discuss your needs with your selected provider – they will be able to devise, implement and manage the best reporting process for your company.
9.Ensure the investment is future-proof
A flexible system should be able to evolve alongside your organisation, with the software as relevant and effective in years to come as it is at the point of implementation. To help you with this process, ask your vendor about their wider technology roadmap, business approach to innovation, and record for legislative compliance.
10.Think beyond technology
As important as the system itself is, ensure you consider other elements such as the delivery of user training, access to consultancy expertise, and the availability of comprehensive customer support. Above all, remember that the process should not be rushed – stick to a clear project plan, but always build in some contingency time just in case. Minor oversights at this stage could prove costly, so ascertain if your vendor is receptive to requests for further information, demo’s for wider team members, and recaps of points already covered.
Above all, true success at purchasing and implementing an HR system will lie in sourcing, selecting and implementing a solution that wholly meets the needs, requirements and culture of the business concerned, and is flexible enough to adapt to organisational change.