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Giles was joined by Emma Perris, Lead Consultant and Louise Johnston, Customer Success Manager at expert HR system selection consultants Phase 3 to answer those important questions when it comes to buying HR tech:

  • Do I need to change my HR system or stick with it?
  • There’s so much choice. How should I start my search for a new vendor?
  • What are the risks and costs?
  • How to prepare the business case for a new system
  • Preparing your selection process requirements, demos, and shortlist
  • The common mistakes in selection and implementation and how to avoid them

For years now, here at Jobtrain we have been asked by clients and prospective clients about recommendations for HR systems and this is an area in which we have always remained agnostic. There are some brilliant HR Software providers out there so when we recently linked up with Phase 3, we were delighted to have the opportunity to talk to them about their 12-step process to selecting and implementing HR systems.

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If organisations are unhappy with their HR System, is staying with their existing provider ever an option?

Before you look for a new supplier and go through the process, time and cost of implementing a new system, take a step back and review all the things that you did when you bought your current system. Look at what features and functionality you wanted from it and the benefits you expected to achieve and review where you are against your expectations. If your processes were going to change as a result of implementing your HR system, then again review if this happened or have you simply continued to follow your existing processes with a new piece of tech?

We recommend a system health check with your existing supplier, basically, a benchmarking exercise to measure where you are against your original expectations. If you have a Client Success Manager, ask them openly about the performance of your HR system and ask them to do a system review for you. They should be able to look at an ideal setup for your organisation and compare this with how you are using your system. Also ask if they have any best practice feedback from other organisations who have success from using the platform.

If a new provider is the way forward, how do you go about creating a business case?

There are a few key points to consider here and the first is understanding the appetite for change internally. If your system has failed to deliver because you did not have the right stakeholder engagement from the start, then this is something you need to ensure is in place the next time round. Setting your goals and objectives will also be key to demonstrate measurable results from implementing a new system. Think about compatibility between your different systems, if you are looking for a standalone system then your selection process will be much easier but consider what integrations you will need and how the systems will talk to each other. You need to think about qualitative benefits that are going to justify that investment.

Once the business case is approved, how do we best establish our requirements?

One of the biggest parts of any project is understanding what you need to achieve. If you put in the hard work at the early stage with your requirements, this will enable you to put together a document which outlines your essential and desirable functionality to measure vendors against.

Take the time to map out your HR processes and look at where you want to make improvements. Share this information with potential vendors and let them share how they will help you achieve these goals.

In addition to your system requirements, also agree your requirements in terms of key stakeholders in the implementation project. This should not just be the Heads of Department and Senior stakeholders but a team who understand your processes and will be using the system regularly.

How do you begin selecting a vendor?

Phase 3 has an online system selection tool which asks organisations some simple questions about the size of your organisation, the functionality that you need, will it be mobile compatible, should it have self-service capability etc. The tool will then provide a shortlist of systems to fit your needs and which you can then review further with each vendor.

Many HR System vendors also have user communities so by joining the forum you can get a real understanding of what it's like to use that system every day-to-day and what feedback other customers are sharing.

When you reach demonstration stage, make sure you include your project stakeholders in each demo as their input will take different viewpoints into consideration and that can be very insightful. It’s important to remember that most sales demos are scripted to a degree so if there is functionality that is talked about, don’t be afraid to ask to see this demonstrated. If you have also shared your process in advance, ask the vendor to demonstrate your process to you, using their platform so you can see in reality how this would work in your organisation.

What are the key things to look out for when reviewing costs?

There are key points to look out for when reviewing costs supplied by a vendor as sometimes there can be additional expense to consider. Specifically check the terms around licence fees, consultancy fees for changes to the system and verify that upgrades are included as standard. Ensure that the vendor fully understands your requirements so that when it comes to implementation, your requirements are met, and you’re not faced with additional charges for changes you need to make.

Any final tips?

Far too often we see organisations replicating their existing process with a new HR system. Unless you evaluate and update your entire process you are not going to achieve the results you are looking for. The last tip would be not to rush the process. Review your process, select the system and vendor that works for you, obtain clarity on costs, take up references from existing clients and do not rush the implementation process.


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