How to evaluate new HR software and decide which is best for you

Author: PM editorial | Date: 1 Feb 2017

Making the right investment takes more time than just ‘click and collect’

Selecting a new piece of HR software is far from a simple ‘click and collect’ scenario. Like any significant investment, it should involve a considerable amount of pre-purchase research and analysis.
 
Equally, once you’ve taken the plunge, it’s important to ensure you’ve bought the right software by conducting post-purchase checks and evaluation.
 
The key starting point in any new software selection, says Denis Barnard – director of consultancy HRmeansbusiness – is to understand exactly what your company wants, and therefore what the software needs to achieve. Having realistic expectations is also important if you are to accurately evaluate whether a new piece of software is performing as it should.
 
“If you have done your homework, then the rest is easy,” said Barnard. “You need to ensure your project sponsor is able to resource the project correctly throughout its duration, know what you need, in terms of modules for example, and how it needs to work in your organisation.”
 
Barnard says it is important to have the ability to develop those processes into scenarios that can be presented to vendors, and to be sure that the software you choose can be configured to your requirements.
 
Pritul Khagram, CEO at HR and recruitment consultancy People Force International, says there are a number of areas to consider when investing in new software. These include: identifying the key stakeholders; how to document requirements; and managing a selection process.
 
Right at the outset, says Khagram, it’s also critical to quantify your budget and decide whether you require a cloud-based SaaS (software-as-a-service) or an on-premise solution.
 
Evaluation criteria should be set during the ‘exploration’ period, with each software provider scored against these. “Challenge the supplier; ask as many questions as possible. Check their business continuity and their financial status – what technology they use, for example,” said Khagram. And after you have obtained quotations, source references from at least two existing clients for each shortlisted provider.
 
To assess whether a product is right for you, it is also important to carry out adequate due diligence, Khagram says. “This can be achieved by having several demonstrations of various systems; for example, you wouldn’t buy a house without seeing it a couple of times,” he said.
 
Demonstrations should be bespoke, where the provider goes into detail on your various requirements, rather than just an overview. “It’s also important,” Khagram said, “to engage with all key stakeholders during the selection process.”
 
When you have chosen your preferred software, achieved board sign-off and implemented the new kit, measuring its success can be done in a number of ways, says Khagram, “but documenting your requirements in detail right at the beginning will help evaluate the system and whether it meets those needs or not, once it is implemented”.
 
Other methods of evaluating the success of new software might include conducting staff and HR team surveys, analysing the turnaround time for information requests from the board, checking the accuracy of the information and the processes – ensuring nothing falls through the cracks – and analysing the cost savings or ROI.