Questions to ask an HR and Payroll software provider – Part One

When looking at new HR software or an improved payroll solution, it can be difficult to know what questions to ask that will benefit you in the long term.

There’s a plethora of articles and downloads available that talk about the functionality to consider, and what business challenges you are facing, but it’s also important to consider other factors such as implementation, support and security.

Here are nine questions we’ve come across that focus solely on the solution you are purchasing, that we think are important to ask any software vendor, and why you should be asking them.

 

User Experience

How easy is it to use?

Unless the solution you select is already built on a platform that you know, be sure to ask for a hands-on experience or to speak to current customers about the ease of use. Technology is often easy ‘when you know how’, but you need to get a true understanding of how simple it is for beginners, and how much training will be required for your people.

How much time will it take me to complete tasks?

You may want to prepare some specific questions around this, such as how the solution captures employee time and feeds that to payroll, or how quickly and easily it is to submit expenses or complete a performance appraisal. If recruitment is involved in the solution, find out the process for setting up a new role, or collaborating on applications.

One of our favourite questions to ask is ‘how many mouse clicks does it take me to do….?’. The answer will give you a real feel for how the solutions automation works, and what the real user experience will be.

 

You may be interested in: The benefits of automation for HR and Payroll

 

Background

Did you build the software or was it acquired?

This is an important question, because software owned by acquisition often contains a different look and feel, multiple databases and potentially different security models. You may require an interface between applications, and this can affect user experience, administration and potentially how the system is upgraded.

 

Integrations

Are integrations required between different modules?

It’s important to understand the solution setup, as it can potentially affect how the system works and what updates are required. If the solution offers different modules, for example HR, Payroll, Recruitment or Learning, find out whether they are separate solutions that integrate, or if it truly is one single solution. You don’t want to purchase a new HRMS only to find you need to double key information into your payroll engine.

 

Can it integrate with other solutions?

There may be solutions that your chosen provider doesn’t offer, or you may want your chosen HR software to integrate with finance, your CRM or another piece of software within your organisation. Talk to your shortlisted providers about how their software integrates, the impact this could have on your implementation and the user experience after go live.

 

Configurability and Future Growth

How configurable is it?

Most modern HR systems are configurable to your requirements, but our experience shows that there is often much more configuration required than simple leave or contract rules. Going through all of your processes and speaking to your users is a good way to identify exactly what you need before speaking to software providers. And once you have, ask them for case studies and true examples to see just how configuration can impact performance.

Will it grow with me?

If your organisation has plans to scale over the next few years, you need to make sure the solution you choose can do this with you. Be sure to get a feel for any growth caps your chosen provider has to avoid repeating the buying process again in two years time.

What’s new and what’s coming?

Gaining an understanding of what new features have been released in the last year and what’s on the roadmap will help you to get a feel for whether or not an HR vendor will be responsive and able to meet your requirements, but also how much investment they are putting into the solution overall.

Being unable to talk to you about the roadmap may mean that there is no plan in place and that you should expect no new functionality or growth over the next 12-24 months. This may not be a concern for you, but if you’re making a long-term investment, be sure it is with a provider that is future proofing their solution.

 

Functionality

Do you really offer a complete HCM solution?

HCM solutions fundamentally have similar functionality, but it’s most important to ensure that the payroll and HR software provider can offer exactly what your organisation needs. And not just today but think about your long-term goals and objectives too.

This may mean offering built in tools around recruitment, performance, learning and succession planning. It may be that you don’t require this right now, but you may require additional modules and functionality in two, three or four years.

When exploring the hire-to-retire functionality, ask questions around the user interface – is it the same as the solution you’ll be using day-to-day; implementation – is it a ‘switch on’ implementation, or are there integrations and development required; and user experience – will your people need to log into a different database, can they use one or multiple tabs or are there other roadblocks that may affect the experience; and support – will you go to the same person or team for support with these additional modules, or is there a different team or even organisation that you’ll need to contact?

If your chosen solution isn’t complete employee relationship management, you may miss out on huge strategic value in the long term, and it could cause some headaches along the way.

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