Folks, the benefits of automating certain aspects of your business aren’t confined to merely marketing automation or customer relationship management. Many aspects of a business can be automated, to some extent. In a previous article we looked at what human resources management software can do to for your business, and today are are going to look at how to go about implementing a human resource management software system.
How to Choose Human Resource Management Software
So your organization is growing at an astonishing pace. You aren’t sure your current human resource management systems can keep pace. After all, spreadsheets and paper are only so scalable. What to do? No, you don’t close up shop simply because it’s challenging to expand your organization. You don’t let off the gas and consign your organization to an eternity of mediocrity. The best solution is to begin searching for software system that let you scale your human resources department without having to hire a whole new army of HR specialists.
To begin the process, you have to take a good hard look at your organization. You have to understand the current state of affairs to decide which areas need to be augmented first, and which can be augmented down the line. You must clearly identify your human resource department’s strengths and weaknesses, so that you don’t choose software that augments existing strengths while ignoring glaring weaknesses in your system.
Assemble Your Team
Don’t worry, you’re not in this alone. The first step in finding the best human resource management software for your organization is to assemble a team of employees to help with the process. Possible members include executives, such as the vice president of human resources, human resource managers, a senior finance officer, senior member of the payroll department, and the head of your information technology department. It’s important to clearly assign roles and responsibilities for each member of the team so that people can be held accountable during the process. Also, it’s important to bottom out on the time required for the project, so that nobody is blindsided.
Evaluate the State of Affairs
Obvious questions to ask are: what exactly is broken about how we are doing business? What isn’t broken, but is sub optimal? What are we doing well? It’s important to keep in mind that this is a chance to not only automate parts of the human resources organization, but to improve on every aspect of the organization while you’re at it. You will have to rely on the boots on the ground, which is to say the human resource employees themselves, to get the right answers to these questions. Management is unlikely to have the visibility into the day to day glitches in the system, so don’t neglect your most valuable asset here.
When considering what to look for in a new system, solicit the input of your team. Have them make a crazy wish list of halo features that they may think are unreasonable or impossible. You never know, the best human resource management software may far exceed your expectations of what can be done. It’s important to not set your sights low, and set yourself up for acquiring and implementing mediocre software that is only marginally better than your current system.
Following the brainstorming phase, have each person prioritize what they think is important. Everybody needs to realize that not everything on their list will be doable, so it’s critical to identify the must haves and the can live without features. Then convene the team as a group to compare lists and hash out a master list of what features the organization simply must have, and which would be nice to have, and which they can probably live without.
Preparing the Organization for Change
At this point, you must confront a challenge many may not expect. One of the biggest hurdles to overcome won’t have anything to do with the logistics of adopting a new system. Rather, organizational inertia will be a big stumbling block, particularly if it is not addressed early enough. People are inherently resistant to change, and that resistance scales with the size of the change being thrust upon them. Early in the process, make sure everyone in the management team is aligned on the need for implementing the new system, and have them explain all the direct and indirect benefits of the new system to their direct reports.
When conducing this process of internal selling, don’t forget that there are benefits to the software that are difficult to quantify. While streamlining operations is always nice, don’t forget that this has second order consequences. For instance, by freeing up personnel from mundane tasks you allow them to focus more on what matters: employee development and retention. In addition, these software systems have the capacity to greatly reduce clerical errors, which not only frees up time but boosts morale in the long term. These are great benefits to the organization as a whole, so don’t forget them when selling the change to the naturally skeptical employees.
An additional benefit is improved record keeping on employees, which goes a long way towards reducing risk associated with lack of regulatory compliance. As always, these regulations are only going to increase, so the capability to scale your system to meet a growing burden of laws is critical.
One factor to consider when selling to your organization is the ability of the human resources software system to seamlessly integrate with current systems, such as accounting or payroll software. This will help reduce fear within the organization that the addition of a new piece of software will break everything else that is already working, at least on some level.
Selecting a Vendor
So your organization is on board with the change, and most of them are even enthusiastic (perhaps this is too much to ask). The next step is to sort through the myriad of high quality human resource software solutions to find out which one is right for your organization. Here is where your list of must have features will come in handy. Have a team member research the available options and compare the list of must have features to what each software package offers. If it doesn’t meet the list of must haves, then it doesn’t make the final cut. Research can be carried out on the internet, or by phone if necessary. Don’t bother having the companies submit a proposal to you, as this can take too long.
Once you have identified which firms provide your must have features, start to screen them based on the want to have features. Here some flexibility will be required. You have to know which features will augment your current systems’ weaknesses, and which will not. Prioritize those that shore up weaknesses first, with all other features coming in second.
Next, begin screening the software packages by price. Notice we didn’t put this step first, since price really isn’t the main consideration. How much is your company’s expansion and ultimate survival worth to you? Obviously it should be priceless, so the cost of the ideal software solution really isn’t a consideration unless it would drive your company into bankruptcy.
Once you have your list of contenders down to two or three, it is time to start doing a more in depth screening process. Don’t be afraid to ask which other companies use the software vendor’s solution. Ask for references, and make sure you get them. And then check them! That’s right, physically call up a representative from the other customers’ company and ask them how they like the system. How easy it was to implement, and whether or not support was in line with their expectations. You can’t rely on the software vendor to give you objective answers here, so this step is critical.
Once you are satisfied your top two or three vendors are legitimate, it is time to request a demonstration of the software. Some may be tempted to get more than two to three demonstrations, but this must be resisted. If you compare each and every software vendor under the sun, your team members are certain to get burnt out and will not be capable of making a good decision. Here, less is more.
During the demonstration, there are some important questions to ask. For instance:
- Does the system track all of the information for each employee?
- Does it keep track of sick leave AND vacation leave? What about maternity leave? Medical?
- How many predefined reports can it generate? Are they customizable?
- How well would it integrate with your current payroll and accounting systems?
- Does it include an alert system to keep the relevant people in the loop 24/7?
- Is it compatible with your current systems?
- How easy is it to interface with your current HR database?
- How long does it take to implement?
- How much training is required to use the system?
- How scalable is the technology?
- Does it have a mobile option?
Ask these questions, and more, of the vendor to make sure they are a fit for your needs.
Following the demonstration and the game of twenty questions, it is time to compile the results from all three vendors. Convene your team to get their impressions of the demonstration and what they think of the company over all. Here, it pays to heed your instincts. If your team isn’t comfortable doing business with a particular vendor, keep that in mind as the customer-vendor relationship is important. Another critical factor is installation time. Since the implementation of a new system will be disruptive, you should place some emphasis on how quickly the software can be implemented. Preference should be given to vendors who can get the job done quickly. In fact, speed of implementation should take precedence over cost.
It is important to generate relative consensus within the team. It’s not likely that everyone will agree completely, but deep fractures should not exist. A good benchmark to shoot for is 85 – 90% agreement among your staff about which vendor to use for the software. Certainly allow the minority to voice their concerns, and have the team come up with strategies for mitigating any potential issues the holdouts see coming. This will help keep everyone aligned in the months and years to come, and keep the event of choosing a new human resource software system from becoming a point of contention within your organization.
Once you have the vendor selected, all that remains is the installation and training process. Understand that this is going to take some time, and is likely to have some issues along the way. Be prepared to deal with this, and have a plan to make sure operations continue smoothly during the process. Once installation is complete, make sure that everyone is trained on the new system and up to speed.
The final step in this is to reap the benefits of your new system, and enjoy the ride as your organization scales, grows, and evolves into a bigger better version of itself.
As we have outlined, there is a framework for picking the right software vendor. It is essential to have a solid team that can bottom out on the most critical features. This team will be responsible for selecting the vendor and making sure that implementation is executed without any major issues.
We hope this has been helpful!