How to Evaluate HCM Technology Vendors and Demos

By: Rhiân Davies on October 17, 2019

The time has come for you to choose a new HCM (human capital management) platform, and you’ve fallen into the trap of selecting a well-known product, because it “does everything” you need it to. That, or you’ve been forced into a hasty choice because of an immediate need for specific functionality.

By going these routes, implementation is doomed from the start. By not linking your investment in an HCM technology solution with your desired business outcomes, your software purchase is little more than squandered money and a whole lot of wasted time.

Instead, when evaluating HCM vendors and vendor demos, organizations need to first:

Link investment to their HCM technology strategy

Create a well-rounded evaluation team

Plan for evaluating and test-driving vendor demos

Link investment to their HCM technology strategy

HCM technology strategies are essential for large and enterprise organizations, and small to midsize organizations are following suit. In fact, 43% of SMBs report the technology to be critical to them doing business.

If the technology is so important to a business’ ability to stay afloat, they should have a strategy that directs their investment into the best HCM solution. Without a strategy, businesses will be unable to identify or justify how the software investment supports the business’ long and short term goals.

Alongside the initial software research stage, organizations need to make sure their strategy includes the following:

  • ✔ A clear summary of the overall objectives for the HCM software to help achieve, such as automation of processes, consolidation of separate systems, integration of workflows, employee engagement, etc.

  • ✔ What trends in their industry they anticipate affecting their software choices, and what innovations in technology they see influencing their technology stack (e.g., artificial intelligence, predictive analytics).

  • ✔ A consideration of business scaling and how this will affect the selection of an HCM platform. For example, whether the software needs to support multiple locations, identify new talent in new territories, etc.

Create a well-rounded evaluation team

There’s no quicker way to ensure that your organization fails to adopt new software than by imposing software decisions from the top down. As a rule of thumb, evaluation teams should consider primary user needs first when selecting an HCM technology solution.

The software evaluation team should include a mix of technical and line of business staff and general managers and employees. First and foremost, the software’s primary users need to be represented in any evaluation team, including the following:

  • HR administrators

  • HR business partners

  • HR data specialists

Even then, it’s not uncommon for software evaluation teams to succumb to “too many cooks in the kitchen” syndrome. Organizations can find their evaluation team sweet spot by sticking to the following practices:

  • ✔ Include a wide variety of employees from separate departments to accurately represent roles, responsibilities, and functionality requirements across the organization.

  • ✔ Invite the less tech-savvy employees. Involving this section of the workforce in the process helps shape them into advocates for the rest of the organization.

  • ✔ Ensure those involved in procurement are included at an early stage. Gartner research shows that organizations can pay up to a 30% premium when HCM platform contracts are negotiated by HR staff alone (full research available to clients).

Plan for evaluating and test-driving vendor demos

HCM software covers a lot of bases—payroll, recruiting, benefits management, and time and attendance, just to name a few—and expecting a vendor demo to showcase every feature and capability is nigh on impossible.

To get the most out of vendor demos, we recommend the following actions:

  • ✔ Ensure the agenda is focused enough so that the demo explicitly highlights how its capabilities align with your business objectives. Not only does this keep each demo relevant, but helps each member of the evaluation team to discuss how compatible the software is with high-level strategic goals.

  • ✔ Give the vendor ample time to explain how their product differs from the rest of the HCM technologies on the market. This will give you a sense of whether their selling point addresses your business objectives.

  • ✔ Create a consistent, apples to apples scoring checklist for each vendor demonstration, noting the use cases and functionality.

To get the most out of test-driving the HCM technology solutions, we recommend the following actions:

  • ✔ Directly after each vendor demonstration, plan a session in which vendor staff can answer any questions that members of the evaluation team might have. Include questions about how often the vendor releases updates, and how responsive they are to implementing customer feedback/suggestions (ask for examples!).

  • ✔ Project teams should make sure that all test-drivers provide feedback on the solution via a consistent checklist.

  • ✔ At the end of each demo, the project team should regroup to collect initial thoughts on the product, and prepare follow-up questions for the vendor to answer.

Next steps: Shortlisting HCM technology solutions

Without an HCM technology strategy, it’s very likely that any product you finally select will fail to meet your organizational needs. It’s a tale as old as time: businesses invest in technology to address recent shortcomings, businesses realize that the solution they’ve selected won’t solve their problems, and business is left with a hefty tech investment that they can’t mold to fix their issues.

Switching software providers is costly and often the switching comes at the price of change fatigue across the organization. Our expert software advisors can help you select the best HCM products for your organization—they’ll provide you with free and personalized software recommendations in just 15 minutes. Call us now at (844) 675-2849.