Every time I go to a Human Capital Management (HCM) technology vendor exposition, whether it is at IHRIM, HRTech, or one of the many HR Associations, I am always amazed at the number of vendors, especially new vendors. It has become an overwhelming job just knowing the changes and upgrade offerings of the major players in HCM, but dozens of new niche vendors offer new systems solutions each year. How do you know what the right fit is? Which will be reliable? Who will treat your organization as special? These are tough questions to answer in the fast changing world of HCM technology.
Before you begin to evaluate vendors, you must first have a battle plan. Without this plan you will have a harder time in stepping around the landmines of the technology world. To create a plan, first you need to understand your needs and create a strategy. If you have already done an HCM Strategic Plan, take it off the shelf and review it. Does it need changing? If so, you will need to update the plan by conducting some type of requirements discovery. These can be high level with key system stakeholders. Once you have your updated requirements you can see where the old strategic plan needs to be updated.
Once you have a strategy, you need to know more specifics on where you want to go. This is best discovered by talking with team members who are directly involved with the HR administration. Oftentimes, we talk only to our management team members, but understanding how things are actually done by those on the front lines is also critical. You should also conduct focus groups or individual discussions with key stakeholders. Remember, many of your stakeholders are outside of HR. Don’t forget to include them.
Now that you have all the discovery done, you can create a listing of your specific requirements. Don’t forget to rank or prioritize each requirement. I usually recommend a 1 to 3 scale: 1 – Nice to Have or Low; 2 – Need to Have or Medium; and 3 – Must Have or High. Giving each requirement a priority will allow you to understand which elements of your current or new technology is critical to your success, regardless of what others may tell you to include.
Once you have all these steps completed, you are ready for battle with the vendors. Look for a vendor who you feel will be a good partner and ally. There are many vendors out there, many you may not even know. How do you find the right one? You may need outside help for this. Consulting firms keep up on most all of the vendors. There may be a few not on their radar, but a good consultant can help you through the myriad of vendors. If you want to use the internet, I would suggest you go to an HR site such as IHRIM, SHRM or any professional HR association. They are usually a good starting point. Another way to isolate potential vendors is to network with like organizations to see what they are using and if it performs the way they had anticipated.
When looking at vendors, you must also consider their viability. There are many new vendors coming into the HR space every year, but some are not able to get the necessary funding to remain active. Others are purchased by other vendors and their product can either be integrated into the new vendor’s product or be eliminated altogether. You need to do your due diligence. Again, this is an area where a good consultant can help you. They have the tools to help you understand your vendor of choice’s viability and financial strength.
With good discovery, prioritized requirements, and strong outside assistance, you can successfully get through the minefield and link up with the correct vendor to provide you with years of HCM technology.
Vice President, Consulting Services