How to Avoid a Talent Acquisition System Meltdown

January 24, 2014


The fight for talent is one which is truly on a global scale with companies constantly looking for that competitive advantage that will enable them to attract and hire the best talent, as well as retain that talent and continue to develop the company talent base to ensure ongoing success. Over the years solutions have been developed to meet these objectives – first as point solutions and then into more evolved integrated solutions. Selection and implementation of these solutions is a top priority for more and more companies but to do so successfully is not a foregone conclusion. A successful implementation is not measured ultimately in terms of “on time” and “within budget” but rather whether the deployed solution is adopted by its user constituency in the way envisioned by the organization.

In “How to Avoid a Talent Management System Meltdown” the idea that failed deployments is due to “bad product” or “product deficiencies” is addressed. The reality is that failed implementations can be attributed to more fundamental evaluation, selection and implementation issues – issues that when understood will greatly increase the probability of a successful implementation. Although the focus of discussion will be on the front end of the TMS footprint (i.e., Talent Acquisition and Onboarding), the concepts presented certainly relate directly to other TMS components such as Performance, Compensation, Succession Planning and Learning.

“How to Avoid a Talent Management System Meltdown” webinar is being offered as the first webinar of the The IHRIM Online Talent Management Forum on January 27th at 11am CST. Click here for registration details and complete details on the IHRIM Online Talent Management Forum.

Participants will leave with a clearer understanding of the pitfalls inherent in the selection and implementation process as well as learn best practices to ensure a successful Talent Acquisition implementation that will provide a solid platform to build out to encompass a full TMS solution.

Brian KimballBrian has over 20 years of expertise in the human resources domain including over 10 years in systems development and implementation. In his role at HRchitect, Brian manages Talent Acquisition and Talent Management consulting activities and resources.


2014 Trends in the Human Capital Management World – Technology and People

January 23, 2014


HRchitect has been writing about trends and predictions since before many of you were born. Well, I guess if you are under 17 years old that would be true, but for those over 17, we’ve been writing about this stuff for a long time! It’s fun to look ahead, especially when you have been living in the HCM world for as long as we have where we like to say, “we’ve seen it all”. That being said, our industry seems to evolve, embrace and evangelize at the speed of light.

So where do we start? First of all, I’m going to touch on a lot of topics but since this is a blog and not a white paper, I will not get into tremendous detail around each item, however I may revisit them in more detail at a later date.

First and foremost, Human Resources (HR) has been slowly getting more credit and more strategic over the past few years as organizations start to realize that people are their greatest assets. This will accelerate in the coming years as the workforces of the future become more diverse, more virtual, and more demanding, amongst other things. And different groups of people have to be managed and communicated with differently. In addition, no matter what kinds of technologies and systems are put in place, nothing will fully replace the human interaction that so many people crave.

So what about systems? For years we have talked about the concept of Integrated Talent Management (ITM), which many vendors have worked so hard to achieve, and while some have, it still remains elusive. That being said, while we published a “Beyond ITM” white paper in 2013, I go back to my comments above related to the HR department in that we have to go beyond just technology and look at how everything from processes, policies, culture, and more can cohesively move companies forward. How do we “match” what people do outside of work, to what they do at work, since the lines between work-life and outside-life continue to blur?

What buzzwords do we continue to hear as we move into 2014? Big data, social collaboration, talent sourcing, video, mobile, and of course the ever important elements of HCM systems themselves – recruiting, learning, performance, onboarding, compensation, and more.

Big data – what the heck is it anyway? One definition is “Big data is the term for a collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools or traditional data processing applications.” Well that really didn’t help you understand it now, did it? The amount of data in our world is growing exponentially and analyzing large sets of data (i.e. big data) is increasing becoming a crucial element in productivity growth, innovation and more. While we hear this term a lot, so few companies today truly analyze the data they have around their employees and how it affects the bottom line. In fact, it will require huge investments of time and money to do it right as data sits in many different systems and much of it may not be the right data that you want to measure with a strategy around what you are looking for. I think 2014 is the year that people start to focus on what they have and what to do with it as they look for ways to gain a competitive edge. However, I think it is a multi-year and ongoing process.

Talent sourcing/recruiting – this absolutely has to be an ongoing process, both externally and internally, from this point forward. While the unemployment rates vary widely, depending on who you talk with and how you measure it, the so-called “war for talent” is ongoing and the availability of certain kinds of talent will continue to be scarce. In fact, it will become increasingly scarce in certain areas. This is one of the many areas that social collaboration will play a big role. Video is also becoming more standard during the interview process, especially as the workforce becomes more virtual in 2014 and beyond.

Onboarding – expect automated Onboarding (and Offboarding) to continue growing in popularity as more companies look to go green and reduce their overall carbon footprint. Video and social will also make a big impact in this area.

Learning – Learning technologies have evolved over the years and it is becoming more crucial for organizations to first and foremost understand what they have, what is needed and how it is shared. Constantly developing people is not only good for an organization, but it keeps employees engaged, improves retention, aids in succession planning and naturally improves productivity. Look for more organizations to adopt the use of technologies that aid in this process. And have I mentioned social collaboration? Once again, Learning is an area that is embracing social in extremely innovative ways.

Performance management – Traditionally a once-a-year process, look for companies to continue overhauling this process and finding out what works best for them as it is not a “one-size-fits-all” situation. Instantaneous and ongoing feedback is going to be expected by younger workforces as that is all they know. Goals, projects and accomplishments are tending to be more rapid and overlapping, and with information overload, memories are becoming more convenient so recurring feedback is key to ongoing engagement. I also believe that “pay for performance” will continue to expand, something we have been talking about for years, and will be tied not just to individual goals but to the organization’s bottom line. Many organizations will require a major culture shift to do this right. Social collaboration will also play a role here as more people (i.e. peers) get involved in the performance process.

Mobile – This is an area that goes without saying as accessibility anywhere, on any device, is becoming the norm. HCM vendors are focused and investing in this area and will continue to do so as the next frontier of how people access information. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how pervasive social collaboration is throughout everything mobile.

I could go on and on as we live in very exciting, and ever-changing times. One thing that doesn’t change, and with all the changes taking place in the HCM software world, is ever more important, is the proper way of choosing the right HCM technology to best help you navigate the dynamic world we live in.

Fortunately HRchitect has a multi-step proven process that guides you to the best system for your needs through the use of Decision Drivers. You’re busy and don’t have time to keep up with the HCM vendor community. We live and breathe this stuff so do yourself and your organization a favor and call us before you license another piece of software. We’ll help to ensure that you control your destiny, and not the other way around.

Matt Lafata2Matt has over 18 years in the HR industry and has been with HRchitect since 2004. As President, he oversees all aspects of HRchitect’s operations including worldwide sales of HRchitect services, marketing, customer success, partnerships, consulting, finance and corporate development.

Do You Know Your Company’s Online Reputation?

January 21, 2014

- What you don’t know can hurt you -


For years, experts have cautioned job seekers to monitor and control their social media presence to prevent potential recruiters and hiring managers from getting the wrong impression from reading inappropriate comments and seeing those horrible photos that friends just love to post. In today’s employment market, it has become equally important for businesses to be aware of their online reputation.

Just as shoppers rely heavily on online services before making purchases for anything from electronics to furniture, shoes or appliances, job seekers now have many sites available to research a company’s reviews, CEO approval ratings, salaries, interview questions, and competitors, in addition to searching job openings. Where (not so long ago) these sites were merely places for disgruntled ex-employees to vent, they now provide the social-media savvy jobseeker with a handy resource to learn the ins and outs of prospective employers.

Of course, as with any compilation of user-driven reviews, there will frequently be a certain percentage of overly negative posts. That said, it is important that a company is aware of the overall perception being created in the job market. Are salaries in the organization well above or below the averages for like job descriptions? Is the typical job approval rating significantly lower than the competitor? Not only are these possible indicators for your future recruits, they are also possible indicators for attrition within your current workforce.

While targeted to job seekers, staying abreast of the activity on sites like Glassdoor, Indeed, and CareerBliss can provide a company valuable insight and resources:

  • Employment Brand – postings provide real-time visibility into the market’s perception of your quality as an employer, along with the up and down shifts in momentum as your world changes
  • Cheap Advertising – as the popularity of these resources has soared with potential candidates, the ability to post basic job ads free, or the option for low cost “premium” ads, provides the company with an economical outlet for recruiting
  • Know Thy Enemy – if your information is out there, so is your competitors’. These public forums provide the opportunity to track their trending, providing an alternative resource to try to stay ahead of potentially damaging activities.

Some additional considerations when monitoring your company’s presence in these forums:

  • Oversight – Most sites have some level of oversight, but you should also moderate the feedback posted about your organization.  Many forums will allow the company to provide some level of input to flag inappropriate content, possibly removing it. Keep in mind – strong opinions (even when they are negatively addressed toward your company) are acceptable; grievous venting, inappropriate comments or false claims are not.
  • Avoid Head in the Sand – While it is not uncommon to see a disproportionate number of negative reviews from the disgruntled former employee ranks, do not completely discount the negative reviews. Look for common themes or an up-tick in the number or frequency of negative posts. You do not want to miss a potentially costly trend in the workforce.

As an employer, keeping abreast (or even taking advantage) of these resources can not only provide you with the opportunity to gain greater insight into your employee satisfaction, but can help with recruiting expense, control your online brand, and provide a source for always needed competitive advantage.


Annastasia Bell
Director of Implementation Services

Annastasia Bell has over 15 years of experience in business development and management, project management, data capture and analysis, process development, and implementation management. A seasoned workforce management professional, Annastasia has delivered WFM consulting services to organizations such as Anchorage School District, Fort Wayne Community Schools, Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment, and Western Financial Group. In addition to leading the workforce management team at HRchitect, Annastasia regularly speaks at industry events and publishes educational content related to her work in WFM.

Service Delivery Strategy: Helping you help yourself

January 10, 2014

- Have you considered your service delivery strategy lately? -


2013 was a year where we saw a significant change in the way Human Resources organizations were purchasing technology and moving to SaaS as the preferred method of purchase.  We also saw an increase in direct access as the delivery method of choice and mobile apps as the delivery device.

Even with these changes most organizations have not revisited (or created) their HR technology strategy, processes or consumer readiness for these changes.

No longer can the Human Resources department look at its’ technology purchases as meeting the needs of only the HR department.  These technologies are being used by people throughout the organization and as such need to be evaluated through the lens of the consumer, as well as the Human Resources function.

HRchitect sees 2014 as the year of the “Service Delivery Strategy”.  Now is the time to look at how the Human Resources function desires to deliver services, the impact on current processes and assess the readiness of the organization to accept this new delivery model.   The HR Technology strategy of the past, focused on how HR could better manage their processes.  The “Service Delivery Strategy”  focuses on how services are delivered and consumed and the technology required to support this in the context of the enterprise as a whole.

HRchitect is ready to assist in crafting this strategy. Our team of Human Resources consultants understand the function of HR, the current technologies in the marketplace and have process change expertise.  Through the use of our standardized process maps and using Six Sigma principles, we can help organizations craft a service delivery strategy, and supporting processes that will work within their culture.   Our proven Change Management framework is used to assess the organizations readiness for the strategy and create a plan to prepare the organization for the change.

As with any new technology, new service delivery methods are only useful in the correct environment and with the correct planning and implementation. Be sure that your organization is prepared for the changes in service delivery and ready to adopt the coming advancements in 2014.


Jacqueline Kuhn




Jacqueline Kuhn

Executive Vice President HCM Consulting Services


Escaping the Landmines: Maneuvering Around the Vendor Landscape

December 13, 2013

Landmine Search

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.

John Hinojos

 John Hinojos
Vice President, Consulting Services

Workforce Management – More than just forecasting and scheduling employees

November 25, 2013

Many organizations have a limited definition of Workforce Management (WFM). By restricting their view, and therefore the depth of workforce planning activity, many important and costly components can be lacking. Additionally, the more coordinated these activities are carried out, the greater the benefit an organization can realize in their bottom line.

Comprehensive Workforce Management is a combination of several planning factors and human capital management components.

  • Long term capacity/hiring planning
  • Training programs
  • Payroll administration
  • Benefits management
  • Career development
  • Business recovery/disaster recovery strategy
  • Vacation and leave planning
  • Workload forecasting
  • Performance monitoring
  • Talent management
  • Employee scheduling
  • Time and attendance tracking
  • Daily operations monitoring

All of these activities revolve around measuring the amount and type of work at varying intervals (annually, monthly, daily, hourly), optimizing employee productivity, and matching skills to labor. With so many levels of planning across the spectrum of necessary employee management activities, there are several key coordination efforts that will lend to effective Workforce Management practice.

  • Involve all parties in regular conversation. Human Resources, WFM, Business Leaders, Finance, Marketing, and Training should conduct regular reviews of the staffing plans – in the same conversation. If HR and WFM agree that a plan for next year’s hiring makes sense, but do not include Finance and Business leaders in the conversation, they may find that their efforts will not be supported by the budget. All partners may agree to the second quarter plan to hire 20 new employees every month, but if Training does not have capacity to onboard the new recruits, plans may need to be rewritten. Valuable time can be lost by not coordinating conversation with all key stakeholders in the workforce planning process. These stakeholders include decision makers from any department in the organization that conducts activity that will impact the front line employees, workload, and financial decisions.
  • Know how far out your strategic hiring plans need to be solidified. If your typical recruiting process lasts 12 weeks, new hire training is 4 weeks, and Finance review and leadership approval of hiring takes 2 weeks, then hiring activity must have a minimum of 5 months lead time to occur ahead of the anticipated workload demand.
  • Calibrate long and short term planning activities. Organizations will plan for varying levels of non-productive time in their long term plans, such as training, meetings, and vacation time, which need to be regularly compared to the actual scheduling and carrying out of these activities. If the long term plan (and thus the budget!) includes 2 hours per month of training per employee, but the actual activity is only averaging 1 hour per month, the impact can be significant. Review of these gaps can uncover issues in workforce planning that might be improved upon – is training decreased because workload is greater than originally forecast, was the original level of training not actually required, is increased employee absenteeism (another factor that should be planned for in both the long term and scheduling processes) preventing training from occurring…many, many questions will arise from a comprehensive review of the plan versus actual staffing and activity. The more questions and answers that are uncovered, the better the plan can become over time.
  • People, process, technology – all require robust attention and support. An organization can spend millions on a full suite of top of the line ERP software modules, but if the people supporting it do not have the skills or the processes are not comprehensive and robust across the departments involved in employee management, the investment in the technology is wasted.

Comprehensive WFM requires a LOT of coordination throughout the spectrum of planning and management activities. As business changes, the supporting practices, programs and planning will undergo changes as well, making WFM an ever dynamic field of practice. While the level of complexity and continual adjustment may seem to prevent achieving “the perfect plan”, the attention to coordination across the organization and broad inclusion of planning activities will allow for an ever improved understanding of baseline staffing and productivity, and ultimately tangible results for the bottom line.


Join us for tomorrow’s HRtechnology Happy Hour WebMingle with Dwaine Maltais from Technomedia

November 14, 2012


WebMingle is back tomorrow, Nov. 15th, and we will be welcoming Dwaine Maltais.

Dwaine Maltais is executive vice president and general manager of U.S. operations for Technomedia. Since 1994,  Maltais has led innovations in the recruiting and HR technology space with the launch of the SmartPost job optimization platform and the Hodes iQ Talent Acquisition platform. Maltais regularly consults with senior leadership in Fortune 500 organizations on talent acquisition and talent management strategies and actively writes about and speaks on HR technology topics.

Join us live at 2PM Central as Dwaine shares his thoughts on:

  • the state of the Talent Management industry with the recent consolidations of companies
  • the influencers and disruptors in today’s market
  • what advice he’d like to share with companies when developing a Talent Management strategy.

Have a question you would like us to ask Dwaine?  Tweet them with #WebMingle or submit via email to

Ranking “Decision Drivers” For Your Organization

June 29, 2012

HRchitect has been involved in approximately 2000 HR technology related projects for hundreds of companies of all sizes and industries across the world. We have gained tremendous insight (and continue to every single day) and feel an obligation to share our expertise, and our war stories, with you. After all, with 15 years in business behind us in working with many of today’s leading companies, we’ve gained a unique perspective on the very puzzling world of HR technology.

We’ve covered the benefits and rationale of Decision Drivers along with definitions of key Decision Drivers. Now, let’s talk about ranking them for your HR technology evaluation and selection project.

It is critical for the client project team to gain consensus on the relative priority of these drivers as early as possible in the selection process; doing so provides an “anchor” that will help keep project team members from being inordinately influenced by a particular package’s “bells and whistles.” Therefore, a Decision

Driver ranking exercise is one of the early stage deliverables in HRchitect’s selection methodology.

The ranking process generally takes place during a short series (generally 1-3) of on-site meetings or conference calls. Once the team understands what is included in each decision driver, the concept is to divide the twelve decision drivers into four main “levels” for consideration:

  • Exclude—these criteria are not at all relevant to the business (e.g., Global Capability may not apply to a US-only retail organization, Scalability may not materially affect a midmarket company)
  • Level 1 (Knock-out)—these criteria are so critical that they drive whether or not a vendor is even sent an RFI or RFP (e.g., Technology requirement is for a SaaS vendor, vendor must have HCM revenues in excess of $100M)
  • Level 2 (RFI/RFP/Demo)—these criteria are best assessed by evaluating vendor written responses and by viewing product demonstrations. All criteria in this level are weighted, usually on a 100 point scale.
  • Level 3 (Due Diligence/Purchase)—due to the need for the team in this phase to uncover more detailed information via reference calls, detailed financial discussions, and other due diligence tasks, there may be some initial Knockout criteria repeated here. This level is also weighed on a 100 point scale.

Below is a generic example of how a project team might rank the decision driver criteria:

Because ABC Company is based in the US, the project team excluded Global Capability from further consideration. Next, they determined the Knockout criteria (high level, but specific enough to drive the vendors to be selected). Level 2 criteria focused mostly on the capabilities of the software itself, with allocation of 100 weighting points. Finally, Level 3 criteria were defined—note the return of Vendor Viability and Cost, as more specific information is now available as a result of due diligence activities; note also that a number of other decision drivers appear here, as a more accurate assessment can be made based on the results of customer references.

This approach is typical of the majority of decision driver ranking exercises that

HRchitect does with clients, although the base process is often modified to include more or less detail per the desires of the client project team. Many HRchitect clients report a substantial benefit to having a 3rd party consultant involved with the ranking exercise due to the following:

  • A neutral 3rd party guide with no vested interest can help to surface and resolve political or “turf” issues that otherwise might derail consensus—resulting in a quicker ranking process with improved team dynamics
  • An outside perspective aware of current trends and capabilities of vendors in the market can provide expert fact-based commentary that supports the ranking process
  • Involvement by a competent 3rd party consultant who is able to testify to the impartiality of the process will often add legitimacy in the eyes of senior leadership.

We hope you enjoyed this series of blogs on “Decision Drivers” which described a leading practice methodology for incorporating decision drivers into an HCM technology evaluation project. While organizations may vary somewhat in the actual steps performed (as well as the sequence), the most important thing is that there is some form of decision driver ranking process conducted as a part of any HCM technology selection, and that it be completed early in the project in order to keep the team focused on the most important selection criteria based on the needs of the organization. Doing so will prevent a loss of focus by the project team, a potentially stalled decision making process, an undue focus on functionality and cost, and an inappropriate level of subjectivity. Using decision drivers to get the full picture of organization requirements will lead to a “best fit” package selection that has the greatest chance of meeting the firm’s needs over the long term.

It’s an extremely puzzling world out there. Many vendor offerings look alike, the vendor community is in a constant state of flux, and there is not a “one solution fits all”. HRchitect’s Decision Drivers process will help ensure you get the best-fit system for your needs, the first time.

As always, please let us know how HRchitect can assist you to get maximum benefit that comes from automating your Human Capital Management functions. We exist to serve you!

Matt Lafata

“Decision Drivers” – Definitions, Part 2

June 22, 2012

HRchitect has been involved in approximately 2000 HR technology related projects for hundreds of companies of all sizes and industries across the world. We have gained tremendous insight (and continue to every single day) and feel an obligation to share our expertise, and our war stories, with you. After all, with 15 years in business behind us in working with many of today’s leading companies, we’ve gained a unique perspective on the very puzzling world of HR technology.

We’ve touched on how critical decision drivers are in selecting or replacing an HCM system. We’ve also talked about the rationale and benefits behind all of this. We’ve even touched on a handful of decision drivers themselves. Now let’s define some additional decision drivers.

Technology & Scalability—often a ‘knockout’ criteria (e.g., a vendor not able to satisfy the client standard is eliminated from further consideration), this item examines overall fit with the organization’s tech standards/conventions, and also assesses the strengths/ qualities of vendor’s technology strategy and infrastructure. From a scalability standpoint, does the software and vendor operational environment have the “horsepower” to meet the current and anticipated future processing volumes of your organization? Depending on the particular functionality being selected, specific measures range from requisition and applicant volumes to the number of worker records and user counts. Prospects should also look at the bandwidth of the vendor hosting center as well as the performance of the software to identify possible bottlenecks.

This criterion is often assessed via the RFI or RFP earlier in the evaluation, and then confirmed at either a technical breakout session during the demo or a follow-up technical review meeting. Scalability is also confirmed via customer reference calls.

Service and Support—Of primary importance in this category is the breadth and quality of the vendor’s professional services offerings as well as the customer-facing support functions. Prospects should look at the size/tenure/hours of support staff, the vendor’s implementation methodology, and especially how vendor liability is defined within the service level agreement (e.g., issue escalation/resolution process). If the solution is hosted by the vendor, then another set of criteria must be weighed, including the hosting facility security (access to buildings, access to data, extent of background checks of staff), data backup and disaster recovery procedures, and compliance with prospect hosting site standards. Much of this information can be gathered during the RFP phase, but it is essential for vendor references to address these questions during the contracting/due diligence phase.

Global Capability—As one might expect, this decision driver addresses the extent to which the vendor software supports multiple languages, currencies, and/or country-specific legislative and regulatory requirements. It is important for you to understand any current and potential future plans your organization may have for expanding into additional countries in order to give proper weight to this criterion. Also included in this area are Safe Harbor Certification, data privacy regulations, data center requirements, and any country-specific legislative support (e.g., Sarbanes Oxley, Basel II, HIPAA). While statements of compliance can be gathered during the RFI/RFP phase, references from global customers are key to accurately determining the level of compliance.

Cost/ROI—always important, the focus on cost has certainly increased during the economic downturn, as firms scrutinize every potential investment to the nth degree. In most cases this criteria reflects the total cost of ownership for the solution over a multi-year period (three and five years are the most common time periods). Often part of this criterion is cost allocation—how the cost of ownership will be shared between the client’s various business units/companies (e.g., chargebacks). This rating normally includes software purchase or rent price, hosting or subscription fees, implementation services price, client resources needed during implementation and post-implementation, hardware, and any other third party costs.

Functionality- Package functionality is generally given an overall priority compared to the other decision drivers at the beginning of the project; however, most organizations break this criterion down into the various functional areas to be covered by the application (see sidebars for representative examples of functionality for three major HCM technology areas). No matter the type of project, there is almost always a priority order of functionality, driven by major organizational “pain points.” Therefore, any project team is likely to have to prioritize the most critical functionality that will drive system selection.

So there you have it. All of the key decision drivers covered and in the final segment, the next blog, we will talk about ranking these decision drivers. HRchitect’s Decision Drivers process will help ensure you get the best-fit system for your needs, the first time.

As always, please let us know how HRchitect can assist you to get maximum benefit that comes from automating your Human Capital Management functions.

Matt Lafata

“Decision Drivers” – Definitions, Part 1

June 20, 2012

HRchitect has been involved in approximately 2000 HR technology related projects for hundreds of companies of all sizes and industries across the world. We have gained tremendous insight (and continue to every single day) and feel an obligation to share our expertise, and our war stories, with you. After all, with 15 years in business behind us in working with many of today’s leading companies, we’ve gained a unique perspective on the very puzzling world of HR technology.

We’ve touched on how critical decision drivers are in selecting or replacing an HCM system. We’ve also talked about the rationale and benefits behind all of this. Now let’s define some of these decision drivers.

Vendor Viability & Interactions—the best software functionality in the world doesn’t help if the vendor is not around to support and enhance the application. Viability is usually an aggregate rating composed of the following elements: Financial status of company (such as funding, cash position, burn rate, profitability), market position, strength of product landscape/road map, vision, execution, and channels/partners. Potential metrics supporting the ranking may include client wins in recent quarters, number of customers, number of employees, or likelihood to be acquired. There is also a subjective analysis of the vendor’s culture and what kind of a partner they will be. In addition, the project team should take advantage of the company CFO and his/her staff’s expertise to help assess the financial health of the vendors being evaluated.

Ease of Integration/Interoperability—regardless of the scope or extent of the application under consideration, it will need to connect with other HR and enterprise systems. Even though there has been some general progress in building better integration frameworks and enabling technologies, most organizations still underestimate the cost and time needed to integrate these systems, which suggests that the criteria should be given a higher priority. The criteria rating should include an assessment of the application’s integration framework, Application Program Interfaces (APIs), and ease of integration with 3rd party applications. In addition, this category examines the extent to which the vendor has implemented services-oriented architecture (SOA) to enable/increase interoperability.

Package User Experience—the rapid emergence of easy-to-use social networking and commercial applications has increased the importance of this criterion for most organizations, especially those that have a higher percentage of younger workers that are “digital natives.” Overall user experience is usually determined by demo script hands-on scoring, results of any “sandbox” or “conference room pilot” usability testing, and reference feedback. How intuitive is the system? What is the number of clicks required to complete a transaction? How easy is it for end users to navigate through the system? Are the screens cluttered or clean? Can the application appearance be configured to reflect the client style guide? How much training per client role will be required?

For HR functional administrator roles, operational effectiveness is a key component of the user experience; this assesses the impact the vendor application will have on the staffing and running of the HR function(s) covered by the software. To what extent does the system impact staffing (either reducing headcount needed to administer the software, or reducing the need to add staff as the organization grows or adds more processes)? The best way to get an accurate assessment of operational effectiveness is via references of customers who have been using the vendor application for a while (more than a year) in order to avoid anomalous feedback based on inexperience with the new software and/or processes.

Package Configurability—This criteria addresses the ability of the software to make changes in application panels / pages, workflow, user-defined fields, and reporting without customization. How robust is the system administration “workbench” for end users, and how self-reliant can the client ultimately become from vendor resources? Prospects should assess the comprehensiveness of the configuration parameters for the system in order to determine how much of the system can be tailored to their requirements without impacting system upgrades.

A critical aspect of configurability is business segmentation, the degree to which the vendor’s software architecture can meet the prospect’s multi-company or multi-division requirements. A good example of this would be an organization where some regions require review and approval of performance appraisals by HR, while others require only manager and next level supervisor approval. Evaluation of business segmentation should focus on how easily process nuances are accommodated in the application, and how process differences are tracked and monitored within the system.

Overall package configurability is predominantly assessed in the Request for Proposal (RFP) /demo phases (ultimately by hands-on demonstration) and confirmed by reference calls. Data on business segmentation can also be gathered during the Request for Information (RFI) / RFP process, but whether or not the software truly passes muster in this area is generally revealed during vendor demos and follow-up discussions as a part of due diligence.

Confusing? Perhaps but if you follow the process (and those that we will present in the next blog), as well as utilizing HRchitect to assist, you’ll be in great shape. HRchitect’s Decision Drivers process will help ensure you get the best-fit system for your needs, the first time.

As always, please let us know how HRchitect can assist you to get maximum benefit that comes from automating your Human Capital Management functions.

Matt Lafata


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