Chasing the HCM Unicorn: A Simple 3-Step Plan for Buying HR Tech

3 Steps to Buying HR Tech“Buying HR software is fast and easy!” Said no one ever. Shopping for software takes time, intense effort, and the equivalent of a master’s degree in research. It’s like chasing a unicorn—that magical, mythical creature that probably doesn’t exist, but—wow, it sure would be awesome if it did.

The ideal HR software platform will help your HR personnel get more done in less time with fewer staff members, while also boosting engagement and morale among your workforce. If you can find a solution that increases productivity and boosts your bottom line, all that research and time is worth it. But is HR tech like that really out there? Will it really do everything it says it can do? And if it will, can you afford to buy it?

Yes it is, yes it will, and yes you can. Here’s how.

Assess Your Challenges

The first step is to know what problems your HR department needs to solve. Don’t get enamored by the latest trend only to end up purchasing a system that exceeds your needs—and your budget. Ask questions like:

  • What friction points have we encountered in our processes?
  • What new capabilities do we need?
  • Which business needs are most pressing?
  • Which current processes must be preserved in the new software?
  • Which employees will be affected by the change?

Gather detailed information during this stage so you’ll know what the new software must bring to the table. As you evaluate systems, you’ll be able to check items off and begin to narrow down your short list.

Know Your Options

The next step is to assess the capabilities offered by each vendor. What features are working for you and which ones need an overhaul? Work through each software module to determine which platform most closely matches your needs:

  • Payroll: Do you need new payroll software or do you want to keep your current payroll solution?
  • Employee Engagement: What employee engagement services do you value most? Do you like your current self-service portal or do you want to add new capabilities like communities or a scheduling calendar?
  • Benefits: Do you need deeper benefits capabilities? How straightforward is your benefits enrollment process?
  • Recruiting: What services do you need from an ATS? Do you want better branding for your candidate process? Do you want to store candidate information for future reference? How does your onboarding process function?
  • Time/Attendance: Do you need geotracking capabilities for remote clock-ins? Do you have employees with work-from-home arrangements? Do you want a scheduling calendar your employees can access themselves? Do you have employees in different time zones?
  • Learning Management: What training opportunities do you offer your employees? How do you set and track goals or required training courses? How do your employees access training materials?
  • Reporting: Do you need position control or custom reporting options? Can you customize the standard reports in the system? Can you create new reports efficiently?

Meet Your Vendor

The final step is deciding which vendors match your needs well enough to warrant a demo and a quote. During the software demo, you’ll have time to ask questions, see examples, and find out exactly how that new employee engagement tool really works. When you get your quote, look carefully at what services the implementation process includes, how the pricing is calculated, and what additional charges you should expect.

If you want to catch a unicorn, you have to study it carefully. Buying HR tech that can deliver the results you want demands that same careful analysis and knowledge of your quarry.

The good news is that we’ve made the research process easy for you. When you’re ready to start comparing vendors, our HRIS comparison tool will do the most labor-intensive part of the research for you. Simply input your requirements and our tool will create your vendor short list based on your needs.

And before you can say “Unicorn Frappuccino,” you’ll have the unicorn in the bag.

Looking for more slam-dunk resources? Check out our comprehensive HRIS Buyer’s Guide for your step-by-step guide to a no-regrets HR tech purchase!


About the Author: Susan McClure is our resident content marketer at She writes about HR outsourcing, HRIS, and general employment issues. When she isn’t writing, you might find her browsing shelves at the library, exploring a local hiking trail, or digging in the garden with her family and fur kids.

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