Do You Have the Right Questions – or Do You Want the Right System?

With the economical challenges every business is facing, trimming costs and maintaining a watchful eye on overhead and project costs is paramount for all businesses, whether SMB’s or international enterprises.  The economics landscape is changing drastically -- and ideas, innovative or not, need to be focused on providing more return for their investment.  Including an increase in efficiencies and cost-effectiveness, a well-defined Return on Investment (ROI) is imperative to keeping costs under control and effective training that reduces the learning curve after the implementation.

Obtaining a new Human Resource Information System (HRIS) for many will assist in consolidating business processes, information storage, task management and recording of time and attendance – for large companies and enterprises the list is extensive as the economies-to-scale kick in.  Whether the new HR system is replacing a legacy system or replacing several labor intensive business processes, the goal is to not only to have your investment returned in short order but also increase your efficiencies after the system has been implemented. provides a great start in determining which HRIS systems to take into consideration.  This is the ONLY location where comparisons can be made of several systems at the same time.  But which systems should you be taking into consideration?  At first it may appear that the choice(s) is obvious…  

But is it?  The value you place on this selection process will be evident through the implementation process as well as the life of the system. You can’t divorce your system once the implementation passes the engagement.  Well, you can but you may be broke afterwards.  There are always cases of a company choosing what they thought was the right system – only to have one unnecessary challenge after another domino throughout the selection and implementation process.  Once the dominoes start, there are only two ways to stop them – either putting a brake on everything or just let it all play out.  Either way you have to start rebuilding from the beginning as the implementation (and in some cases production) continues.

Each system has their own sets of strengths and weaknesses – whether SMB, large company or enterprise level systems.  Inadvertently choosing a system that has a weakness where you need your system to be strong – now and in the future – is the worst case scenario.  You may end up needing to create workarounds that could end up being high maintenance and labor intensive, or worse, needing another system to fill in the gaps.

In order to keep the economics maximized, the message is clear – you have to do your homework based upon the information needs of your company as well as your present business processes.  Keep in mind that even with the best-fit system, you may still need to consider redesigning your business processes in order to maximize effectiveness and efficiencies.  This also encompasses knowing without a doubt what your employees will need for reporting based upon company policies and protocols.

Do you really know what questions to ask?  Are you sure?  Have you taken into consideration the normal work load each user of the system will have as well as all your reporting needs?  Did you know approaching the discovery process and your needs assessment from the correct angle can take less than three weeks to accomplish?  Did you know that the wrong questions could double the cost of your implementation – even if they seemed to be the right questions at the time?

Proper planning and perspectives from the very beginning is essential. There are processes that may seem tedious and unnecessary – until the 20/20 vision of hindsight kicks in and you realize what was missed.  So this leads to a whole new set of questions revolving around one focus – what will it take to get from thinking you need a new system to having a system that is the best fit for your company?  A system that works for one company will not necessarily be the best fit another company even if they are in the same industry.

But knowing where to look and what answers you are seeking are more important than having the right questions.  Over the next several installments, we will discuss the approach needed to provide a methodology that will guide you to a system that is the best fit for your company.  We will look at how to increase your ROI, your efficiencies, as well as your business processes effectiveness.  The end result will be to help you develop a well-designed strategic vision and the processes required to choose and implement a new system.  You will find this will reduce the pain involved in knowing what to seek and what methods to use in acquiring a new system, if a new system is indeed needed.

About the author…
Garrett O’Brien has been working with HRIS implementations for more than 18 years as an independent consultant throughout the United States.  His strength lies on working with multi-line and/or multi-product implementations where the challenges and demands for maximum effectiveness and streamlined efficiencies are most needed.  He is the CEO (and Principal Consultant) for CGServices USA Inc, now located in the greater Boston area.  For 2010, CGServices is seeking to expand into Brazil.  CGServices sponsors a blog that focuses on the HRIS industry in both the USA and Brazil called the hris world / o sirh do mundo.  Product specific user groups are sponsored in Yahoo! for ADP and ReportSmith products.  In providing a global view of the HRIS industry, several news and discussion groups under the name ‘The HRIS World’ can be found on LinkedIn.  You can also follow him on twitter at cgservicesusa and cgservicosbr.