Avoid the Five Most Common HR Management Software Selection Mistakes

I am a firm believer that we can all learn from the mistakes of others. That’s the point of this article. Before selling my HRIS consulting practice in October 2008, to work full time on CompareHRIS.com and HR-SoftwareBlog.com, I sold, implemented and supported several HR management software solutions for a large number of clients for over fifteen years. During that time, I have seen many of my clients do a good job at the process of selecting a new HR information system and, unfortunately, I have seen many who did not. The five items listed below are a few of the more common mistakes I have seen made with the HRIS selection process.

Not adequately determining needs – If you were going to buy a new house, you would likely go to a realtor with a list of wants, needs, and budget for your new home. You would not approach a realtor and say you were looking for any house, in any neighborhood, at any price. The same is true with HR management software. You need to determine what your needs are first and foremost. The better job you do at this step, the more likely you will find a system that provides the best fit for your organization. I am not going to go into too much detail here, instead I will refer you to an earlier article I wrote on the subject, What does Determine your Needs Mean?.

Not looking at enough systems – When I was selling HR software, I was surprised at how many companies only looked at one or two systems. That’s not enough. I usually recommend starting out with six to nine vendors. As you pre-qualify these vendors and review the systems, you will eventually have your list narrowed down to two or three products that meet your needs. However, in order to accomplish this, you need to look at more systems up front. At the very least, reviewing a larger number of systems will make you far more knowledgeable on the capabilities of the industry’s leading HR systems. Let me put it this way, how many houses did you look at before you bought your first home?

Not pre-qualifying the vendors – Once you have your needs determined and have created a list of vendors to review, you will want to pre-qualify the six to eight vendors you will review. Basically, you are going to have certain needs, requirements or a budget that may eliminate particular vendors on the first call. You did the same thing when you bought a house, “we are not interested in looking at any homes in this neighborhood or without a pool.” Again, looking for an HR management system is the same. You might require an integrated payroll system or an interface to your existing payroll system. Maybe you only have a budget that is set in stone. On your first call with the vendors, let them know that the product has to meet your specific high level needs, requirements and budget or there is no reason to setup a demo. You are only trying to save time for you and the sales person. Narrow your list of six to eight systems down to four to five to evaluate in greater detail.

Not getting budget pre-approved – It’s going to take you a great deal of time to review a number of HR software solutions. If you don’t get the money approved beforehand, you might end up wasting your time. I’ve seen this scenario play out hundreds of times.

Not making sure the scope is fully outlined – When you receive a quote for the software, support, and the implementation, ensure everything you need in the implementation is outlined. If you need a custom interface created between the HR software solution and your payroll system, make sure it’s addressed in the implementation scope. The same goes for specific custom reports you may need generated or information that may be imported into the new product. If your project ends up exceeding the budget, it’s highly likely that not enough detail was put into creating the scope for the engagement.

This list is by no means complete. There are lots of mistakes that can be made but these items should help you avoid the most common I noticed over 15 years of selling HR systems. Our HRIS Buyers Guide is perhaps the most detailed article I have created on purchasing HR and Payroll systems. With this document, I created a ten step process on selecting HR software. These steps will help you avoid the issues outlined above and others, as well.

About the Author

Clay Scroggin worked in the HR and Payroll software Industry for more than fifteen years. During that time, Clay, and those who worked for him, assisted hundreds of HR professionals to find their preferred hr software solution. In 2007, Clay began working on Comparehris.com, a site dedicated to assisting HR professionals with their search, selection, implementation and use of HR systems. The site contains several tools to assist HR professionals with their research including related articles and an HR Software Selection Tool.