10 Simple Steps to HR Software Requirements Gathering

Software Requirements Checklist

Shopping for new HR software is on most people’s top ten list of things they hate. We get it. The research, the sorting, the weeding out, the demos, the approvals—it all adds up to hours in front of your computer screen or on the phone with vendors. 

The good news is that at the end of the process, if you’ve made the right choice, your HR department will function more efficiently and have more time and resources to serve your employees.

In this article, we’re going to walk you step-by-step through the HR software requirements elicitation process so you’ll never again have to make a decision based on guesswork or sales pitches. You need to know that you’re buying the right software product—and we’ll help you get there.

Step 1: Improve Your HR Software IQ

Before you start gathering requirements, you need to have a basic knowledge of the features and functions available to you. There are two ways to do this: the hard way and the easy way.

The hard way is to visit lots of different vendor websites, make a spreadsheet, and start taking notes. The easy way is to take advantage of the work we’ve already done for you.

At CompareHRIS.com, we’ve created a survey tool that walks you through a detailed series of questions about your software needs. At this stage, don’t worry about answering the questions (we’ll come back to this part later). Instead, just read through the listed features and functions to get a feel for what’s on the market.

For those of you who are really in a hurry, we’ve listed a brief summary of major features below:

  • Employee Database 
    The employee database stores information and provides reporting and search capabilities. As you shop, consider whether your business will benefit most from a single-record or best-of-breed solution. Each approach has pros and cons, but the basic difference in benefit is ease of process integration vs. depth of function and flexibility.

  • Cloud Options
    In today’s business environment, almost everyone operates in the cloud, so if you need on-site hosting, you’ll be limited to just a few providers who still work within this framework. With Saas or cloud solutions, choose from public, private, or hybrid models. 
  • Payroll 
    Many of today’s HRIS software applications offer payroll as part of a fully integrated solution. Companies that don’t include payroll as part of a total package usually offer a variety of interfaces so you can import or export data to a third party provider.
  • Time and Attendance 
    Today’s workforce is much more mobile than previous generations of workers. Your time and attendance system may need to manage international hours, hours clocked from home, and hours in multiple locations.
  • Training Management 
    Most, if not all, HRIS software applications can track basic training data like course completion and renewal dates. Certain industries are responsible for tracking far more training than others and may need deeper functionality in this area. Most systems offer alerts, reminders, and goal tracking to keep employees on target and communicate with managers about completion.
  • Recruiting 
    Many HRIS solutions offer a built-in applicant tracking system. Solutions may include applicant profiles, job board integration, candidate scoring and filtering, screening options, approval forwarding, and much more.
  • Employee/Manager Self Service 
    Self service portals give employees and managers access to information about themselves or the people they supervise. Employees can view and manage their personal data, benefit information, pay stubs and more. Managers receive alerts when an employee has made certain changes and can send reminders about document signatures or task completion.
  • Benefits Administration 
    HR software products differ in their ease of use and ability to set up or add benefits plans. Look for a system that directly handles the calculations associated with your benefit management processes. 
  • Reporting 
    All HRIS systems offer reporting capabilities, but they vary in complexity, configurability, standard offerings, and user-friendliness. Look closely at the reporting function to determine whether it will work within your current processes and whether reports can be configured according to your business needs.
  • Performance Management
    As the annual review declines in popularity, businesses need other options for managing employee feedback and tracking goals. Many HRIS companies have incorporated flexible review intervals, configurable questions and rating capabilities, automatic alerts, and peer feedback to give managers more control over the process.
  • Compliance 
    How does the software handle ACA reporting and other compliance items such as COBRA, OSHA, FMLA, and diversity reporting? Look for a system that automates as much of the process as possible, including tracking and filing. 
  • Branding 
    As candidate and employee experiences become more important for hiring and retention, companies need the flexibility to customize software with branding and culture elements. Consider usability, adoptability, and consumer-oriented structure.
  • Social Integration
    Many companies find that creating a positive social media policy increases productivity and employee satisfaction on the job. Some HR software providers have responded to this trend by incorporating social capabilities like forums, game elements, and employee recognition into the software.

Step 2: Evalute Business Need

Now that you have a solid working knowledge of what’s available, it’s time to start gathering requirements. If you already have a system and just need to upgrade, this process may be relatively straightforward. Ask questions like:

  • What business needs are we trying to meet?
  • What problems must the new software solve?
  • What friction points have we encountered with our legacy system?
  • What new features or functions do we need?

If you are transitioning to HR software from spreadsheets and manual processes, it’s going to take more work—but it will be worth it. A fully fleshed-out requirements list will make the buying process remarkably easier.

Step 3: Involve Key Stakeholders

Determine who will be using the software and speak to key stakeholders in each of those departments. Include training personnel, hiring managers, end users, risk management teams, payroll personnel, and any other team members who need the software to perform their jobs.

Step 4: Brainstorm for Functionality

Create focus groups to list all necessary software functionalities. Keep these groups small, set a time limit, and create a “no criticism” rule to draw out the most helpful information. Your goal is to move past the obvious surface level activities into the deep functionalities that you use regularly or that you would like to incorporate.

Step 5: Document Current Use

Take a look at your current documents, reports, and interfaces, and document what they need for successful operation. Focus on details like business plans, rules, contracts, training materials, emails, input/output, and boundaries.

Step 6: Observe End Users

Watch how end users interact with the software, take notes, and get feedback. Take some time with this process so you can get a true feel for what various stakeholders do with the software on a day-to-day basis.

Step 7: Model Processes

Process modeling documents each step in a process from start to finish. Be sure to include both manual and automated versions of the process and break each step down into its individual components.

Step 8: Ask Questions

Use surveys or questionnaires to get feedback from large groups of users. Create precise questions designed to elicit concrete responses that can be translated into functionality. Consider employee needs as well as those of your HR staff.

Step 9: Create Your Vendor Short List

This is the stage that often takes the most time. You’ll need to work within the parameters of your requirements and budget to determine which vendors most closely align with your needs. 

It can take countless hours to view demos, schedule phone calls, and sift through features and functions.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

We designed our HRIS comparison tool to eliminate the lion’s share of the work during this step. Simply answer the questions in the survey based on your research and requirements gathering, and you’ll get a custom-made short list of software vendors that match your business needs. You can request information from the vendors or choose to contact them at your own pace once you view your results.

And the best part? It’s absolutely free.

Survey Call to Action

Step 10: Download Your HRIS Buyer'sGuide

With your short list in hand, you’re now ready to move on to the next stage of the buying process. To help you make the best possible purchasing decision, we've put together our comprehensive HRIS Buyer’s Guide to guide through the remaining steps quickly and efficiently. Download your free copy and take the headache out of the software selection process.

This HR software selection advice is based on the 15+ years CompareHRIS founder Clay Scroggin spent as a Human Resources Software value added reseller. He and his firm sold, implemented and supported hundreds of software application installs.

 HRIS Buyer's Guide