How to spot an HRMS vendor that is completely unsuitable

Some HRMS software is better than others. The same goes for HRMS vendors. Of course, any judgement of who’s better, who’s best, who’s worst, etc. is mostly relative and will usually depend on what you’re looking for in a system. That said, sometimes when looking at HRMS vendors and their offerings – either during the process of selecting a new system or in relation to your current supplier – it’s an easy call to make. Some vendors are just unsuitable for your requirements. What makes them so? Potentially a number of factors, as follows:

1. Avoiding your demo questions

The software demo is really the ‘interview stage’ of your HRMS selection process and in advance, you’ll have prepared a set of initial questions and scenarios designed to test the vendor and their product against your requirements. Up to a point, it’s accepted interview technique to answer questions in such a way as to steer the recruitment panel towards your particular strengths. The same goes for software demos. But if the HRMS vendor is actually avoiding, dodging, brushing aside your questions and concerns in favour of their own glitzy presentation, alarm bells should be ringing.

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2. A lack of understanding

Again at the demo stage, part of your selection is to test the vendor’s understanding of your business sector or industry. For example, if you have a team of roving salespeople, working unusual or non-standard hours, they need to be sympathetic to your needs and offer your functionality that will cover your whole workforce. If they repeatedly try to sell you on a one-size-fits-all setup or if all their references or endorsements are from businesses in non-comparable lines of work, be wary.

3. Living in the past

With your current system in mind, ask yourself: is it keeping pace with the market? When was the last upgrade? What are their development goals for their product(s)? Are they developing it at all? Both vendor and system may have been perfect for your needs when you made the purchase a few years ago but if you’re growing in different directions it might be time to part company.

4. How’s business for them?

Most companies stick with their HRMS for a number of years and in terms of updates and support, it’s important to be certain that the vendor will be around the whole time. That doesn’t necessarily mean you should jump ship at the first sign of trouble but the stability of the vendor’s business is something to test at the selection stage and then keep in mind during the supplier-client relationship. Areas to consider include: financial viability (the market is full of new, dynamic but small software startups; funding is their lifeblood); and operational stability (data location and access, uptime, business continuity plans, etc.).

5. Emerging hidden costs

Finally, although the total cost of ownership is a criterion to test at the selection stage, it’s only sensible to continue to keep an eye on what your HRMS is costing you during its lifespan. Or, more accurately, you need to monitor all HRMS-related costs and compare them to the promises made pre-contract. Of course, unexpected expenses will occasionally arise. That’s business. That’s life. But if it’s happening on a regular basis and your HRMS vendor cannot offer good explanation, consider it a warning bell.

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Dave Foxall

About the author…

Dave has worked as HR Manager for the Ministry of Justice for a number of years, he now writes on a broad range of topics including jazz music, and, of course, the HRMS software market.

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Dave Foxall