A complete HRMS selection timeline

When considering the implementation of an HRMS system it is worth knowing in advance just how long the entire process is likely to take. To make this process easier we have created this HRMS selection timeline, a resource to help you plan for the extra workload. Plus the HRMS selection timeline will help keep you on track during the actual process.

Make the business case (Weeks 1-2)

There’s a famous quotation that floats around the web; something along the lines of, it’s easier to apologise afterwards than it is to seek permission beforehand. Well, not for an HRMS! Whatever the strategic, operational and budgetary authority in your organisation, the first step is presenting it or them with a business case linking the procurement of your new HR technology to clear and measurable business benefits (and metrics to measure those benefits). This will involve research of available options, alignment of those options to the organization's strategic plans and in an ideal world will involve initial engagement with key stakeholders. Potentially all of this could be done within a week but realistically the timeframe will be at the mercy of your other day to day priorities and the timetable of the board, committee or management team that you need to persuade.

Establish system requirements (Weeks 3-5)

The HRMS software market offers a sometimes bewildering array of functions and options; the key is to focus your requirements on what your business needs now and in the medium-term future. It’s a fine balance between narrowing it down your priority needs and not missing out on functionality that you’ll need in the future. Aside from your own detailed market research, the key task here is engaging with stakeholders – C-suite, users, manager, HR staff, etc. – to ensure that the new system will support you in providing the HR service they need. Meeting with separate stakeholder groups can be a lengthy process (as can the subsequent sorting through their sometimes conflicting requirements) and will certainly take a couple of weeks; possibly much more in a large or complex organisation.

Build the shortlist of vendors (Weeks 6-9)

Ideally, you’ll only invite 3 or 4 vendors to give you a demo of their product, but at this stage, you’ll be looking at far more than that in order to whittle the field down to the that ‘golden’ few. You may go the structured and formal route of constructing an RFP (request for proposal) to help standardise vendor’s pitches. Alternatively, you may select potential demonstrators based purely on recommendations by friends, peers, network contacts, or even industry analysts. A third option is to engage an HRMS consultant who will guide the selection process, including the choice of invitees. As far as time scale goes, clearly these different options will entail different timings. A formal RFP process can take several weeks, with non-negotiable timescales, opportunities for interested vendors to raise questions and issues, and a whole ‘fair procurement’ communications strategy. The recommendations route is much less rigorous but also much quicker. The consultant may act quickly once in place but there’s a whole selection process to get him or her there. Your call.

Recommended Reading: HRMS Selection Survival Guide - Combine this HRMS selection timeline with our guide to selection survival

Shortlist (Week 10)

When it comes to shortlists, you need to know how to build them and then how to pare them down in such a way as to leave you with the most suitable contenders. Knowing where to find your options and then how to distinguish between them is a core selection skill.

In an ideal world, you’ll only invite three vendors/systems for a demo; any more than three and the chances are the process will be delayed by scheduling and diary conflicts. Three demos can be done in a day which is not too much to ask of your ‘demo team’. Besides, any more than three demos and ‘burn out’ and confusion set in and the final evaluation process starts to suffer.

Demos (Week 11)

First, pick your demo; probably including an HR representative, someone with IT knowledge and experience, a senior decision-maker, and possibly one or two key stakeholder reps. Ideally, you’ll put together a demo script which will ensure vendors cover the ground you want them to cover (thus making it easier to compare their offerings). Preparation of scripts and finding a time in everyone’s diary that is acceptable may take weeks, but it should be possible to complete the actual demos in a single day.

Evaluate and decide (Weeks 12-14)

Demos over, it’s time to make a decision. Your choice should be based on four key factors: how well each system matches your requirements (an RFP document makes this easy to establish); the performance in the demo; the degree of system support on offer; and the viability of the vendor company itself (which may depend on factors such as time in business, type of client, and the references they provide. While a decision can be made in a day, expect to spend at least a couple of weeks chasing references and testimonials.

Contract (Weeks 15-16)

Finally, once the decision is made, the final stage is hashing out the fine detail of the contract to ensure that you get the HRMS that was promised during the demos and any other negotiations. Again, timings may vary, but allow at minimum a couple of weeks for discussion, meetings and the involvement of lawyers.

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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