HRMS Vendor Communication: Clarity is Key

Your HRMS vendor relationship is critical to the success of your project and the process of building that relationship begins from the first contact. That early relationship will influence your choice of HRMS system, its implementation and even perhaps project elements such as HRMS training, ease of upgrading in the future and so on.

The key to a good HRMS vendor relationship is clarity of communication. Naturally, early communication with potential vendors will essentially be about the requirements for the system – making it clear what your business needs are and what you are looking for from an HRMS.

Stating Your Requirements

Whether you go the ‘traditional’ route of creating a detailed request for proposal (RFP) or opt for something less formal, what the HRMS vendor will need is a clear statement of necessary features, functionality and deployment.

HRMS software may offer dozens of functions and you will have to decide what your business requires. A good vendor may – with an understanding of your business – be able to advise on the functionality that would best serve your purpose; although, of course, as the buyer you will need to factor in that a vendor will be biased toward their own product (and even resellers with a portfolio of offerings will have their favorites). Just as an indicator, the following system functions usually feature in the ‘top ten’: job and pay histories; ability to import/export data; ad hoc report writing; email alerts; user-defined fields; attendance and leave accrual tracking; employee self service; benefits open enrollment; online performance management; and payroll.

One note of caution regarding HRMS RFPs…, too much detail can narrow the focus too much. The vendor puts their attention on ticking off your specific requirements and other features (and liabilities) of the system don’t come under scrutiny. Although RFPs have their place – and certainly help to ‘standardize’ vendor pitches – there is an argument in favor of just ensuring the vendor understands your business and its future strategy then inviting to propose an HRMS that is aligned with your goals.

Trust is Two-Way

Of course, vendor communication is not all about you telling them about your business and what you want from their system. For a (potentially long-term) relationship founded on openness and trust, you need information about the vendor’s business and products too.

A few questions for your potential HRMS vendors might include:

  • How long have they been in business?
  • How many clients do they have? (And in what lines of business – similar or different to your own?)
  • Are they HR(MS) specialists? or do they offer a more diverse portfolio?
  • What references or testimonials can be provided (and, more importantly, followed up)?

Every communication with an HRMS vendor, right from the first tentative signs of interest to the final contract negotiations, is an opportunity to find out how well you can work together. After all, the ideal outcome is to build a successful partnership which will benefit your HR administration’s effectiveness for years to come.

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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