Picking a good HRMS consultant: questions to ask yourself

You’re looking for an HRMS consultant - an expert to help you select and/or implement your new HR technology. Naturally, you’re searching through websites and asking for recommendations but even when you have an option or two, how do you know if they’ll be a good fit for your project and your organization? What questions should you be asking?

Are you looking at the individual consultant or the company behind them?

Your favored consultant may be a ‘one-man band’, a solo agent, but they are equally likely to be part of a firm offering consultancy services (maybe even the vendor of your chosen software). Of course, during the project, that individual consultant will be your main - perhaps even your only - contact, but don’t forget to take a look at the company backing them up.

Recommended reading: get through the selection phase of your HRMS project with our step-by-step HRMS selection survival guide.

After all, you may need to draw on extra resources; your consultant may fall ill, any number of circumstances may bring other people from the company into play and you need to be sure you can rely on them. So...is HRMS the company’s specialty or is it an ‘extra’? Look into the company’s prior and existing clients – are they organizations like you? Finally, ask the company what contingency plans they have in place should your chosen consultant be unavailable for any reason.

How credible is your consultant?

Credibility is essential if your project advisor is to guide you to a successful implementation. However, credibility is also relative. Your consultant may have all the necessary skills and knowledge, understand the HRMS market landscape, and make a great impression on your senior executives, but think about their cultural fit. Are they used to working with organizations like yours? Can they build rapport with people at all levels of your operation?

The common experience is that external consultants (both HRMS and others) experience oddly opposing knee-jerk reactions from client organizations. On the one hand, people take for granted that the consultant is highly skilled and experienced (why else would you be paying them all that money?!) but on the other, their outsider status works against them, and people assume that the consultant can’t possibly understand the complex workings of the client business. The ideal HRMS consultant can tread a path between these two reactions, creating a credible impression and building rapport across all levels.

How do their references look?

Just as in recruitment of a new hire, reference-checking is an important part of the consultant selection process. To an extent, conversations, interviews, presentations, consultations and so on are all glossy marketing. The references are an opportunity for you to find out what really happens when this consultant is working with a client.

Ideally, the references should be from similar businesses to your own in terms of size, structure, and HR needs. If they aren’t, ask for some that are. Then, when you contact the referees, ask a few probing questions:

  • What was the scope of their HRMS project?

  • What exactly did the consultant contribute?

  • Was the expected ROI achieved?

  • What problems cropped up and how were they tackled?

In a nutshell, you’re looking for an in-depth picture of your potential consultant in action, in an environment similar to your own.

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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