Post HRMS demos: steps to making the best selection decision

After a day of HRMS software demonstrations, it’s understandable if you’re ready to take a break. However, the selection is not over yet. Almost but not quite. First, you have to make your final choice of system, then comes the negotiation of the contract with your chosen vendor. Here are a few pointers on these two final selection stages.

Making a decision

First of all, assemble your HRMS demo team, the various project members and stakeholder representatives who have just seen presentations from the vendors on your shortlist. It’s time to debrief, evaluate and ultimately decide on which – if any – of the systems are right for your business. Ideally, have this meeting the same or following day as the demos to ensure memories are fresh.

Recommended reading: learn how to make the most of vendor presentations with our five-step guide to HRMS demos

Refer back to the specific weighted criteria that you drew up at the start of the selection process. Whoever is chairing the meeting should be firm about focusing discussion on these criteria, and not a general conversation about the most memorable systems seen. It’s good practice to group the criteria into broad categories for debate, such as:

  • System functionality – time and attendance, payroll, learning management, recruitment, workforce planning, HR analytics etc.
  • User experience or UX – how easy will the system be to understand and use, what are the key differences to your current system and what are the implications for user training?
  • Integration – how well would each system interface and link to your existing business intelligence systems?
  • Information security – how safe will your data be, where is it stored, how tight is the vendor’s disaster recovery planning?
  • Employee and manager self-service – what features (new and otherwise) are on offer, how will they benefit your organization?
  • Mobile features – if you have field or remote workers, this is particularly important.

Score each system against each criterion. Is it fully met or only partly met? Is everyone in agreement or is some discussion required? Does the chair need to make a final decision?

Once you have a clear set of scores and an initial order of preference, consider wider issues such as implementation timescales, the viability of the vendor’s business (i.e. will they be around for the life span of the system), and the total cost of ownership.

Contract negotiation

Let’s be clear, when you’re negotiating a legal contract, you should involve a lawyer, even if only to check over the final document before you sign it. However, even without legal training, there are some key principles you can bear in mind, namely:

  • Check the detail closely – by this stage, there has been a lot of talk, most of it relatively informal. Now’s the time to nail the details. Confirm that the system you’re signing for is the system you’re expecting to get: functions, features, the service level agreement, uptime guarantees, etc.
  • Pricing – understand the pricing model being applied (a licence fee, or a rate per user or employee?) If the model depends on number of users, be very clear on how “user” is defined in the contract. Also check for hidden costs which might arise during implementation, and the ongoing expenditure of updates and maintenance.
  • Future-proofing – know how you can expect the system to stand up in a year’s time, or 3-5 years. As your business needs change, or as new technological developments arise, your contract should be flexible enough for some radical adaptation should it be necessary.

Ideally, the vendor of your new HRMS will be a valued business partner for years to come, supporting your organization with the right HR technology for you. The secret to that future partnership is careful attention to detail at this early stage.

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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