Six key questions you should ask at an HRMS demo

You’re at that stage of the selection process in which you actually get a little hands-on. It’s time for some HRMS demos. However, fun as it may be to play with the toys, you also need to manage the proceedings fairly strictly if you’re to avoid handing over control of the agenda to the vendors. Having an efficient structure is important, and within that structure, there are certain questions that will ensure you retain control and gather the information you need for an informed selection decision.

1. “What references or endorsements can you provide?”

A slick HRMS demo and a fancy presentation are to be expected but most interview or assessment processes are based on the premise that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, so you need to hear about some successful sales and happy customers.

Any HRMS vendor should be able to provide references and testimonials from satisfied users. These will preferably from companies of a similar size to your organization and in a comparable line of business. Feel free to contact these endorsers and quiz them on the vendor’s performance: ask them how the installation and training went, how smoothly the vendor handled any problems, what the product support is like, and are they still a customer.

Recommended reading: survive your HRMS demos (and the rest of the selection phase) with our HRMS selection survival guide.

2. “What happens when an employee leaves?”

This question is a way to lead into the issue of security. Not offboarding ex-employees is a classic security risk (they may retain access to sensitive company data if not taken off the system) and a good vendor has not only thought about this but also made it easy to do. This inquiry can initiate a whole conversation about data security measures and protocols.

3. “How stable is your company?”

A shiny new startup may have an exciting and cutting-edge product, but a well-established vendor is less likely to fold overnight, leaving your new HRMS unsupported. It’s more than okay to ask for some details of company financing, strategy and future plans so that you can judge whether they’re a stable bet.

4. “Will the system keep pace if we grow?”

Always bear in mind that you’re not buying an HRMS for today, you’re buying it for tomorrow. Do you anticipate a recruitment drive, a new branch office in Dubai, a shift to outsourcing your support services? Any significant change to the human resources of your organization will impact on your HRMS. The question is one of flexibility: can it cope with change?

5. “How well do you know us?”

Ideally, you want a vendor that understands your business. Do they have a track record of providing HR technology to other companies in your industry and/or dealing with your core HR activities and challenges?

6. “Can you show us what we want to see?”

Always consider providing a script to be used by all vendors giving an HRMS demo. Specify processes you wish to see in action and provide standardized scenarios that you want an system to handle (e.g. a recruitment campaign or a particular report or analytic) This way, you ensure that demos by different vendors are comparable, and you’re testing the system against your key requirements (instead of just seeing what they want to show you).

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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