6 Analytics Questions to Ask Your HRMS Vendor

Moving away from simple reporting and metrics, human capital analytics or HCA is fast becoming the strategic decision-making aid of choice (or, if not choice, then at least aspiration). And while the basic HCA approach is simple: establish facts, establish reasons, predict the future… the complexity of the task depends on your organization’s needs and similarly choosing the right HMRS analytics software to manage HCA depends on asking the right questions.

HRMS Analytics Questions #1: What Will It Add to My Understanding of the Situation?

HRMS analytics packages are meant to produce new insights, not just repackage and polish the old. Most importantly, the system should be seen to do the work and not arrive at a glossy conclusion after some nifty manual manipulation by the demonstrator.

HRMS Analytics Questions #2 – Can It Do X?

In other words, can the vendor’s system address the HR functions you’re interested in? Not all are so readily ‘analyticked’. Recruitment is easy to measure, employee relations less so. The chances are that different packages will lean towards different HR functions. Be clear on what you want insight into and focus your questions on that.

HRMS Analytics Questions #3 – How Much Data Can It Handle?

Really, the answer you’re looking for is, “Big Data”! But on a more practical level, you need HRMS software that can and will take its data from multiple sources and via various routes, both structured and unstructured. Structured data is already in your business systems – different apps, databases, etc. – and is fairly easily accessed. Unstructured data tends to be less quantifiable - from customer feedback, interview data, analyst reports and social networks, etc. – but if used correctly, this is often the factor that gives the fresh insight you’re looking for.

HRMS Analytics Questions #4 – Can You Provide an Analytics Demo Tailored to Our Own Questions?

The risk with software demos is that you’re shown exactly what the vendor wants you to see; and the vendor’s strengths aren’t necessarily your priority requirements. Ask how it will handle the questions you’re really interested in; examples might be: Is the ROI on human capital higher than the ROI for other business capital (i.e., on working capital, invested capital)? Where does the best talent come from? Which businesses or managers are the best talent scouts and coaches? Is internal mobility a source of value creation or of turnover and cost to the organization? Are leaders effectively managing human capital? Is there a correlation between manager effectiveness and workforce engagement, performance and retention?

HRMS Analytics Questions #5 – What Specialist Skills Do We Need to Fully Utilize the Software?

Analytics software and reports are of limited use if you don’t have the in-house talent to understand and use them. You may need: C-level awareness and understanding of how to ask the right questions aligned to the organization’s strategy; technical and quantitative specialists who can come up with models and methodologies; and analysts who can understand the data and draw conclusions (and, where necessary, refine the questions).

HRMS Analytics Questions #6 – What Analytics Expertise Do You Have?

Sometimes vendors and demonstrators ask a lot of questions of you instead of the other way around. This can indicate a lack of expertise in the analytics arena (although not necessarily a lack of commitment to helping you work things out once you’ve signed on the dotted line) and ideally you want to buy a system backed up by experts who have the relevant methods, metrics, tools and so on that have been proven to improve decision-making and produce measurable value.

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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

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