How to compare two like for like HRMS systems


HRMS selection is a straightforward if often laborious process. You decide what you want and why, research a long list of systems that possibly meet your requirements, invite them to pitch via an RFP, examine the responses closely to draw up a shortlist of potential ‘winners’, then invite those shortlistees to demo their products for you. Simple, right?

But sometimes, it’s difficult to compare HRMS when two systems seem practically identical (at least, for your needs). When it’s a case of like for like HRMS, you need to look at other factors relating to the two systems in order to choose between them.

Looking at areas of parity

Before digging into the differences, take a closer look at the apparent similarities. Just like people, no two HMRS are exactly the same. Use the demo experience to explore the two candidates more fully. In fact, script your demo scenarios to highlight any possible differences. This is where scripted demos are essential. You identify a process that is particularly important to your business – for example, recruitment – and then ask both systems to run that process (maybe a targeted campaign for a specific role) using the same dummy data. Then, look for which has the better performance.

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Looking at areas of difference

Using demos to put the apparent similarities under a microscope is one tactic. The other is to explore non-system, secondary factors that nevertheless have an impact on your choice.

1. Company culture – organizational culture is intangible but decisive. Consider your company’s overall attitude to technology. For or against? If this is your first foray into business software, you might be looking for any product features that make it easier for non-habitual users. Or, if you want to encourage individual engagement with HR, maybe employee self-service is the feature to focus on. If you have a strong learning culture (or aim to develop one) then maybe the learning management processes will be decisive.

2. Vendor organization – there’s also the question of the vendor’s organization. Regardless of the apparent splendor of their product, how long have they been in business? What’s their track record with HRMS? What performance metrics are they willing to agree to? Do they supply the aftersales support and maintenance or do they farm that out to a third party? If you need consultancy services for HRMS implementation, do they provide them? How stable is their business? (It’s no use signing up for a product that you plan will last you five years and then have the vendor go bankrupt after six months.)

3. References – finally, check the supplied references. This is an area often neglected in the selection process and yet it can be a decisive factor. If one of your two like for like HRMS vendors cannot supply references from customers in the same or similar industry sector to you, and of a similar size organization, that’s a quiet but distinct alarm bell. When you contact the provided referees and what they have to say about the system is different to what the vendor is saying, that’s a louder bell.

No two HRMS are the same. However, surface impressions can be very similar, even apparently identical. The whole point of your selection process is to find the best system for you, and sometimes you need to dig deep to find the differences that point to a clear fit.


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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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