Is an HRMS consultant more useful for selection or implementation?

Consultants are often useful, sometimes necessary, and always cost more than you would like. You might engage an HRMS consultant to assist you in selecting your new HR technology; or perhaps you need some outside expertise when it comes to implementation, all technical issues, and user training. Either way, for certain the most cost-effective use of HRMS consultants is to work with them only where necessary. So, if you’re considering engaging a consultant to support your HRMS project, which is more useful – support during selection or support during implementation?

Benefits of an HRMS consultant for selection

The difference between selection and implementation in terms of what a consultant can offer comes down to the different roles they would be taking on. For selection, an HRMS consultant can provide assistance with:

  • Understanding the HRMS market: there is a wide and often bewildering array of HR systems available. A consultant knows the HRMS landscape, what functionalities are available, who from, and how your organization should expect to benefit.
  • Requirements definition: knowing what’s out there is one thing, knowing what you need for your business is another. A consultant can provide neutral assistance with stakeholder consultation and can add some expert credibility to the process for those who may be skeptical.
  • Shortlisting: knowing who to invite to demo is a significant selection hurdle. The specialist knowledge of a good HRMS consultant should include an appreciation of the various vendors and their systems’ pros and cons.
  • Demos and decision-making: a consultant should have experience of planning and managing HRMS demos, including getting beneath the surface of a vendor’s presentation, fairly comparing the various demos, and making a balanced decision based on business needs.
  • Contract negotiation: even for a straightforward system, there may be elements of the contract that will be up for discussion. An HRMS consultant will know what terms and conditions are standard, and which are not.

Benefits of an HRMS consultant for implementation

For implementation, an HRMS consultant can provide assistance with:

  • Process optimization: there is always alignment work to be done to ensure a good fit between your HR processes and procedures and your new HRMS. A consultant should know how to get the most value from your new purchase.
  • Data cleansing: data quality is everything and any lack here will be a serious barrier to realizing your ROI. If you don’t have in-house IT expertise, an HRMS consultant can assist with a rigorous data cleansing exercise.
  • System testing: prior to go-live, even the simplest HRMS should be put through its paces, including various tests, parallel running, and running processes with dummy data – an area a consultant should be familiar with.
  • User training: achieving your ROI means the system must be used and users require training. While a consultant may not be a trainer, they should be able to advise on the content and management of HRMS training.

Weighing up the two options - which wins?

Assuming you’re looking at hiring an HRMS consultant for one or the other, selection or implementation, knowing which to go for is less about weighing up the comparative advantages (as you can see above, both options offer real benefits) and more about looking inwards. Put simply, the key question is: what skills or knowledge do you lack in-house? A consultant is there to provide something you can’t do for yourself, either because you don’t know how or because the in-house people with that experience are not available.

At the end of the day, whether for selection, implementation or both, you’re looking for consultancy that is knowledgeable, focused on your business needs, and impartial (i.e. not involved in your own organization’s internal politics and differences).

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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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