Top HRMS requirements gathering strategies


Finding the right HRMS depends on knowing what will be best for your organization. So far, so obvious. But how do you move beyond worthy but nebulous goals, such as improved performance, efficiency through automation, and better employee engagement? The following strategies are intended to help you arrive at a list of specific and unique requirements against which you can compare each candidate system impartially.

Use this customizable HRMS requirements template to identify and prioritize your HRMS requirements

HRMS requirements gathering strategy #1 – Know where you’re starting from

You’re looking to make improvements and the first step is to get some clarity on what it is you’re aiming to improve. Not only does this mean looking at whatever current system you use and its shortfalls (often best explored by talking to the stakeholders who use it) but also understanding your organizational context. Ask yourself:

  • What are your present business priorities?
  • What are your broad future plans: expansion, diversification, consolidation, acquisition? 
  • What HRMS features might be key to achieving your current and future strategic goals? 
  • What KPIs and other metrics are in place to measure HR and related performance?

Then there are the opportunities to disrupt and reform your current HR practices and processes. Which ones could benefit from new technology? Which processes are overdue for a re-design? Which are subject to complaints from users (often a good indicator of a need for change and improvement).

HRMS requirements gathering strategy #2 – Put together the right HRMS team 

As with any project of scale, you can’t do it alone. Besides, given that practically every member of the workforce will be an HRMS user, and that different roles and responsibilities will have different uses for the new system, you shouldn’t do it alone. Having a varied team, representative of various areas and interests within the organization, is the first step in including the organization in your requirements gathering.

That said, don’t go overboard. Too big and the team risks being unwieldy and uncoordinated. Look for the skills you need, and choose them from the main stakeholder groups: C-suite, employee users, managers, and HR, IT and Finance/Procurement specialists.

When deciding on the right skills, consider the overall purpose of the HRMS projects: why it began in the first place. For example, if one of the key outcomes is to overhaul and modernize your HR function, then you need people who understand both practical day-to-day HR and the more strategic perspective.

Another factor to consider in forming your HRMS team is that you may not get what you want. Maybe the skills don’t exist within the organization or, often more, the people who possess those skills are not available to help, being too occupied with their ‘regular’ jobs. In that case, you might look outside, budget permitting, at engaging an HRMS consultant, an expert with experience in the HRMS market, HRMS selection, and credibility with your key (often senior) stakeholders.

Check out our complete HRMS requirements guide and features list exclusive to HRMS World

HRMS requirements gathering strategy #3 – Talk to stakeholders about pain points

As mentioned already, user complaints are a good indicator of something that needs improvement. When you consult with stakeholders about what they might want or expect from a new HRMS, it’s often worth focusing on the pain points. Or to put it another way, the things that make them curse HR!

A stakeholder in your HRMS project is anyone who has an interest in or influence on the selection and implementation of the new system. Often categorized by role or responsibilities, the basic HRMS stakeholder groups are:

  • C-suite executives and HR Leadership: these are the strategic decision-makers and influencers. They’re usually looking for strategic benefits and organization-wide impact. Once convinced, these are your senior champions. If unconvinced, they can be the exact opposite.
  • Employee Users: the majority of employees won’t deal with HR on a daily basis. Their transactions might be around booking time off, work schedules, and getting paid accurately and on time. The question is, how will a new HRMS improve their day-to-day working lives?
  • Line managers: while individually, managers will also share the needs of the Employee Users group, they are also involved in the mundane HR transactions from the management side, authorizing time off, redeploying team members, etc. Furthermore, they are the first level of user that will benefit from any reporting and analytics functionality in the new system.
  • Operational HR staff: from a service delivery perspective, your HR team bring insights into how processes might be improved and where technology and automation might do the most good. they’re also the people whose working lives will be most impacted.
  • Specialist staff: other specialist teams within the organization, such as Finance or IT, are likely to have specific input.

HRMS requirements gathering strategy #4 – Review your HR processes

New technology should be about making improvements and a new HRMS is an opportunity to upgrade your entire HR operation (if you feel brave and ambitious). Potentially, any HR process can be reviewed, and the desired improvements identified and incorporated into your HRMS requirements. One approach is as follows:

1. Map the process

In your chosen process, map the flow of information and necessary actions from beginning to end. Where are the bottlenecks, the delays, the frustrations? Where do errors commonly occur? Are they human, technical, or procedural? Which steps are redundant or unnecessary.

2. Choose your improvements

Now you know what’s ‘wrong’, maybe you can fix everything. But maybe you can’t and then you need to prioritize. For example, is accuracy more important, or speed? Usually in HR, accuracy is critical (ask any employee how they feel about payroll errors) but it depends on the process and your business goals. The key is to be clear on exactly what you’re aiming to improve before you try to improve it.

3. Design the new process

It’s time to create a bold new future. Well, improve your time and attendance processes, at least. When designing any new HR process or procedure, bear in mind:

  • The various roles and responsibilities involved, including decision-making and approvals where necessary.
  • Opportunities for self-service functionality.
  • Risk and data security factors.
  • Mobile access.
  • Compliance (i.e. any legislative or reporting issues).
  • User reactions (the best process is useless if users won’t use it).

4. External audit

Finally, consider engaging some outside help. Working as part of the organization, it’s possible in some instances you and your team won’t see the wood for the proverbial trees. An expert audit (perhaps by that HRMS consultant you hired) can result in a much more objective (and ultimately acceptable) process review.

HRMS requirements gathering strategy #5 – Consider specific functionalities

Another strand to your HRMS requirements is to look at what’s available on the market and then decide how (if?) it could benefit your organization. For example:

  • Self-service – Automate your employees’ routine HR transactions (punching in, schedules and rotas, requests for time off). 
  • Onboarding – Begin the process of welcoming new hires before their first day on the job. An HRMS can streamline and personalize the process of bringing new recruits up to speed, shortening the time to productivity metric.
  • Communication tools – Many HRMS are offering social media-style comms tools (instant messaging, chat groups). These potentially have a significant and rapid impact because most of your workforce will likely already be familiar with them in principle from using such tools in their private lives.
  • Learning and development – From automatic notifications to keep your annual appraisal system on track, to individually tailored development plans that support your succession planning and talent management strategies, your HRMS can help you focus on being a learning organization.

Narrow down your requirements list with our ten most common HRMS module and features list

HRMS requirements gathering strategy #6 – Technical requirements

Organizational priorities, user needs, process improvements… all a rich source of HRMS requirements. However, there are also the more technical issues to consider. The nuts and bolts numbers and basic needs – the foundation requirements, if you like.

  • Number of individual employee records.
  • Numbers and levels of users.
  • Deployment: cloud, on-premises, or hybrid.
  • Language and/or currency requirements.
  • Compliance issues (e.g. the need to produce regular reports using specific datasets).
  • Mobile access, including how to manage the data security issues.
  • Integration with other business software (e.g. CRM, ERP).

Getting the requirements right – and to a useful level of detail – is a foundation stone of your HRMS project. Just one degree off-course at this stage and you could end up miles from your intended destination. For further guidance, check out our HRMS requirements template to help you hit all the necessary touchpoints to search out the ideal HRMS for your organization.

author image
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.

author image
Dave Foxall

Featured white papers

Related articles