When evaluating HRIS and payroll vendors, one of the most commonly neglected factors in the vendor selection process is an analysis of the vendor’s support structure. Customer support can make or break an HR/Payroll system. What do I mean when I say the word “support?” Support can be broken down into three categories—implementation, training and ongoing (post-implementation) support.
Consider when choosing a vendor that implementation sets you and your company up for the eventual success or failure of the new system. Implementation may look like one of the following scenarios:
1. Vendor manages entire implementation.
2. Implementation is a shared effort between vendor and company.
3. Company handles all implementation efforts.
Make sure you know what you can and cannot handle. If you’re a one-person show at your company then you may need to rely on the vendor to do the majority of the implementation work.
Be frank and direct when asking questions of the salespeople regarding their implementation support. Consider asking the following questions:
1. What is the job title of the person who would be handling the implementation?
2. How many implementations has this person performed?
3. How many implementations do they manage simultaneously?
4. Where are they located?
5. How long have they been with the company?
6. If you are moving from one HR/payroll vendor to another, has the implementation person worked with migrating data from that vendor before?
Asking the above questions will help you identify the level of expertise, experience and dedication you can expect to receive during the implementation process.
The level of training support you need depends on the product and number of modules being purchased. If you are only implementing a payroll system, training may be limited to the payroll administrator and their backup. However, if you’re implementing an HRIS, time and attendance, payroll and applicant tracking system then it is likely that your training needs will be more substantial. Consider the following questions regarding training support:
1. Who is in charge of training the end-users? Company, vendor or both?
2. Does the vendor have a training group or department?
3. Can the vendor support in-person training?
4. Can the vendor support web-based (webinar) training?
5. How is training cost handled?
Ongoing (Post-Implementation) Support
Day-to-day, post-implementation support can make or break your HR/payroll vendor relationship. Sure, the vendor may have a robust and modern system but the day that something goes wrong you’re going to want someone on the other side who knows what they’re doing. Consider asking the following questions about the vendor’s ongoing support structure:
1. Is there a flat monthly cost for unlimited technical support or is it usage-based?
2. How are technical issues resolved, via phone, email, remote desktop?
3. Is there a dedicated person who will be handling all support issues or is there a general phone number for all technical inquiries?
4. How many employees make up the support department?
5. What is the average tenure of a support employee?
6. How often do the employees receive ongoing training?
7. When is support available, 24/7?
As part of the contract, you might be asked to sign a document called a Service Level Agreement (SLA). If you don’t see one—request that it is added. An SLA records the common understanding about the services, priorities, responsibilities and level of service between you and the HR/Payroll vendor. It is used as a reference in case there is a disagreement later over the quality of service you receive.
Checking references on an HRIS/payroll system is always recommended—especially when it comes to service. Ask the vendor’s clients about ease of implementation, the quality of training received and responsiveness and courtesy of ongoing support. Remember, vendors will probably provide you with clients they know are happy with their services so be wary of rehearsed-sounding recommendations and ask for specific examples to back up their recommendations.
Many times in the HRIS and payroll selection process we can become overwhelmed with the technical side and overlook the support element. However, the level of support that an HRIS or payroll vendor provides is paramount in your overall satisfaction with the solution. Make sure to set aside enough time to research a vendor’s support structure—trust me, it’s time well spent.