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 does the word “support” mean? Support can be broken down into three categories—implementation, training and ongoing (post-implementation) support.
When choosing a vendor, remember 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:
- Vendor manages entire implementation.
- Implementation is a shared effort between vendor and company.
- Company handles all implementation efforts.
Make sure you know what you can and cannot handle. If your company is a one-person show, then you may need to rely on the vendor to do the majority of the implementation work.
Be frank and direct when asking questions regarding implementation support. Consider asking their salespeople the following questions:
- What is the job title of the person who would be handling the implementation?
- How many implementations has this person performed?
- How many implementations do they manage simultaneously?
- Where are they located?
- How long have they been with the company?
- 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 identify the level of expertise, experience and dedication you can expect to receive during the implementation process.
The level of training support needed depends on the product and number of modules 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 a 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:
- Who is in charge of training the end-users? The company, vendor or both?
- Does the vendor have a training group or department?
- Can the vendor support in-person training?
- Can the vendor support web-based (webinar) training?
- How is the 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. However, the day that something goes wrong, you will want someone on the other side who knows what they’re doing. Consider asking the following questions about the vendor’s ongoing support structure:
- Is there a flat monthly cost for unlimited technical support, or is it usage-based?
- Are technical issues resolved via phone, email or remote desktop?
- Is there a dedicated person who handles all support issues or must one dial a general phone number for all technical inquiries?
- How many employees comprise the support department?
- What is the average tenure of a support employee?
- How often do the employees receive ongoing training?
- 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 be 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 a disagreement arises later over the quality of service you receive.
Checking references on a HRIS/payroll system is always recommended—especially regarding service matters. Ask the vendor’s clients about ease of implementation, the quality of training received and the responsiveness and courtesy of ongoing support. Remember, vendors will probably provide you with pleased clients 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 a 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.
A vendor matching service can give you the inside scoop on HR software support. Visit our vendor match page so we can help you with your search.
Authored by: Dave Rietsema