man standing in front of three open doors

HRIS, or Human Resources Information Systems, can be a valuable tool for human resources managers and the entire organization. HRIS can streamline the processes of compiling and filing information that is pertinent to the organization such as hiring and training data, performance reviews, and vacation or sick day tracking.

Having a high functioning HRIS in place can reduce labor costs and make a company more efficient as these crucial pieces of information become easier to manage. However, not all HRIS are created equal. It is important to take certain steps before selecting a HRIS so that the right HRIS solution is chosen.

Choosing a New HRIS

If you are serious about acquiring a new HRIS, you don’t have to be a software expert. However, it’s up to you to champion the possibility.

If your current tools meet your needs, you wouldn’t be thinking about replacing them. To gain the support needed within your organization, you need to identify what is lacking in your current setup and how your company will benefit from a new HRIS.

Implementing a new HRIS is not something you will do often, so you certainly want to do it right. Proper planning can help ensure the establishment of a savvy system that will support your organization for years to come.

Start at the Beginning

After reviewing and documenting your current processes, you can map out what’s working well and where the pain points are. Ask your staff about their successes and frustrations in using the current system. As you identify what problems a new HRIS could solve, consider how to recommend a new system that attains a return on investment. This might include dollars-and-cents cost savings, but don’t forget to note what other less tangible benefits might result from implementing a new HRIS.

Determine Needs

Browsing through different HRIS vendors without first determining the organizational needs is putting the cart before the horse. HRIS solutions come with many different features and not all features may fit in with the needs of the business. Purchasing the “top of the line” HRIS and then discovering that many of the features are not needed can be a huge waste of money and can waste employee time trying to sift through the programs.

On the other hand, purchasing a cost-effective HRIS with fewer features and then finding that many needed features are absent can also be unproductive. Listing all desired features in order of priority is a great way to begin the hunt for a new HRIS.

Consult All Affected Parties

In most companies, both HR and IT will be affected by the new HRIS system. Other areas of the organization may also be impacted, depending on the company. It is important that all affected parties get a chance to voice needs and concerns prior to the selection of a new system. Not only will this help to determine needs and assist with the selection process, but it will also increase the acceptance of the new system throughout all parts of the organization. Cooperation and acceptance throughout the entire organization can be valuable when it comes time to implement the new system.

Marshall the Experts

As an HR professional, you’ve certainly had some experience with using a HRIS system. In addition to the needs of the end-user, there are so many issues involved in rolling out a new HRIS — security, legal requirements, initial costs and operational costs, maintenance, employee training, the transition of data, and the ongoing vendor relationship, to name a few.

There are likely people in your own organization that can support you in your search; forming a search team from within your own organization enables you to leverage the knowledge and experience found within your own company.

You can also consult vendor-neutral software matching consultants who are especially familiar with HRIS products and vendors. Not only are they familiar with available offerings, but they have also assisted other organizations with locating the pitfalls and are well-versed in helping to avoid them. They will also help you understand the costs of ownership and how to select a system that will continue to support your organization well into the future.

Use your internal team to distill the information you’ve obtained into a list of dos and don’ts. What features are essential? What features or buying mistakes must be avoided?

Establish Budget

While the decision of which HRIS to choose should not be based solely on costs, the amount of capital that will be used to acquire and implement a new system should be determined prior to selection. When determining the budget, the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) should be considered.

Talk to Vendors

It is helpful to acquire as much pertinent information as possible about vendors and different types of software before selecting a HRIS. The stability of vendors, the experience and length of time that the vendor has been in business, and the availability of tech support after the installation should all be established.

In regards to the software, it is important to determine who will own the data, what security measures are in place, and how easy the system will be to integrate with current systems. Companies may also benefit from establishing a good working relationship with vendors and may consider the friendliness and professionalism of staff throughout the process of compiling information.

The Total Cost of Ownership may include the initial price of the system, labor costs to implement the system, subscription costs, charges for software licenses, and costs to update the system in the future. The ROI should also be estimated and considered as an offset to these costs.

Write a Request for Proposal

Use your dos and don’ts list to craft a Request for Proposal (RFP). An RFP is the crystallization of your HRIS needs. State each requirement, simply and clearly.

Vendor responses will quickly show which candidates have viable solutions that meet your specifications. Identify the top three (or so) contenders, and request substantial system demonstrations. Use a consistent approach, viewing the same processes and asking the same questions of each vendor.

Even if you go into the evaluation phase thinking one system seems to stand out, an objective, even-handed treatment of the vendors is the best way to back up your intuition.

Accept Demo Offers

Most vendors will offer demos and these can be very helpful in choosing the right HRIS solution. When companies come in to present demos, employees from all areas of the organization that will be affected should attend. This will give professionals from different areas a chance to ask questions and will promote a greater understanding of the software throughout the organization.

If a trial period is offered, companies can also benefit from taking advantage of the trial period to truly make sure that the selected HRIS is right for the company. Try and avoid making these common HRIS vendor demo mistakes too.

Implementation

Now is the time for action — well, after a little more planning. Document your expectations regarding timeline, effects on the day-to-day operations, as well as the consequences for not meeting timelines. It is crucial to sit down with your vendor and identify what the vendor needs from you — and when — in order to keep the project flowing smoothly from inception to completion.

Ensure that all parties within your organization understand their role and are committed to making your implementation a success.

Want Some Assistance With the Vendor Selection Process?

Check out our HRIS Vendor Match Service. This free service matches you with vendors who offer software designed for companies like yours.

Authored by: Dave Rietsema