Mary Dale is the VP of HR at Convivial Brands and the former CHRO at Metron Integrated Health Systems, a non-hospital health system with multiple locations across the state of Michigan. She was in charge of the process to switch HRIS systems and led not only the selection of the new HRIS but also its implementation across all of the MIHS locations.

Metron had 7 locations at the time Mary Dale began working with MIHS, acquired an 8th during that time, and had around 850 employees across Michigan. The company was looking at further expansion and was managing a lot of change to prepare for growth, including reducing costs and operating better and more effectively.

Deciding to Switch Systems

Metron’s current system didn’t coordinate across all of their locations. This meant that locations near each other could be recruiting the same candidate and not know. Company goals included improving continuity across all locations and ensuring that their compensation packages matched the current market without having to manually calculate more than 800 salaries manually. Metron couldn’t do this with its current HRIS.

There were major issues with their current vendor’s customer service. When tickets were submitted to the vendor’s help desk, Metron often wouldn’t hear back for four to five months. In addition, Metron had already implemented every possible upgrade and add-on with the current vendor but still wasn’t getting the results the company needed. They were spending a lot of money but were still having to perform a lot of work manually.

Determining the Company’s Needs

The next step was to determine exactly what the company’s HRIS needs were. This involved deciding on a budget for the new system as well as looking at technological and time constraints. They needed to know if the implementation would involve other team members and, if so, what their availability would be and whether they might require an outside consultation.

Metron also needed to think about the server requirements of a new HRIS. Would it be cloud-based or require server space? If it did require server space, the company would need to determine where the HRIS would be hosted.

On top of that, they had to determine what other goals they had as an organization with which implementation of a new HRIS might interfere.

Finding the Right Vendor

The next step was to find the right vendor. This was a long process that first involved evaluating the vendors that were out there. They already knew what their own needs were and looked for vendors that looked appealing at a first glance based on those needs. The first analysis was done internally, asking questions such as:

  • How long would the implementation take?
  • How long would the training take?
  • What is the annual cost?
  • Is there an employee self-service portal?
  • Would there still need to be paper?

Metron developed an 18-point checklist that they went through before even talking to a software company. Their project committee consisted of team members from a variety of different departments, including HR, accounting, and IT in order to see what impacts the new software may have across the organization.

Only after completing the full checklist with the project committee did they contact vendors for an RFP. The next step was to have the vendors provide demonstrations for evaluation by the project committee.

Getting Everyone On Board

It was important to ensure that everyone was on board with the new system. Usually, getting executive buy-in for a new system is difficult because it costs both money and time. However, at Metron, the system was already so broken and there were so many high-level strategic changes coming that there wasn’t much push-back in this case.

Quantifying the savings and putting them into hard numbers to demonstrate the cost savings and net present value can help to get everyone on board with the project.

In addition, the right HRIS can be hugely beneficial across the entire organization. It can help with compliance and help ease the burden in other departments as well as in HR. Knowing how a new system can help other departments become more efficient can help get executives on board.

Staying Competitive in Recruiting

A good HRIS is now more essential than ever before to ensure that companies stay competitive. Having a good environment and good compensation structures are important, but employees now expect good tools for easing changes, enrolling in benefits, and having access to a company knowledge base. If a company’s HRIS software process is broken or doesn’t work well, the company appears to be behind the times.

A HRIS reflects on the company as an organization. Employees don’t forget or easily forgive payroll mistakes, for example. A HRIS is not only an important tool for HR professionals to do their jobs but also to represent the company.

Evaluating the Vendors

The biggest mistake that many HR professionals make is to choose a vendor because someone else did. However, company goals, size, and more can be too different. There’s no one-size-fits-all HRIS solution. Metron’s process involved making phone calls, visiting websites, attending conferences, and scheduling demos. Conferences are a good way to get a high-level look at software but don’t provide a deeper dive.

After each demo, Mary Dale tapped into her own network of HR professionals and found someone currently using that software. She scheduled time to discuss their system and how they were using it in order to see a real-world use of the software. Then, she contacted the vendor with any issues and concerns that were raised during the review and requested a deeper dive into the software as well as a dummy portal so she could try out the software.

Expensive Doesn’t Always Mean Better

Metron began by looking at 15 to 16 different vendors but narrowed the selection down to 4 or 5 during the evaluation process. One was more expensive but offered all the bells and whistles. There were several at mid-price and one at a lower cost, but all fell within Metron’s budget. In the end, they determined that the top-end, expensive software wasn’t very different from the mid-level software except in cost. One of the mid-level software vendors fit their needs better.

Implementing the HRIS

Implementation is the most challenging part of the process and also the most important to get right. Too many people want to jump directly into using the system without fully testing it or understanding how it works. Instead, you should fully test the system to avoid later testing your employees. Another mistake companies often make is to implement in stages, beginning with payroll, only to never implement the rest of the HRIS modules.

Metron ensured that all modules the vendor had agreed to implement were added and tested before their true go-live date. The vendor’s implementation team needs to be experienced with the product so that they can help the company know what fields affected which reports or what other parts of the system. Inputting data into the HRIS without understanding how the system uses it can result in having to re-do a lot of data in the future.

HR Payroll Systems offers a powerful online research tool that can help companies find the right HRIS vendor. If you’re in the market for a new HRIS, HR Payroll Systems’ vendor match page can help match you with the software that will best fit your needs.