HRIS mistakes

A new HRIS (HR and payroll software) can be a significant investment of both time and money. Although the system you select might be really intuitive, reaching the finish line with your new system isn’t quite as simple.

There are often many moving parts and multiple processes that need to connect seamlessly in order to make this investment a positive one. Unexpected bumps in the road are bound to happen.

The good news? When you go about the process armed with knowledge and support, you can be successful, and the results will be worth the effort.

So, hold on to your hard hat and let’s delve into some of the most common mistakes HR professionals make when implementing a new HRIS—with tips for troubleshooting them

Mistake #1: Skipping Needs Identification and/or Rushing

Blazing down the HRIS path with no clue as to what kind of destination you envision for today and the future is a common mistake. This total disregard will get you quickly into hot water. It’s best to schedule ample meetings so that you and your team can make a detailed list of all the “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves” for your company.

Once your needs are set in stone, then go ahead and start the demo process. Remember to not rush through demos either; no matter the level of frustration you feel with your current vendor. Take a breath and prioritize the features and services you’ll need from your new vendor.

Mistake #2: Letting Vendors Take the Wheel

Relying on the HRIS/payroll vendor for project management can negatively impact your business. Truth be told, a vendor’s priorities may not be compatible with your company’s. Vendors know the magic tricks that will wow their audience and will not hesitate to pull out all the stops to impress you.

Letting a vendor take over and put on a show can distract managers and employees. Remember, they want to sweep you off your feet and drive your attention away from assessing whether the system is actually up to snuff when it comes to the necessities.

Simplify this process by forming an internal project management committee of three: an experienced project leader and two highly flexible team members. If it’s possible, try to limit this committee’s regular day to day work outside this project by reassigning some of their regular duties.

When it comes time for the evaluation process, take the steering wheel, and run the meeting. Conduct the vendor meetings in a formal setting and have a list of consistent questions to ask of each vendor. Following this protocol will ensure you’re getting standardized data from all vendors and will help you to compare them against each other down the road.

Mistake #3: Not Considering Enough Vendors

Not reviewing enough HRIS vendors is a mistake that is 100% avoidable. At the very least, 7-10 vendors should be reviewed so that your company gets the very best features, price, and customer service possible.

With a good mix of vendors, you are much more likely to avoid overlooking highly compatible vendors. As you get further into the process, you can start to narrow down your list and ask more targeted questions of each vendor.

Mistake #4: Not Considering Employee Opinions

Not involving employees in the process is a recipe for disaster. As employees need to work with the system on a continual basis, it’s only fair that they have some say in what kind of system is chosen and which features are prioritized.

To avoid this pitfall, it would be wise to utilize a tool like Survey Monkey (or online or in-person meetings) to gather employees’ opinions. All stakeholders should be polled to see what they want in the new system, and which features are a priority.

Helpful hint: Every single employee doesn’t need to be questioned for determining needs. Just interview key employees for complete transparency.

Key employees include:

  • HR leaders and back-office employees
  • Finance and Accounting managers
  • Internal IT
  • C-suite executives
  • Front-line employees

Mistake #5: Not Cleaning up Data

Hurrying through the data transfer phase, rules setup and various technical aspects of HRIS implementation can cause problems. This haste will lead to utter disaster, as inaccurate information renders HRIS information worthless.

It’s imperative to review all data, make updates, and clean it up, prior to it being uploaded into the new system. Parallel testing and spot checks to double-check for errors will help ensure the presence of accurate data.

Mistake #6: Poor Communication

Not being honest and transparent with employees about why the company is changing systems can create a resistance that’s easily avoidable. Furthermore, it’s important that you receive employee buy-in so that the system will be embraced and widely adopted.

To avoid issues, offer informational sessions where employees can see the software in action and understand how the change impacts them personally. If possible, a “lunch and learn” can be an attractive and more informal setting where employees feel comfortable asking their questions.

Mistake #7: Not Examining Customer Service

Last but not least, a big reason why HR professionals regret their HRIS choice is due to the vendor’s poor customer service. It is easy to get blown away by flashy vendor demos that show you all the cool things the software can do. But don’t forget that you’ll need support from the vendor during the implementation and once you’re up and running on the platform.

Here’s how to ensure you find a vendor with the right level of support for your company.

  1. Research Support: Different vendors offer various levels of support so it’s best to find out how support would be handled for your account—both for you and your employees. What are the ways you can receive support (email, live chat, text, etc.) and when is the support department available? Also, will your Account Representative be involved with support tickets or are you left to fend for yourself?
  2. Read Reviews: There are plenty of review sites and forums where you can read reviews from current and past software users. It’s very likely that customer service will be mentioned so pay special attention to those comments.
  3. Ask Your Network: Consider posting a question on LinkedIn so your connections can weigh in. You might even consider posting it to an HR group on LinkedIn, as many are eager to share their experiences.


If you made it this far, congratulations are in order! You made a huge step forward in preparing yourself for the HRIS journey ahead.

Now it is time for you to hit the ground walking, not running. And remember to be balanced and keep a level head as you move forward, using the above tips as a guide.

Authored by: Dave Rietsema