Founders tend to go through three stages as their companies grow. To get through the second, you'll need a founder whisperer.My marketing associate’s mouth hung agape as her eyes darted from side to side, desperately seeking an escape route. She had asked the founder and CEO--me--what she thought was a simple question about a draft of a marketing document. Unfortunately for her, I found a way to wax on about everything from code base branches to revenue recognition. This cringe-worthy moment was when I realized I was not a good manager.
Do me a favor. Stop for a moment and think, “How does HR learn how to do HR?” Or more specifically, how does the average HR practitioner figure out which software to purchase?
Outside of bad experiences and urban lore, it’s not like we learn how to select HR technology in college. Family is no help; they barely understand what we do for a living. Heck, even SHRM doesn’t put that much emphasis on vendor selection in its book of knowledge. And yet, every single day HR practitioners all over the world are out there buying and using this technology.
Wouldn’t it be swell if there were a process to follow that would help HR practitioners select the best HR tech software for their needs? Of course it would. And guess what? All you have to do is keep on reading.
Start the HR technology selection process by identifying your strongest need
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the ever-growing and expanding HR technology landscape — that’s a given. When it comes to tech vendor selection, sloppy and haphazard is the norm and, ultimately, what we want to avoid. Because, as is too often the case, selection failure is both predictable and just around the corner.
To combat this, start off by identifying the most significant need. Determine whether the technology in question is critical, important or not needed. To help decide, ask yourself, “If this was the only purchase I could make this year, would this be it?” The answer will help point you in the right direction.
Crowdsource reviews and opinions
From here, make a list of potential solutions and ask for input from other HR practitioners. Reach out to peers and former colleagues and see what technology they’re using. Put out a generic ask to like-minded people over social media. Contact organizations of similar size and scope and get their opinion on the tools you’re considering. Every HR leader in the world will take that call. Work that network.
Gather as many opinions as possible and apply that feedback to your initial list. Strive for ten vendors, even if it’s a stretch. As with most things in life, it’s better to have more options than not enough.
Establish parameters and ask questions
When scheduling vendor meetings, set the parameters. Your number one should be live software only, with a focus on what meets the critical needs. Live software is software that is live to all customers. Not features on a product roadmap. Not PowerPoint demos. Not slides from a beta. Because, in the end, vendor selection isn’t about signing a contract; it’s about finding the tech that does the job. Never look at anything other than live software – this is non-negotiable (unless you’re looking to turn into a guinea pig). We can’t stress this enough. Likewise, don’t skimp on the Q&A. Be consistent across vendors and pose knockout questions. Know that a good sales team may answer no to your requests or inquiries about half of the time; otherwise, they’re likely overpromising (only to underdeliver at a later date). Price should be the very last thing discussed.
Weigh strengths and weaknesses