12 Tips for Purchasing HR Tech Wisely, Part 1

Company size and industry are the two biggest influences on the technology that HR buyers select for their companies, when they buy it, how they buy it and how often they replace it.

What’s different from company to company is the complexity of the workforce and the industry layers on the other side of that. Buying HR tech for a company with 50 hourly workers, for example, is a very different proposition from buying HR tech for a company with 50 contingent workers or 50 product managers. And the type and number of technologies your organization needs will evolve as your employee headcount grows.

But no matter what industry you’re in or how big your company is, there are a dozen HR tech purchasing guidelines that hold true. Here are the first six of them, with the next six to follow in part 2.

Don’t get caught up in what’s ‘hot.’

When it comes to technology, it’s easy to get enamored of what’s hot at the moment — like the latest recruiting AI technologies (which largely aren’t true AI technologies at all). That’s why it’s highly recommended that prior to making any decisions you understand:

  • What your business needs are.
  • What problems you’re trying to solve for.
  • Who should be involved in the process of evaluating and purchasing the technology.

Consider your organization’s growth plan, especially when you’re thinking about the type of technology provider you’re going to select.

The processes and recruiting technologies that worked well 12 months ago might no longer scale at the right pace if growth wasn’t accounted for properly. Your growth plan will help determine which providers can keep up with your needs and adapt their technology accordingly.

There’s a lot more to consider these days with regards to user interface (UI) and user experience (UX).

This is because technology in the past 10 years has driven an expectation that any device we use is powered by software built specifically to do stuff quickly and efficiently, like our smartphones. Many industry experts have called this the consumerization of software: We want what we want when we want it and no questions please. This affects how we do our jobs in HR and recruiting. But we have to look beyond just the lens of HR into how we interact with other technology in our daily life, particularly today’s on-demand technology that offers a greater user experience. If we don’t mimic the best of these interactions in HR, we will lose people. This is the digital age, after all.

In the early phase of identifying what your needs are and what problems you’re solving for, you should have an executive sponsor.

This could be your CEO or president if you’re a small company, or it could be your CFO, COO or CHRO — someone who’s a leader in the organization and who can get things done. But your executive sponsor cannot be a champion of some arbitrary or ambiguous business need. She/he must understand exactly what the organization needs in regards to technology (and why), as well as the metrics that will improve the organization in the next six, 12 and 18 months, and beyond.

Be sure someone owns the ‘problems’ you’re solving for and the potential solution (the technology in question), and is responsible for the metrics that will improve the organization.

This individual is not simply in charge of implementation. She/he is responsible for the change management and the adoption and the maintenance going forward — no easy task even for a larger organization. This has to be someone who is more systems oriented, and it’s not necessarily your CIO or the IT administration for the entire company. It could be one of them … or it could be an HR technologist if you have one on staff (maybe that’s you).

Your implementation process has to include HR and recruiting functional people as well as your IT people, especially when you’re dealing with data privacy and data security considerations.

That’s exactly what the Sierra-Cedar HR technology research shows, and most other HR and recruiting tech research firms concur. If you have only functional people for implementation, they just won’t have enough time to do the job, much less their day job. If you have only IT people implementing your technology, they most likely won’t understand the HR and recruiting side. So you definitely need all parties on board for implementation to go smoothly.

So, there they are — the first half of my 12 HR tech buying guidelines. I’ll share other half in my next post. Until then, happy tech hunting!