12 Tips for Purchasing HR Tech Wisely, Part 2

My previous post was devoted to the first six of my 12 HR tech-buying guidelines. In this post I share the remaining six … but not before I take a moment to marvel at the juggernaut the HR tech marketplace has become.

First of all, it’s ginormous: Bersin by Deloitte has estimated the HR technology marketplace to be $400 billion. The worldwide investment in developing new HR tech exceeded $1 billion in the first half of 2018 and could exceed $2 billion in 2019.

Our marketplace is also highly complex: Applicant tracking systems alone number in the hundreds, to say nothing of the burgeoning artificially intelligent HR and recruiting technology providers, talent suites, point solutions and other platforms. Machine learning, natural language processing, artificial intelligence — all of these will affect the processing speed, accuracy and decision making in HR far more than we’ve ever imagined. From the buyer’s perspective, the growing array of HRMS, recruiting, performance management, payroll, people analytics and other offerings is nothing short of mind-boggling.

Given the sheer number and complexity of our options, it’s no wonder buying HR technology can seem like a daunting experience. But I’m determined to make your experience as rewarding as possible! Which brings me to the rest of those buying guidelines I promised.

Get finance involved in your purchasing decisions.

Yes, it sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many times finance is overlooked or brought into the purchasing process as an afterthought. Finance eventually has to sign the technology contract and make the payments, no matter who your executive champion is, so it’s better to make an ally of the function as early in the buying process as possible.

You may want marketing involved too.

This helps to ensure that whatever you’re doing from an employment branding standpoint is aligned with your corporate marketing standards. Presenting a single seamless image in the marketplace is essential. Plus, marketing can be a tremendous asset when it comes to purchasing and deploying recruitment marketing solutions today.

Get everybody on the same page.

Regardless of who’s involved, it’s critical to get agreement and buy-in from everybody. There are a lot of HR solutions out there with amazing capabilities, features and functionality, but they’ve been stitched together in an endless number of ways. As a result, HR often fails to get a ubiquitous view of its data, which makes it very difficult to know if the right recruiting decisions are being made. This is exacerbated by teams not talking or working together. Don’t make these avoidable mistakes!

When reviewing and vetting HR and recruiting technologies, the free software demo account or sandbox environment isn’t always best for decision making.

One reason is that you and/or your team may not have ample time to play with the software, much less to understand the use cases and ultimate value for your talent acquisition efforts. In fact, you probably won’t have time to play in the sandbox. Instead, once you’ve decided on your short list of solution providers, you’ll want to ask for multiple software demonstrations — starting at a fairly high level and then drilling down to the details based on the metrics you want to improve.

If you have the time, always ask for guided demonstrations where you can still get your hands on the product. Give vendors a set of examples of what you’re trying to solve for and have them guide you through the process of how their tech will enable and empower your team. Have them configure their solutions based on the workflows you aspire to, what you want your recruiters doing daily, and your other top objectives. Vendors might be able to create a workshop setting for hands-on demonstrations with your entire team, walking you through several use cases, showing you what your team can accomplish.

Before you even get to the demonstrations, have tech vendors complete a request for information (RFI) or request for proposal (RFP).

If you’ve never used an RFI or RFP, you can find examples online. These documents are quite valuable for getting to questions and issues overlooked in demos. Within the RFI or RFP, you should:

  • Ask the right questions about data integrity and system security. If you have IT representation they will most certainly cover all of this, but there are things you should know as well. For example, where will your data be stored and retained? For cloud-based software, your data is most likely stored via Amazon Web Services or some similar data center service. Plus, most of your recruiting solutions today are going to have some level of data integrations to and from other recruiting and HR systems, so you’ll want to know the strategies and tactics for moving data between systems.
  • Ask about your system/solution “up-time” and when it will be down for software upgrades. This enables you to limit user disruption. Also, find out what redundant systems are backing up your data (in case of disaster).
  • Ask about security. How secure is the system or solution, and how does the vendor deal with potential hacking of sensitive candidate and employee data? How are login permissions set up, and who gets access to what? We’re seeing more coordinated attacks on business software today, especially those cloud-based SaaS platforms. Corporate cybersecurity efforts typically focus on stopping hackers who want to access proprietary information and/or customer data. While this is important to protect against, foreign intelligence services and other related coordinated attacks will need much more in the way of upgraded cybersecurity.
  • Ask whether the system or solution supports enterprise single sign-on (and whether you’ll be given this capability). In larger companies there are usually good processes in place to ensure that terminated individuals no longer have system access. If you’re one of these organizations, you would benefit from using HR and recruiting technology that has single sign-on simply because you can “turn off” a person off in one place and that’s it — they’re shut down everywhere. Small companies may not have this capability, in which case they’re probably vulnerable at a deeper level. Again, this is something your IT team should be able to help with.

When it comes to maintenance, you really need to have an HR technology administrator who is strategic and not just administrative.

This is a role that Sierra-Cedar believes will be increasingly important in the future. For smaller companies, this role doesn’t have to be a full-time job, and it could be an HR generalist (or a recruiting generalist or administrator in the case of recruiting technologies) to help with the ongoing maintenance. However, this person can’t be just anyone — it must be someone whose key performance indicators and objectives are related to HR and recruiting. Ideally, it should be part of this individual’s job description to make sure the system or solution is being used, maintained and updated — and that the organization is getting the results it needs.

Now that you have all 12 of my HR tech-buying guidelines, I’d love to hear about your purchasing and implementation experiences. Send me an email at kgrossman@tc2020.wpengine.com.

Happy tech hunting!