What you should know before choosing HR software

You have to find a way to improve your current approach to HR administration. Having thought it through, you’ve decided the best way for the business to achieve that goal is by implementing an HR software system. You’re keen to make progress quickly. Your first instinct is to immediately start looking at various HR software options available. But don’t – because there are some important steps you must take first.

The main driver for wanting to move to HR software will be clear. For example, your HR administration may be too time consuming and you need to make it simpler and quicker. But while that’s the major catalyst, a decision to move to HR software presents you with an opportunity to potentially solve other business issues too – and that means you need to define them.

Once they’re defined, you’re in a much better position to identify the right HR software for your business when you’re ready to start looking. It’ll make sure you get maximum value out of the software you ultimately opt for. It will also help you get key stakeholders on board. This is a critical part of any HR software implementation and you may need to get your company’s support in several different ways. You might have to build and present the business case for investing in the software to your manager or a company director. You’ll need to work closely with people who’ll be regular users of the future HR system and make sure they understand how it will benefit them. You must also explain why it’s a worthwhile change to employees and make sure they know how it will affect them.

What questions do you need to consider?

HR software has the potential to help your business in more ways than one so here are some of the questions you need to be asking to establish exactly what those ways could be.

How will it increase efficiency and accuracy?

HR administration can take up a lot of time and HR software offers a way to reduce this strain. It’s far easier to access information, keep it up to date and manage all other aspects of employee records.  Time isn’t wasted by having to manually search through files and spreadsheets to make changes or answer queries.

There’s always a substantial amount of information to be managed for employees and it’s very easy for inaccuracies to creep in. HR software can help you reduce errors in existing processes and can make it simpler to comply with employment law requirements relating to data management.

And if you’ve more than one site, HR software will help you achieve far greater consistency. Managers will benefit from a clear overview of issues across sites and won’t have to wait for a time consuming manual compilation to be done first.

How will it help reduce and manage risk?

HR software will allow you to run a host of reports that can help you quickly spot any developing trends or issues that need addressing such as patterns of absence.  You might have to keep track of expiry dates of licences, visa application renewal dates or qualification checks. Some HR software systems can be set to flag up when action must be taken. That makes life a lot easier than doing manual searches which are difficult to do accurately on an ongoing basis. That difficulty means it’s easy to overlook something which could have serious financial and operational consequences for your business.

Can it improve the engagement and empowerment of employees and managers?

More accessible information as well as more effective information sharing helps employees and managers feel engaged and empowered. Some HR software offers employees a self-service facility so they can manage their own data and remotely access information.  This can be a cultural shift for some organisations of course so you need to think carefully whether it’s something your company is ready for and could benefit from.

HR software provides analytics and reporting that will help support managers with their decision making. It can reduce frustrations about not being able to get hold of important information quickly as they can generate their own reports instead. The ability to easily share information means far better communication and fewer inconsistencies across the business.

How will it support strategic HR and business processes?

Aside from the immediate benefits from an administration perspective, the effective information reporting provided by HR software can free up HR professionals and line managers to concentrate on the truly important elements of processes. For example, some companies spend more time distributing and chasing overdue appraisal forms than they do on generating action based on the outcomes of the appraisals. That’s a huge opportunity lost. HR software shifts the emphasis away from the transactional management and towards getting the true value out of the process instead.

And if your business is going through growth, or if that’s part of your future strategy, you’ll need an HR administration process that can scale up. HR software is flexible enough to scale up quickly and suddenly if necessary.

While it’s impossible to provide an exhaustive list, once you’ve worked your way through these questions you’ll have a more detailed specification of what your business needs and a way of clearly articulating to others why your business needs it. And a final point. Once your software system is up and running, the time will come when you should evaluate its success. So don’t throw out those pre-implementation notes. Because they may well double up as a very convenient ready-made set of criteria too.