With the possible exception of the HR function in The White House, no part of HR is moving and changing as swiftly as the HR tech market for SMEs. The breadth of choice is stunning, and can be intimidating. So, how do you navigate the new landscape?
My advice? Think strategically about exactly what to buy:
Decide what you’re shopping for
The first thing is to be clear on your business strategy, your requirements and what functionality you really need and want, and what will give you the best business return. Is it recruitment, learning or simply a good HR core administration or payroll tool?
Do your homework
Technical due diligence combined with client references should be your next step.
Check the fit
The third step is to ‘feel it’. There must be a strong cultural fit between your tech partner and your organisation. You need to choose a product that inspires your staff, and reinforces your brand and its values. It should feel simple and easy to engage with. In a nutshell, your employees need to like it! Or, ideally, love it.
It’s also important to consider who to buy from:
The big players
The market is expanding faster than ever before. Giant enterprise providers (such as Workday, SuccessFactors and Oracle) can scale down to 500 employee businesses, offering countless options to suit all sorts of needs and circumstances as they arise. But offerings from these vendors tend to carry a higher price tag, with a more complex implementation route.
There’s an emerging group of functionally-specific providers who are rapidly morphing into multifunctional global players. These are the likes of Cornerstone (learning), Peoplefluent (performance), and SDWorx (payroll). As you’d expect, they all bring deep knowledge of their original functionality, but are quickly moving to deliver a more comprehensive suite of HR tech services.
Multifunctional product platforms, mirroring Workday with their single code approach, have developed in specific sectors, making great names for themselves. Growing fast and attracting fans and investment, they’re also expanding out from their home industries to compete like-for-like with the big players. This group includes brand like SAGE People, formerly Fairsail (tech and professional services), Elementsuite (hospitality) and CoreHR (retail).
Finally, there are the new entrants. Market disrupters such as Charlie HR (free) and HiBob (low cost and graphically superb) are on a mission to win share at any cost, with fresh, transformative user experiences.
If you’re looking for a new HR platform, now’s the time. The pickings have never been richer, and there’ll undoubtedly be something out there to meet your needs.
Worried you’ll make the wrong choice? If you’re clear on your requirements and do your due diligence, you’ll make the right choice for the here and now. Remember – these are the days of SaaS (‘software as a service’) products. By all means, embrace your choice, and go into a deal with the goal of long-term commitment and growing with your partner. But be sure to sign three year deals with minimal notice periods, giving you wiggle room, peace of mind and power.
Build a contingency plan before you get going, and don’t lose hold of your data along the way.
If you do end up swapping to another provider, you’ll find it’s a much simpler task in today’s tech marketplace. And it’s growing simpler by the year.
That said, for stability’s sake, it’d be wise not to chop and change quite as regularly as a certain president hires and fires...
Aaron Alburey FCIPD, Member of the HR Guild, Father to the L, A, C, and E (Lauren, Alex, Caleb and Eve) in LACE Partners and bouldering enthusiast