“Decision Drivers” – Definitions, Part 1; Part 3 of 4

April 29, 2015

Written by:  Matt Lafata

HRchitect has been involved in approximately 2000 HR technology related projects for hundreds of companies of all sizes and industries across the world. We have gained tremendous insight (and continue to every single day) and feel an obligation to share our expertise, and our war stories, with you. After all, with 18 years in business behind us in working with many of today’s leading companies, we’ve gained a unique perspective on the very puzzling world of HR technology.

We’ve touched on how critical decision drivers are in selecting or replacing an HCM system. We’ve also talked about the rationale and benefits behind all of this. Now let’s define some of these decision drivers.

Vendor Viability & Interactions—the best software functionality in the world doesn’t help if the vendor is not around to support and enhance the application. Viability is usually an aggregate rating composed of the following elements: Financial status of company (such as funding, cash position, burn rate, profitability), market position, strength of product landscape/road map, vision, execution, and channels/partners. Potential metrics supporting the ranking may include client wins in recent quarters, number of customers, number of employees, or likelihood to be acquired. There is also a subjective analysis of the vendor’s culture and what kind of a partner they will be. In addition, the project team should take advantage of the company CFO and his/her staff’s expertise to help assess the financial health of the vendors being evaluated.

Ease of Integration/Interoperability—regardless of the scope or extent of the application under consideration, it will need to connect with other HR and enterprise systems. Even though there has been some general progress in building better integration frameworks and enabling technologies, most organizations still underestimate the cost and time needed to integrate these systems, which suggests that the criteria should be given a higher priority. The criteria rating should include an assessment of the application’s integration framework, Application Program Interfaces (APIs), and ease of integration with 3rd party applications. In addition, this category examines the extent to which the vendor has implemented services-oriented architecture (SOA) to enable/increase interoperability.

Package User Experience—the rapid emergence of easy-to-use social networking and commercial applications has increased the importance of this criterion for most organizations, especially those that have a higher percentage of younger workers that are “digital natives.” Overall user experience is usually determined by demo script hands-on scoring, results of any “sandbox” or “conference room pilot” usability testing, and reference feedback. How intuitive is the system? What is the number of clicks required to complete a transaction? How easy is it for end users to navigate through the system? Are the screens cluttered or clean? Can the application appearance be configured to reflect the client style guide? How much training per client role will be required?

For HR functional administrator roles, operational effectiveness is a key component of the user experience; this assesses the impact the vendor application will have on the staffing and running of the HR function(s) covered by the software. To what extent does the system impact staffing (either reducing headcount needed to administer the software, or reducing the need to add staff as the organization grows or adds more processes)? The best way to get an accurate assessment of operational effectiveness is via references of customers who have been using the vendor application for a while (more than a year) in order to avoid anomalous feedback based on inexperience with the new software and/or processes.

Package Configurability—This criteria addresses the ability of the software to make changes in application panels / pages, workflow, user-defined fields, and reporting without customization. How robust is the system administration “workbench” for end users, and how self-reliant can the client ultimately become from vendor resources? Prospects should assess the comprehensiveness of the configuration parameters for the system in order to determine how much of the system can be tailored to their requirements without impacting system upgrades.

A critical aspect of configurability is business segmentation, the degree to which the vendor’s software architecture can meet the prospect’s multi-company or multi-division requirements. A good example of this would be an organization where some regions require review and approval of performance appraisals by HR, while others require only manager and next level supervisor approval. Evaluation of business segmentation should focus on how easily process nuances are accommodated in the application, and how process differences are tracked and monitored within the system.

Overall package configurability is predominantly assessed in the Request for Proposal (RFP) /demo phases (ultimately by hands-on demonstration) and confirmed by reference calls. Data on business segmentation can also be gathered during the Request for Information (RFI) / RFP process, but whether or not the software truly passes muster in this area is generally revealed during vendor demos and follow-up discussions as a part of due diligence.

Confusing? Perhaps but if you follow the process (and those that we will present in the next blog), as well as utilizing HRchitect to assist, you’ll be in great shape. HRchitect’s Decision Drivers process will help ensure you get the best-fit system for your needs, the first time.

As always, please let us know how HRchitect can assist you to get maximum benefit that comes from automating your Human Capital Management functions.


Matt has over 20 years in the HR industry and has been with HRchitect since 2004. He currently serves as President and the firm’s principle HCM analyst. As one of the industry’s leading analysts on HCM Systems Vendors, Matt studies the marketplace and meets with vendors on a regular basis to stay on top of trends in this industry. Matt has moderated numerous HCM shootouts & panel discussions for vendors & HR organizations. He has also been a featured speaker on HCM solutions and workforce trends at various industry & vendor conferences.

As President & CEO, Matt oversees all aspects of HRchitect’s operations including client success, consulting operations, worldwide sales of HRchitect services, marketing, alliances, finance and corporate development. Matt enjoys working with the HRchitect team and the satisfaction he gets from watching our people grow personally and professionally within the organization, and the positive difference our consulting services make in our clients’ organizations.