“Decision Drivers” – The Rational and Benefits When Evaluating and Selecting Human Capital Management (HCM) Technology – Part 2

April 28, 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.

In the previous blog, we touched on how vital the use of Decision Drivers can be when selecting or replacing a system. So let’s dig a little deeper before we start defining some of the different decision drivers that HRchitect recommends.

HCM system selections have significantly increased in complexity over the last ten years due to the expanding scope of functionality covered by packaged software, the increased maturity of the industry, and the sheer number of vendors and solutions in the HCM market. Depending on the detail desired by the project team, the number of functional requirements alone can range from hundreds to thousands, and it is too easy for “requirements analysis paralysis” to bog down the selection process. Taking the decision drivers approach provides an effective means to more objectively and systematically conduct a selection process, as it allows the team to take a step back from hundreds of defined functional requirements and apply the “80/20” rule (e.g., spend 20% of effort to gather the most important 80% of the total set of requirements). It also promotes the Rule of Proportionality—spend the greatest amount of time defining and analyzing the most critical, differentiating requirements (of all types) rather than trying to capture every single functional requirement.

Decision drivers should be developed very early in the critical path of any HCM system selection project, generally during the Project Definition or Strategy Development phases. It is important to document decision drivers and priorities in writing, as it is a form of contract between the project team and the rest of the enterprise. Once documented, it is critical to get formal agreement on priority from the core project team, steering committee, and project sponsors or “champions.” Decision drivers, if defined early in the evaluation process, will yield a more rapid team consensus through all the evaluation steps, and their use greatly increases the chances of a unanimous purchase decision. It also provides the rigor of a formal methodology, as the software evaluation is not over until the project team has enough information to rank each decision driver for each vendor.

The decision drivers approach provides the following benefits:

  • A fact-based, objective process for HCM technology evaluation
  • Greater depth of fit with a broad scope of organizational requirements
  • Better user buy-in across all of the roles in the firm
  • Potential for increased product longevity due to depth of fit
  • A more complete realization of the project’s Return on Investment (ROI)

Depending on how a firm might break these decision drivers down, there are about 10-12 that should be utilized. In no particular order of importance, we will tackle several in our next few blogs and have categorized them as follows:

  • Vendor Viability and Interactions
  • Ease of Integration/Interoperability
  • Package User Experience
  • Package Configurability
  • Technology and Scalability
  • Service and Support
  • Global Capability
  • Cost/Return on Investment (ROI)
  • Functionality

Yes, it’s an extremely puzzling world out there and the selection of a new or replacement system may seem daunting. Many vendor offerings look alike, the vendor community is in a constant state of flux, and there is not a “one solution fits all”, despite what others may tell you. 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.