Plan Before You Shop: Setting Your Organization Up to Purchase the RIGHT System

March 30, 2021



Written by Carter Iseman


I have worked in the HR arena for my whole working career, and if there is one thing that I have learned, it is the value of an HCM system to an organization.  Not just any HCM system, though. The RIGHT HCM system.  And what is right will differ for every organization.  The good news, though, is that in today’s world of ample HCM technology options, finding an HCM system is not difficult.  The more challenging side to this is not making a hasty decision with no due diligence performed.  The result of a quick decision where you are left with the wrong system is frustration, lost time, and a lot of wasted money.

To make sure you are setting yourself up for success, you want to spend ample time upfront considering what you want your HCM system to do.  Consider things like what business processes will it touch?  How does your current technology work today? What future state requirements do you need to meet, and who should be involved in the planning and decision-making process? This extra time spent upfront will go a long way in giving you the best chance at making an informed decision later in the process when it’s time to select the RIGHT system.

HRchitect, nationally recognized experts in the field of HCM technology, can help see you through this long and twisty process.  We have developed a tried-and-true methodology that asks all the important questions upfront, thus making the system selection process much simpler in the end.  Keep reading for a closer look at the process steps which make up this unique and proven methodology.

First Step: Discovering Your System Needs

The Discovery phase in your HCM search is perhaps the most important phase. It encompasses the key questions that will help you determine where the pain points are in your current process and what you want your system to do in the desired future state.  By asking questions about current system usage and issues, HRchitect helps you create a list of functional and technical requirements which will be used during the shopping process.

Here are the key steps that HRchitect guides you through during the Discovery phase:

  • Helps you to determine the core team of people from your organization who will be needed to define the project scope, objectives, business goals, and desired timeline for project completion.
  • Documents your goals, objectives, and decision drivers in a project charter that ensures alignment among the project team, key stakeholders, and business area owners. Decision drivers are key to the process as they help clarify what criteria will be used to purchase the right application, ranked in order of importance.
  • Publishes a set of surveys to gather input from stakeholders and business area owners, which will help the HRchitect team to better understand what current systems are being used and which business areas/processes they support. Asking these questions will also highlight where the gaps are in both the current system(s) and process.  Data from the surveys is compiled into a set of functional business requirements for your future-state process and will be utilized in your Request for Proposal (RFP) package.
  • The HRchitect team follows this survey up with discussions on standard practices and trends to ensure you select an HCM system based on the unique needs of your business and your industry.
  • HRchitect will combine the functional requirements and service delivery needs for your future state processes into a document that aligns your needs with vendors in the current HCM marketplace. Of utmost value here is the opportunity to discuss key trends in HCM technology and pinpoint the type of system that will be the RIGHT system for your needs. The takeaway from this meeting is a list of recommendations for vendors you should consider when sending out your RFP.

Second Step: Evaluating Your Options and Selecting Your System

The Evaluation and Selection phase is where HRchitect utilizes the hard work you have done in Discovery to match your functional and technical requirements to the systems that best meet your needs.

Steps that HRchitect will lead you through in the Evaluation and Selection process are the following:

  • A final requirements document containing all critical future state requirements (also known as priority one requirements) will be built for you. Priority one requirements are those that you must have in your future state.
  • Technical requirements are also captured and documented.
  • An RFP is created with a request for the vendor to provide additional data, such as information about their company and a pricing quote for the purchase of the system, price per employee per month, implementation costs, and other miscellaneous costs that may exist. This will be used later in the process to compare overall costs between vendors and as a starting point for price negotiation once you have selected a finalist.
  • A demo script is developed that all vendors will be asked to follow. This script focuses specifically on your priority one functional requirements and instructs the vendor on the order you would like to see them presented. Providing a script helps HRchitect to level the playing field for all vendors, ensuring that demos are kept to an equal timeframe while also covering how the system will handle the priority requirements (as opposed to what the vendor wants you to see, which may or may not be in scope for you).
  • Once you have selected which vendors you would like to invite to demo, the RFP package is distributed for you with time allotted for the vendor to come back to HRchitect with questions before their designated demo day.
  • Before meeting with vendors, you should review their RFP responses closely to assess the ability of their systems to meet your requirements. The reality today is that no vendor will meet 100% of all requirements. It is likely that some of your requirements will not be satisfied, so what can the vendor/system do to close this gap? A good measure to aim for is 90% of your “must-haves,” and at least 80% of your “nice to haves” requirements being met by a system.
  • Ahead of demos, verify that key stakeholders and task owners will be able to be present for the part of the demo that covers their process area. HRchitect will provide a scoring matrix using the demo script as a baseline so that demo attendees can score each vendor on product fit (i.e., does the functionality demonstrated satisfy each requirement) and ease of use. These scores will be important once you are ready to select a system in that they help to objectively compare one system to the next in terms of overall fit.
  • After demos are completed, HRchitect will create a Vendor Fit Report that summarizes all the RFP responses from each vendor and the demonstration scores from each demo attendee. The heavy lifting you would have to do if completing the search process on your own is already done for you with side-by-side comparisons of each vendor provided in this report.
  • The final steps include selecting a preferred vendor and having HRchitect guide you in the contract review, identification of terms and conditions, and in the price negotiation process.

Finding an HCM system is easy, but finding the RIGHT HCM system takes time and careful planning to ensure a successful outcome. By engaging HRchitect in your needs assessment and shopping process, you will add a layer of assurance that you have made a thorough, thoughtful, and data-driven decision which will result in the RIGHT HCM system being selected to carry your organization into the future and beyond.

For more information on HRchitect’s secure system evaluation and selection process, please contact us or order a paperback or eBook copy of HRchitect’s Guide to HCM Technology: What you need to know before your next HCM technology purchase.

Carter Iseman joined HRchitect in 2021 and brings over 20 years of Human Resources expertise, with a focus on training, workforce, and organizational development. In addition to her consulting and project management experience, Carter brings a unique perspective to the strategy team having been the “customer” for many HCM and LMS implementations. Carter has orchestrated the strategic planning and process roll out for multiple LMS systems and enjoys guiding customers through the entire process, from the needs analysis phase straight through to implementation readiness.

Learn more about Carter here