Three things I know to be constant these days: Change, my love for my family, and the fact that technology is a focal point of every employee benefits conversation: wellness, compliance, communication, cost management, etc.
When surveying technology systems for our HR needs, there are a few key fundamentals that separate the technologies that are leading the pack and those soon to fold.
Dynamism: If change is our only constant, then we need technologies that constantly change. Dynamism must be central to the foundation of the platform, meaning when the market place changes the system can adapt accordingly in a relevant manner.
The biggest example these days is the roll out of the new 1094 and 1095 ACA reporting forms. Only a few companies made claims early on that they would deliver automated reporting. Others hid behind statements of “delayed finalized reports.” Dynamic platforms adapt and will continue to adapt. If your current technology isn’t staying ahead of change in the market, then don’t be afraid to explore other options.
Scalability: The last thing an HR person wants to hear is “Oh congratulations, you’ve just hired your 200th employee… now you need to upgrade systems and pay double.” Scalability doesn’t punish you for particular milestones. A technology solution that is scalable grows with you, your workforce and your company.
Integration: How easy is it for the platform to integrate with other systems? Remember, integration is preferably a two way street, a conversation where information is passed back and forth. Some technologies won’t talk with other platforms. Some are open, allowing you to connect with other systems… even direct competitors. Also, when you think of integration think of the different platforms within one system.
Are the HR, Ben Admin and Payroll modules really one system or are they three separate platforms under one roof? The phrase “jack of all trades, master of none” also applies here.
Transparency: Price needs to be clear; not only the price for implementation but the price schedule moving forward. You need to know up front what to expect financially when you face the demands of dynamism and scalability. Depending on your business life cycle, negotiate particular terms to avoid unanticipated price hikes in the near future.
I hear too often from HR professionals who are frustrated with their technology systems. I think the task of reevaluating and surveying systems seems too daunting and the technology market place seems too confusing and competitive.
HR teams already wear too many hats. Remember the only thing not changing in HR is the need for strategic and motivated HR professionals. There is amazing opportunity to be that game changer in your company and in our industry. The real “HR Technology Game Changer” is you and who you bring to the table.
Below are a few questions to ask in relation to the four points above. Hopefully this gives you a starting point for a successful conversation with your technology vendor.
- What portion of your workforce is made up of programmers, sales staff, and support staff? This sheds light on how they will support you post-sale.
- How many feature updates were released in the last 12 months and how were the updates made? This will not only show you how quickly they adapt but the time on your end it will take to accommodate the updates.
- What portions of your technology are through acquisitions or partnerships? This speaks to the integration aspects.
- Can you create a three-year price plan/guarantee that takes into consideration our company growth goals? Do not settle for an ambiguous answer. Showcase your business acumen by focusing on long term cost control and budgeting.
Be the change.