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How to evaluate HR software at the Festival of Work

By 06/06/2019June 22nd, 2021HR Software
evaluate HR software at festival of work

For any business on the look-out for new HR software, the CIPD’s Festival of Work is undoubtedly the year’s most unmissable event.

Taking place at Olympia in London (12th-13th July), the exhibition will be full of leading HR technology suppliers showcasing their systems – giving you the ideal opportunity to try out different platforms and find the right software for you.

Just like any other shopping trip though, finding what you need will be much easier if you take a list…

By preparing a checklist of requirements in advance, you’ll be able to quickly identify which solutions best meet your needs – without wasting your day on platforms that don’t fit the bill, or being side-tracked by flashy new features you’d ultimately never use.

Of course, though, it’s not always easy to know what you need, what to ask or what to look for. So to give you a helping hand, we’ve put together our own thoughts on how best to evaluate HR software.

We hope it helps you get the very most of your Festival of Work experience – and we look forward to seeing you there at stand C100.

Five things to look for in your next HR software:

1. Ease of implementation

While it’s easy to be blown away by rich functionality and slick screenshots, the less glamorous side of HR software is every bit as important. Indeed, if you don’t take ease of implementation into the equation, you could end up investing in superb-looking software that takes years to get off the ground.

When you see a system you like, quiz suppliers on their approach to implementation. How easy is it to migrate your existing data to the new platform? How long would they expect implementation to take for a business of your size? How much of your own time resource will be required?

Ask also how will the supplier keep the project on track, and what support you will have during implementation. Ideally, your chosen provider will be able to give you full visibility of implementation progress right up until go-live.

Demonstrating the implementation phase of their software at the Festival of Work 2. Payroll integration

While most of the HR software on display at Festival of Work 2019 will talk about payroll integration in some form or another, this often means bolting your new HR platform onto your existing payroll system.

True payroll integration, however, means working entirely from one single system, not two joined together. It means working with a ‘single version of the truth’ – one accurate set of data that flows through your system in real time.

By running HR and payroll through one system, you can eliminate duplicate data entry and batch processing, reduce administration and bring together payroll and employee data for increased, accurate insights.

Speak to suppliers about their approach to ‘payroll integration’, and make sure they’re able to deliver these core benefits.

3. Commitment to compliance

Data security has always been important for HR departments, but never more so than in the age of GDPR. As you evaluate the HR software on show at Festival of Work, compliance should, therefore, be among your key criteria.

Look for suppliers who can demonstrate a clear commitment to data security – both in terms of their platform’s infrastructure and through features that will help you fulfil your own compliance challenges.

You may want to seek suppliers with independent security certifications (like the ISO27001 standard and PCI-DSS certification). Ask too where data is hosted (critical for compliance with GDPR), and how often back-ups are taken.

Exploring the data centre at the Festival of Work

4. Cloud / mobile capabilities

It almost goes without saying, but any HR software you invest in 2019 simply has to be cloud-based and mobile friendly. If you can’t operate your new HR system easily and efficiently on a tablet or smartphone, employees are highly unlikely to embrace it.

Not all cloud solutions are created equal though, so be sure to check exactly what a supplier means when they talk about their cloud platform.

Is the software automatically updated when new features are launched? Which browsers or mobile operating systems does the system support?

To get more technical, you can ask about scaling. Does the platform automatically scale according to system demand – or would multiple users slow the whole system down?

5. Post-launch support

As well as assessing the suitability of the software, you should also gauge what kind of service and support you can expect from the provider post-go-live.

Ultimately, the success of your system will depend on the level of user adoption, so you’ll want to partner with a provider who can help ease the learning curve for you and your employees.

Ask providers about their approach to training. Are their sessions included as part of the implementation price? Can training be delivered in a flexible way to suit you? And what other tools do they have in place to help you get the most out of the system?

When it comes to technical support, you’ll want to know how the contract works and what SLAs are in place, too.

Other things to consider…

The five factors above are just some of the myriad points you might want to cover with suppliers during your demos at the Festival of Work. Of course, you’ll also want to ask about pricing models and overall costs and learn about the flexibility of the system to ensure it can be tailored to the way you want to work.

But while you have the opportunity, don’t be afraid to probe the suppliers on their credentials as a business too. Who are their current customers? What testimonials can they provide? Why should you choose them ahead of the competition?

After all, if there’s one thing we can guarantee at Festival of Work, it’s that you won’t be short of choice!