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  • Michele Haugh

Your must-have, "insider"​ tips to help you look like a hero!

We know that as cumbersome as a technology change can be, sometimes companies outgrow their current solution and need to move on. There are no shortage of HRIS and payroll platforms out there, but finding the RIGHT one is not a slam dunk process by any stretch! Speaking from experience as both an in-house HR Director, and as a leader with an outsourced HRIS/Payroll provider, taking this leap is in some ways, similar to a marriage. Once the honeymoon is over, the goal is for a long and happy union. Bumps can be expected, but with some insider knowledge and a thorough process, this journey can be a positive one that nets results in both efficiency and an improved user experience. Here are some tips to help you look like a hero in this process.

Make sure you fully understand the service model. Not all vendor service models are created equal. Some tech or payroll platforms are just that; a platform with a “help desk” (which is code for, don’t hold your breath on getting a quick response). If you are ok with this approach and you are very tech or payroll savvy, you may be just fine, but if you prefer a more personal white-glove approach, make sure you ask if you will have a dedicated client service representative, how frequently you will communicate with them, and how quickly you should expect a call back when you are in crunch time, let's say for example....when you're up against a payroll deadline but are still getting error messages. Will someone take your call and walk you through this issue NOW, or do you have to wait anxiously for someone to answer an email through a mass ticketing system with no clear timeline for a response?

Beware of shiny objects. It has taken me years to become a more cynical buyer and to question shiny objects because, by nature, I really do love shiny objects. Sales engineers know that most people enjoy bells and whistles, so they focus their demos on the best features of their platform to excite you which can also serve as a distraction technique to pull focus away from areas that underperform. You can easily get “wowed” by the shiny objects, only to find there is absolutely no solution for administrative functions like getting your 401k changes to get uploaded, or integrating with E-Verify. Suddenly, you are faced with doing manual work and double data-entry.

Never, ever assume. I have seen companies learn this the hard way, and I mean HARD. When a particular feature is very popular with many vendors, it is often assumed the feature is present in ALL “modern” platforms. NEVER ASSUME. A new client we recently onboarded shared that they realized AFTER their last HR platform implementation, that uploading on-boarding documents was near impossible. They wrongly assumed this was a cut and dry feature available in all modern systems. Not the case in this situation. To add a new handbook or a compliance document, it had to be processed and uploaded by the vendor, often taking up to a week to be active. Because this system had some other “shiny objects,” the client assumed document uploading would be a breeze. It wasn’t. This was a major stumbling block because this company needed the flexibility of adding documents quickly and changing them as needed. Needless to say, we are working with this client to find them a solution that has better functionality around onboarding documents and capturing company document acknowledgments electronically.

Come prepared. Come to the demo with a prepared list of “must-haves” and better yet, send it to the sales engineer ahead of time so that they will be prepared to hit on all of your requirements. No payroll or HRIS system will ever “have it all” but better you know of shortcomings so that you can weigh out workarounds and pros and cons, BEFORE you sign on the dotted line. Prioritize numerically what is most important. Make a list of those items of importance and make sure you review the system functionality to confirm each process works as you expect it to!

Don’t be afraid to ask questions (and I mean a lot of questions!). You may feel like “this may be a dumb question”, but when you are looking at entrusting your payroll and HR operations to a vendor, no question is a dumb one. Ask about the average tenure of their staff, the experience level of their payroll provider (some are shockingly junior), how many clients they support on average (again, this can be shockingly high), what their typical SLA (service level agreement) is. If they can’t answer you with a guaranteed SLA, that should be a red flag. If they have not defined SLAs, it’s an indicator that accountability for client success is not taken seriously by their leadership.

One demo is never enough. Much earlier in my career, I proposed a change from our “big pond” payroll provider to a smaller boutique firm because I was frustrated with the anonymity of the service team and poor response times. At the time, my boss, the President of the company told me (HR Director) and our Controller “I hope you both know what you are doing”. No pressure, right? When all is said and done, this big decision will be a reflection of you and your choice. So take your time and request multiple demonstrations until all questions are answered so there are no surprises come implementation, and you will look like a hero for bringing a great solution to your organization.

Don’t go at it alone. Even if you may be the primary person using a platform, invite other trusted advisors into the demo and sales meetings. It is always beneficial to have additional viewpoints. As experienced as you are, you may forget to ask something critical, and including someone with a different vantage point may offer some fresh perspective.

Ask around. Technology is evolving so rapidly, and because there are so many vendors, it can be a dizzying prospect to choose a new one. That's why getting feedback from other companies with similar needs can be invaluable. Your benefits broker may also be a great resource. Don’t forget to ask about the service, response time, technology functionality, and how their implementation experience was.

My final thoughts and words of encouragement. This process is daunting, I know. I have been there many times to witness firsthand, both as a client and as a vendor. I wish I could say that there is one “perfect system”. There is not. Like any relationship, there is always give and take. But, as the buyer, YOU are in the driver’s seat and need to feel confident in making decisions on what features work for you (and likewise, what you are willing to forgo). If you find you would like some help from a team with some well-earned implementation battle scars, and an “insider’s perspective” with an objective viewpoint, let us know. We would love to talk to you about our extensive needs assessment and vendor evaluation process, and how we work with our clients to advocate for them to get the best possible solution. EarlyHR Solutions clients never pay for this guidance because our end goal is for our client partners to be extremely satisfied with whatever technology solution that they choose.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help, reach out directly on our website www.earlyhrsolutions/contact, or you can direct message our head of technology solutions, Janel Yessian at janel.yessian@earlyhrsolutions.com. Best of luck! Now go crush it!

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