HR Technology Strategy: The Questions before Implementation

I have written before about selection and implementation of HR technologies, yet it’s a topic that never gets old. There are so many aspects to cover about how to make a technology selection and then knowing what steps to take to have a successful implementation.   Today I want to share the questions to ask BEFORE you really get started.

Many times, the actual decision to either upgrade an existing HR solution or purchase a new one is based on empirical data.  It can be a decision born out of frustration with a system that no longer performs the functions the organization needs.  While this type of data is certainly an important bit of information to take into consideration, there are a variety of questions the HR leader or decision-making team need to consider before they even get to this point.

What are you trying to accomplish?

This should be the first consideration.  Are you trying to solve a current problem or are you looking to take the organization to a desired state?  The reason this is important is that I have seen far too many organizations start off thinking they were moving toward a desired state only to see them take a new solution and customize it to look and behave as closely to the outdated system they currently have.  I hope that your organization does not have the goal of recreating something that is already not working for you.  Taking this opportunity to look at your existing business processes and determine where you can streamline or make changes that will take the organization to the next level will be a good use of your pre-implementation time.

What is your budget and is it firm?

This may seem like an obvious question but in my experience, it’s very easy to end up spending far more than you bargained for.  Projects can run long and take more hours than you anticipate.  Be clear with your decision-making team what your budget is and if there is any “stretch” room built in.  It may mean that the organization is not ready to buy that solution you have your heart set on.  That’s ok because with so many options in the HR technology space, you may be able to find a smaller, less encompassing solution that can meet the main needs of the organization.

Who will lead the project?

This too seems like a no-brainer, but by having a designated lead for the implementation, you’ll be setting your organization up for success.  Beyond that, the team needs to be discussing how many people you can pull out of their current roles in order to dedicate all or a majority of their time to making this project work.  All too often, we task HR, operations and finance teams with continuing in their day-to-day roles while selecting and implementing a solution.  This is not the ideal state because you have so many competing priorities taking focus off the project at hand.  Consider how many people from your team you can afford to be pulled into the implementation and how much time per day/ week/month will be dedicated in order to implement on time.

What problems have other customers had and how were they handled?

It’s one thing to ask for references and another to actually get the real story on how the provider works with their clients.  The provider will have you talk with several happy clients.  That’s ok because you can still get to the information you need if you ask how the provider handles problems that arise. Be specific and ask the reference for an example of a time that things did not go well and have them detail exactly how the provider handled it.  In Brandon Hall Group’s recent HR Systems Survey, we asked respondents to share their satisfaction with their provider and whether or not they would recommend them; 44% said they would not provide a recommendation.


 Source: BHG HR Systems Benchmarking Survey, 2014

Once you’re comfortable with this aspect, you’ll feel more confident in moving forward with the selection. What other questions have you asked that were helpful in making a selection?  Be sure to let me know by contacting me.

Trish McFarlane, VP of Human Resource Practice and Principal Analyst,
Brandon Hall Group

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