HR Technology… Waste Not Want Not

William Tincup William Tincup

So, you’ve got managers who aren’t completing performance reviews of their staff in a timely fashion. Or maybe it’s new hires taking forever to complete their required paperwork.  Or perhaps you need something more robust to manage candidate pipelines. You’ve got 99 problems… and if a computer can compete on Jeopardy, surely there’s an HR technology solution to fix your organization’s human capital issues. And HR technology firms spend millions of dollars a year making us think there is a perfect piece of software out there that will solve our problems. Enter a vendor selection process. But our infatuation with HR tech selections is way too wasteful for my taste. Truth is… we’re all a bit caught up.

Colgate-aisle Typically, we hide behind the concept of selecting the right tool for the organization. Requirement gathering ensues. You issue an RFP.  What most HR technology firms would never admit publically though is that the “differences” between like applications is minimal.  The “difference” is made via marketing (spend and sophistication).  It’s like walking down the toothpaste aisle at your local Wal-Mart and feeling like you have tons of choices only to realize that two companies control the toothpaste market. But that marketing sure is effective. We’ve become so enamored by sexy products and suave sales people so you start acting like bass fish – throw you something flashy and you swim towards it. We’ve become trained to think that a gorgeous HR technology demo translates into real organizational value. But that sales guy whom you’ve become fond of? He’s gone when the deal gets signed. You know that right?

Maybe that makes you feel a little dirty. Or used. And for that, I apologize. But fear not, there’s an answer. If you are evaluating an HR technology purchase, all you have to do is focus on three things: respect, trust and love.

  • Respect. Give respect to HR technology providers and demand respect from them as well.  Only enter into relationships where true business partnerships can be forged.  No half-pregnant relationships and please don’t send them to negotiate with procurement… that’s not nice nor is it respectful.  Ask them how they make money AND be okay with the answer.   Respect is a two way street!
  • Trust. During the sales process ask for references… lots of references… like hundreds of references, not just two or three.  Avoid HR technology firms that can’t or won’t provide references.  You should want to talk with folks who are like you and that have made this purchasing decision.  Ask them point blank – would you purchase Vendor X again?  If so, why?  If not, why?  Ask references pointed questions – dig deep and learn as much as you can about Vendor X.  Trust your peers!
  • Love. Once the buying decision has been made… give your new partner some love, will you? Collaborate with your new shiny partner to navigate any and all change management issues.  Turns out – something is being displaced… it might be crappy old HR technology, but care enough to garner user acceptance and/or user adoption for your new purchase.  Work with your partner to create excitement and awareness for your new HR technology.  Note the emphasis on “work with”.  Love thy User!

Selection is important. You have to find the right solution and right fit –  it’s just not as important as you’ve been led to believe.  Think of it this way… what if you picked the right HR technology but, for whatever reason, the technology was not adopted by your organization.  Given that scenario, would your organization be better off?  No… not a chance.  Crappy HR technology that is used is better than non-crappy HR technology that isn’t.  Not even a fair fight.

So close your eyes and say this out loud… “It doesn’t matter what I pick, it matters what we use.” Repeat it again. Don’t you feel better? Let the healing begin…