HR Software > A Pretty Hate Machine

Dawn Burke HR, HR Tech, HR Technology, Web/Tech

Yes. HR software can be a Pretty Hate Machine. It’s soft on the eyes but heartless on the inside. Vetting HR software can make you feel like you are starting to “bow down before the one you serve” (including software sales reps, never ending future roadmaps, etc.). Trent Reznor just rolled his eyes at me.

The annual HR Technology Conference, lead by FOT’s own Steve Boese, is kicking off tomorrow. Which is timely for me since I am in the process of vetting out HR technology myself. My team’s HR software research, demo and vetting experience has been an adventure. Not quite like the Donner Party’s fateful cannibalistic adventure, but more like the adventures of Huck Finn. Lots of twists and turns down the Mississippi.

Here are some lessons and tips from my still ongoing adventure deciding what technology will work best for my company’s strategic needs.

  • Check out the slides from FOT’s Webinar, HR Buyer’s Remorse, located on this very website. I had my team attend this webinar and it gave them some great starting points.
  • Determine what problems your company needs solved. Do not look at ONE piece of software first. They all look pretty, but could be a hate-machine underneath. If they don’t fix what ails your company, it is a waste of time and money. This step is harder than you think.
  • Decide how serious a buyer you are and what your software “demo” expectations are. Are you just dabbling and want a quick sneak-peak or do you need to see the whole enchilada? There is a big difference in the two. Once you decide, let the first person you speak to know what you expect.
  • How quickly do you need a response? Frankly, I was shocked at how difficult it was to set up demos with some very reputable companies. In one instance, it took me almost 4 weeks. Most software websites hook you with a cool video, get you excited about the product, and then ask you to fill out an electronic request for a demo. Do not rely on a timely response based on this method of connection. There’s a 60/40 shot someone will connect with you within 24 hours. You may need to hit them up with a call, too.
  • Instant Chat was pretty cool. I was pleasantly impressed with companies that offered me the ability to instantly chat with a rep. It was effective.
  • Be wary if sales reps do not do an intake call. Sales reps must know your needs before they can consult you. If you are a serious buyer, this is an absolute must. If they don’t do an intake call, they are just actors reading a demo script. Of the 6 companies I considered serious contenders only half offered an intake call.
  • What if you get an actor reading a demo script? Call them on this BS. Ask them a) how they prepped for this call, b) how they dreamed up needs, c) what slides they customized and d) why they made the conscious choice to waste time.
  • Talk to an implementation person before you buy.  Some sales reps will tell you getting started is fairly simple (“as easy as flipping a switch”). It’s not. Just, no… it’s not. An expert in implementation will give you a more accurate timeline. Then add 4 weeks.  Repeat, then add 4 weeks. 
  • Ask about support services. Once you are launched, who will help you? Who will answer questions? Will the support be for administrators or all employees? Radio silence after they’ve gotten your money will be bad, bad, bad.
  • ASK ABOUT EMPLOYEE ADOPTION. Megan Bromely, head of employee experiences at Red Balloon stated, “Implement simple HR technology that is fun, useful and you can train people to use it in less than 5 minutes.” Truer words were never spoken. Check out Laurie Ruettimann’s piece on her here.
  • Ask if there will be any platform changes and when. Most importantly, will the platform switch involve extensive retraining or loss of current data. I’ve encountered the unfortunate reality of an unexpected platform switch including no transfer of current data. Frankly I’m mad as hell about it and hope you never go through this.

I hope this helps you in your HR software adventure and hope to see you at the HR Tech Conference.

Dawn Burke

Dawn Burke, founder/advisor for Dawn Burke HR, is an HR leader, speaker and writer specializing in new HR practices, engagement and workplace culture. Her HR/leadership career has spanned the last 20 years, most recently serving as VP of People for Birmingham, AL’s award-winning technology company, Daxko (And yes, Kris Dunn and Dawn are making Bham the HR capital of the world! Who knew?). You can also check her out at DawnHBurke.com and a variety of other interesting places. Google her, it’ll keep you posted on what she is up to.