HR is at the start of a digital revolution. If you want evidence for this then you only need to look at the burgeoning levels of investment in HR technology in the last year or so.

Better still, walk around any of major HR exhibition and you will get a sense of the new ways HR technology will transform the core tasks of recruiting, engaging and managing the performance of our people. 

People and performance will always be at the core of HR but the future of the function is digital. For that reason, the ability to judge which the HR tech partner will be right for your organisation will be a critical skill for HR people at all levels. Here are six questions which I think are key to assessing any prospective supplier.

•    Are you really doing something in a new and better way?

It should go without saying that a product which is going to be transformative for your business should do something in a new a better way. One of the biggest complaints I hear from my HR contacts is being pitched platforms which are a like-for-like update of an existing HR solution on a digital platform and don’t anything new. Before any presentation or sales pitch challenge any prospective supplier to tell you what’s different about them and why they will help the HR team deliver better results.

•    Members of the IT crowd or do they have HR at heart?

One of the big benefits of HR technology is its ease of implementation and lower level of involvement you need from your IT team. As a result, it’s critical that you are confident any partner can work comfortably in an HR environment once the sales team have moved on and it’s time for implementation. So check: who will be working with you an ongoing basis and what kind of support do they provide in getting things up-and-running?

•    Can they work with a business like yours?

The best way to choose a partner who is the right fit is to ensure they know how to work with customers like you. Do they understand the unique needs of your business? Can they work with a business of your scale today and in the future? How many other businesses your size do they work with? And as well as asking what they can offer today, check what’s vision for working with you in the future, their commitment to innovation and the HR market as a whole?

•    Can you customise?

In improving employee experience, one of the key trends for organisations is to move away from a collection of generic, supplier-branded services. To do this, HR teams need products which they can customise to the unique needs of their own organisation. Establishing the level of customisation – from branding, setting up and managing user groups and then reporting – how much this costs and how they support you in the set-up and implementation is a critical factor in your supplier sifting.

•    What are the real costs of ownership?

Before you buy into the vision for what a potential partner can do for you, it’s important to find out how much it will all cost.

The cost of ownership might include a cost per employee. Where licences are at organisational level, find out the size thresholds where these change.

Check what contract lock-in there might be through minimum notice periods and how easy it is to exit from the agreement without incurring extra costs. Implementation costs can also add up, so be clear about how much and when these are paid.

•    Can you really trust this business with your data?

In working with any HR tech supplier you’re potentially trusting them with your highly sensitive data about your employees. An ISO certification is one benchmark for high security standards but it is critical to ask whether you can trust this business with your data.

Of course there will be more you need to ask any potential HR tech supplier but these questions should provide a useful starting point which will save you time in identifying the right partner for you.

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