With more and more leading companies such as Irish Aviation Authority making use of HR technology, to keep up in the dog-eat-dog world of business, you have to keep your HR processes up to date. However, in the fast-moving world of technology, human resources technology is constantly changing and developing, which can make choosing the right HR tech for your company seem particularly daunting.
But, finding the right technology, and making it work for your company, isn’t as difficult as you might think. This guide breaks down the key types and functions of HR technology, so that you can make an informed choice about what technology your business actually needs.
First Things First
There are two main types of HR technology – best-of-breed, which means it was designed for a single, specific purpose, and suite, designed to be used in multiple ways. Both of these types, however, have their downfalls. Suite products tend to be very effective in one core area, and not as strong in the others, but trying to combine lots of different best-of-breed products and make them work together can be a logistical nightmare.
A potential way around this is to use SaaS – software as a service, which is becoming an increasingly popular way to use HR technology. What this means is that the software stays on the developer’s server, or on the “cloud”, and you pay a license fee to “rent” the use of the software. Irish providers are up there with the best cloud-based services.
SaaS is designed to be user-friendly, and generally speaking, different types of SaaS technology work well together, meaning you can create a system that works for you, as opposed to buying a one-size-fits-all suite, because, as we all know, when it comes to business, one size definitely does not fit all.
That’s why it’s worth considering a customised system, such as Advance Systems, which can be tailored to suit your company’s specific needs.
Another thing you should bear in mind is that, in today’s world of smartphones, where pretty much everyone is glued to their device, if you want your employees to actually use the HR tech you choose, it has to be mobile friendly, so that it can be accessed anytime, anywhere.
What Can HR Tech Do For Me?
What can you get from HR technology? When there are thousands of existing technologies, all claiming to do different things, and to be “the best” at their thing, it can be difficult to know where to start. While no two products are exactly the same, all the current HR technologies can be broken down into manageable categories. A good place to start with choosing HR tech for your company is to decide which of the following functions your business needs:
Human Resource Information System (HRIS)
The digital version of old-school employee records, HRIS should be the basis of any HR tech system, regardless of company size.
Payroll, if you’ll pardon the pun, is something you just can’t afford to get wrong. Payroll errors cause a massive headache for you and could create real financial difficulties for your staff. Today, it’s rare to find even a small company that doesn’t use some form of payroll technology, because this is such an important aspect of running your business.
Talent acquisition technology includes an applicant tracking system (ATS) and can help you to keep track of many aspects of talent acquisition, including job postings and advertisements, applications, background and drug screening.
Offering employee benefits is a great way to motivate your staff and keep them loyal to you. Benefits technology can allow you to give all your employees access to your education, communication and enrolment benefits, from wherever they live or work.
This type of technology takes the guesswork out of compensating your employees, using data from millions of users and HR experts to work out the appropriate market/industry-specific compensation for your employees.
Human Resources Analytics/Metrics
This technology can help you make strategic business decisions, by allowing you to easily collect and analyse data about your company and your employees.
Learning Management Systems (LMS)
This type of technology can be particularly useful for companies who are training large numbers of employees at any given time. LMS allows you to use resources such as online/video training, on-demand learning and development tracking, allowing your employees to work through training at their own pace, and freeing up the time of people who would previously have been needed to deliver the same training over and over again.
Bringing new employees up to speed can be time consuming and repetitive, especially if your company is expanding rapidly. Onboarding technology is designed to make this process as quick and painless as possible, for both you and new employees.
Performance management technology automates the process of employee reviews and means that with consistent monitoring, employees receive continuous feedback. There is a growing interest in talent management in Ireland, and this is a great way to keep track of individual employees, as well as overall company performance so that jobs well done can be praised and rewarded, and potential performance issues can be caught early and dealt with accordingly.
Rewards and Recognition
Related to performance management, rewards and recognition technology can help you to recognise and reward strong employee performance more efficiently, by monitoring progress, allowing colleagues to recommend one another for rewards based on performance, and reminding supervisors to recognise and reward jobs well done.
This is the type of technology you need to find the best candidates for your organisation, and, once you’ve found them, to convince them that your company is the right fit for them. Some branches of tech within this category include candidate relationship management (CRM) technology, as well as employment branding and candidate experience technologies, and tech that allows you to delve deep into the internet on the hunt for new candidates.
This type of technology can be really useful for monitoring the progress and talents of individuals within your company, as well as giving you a clear picture of the human resources you have in your company at any given time. It allows you to see at a glance which employees might be next in line for a promotion, and which vacancies might be better filled from outside the organisation.
Health and Financial Wellness
This type of technology can have a dual function – it can be used by employees to better manage their personal health and family needs, and can also be used to help employers recognise when an employee might need additional support. If used effectively and sensitively this type of technology can help you to get the best out of your employees by ensuring they feel supported in both their personal and professional lives.
Now you know what you can get from HR technology, you need to decide which types of technology you need. The most important thing to consider is which of these technologies will actively benefit or improve your business?
While there will undoubtedly be exceptions to this, there are needs that differ between small, mid-size and enterprise-level businesses, which in turn affect the technologies that will be most useful to companies of different sizes. The category your business falls into in terms of size is certainly not the be-all-end-all in choosing the right HR tech, but it is a good place to start.
Small businesses, under 1000 employees
Being a small business doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t afford HR technology. There are technologies out there specifically designed for small businesses, at competitive price points. As a small business, you’re unlikely to need all the different functions discussed above, but the key technology types you may want to consider are HRIS, Payroll, and Talent Acquisition (ATS).
As a small business, a SaaS-based HRIS system is likely to make sense for you and should offer employee databases and records, functions for absence reporting, tracking benefits, onboarding, and HR reporting.
Payroll technology for small and mid-sized businesses has been around for a long time, and so is well developed. Bear in mind, however, that if you have less than 5000 employees, payroll technology might not be catered specifically to your needs, and using this technology might require you to make some changes to how you process your payroll.
With regards to ATS, as a small business, many vendors will actually let you use their base software for free! So, until you are hiring more than 50–100 new employees for a year, you probably won’t need to make a significant in ATS technology.
Mid-size businesses, 1000–5000 employees
As a mid-size business, the three key types of technology suggested for small businesses (HRIS, Payroll and Talent Acquisition) are also pretty essential for you, but as a bigger company, you may want to consider automating more of your HR processes. Consider investing in technology types including Benefits, HR Analysis, Onboarding, Performance Management, Rewards and Recognition, and Sourcing.
A word of caution – if you are purchasing new technology to replace aspects tech you’re currently using, as part of an “all-inclusive” package to gain additional functions, make sure the new tech will perform at least as well, if not better than your current system in the areas you already do well – otherwise, you risk improving one area at the expense of another.
Enterprise-level companies, over 5000 employees
As an enterprise-level company, the complexities of your organisation will likely mean you have less, rather than more choice than smaller companies when it comes to choosing your HR technologies. As well as the types of technology suggested for small and mid-size companies, you might find that you also want to invest in Compensation, LMS, Succession and Wellness technologies.
Because you are likely to need so many functions as an enterprise-level company, it might make sense for you to purchase a suite that covers everything. It’s worth being aware that, because these enterprise suites are so big and powerful, they don’t move and develop as quickly as the latest, cutting-edge technology. However, while you might not be using the latest technology, you will be using reliable software that has been tried and tested by millions of users, which is why this option tends to be popular with enterprise-level businesses.
Choosing your provider
Here are our top tips to bear in mind when choosing your provider:
- Shop around. Before you make any decisions, make sure you have tried and tested at least 10-20 different products. That way you’ll get a feel for what works, and what doesn’t, and be able to directly compare what you’d be getting for your money with each product.
- Do negotiate on price. Not all vendors will be able to reduce their price, but many are willing to negotiate, so it’s always worth asking. You might decide to call their bluff – say the technology is too expensive, and you just can’t afford to buy it. More often than not, they’ll come back to you with a lower price. Another thing you can do is make connections with other companies using the technology you’re interested in, both to find out about their experiences using it, and to find out how much they are paying, as this will give you leverage in negotiating your own price.
- Make sure to ask about hidden costs. You know the upfront cost, but there are often additional costs associated with implementation, such as needing to purchase additional storage space or associated software. Make sure you know the “full” cost of implementation before you sign anything.
- Ask your vendor for references. To get the full picture, ask for three different references:
- A current client who loves the technology, who the vendor believes is making the most of it – this is the person who should be able to tell you all the things you can do with the technology, and how it works at its best
- A client who has recently purchased the technology, to get their take on the implementation process
- A client who has left, to find out their reasons for leaving, and whether or not these are deal-breakers for you.
Remember, the HR technology that is best for your business ultimately comes down to what you need it to do. Regardless of the size of your business, take the time to consider each type of HR technology, and what it could do for your business.
Make a list of features that are essential, features that would be nice to have, and features you definitely aren’t interested in, so that when you get to the stage of dealing with vendors, you know what you’re looking for and won’t be pushed into buying tech that isn’t right for your company. You know your business, and you know what it needs, so do yourself justice by making the most of the available technology.