In the world of HR, we now have lots of technology at our fingertips. Gone, for most, are the days of umpteen Excel spreadsheets and filing cabinets full of personnel data as far as the eye can see (although I’ll let you in on a little secret, one of our clients still has the filing cabinets!)  


Now we are using systems, which are making life a whole lot easier, but we find ourselves in a situation where the market is so flooded that when the CEO rubber stamps the order form to procure a HR system, do we really know what we need?  


As the amazing consultants we are at Streetwise HR, we need to be on top of what systems do, what we can make them do and how can we use this to make our lives (and our clients) easier.  


Join us as we look at the top 5 things that you should be looking for when considering which HR system to use in your business.  


1 – Price 

Of course, all business’ budgets are going to be different, and yes you can buy a ‘HR bolt-on’ from your payroll system provider which will be fine, but is it really making your life easier?  


We find there are three tiers, if you like, in terms of the price of a HR system. 


The first will be a basic system but will be truly HR authentic and have a great user experience, usually based on a price per employee, per month.  


The next will purport to do all sorts of things, ‘talk’ to other systems and send 1000 automations each day (which will flood inboxes so that no-one ever looks at them!), but then tends to be full of bugs and these range around the £2,000-6,000 per year cost 


The third are the big cheeses which will probably have lots of ‘whizzy’ functions that you may never use but they’re there just in case and can be upwards from £10-£20,000 per year.  


If it’s your first foray into system procurement I would urge you to stay at tier 1 for a starter, system data can always be extracted and uploaded to a different system in the future, but let’s not run before we can walk, eh? 



2 – Functionality 

Once we are settled on budget and know what sort of system we want we need to look at the functionality. So I would start by making a list of all the manual or non-efficient processes you currently do and would like to be taken over by the system. Then break these down into functions e.g. 

  • Holiday spreadsheet, calculations for starters/leaver/part-timers, authorising and recording – Holiday calculation and recording function 
  • Absence spreadsheet and reports, self-certification forms and return to work interviews – Absence recording and reporting 
  • Drafting contracts, sending out, receiving back and filing – Document creation, keeping and electronic signing. 

Once you have your list, most websites will tell you all about their functionality, so you can go through and see which hit the spot and which don’t have the core functions you are going to need.  



3 – Self-service ability 

For most of us, we are trying to empower managers and employees to take more ownership so that not everything people related becomes a fully HR job. So self-service is a great tool for this.  


Not many systems do not offer at least an element of this, which is great. We would urge you to really delve into the function thought, look at access levels and what this means, can you switch one part on and have another off, can an employee authorise holiday if needed but not be assigned a manager in the system, can employees self-serve from desktop and a phone app, and if so are there any restrictions on the app – for remote or site workers this could be a deal breaker.   



4 - Reports 

Systems are all about data, data, data, data…and whilst a system can do all sorts of reports as we know the data you get out is only as good as the data you put in.  


So, your first question needs to be around what data can be pulled into a report, how diverse can this data be entered into the system in order to make your data extraction as good as possible in terms of variety of data reported upon. Once you know everything about how data is inputted into a system then you will know what data can be reported upon and how this can add value to your HR service.  


Also, can you build reports yourself? Whilst there is always an abundance of auto-reports and pre-made reports, there’s always that bit of data not included that you just need for that one project or that one but of data you don’t want pulled through otherwise you’ll be amending in Excel for the rest of the afternoon, which then equals pointless system! Building your own reports, easily, quickly and when you need them is a godsend, don’t get caught in the ‘we can make them for you’ trap. By the time you’ve explained what you need and what you need it for and logged a request, then waited two weeks to be told you didn’t fill in one filed correctly so you have to start again the steam will be coming out your ears.  



5 – Customer service/support  

We cannot stress this enough, when you’ve got a system bug, or you need help with a workflow, you often need it yesterday. This is a live system, others can see it and you will be getting the brunt if anything displayed is incorrect or not working and believe me you will sell your soul (hey wait we’re in HR, haven’t we already done that!?) to get the system working again. Because here’s the thing, once you have the system, you rely on the system, and having a reliable and responsive support or help desk will help you a million times over.  


Hopefully, this short guide has helped you to think out your HR system needs, but if not please call us to talk through your requirements and your budget and we can help you with some options which will fit your business and your HR style.  

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