The HR software market is a crowded and confusing one. If you haven’t looked at it for some time, you’ll find there have been significant changes to both what’s on offer and how it’s delivered.

The key driver behind the growth of the HRIS market has been the changing remit of HR. HR is now a key strategic partner to a business, taking the lead in all the good stuff that goes on; such as employee engagement, candidate attraction and retention, wellbeing and career development… not to mention all the day-to-day admin and reporting needed for effective workforce management!

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However, the problem with that broader, more strategic remit is that delivering on all those critical duties can’t be done with just pens, paper, spreadsheets and disjointed software solutions. The modern HR department must have smart, flexible HR software that not only frees them from repetitive administrative tasks but supports their strategic objectives, too – no easy task!

With that in mind, evaluating and choosing an HR software platform can feel like a daunting prospect. So, if you’ve not been keeping a keen eye on the HR software market, what are the questions you should ask to ensure a new HR software system delivers what you need and provides best value for money?

Read on to find out!

1. Will it help you reach your strategic goals?

Great HR software solutions are much, much more than just a means for employees to book holidays, or a place to keep employee records. A truly valuable HRIS platform will effortlessly help HR by automating administrative duties such as holiday bookings and logging absences, but also support a company’s more strategic initiatives, too.

For example, HRIS platforms that include integrated career and succession planning software – such as Cezanne HR – can help to manage the vital ‘intelligence’ needed to guide strategic HR decision making. and make better use of the expertise you already have.

In addition, think about how any HR system you choose can help provide vital early warning signs of workforce issues that could negatively impact your organisation’s key objectives. The best HR systems will have the means to track employee sentiment and engagement throughout the year, meaning HR and line managers can act early to find out what is causing a lack of engagement and take appropriate, intelligent action.

2. Will it support your brand and culture?

Maintaining and improving staff engagement should be a top priority for any HR team – especially during economic downturns and tough trading conditions.

A strong and successful brand identity should permeate through every customer and employee touchpoint – and this includes your HR software. So, think about whether the HR system you choose includes vital functionality such as fully configurable dashboards, editable colour schemes, custom terminologies / fields, and even the option to re-name it. This way, you’ll give your employees a much more personalised experience, and one that reflects well on your own company brand as well.

Alongside supporting your brand, also consider how an HR system can better strengthen the culture of your business. It can do this by having functionality such as anywhere access (via dedicated mobile apps), customisable newsfeeds, shared workspaces and even the option for employees to celebrate and recognise the hard work of their colleagues.

For example, Cezanne HR’s People Management software includes peer-to-peer recognition. It makes it easy for employees to thank each other for their support, or simply acknowledge a job well done. HR systems that support peer-to-peer recognition like this can act as the foundations for positive company culture and, if nurtured correctly, lead to better levels of engagement, productivity and motivation across a business.

3. Will it grow with you?

When a workforce grows, its HR system must do the same. The last thing you’ll want to be doing is asking your key decision makers for more money to modify your new HR system to reflect changes in your workforce – or the process you have in place to support them. When looking at HR software options, consider how they will scale and flex to your future needs – not just today’s priorities.

Ideally, your choice in HR software should allow you to add or remove departments, business groups, companies, countries, security roles, etc., whenever you want, and crucially, without involving the vendor or incurring additional costs.

In addition, it’s essential to choose an HRIS platform that can expand to cover the entire employee lifecycle. Of course, you may not need all the features that a comprehensive HR platform offers to begin with; but, once you’ve successfully digitised your highest priority HR processes, you’re likely to want to tackle the others as well.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you should pay for all the features you think you might need in the future upfront. That’s unlikely to go down well with the finance team. However, modular systems like Cezanne HR mean you only pay for the software you really need at the time you need it. We’ve learnt that many of our customers start with the core HR people and absence management modules, and then add others, such as Performance, Recruitment or Onboarding, later down the line.

4. Are there regular updates to future-proof the system?

Along with having a system that grows with you, you should also ensure that any HR platform you choose is future-proofed against becoming obsolete. This is where you should check if regular system updates are offered, how they’re implemented, and whether they’re free to all clients.

Ideally, any updates or enhancements should be applied at low usage times during the weekend, so they’re ready for you to use on the Monday morning – just like Cezanne HR’s! It should be noted though, that even in 2023, not everyone has reached that stage yet – so it’s important to learn if any system updates will result in downtime. If system downtime is required while a new feature is installed and configured, or a bug fixed, how much will that impact your day-to-day HR processes?

The Cezanne HR software has regular free system updates and customer-driven enhancements that ensure it continually grows with the demands our clients. It also has open API and sophisticated configuration tools, alongside the global capabilities that some other solutions struggle with. As a result, customers always have a scalable and future-proofed system that can be implemented in virtually any location – meaning they never have to invest in a ‘new’ platform ever again.

5. Can it be used from anywhere, from any device?

Today’s employees expect to be able to connect to their work applications as easily at home or on the move as they do from their work PC. As simple as that sounds, the reality is that many systems haven’t made the leap to embrace either native mobile apps, or the kind of responsive design that makes HR software workable and enjoyable across devices of all shapes and sizes.

Take the Cezanne HR solution, for example. From requesting time away from work to completing timesheets, the dedicated mobile apps for iOS and Android provide a simpler, more immediate interface employees appreciate. In addition, line managers can approve and decline requests from their phones, information is automatically updated, and everyone has a better HR experience.

If involving your workforce in updating their own information is important, check how well your vendors support the devices they prefer before you commit.

6. Will it help make sense of our HR data?

Last, but by no means least, big data plays a huge part in HR operations – especially when it comes to implementing successful workforce strategies, and managing issues such as unplanned absences, staff churn and productivity.

Luckily, with the right analytical tools, your organisation can easily identify patterns in your workforce data, and then investigate the underlying data from different angles in an easy and intuitive way. When you can readily visualise patterns and trends, you can start asking the questions needed to understand why the patterns and trends exist.

It makes sense then, to ask how your potential software option can help you achieve exactly that. In addition, consider if the analytical tools available with the software will help you to create reports that are not only data-intensive and accurate, but also visually engaging – making it much easier for your HR teams to present data that’s simpler to understand, and creates real impact.

Getting clear about the answers to these six questions will help ensure you opt for an HR software solution that meets your needs. Any supplier worth their salt will also be happy to run demos for you and to put you in touch with existing clients who can talk about how the system works for them.

To learn more about how you can select the right HR software system for your business, why not check out our HR software buyer’s guide? Just follow this link to get your free copy.

Paul Bauer author image

Paul Bauer

Paul Bauer is the Head of Content at Cezanne HR. Based in the Utopia of Milton Keynes (his words, not ours!) he’s worked within the employee benefits, engagement and HR sectors for over four years. He's also earned multiple industry awards for his work - including a coveted Roses Creative Award.