How to get the best out of the HR Software Show

If you’re thinking about investing in HR software for the first time, or planning to upgrade from an existing system, the HR Software Show 2014 at Olympia (18th-19th June) is an essential date for your diary.

It’s a great opportunity to look at what’s available on the market and get best practice advice from vendors and industry experts.

The HRSS is free to attend – but it is an investment of your time, so it’s worth thinking carefully beforehand about what you want to get out of the day.

Here are our top five tips for having a productive and enjoyable time:

Beat the Queues

You can register on-line for fast track entry to the exhibition.  If you fill in the on-line form on the exhibition website ( you will receive your badge before the day and can get ahead of the crowd.  The old saying ‘the early bird catches the worm’ is definitely true when it comes to exhibitions.  Plan to get there when the doors open (9.30am on both days) you will be able to spend time talking to the exhibitors before the exhibition gets too busy. Some of the vendors are putting on free learning events, so you may want to bag your place for these early, unless you want to stand.

Do your homework

The HR software industry is going through a period of massive change. Older-style in-house and hosted HR applications are fast being replaced by more agile – and often more cost-effective – multi-tenanted Cloud-based solutions. However, since none of the vendors want to be seen to be peddling old technologies, it’s hard to tell which systems are based on old technologies, and which have invested in the new. Older solutions have their benefits. They have evolved over time so usually have a bigger footprint than the newer solutions, but will have a more limited shelf life, and often higher implementation and maintenance costs too. Industry analysts, like Naomi Bloom, provide useful check lists of what you should be looking out for and why.

Ask the right questions for your business

In a recent white paper, Mark Martin, an HR Director with over 25 years’ experience of implementing HR systems at major international companies, says that getting the right HR solution is about asking the right questions. He says that the secret of success is to start with the business needs, and buy a system that meets your core deliverables rather than starting with technology and seeing what it can do for you. Few of us would disagree with this, but it can be tempting to play it safe and pick a solution that does far more than you need – even if it’s going to cost you more and take longer to implement. With falling prices, shortening contract periods, and rapidly evolving products, that may not be the best approach for your business.

Identify what’s most important to your business, then put together a short questionnaire containing the key questions you want to ask. Pricing is always a good one to tackle at an event like this, as you can come away with a really good idea of not just the cost for the software, but of the “extras” too, like training, implementation, updates and data migration. Another one to look out for according to Mark Martin is usability. It is far more important than the capability of the system.

Plan your route

The exhibition brings together all the leading HR software suppliers under one roof – including of course Cezanne HR who you’ll find on stand H420.   You’ll get the opportunity to test drive some of the latest software and find out about the latest technology and how it can help you improve your HR processes and engage your staff. It can get very busy so if there are exhibitors you particularly want to talk to, it’s worth booking an appointment in advance. You can do this via the exhibition website

Attending the show isn’t just about meeting suppliers who want to sell you their wares.  It’s also a great opportunity to network with fellow HR practitioners and learn from their experiences – and maybe arrange to meet up with contacts you haven’t seen for a while.  You can get an idea of who’s going to be there and start networking in advance on Twitter and LinkedIn.  Follow @CIPD_events and use the hashtag #HRSS14 or join the CIPD events group on LinkedIn.

Be prepared

Bring a pad and pen, and take a big bag (for the armfuls of brochures you’ll end up with).  Wear comfortable shoes – it’s easy to be on your feet all day.

Coffee and lunch can get very busy and it isn’t always possible to sit down.  Not all the catering sites take cards so have a bit of cash with you just in case.  If it’s really heaving you might want to consider leaving the building – there’s a little coffee shop just opposite Olympia where you can escape the crowds.  Hopefully you won’t be needing a coat in June – but if you do decide to leave clothing or other items in the cloakroom, allow enough time to collect them at the end. There’s sometimes a queue at the close of the day and you don’t want to miss your train (yes, you are hearing the voice of experience here!)

Have a great day – and who knows I may come and sit next to you at coffee!


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