5 Secret Ways to Vet HR Vendors

Unlock the key to successful HR vendor selection with our guide on '5 Secret Ways to Vet HR Vendors.' Discover insider tips and expert insights to ensure you choose the right partner for your business needs

Brett Ungashick
OutSail HRIS Advisor
July 4, 2023
user comparing HRIS systems

Any time an HR team is kicking off a search for a new solution - whether that’s something big like an HRIS, or something ancillary like a new wellness program - one of the biggest challenges is narrowing the field.

In the past decade, there’s been an explosion of new HR services and hundreds of companies have sprung up to offer those services.

The challenge is no longer finding someone who can fill your needs - it’s identifying the best two or three options from the immense pool of choices.

At OutSail, identifying the highest quality vendors in each space is something that we’re constantly doing for our HR partners. In doing so, we’ve learned a lot of research strategies that save us from meeting with vendors that aren’t worth the time. Below are a few of those strategies:

Start with G2 Crowd’s Categories

G2 Crowd is essentially Yelp for business software and services. If you’re in the market for a new solution, you can search the category -  “Benefits Admin”, “Time Management”, “Corporate Wellness” - and refine the rankings based on your company size.

I always recommend taking G2 Crowd’s rankings with a grain of salt. Just because one service is ranked 1st, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the best option for you. That being said, their rankings are generally accurate and can help you weed out low quality vendors from the start.

Now that you’ve identified the top 5 or 10 choices, it’s time to move onto the next step:

Get some more color by visiting LinkedIn

I actually recommend visiting a LinkedIn company page, before visiting a company’s website. Every company’s website is designed to get you to fill out their demo request form. Because of this, the information is kept intentionally vague. However, I’ve found that visiting a company’s LinkedIn page will get you more straightforward information.

Pay special attention to a few things on a company’s LinkedIn page. The first is the employee size. If a company is extremely large, you’ll want to make a note to ask about their customer support standards. If a company is extremely small, you’ll want to dig in on their functionality and integrations. Additionally, the growth trajectory can be an important indicator of how much success the company is having. If it’s up and to the right, they might be doing something right!

At this point, you should be able to weed a few options out. But don’t be afraid to add a few new ones by using the LinkedIn “People Also Viewed” panel on the right side.

Cross check startups in Crunchbase

Going with a startup can seem like a risky choice, but oftentimes the rewards can be tremendous. Startups come about because their founders have identified new ways to solve problems that the older, established vendors have ignored. Additionally, many startups will go above and beyond to support their early clients, including rolling out new features based on your feedback.

To avoid the downside of going with the wrong startup (one without funding or direction), it’s really helpful to visit Crunchbase and make sure the company you’re looking at has received funding at regular intervals (every two years or so) in increasing amounts. This means that investors believe in this product, and it’s probably safe for you too do so, as well.

Use a vendor you trust to help you vet

Who is more plugged into the quality of software vendors than software vendors, themselves? One way to identify top vendors is by visiting the website of a vendor that you trust and seeing who they’ve formed partnerships with.

For example, we can all agree that Greenhouse is a top-notch ATS. So if you want to see what other vendors, Greenhouse thinks are top-notch, go to their partnership page and browse around. Do this with a couple vendors you trust and, all of a sudden, you’ll see the same options rising to the top.

Take the blink test

Malcolm Gladwell wrote a famous book, called Blink, that showed how powerful our subconscious brain is at distinguishing the wheat from the chaff. We all spend hours a day online, and without noticing it, our brains have all gotten very good at identifying junk websites from quality ones.

Go to the websites of some vendors that you’re considering and see if they pass the blink test. In the blink of an eye, do you feel you more excited about learning about their product, or less excited? Does it seem like this company cares about their appearance? About attracting new clients? If not, maybe you should trust your gut and keep moving on.

How can I identify my organization's needs and priorities when considering a new HCM system?

Start by internally assessing your requirements rather than relying solely on vendor input. Utilize resources like OutSail's RFP building services or follow step-by-step guides to define your priorities and desired features.

How do I select the right vendors to evaluate from the vast number of options available?

Narrow down your choices by leveraging OutSail's shortlist reports, which provide detailed comparisons of vendors based on factors like size, ease of use, pricing, and integration capabilities. Avoid information bias by seeking guidance from professionals rather than relying solely on reviews or vendor websites.

What questions should I ask during vendor evaluations to ensure I make an informed decision?

Use OutSail's demo guides, which contain a curated list of questions to ask during vendor demos. These guides help you remain proactive and discerning during evaluations, ensuring that you uncover both strengths and weaknesses of each vendor's offering.

How can I secure budget approval and buy-in from key stakeholders within my organization?

Utilize OutSail's business case template, which provides a structured approach to building a compelling case for investing in a new HCM system. Focus on communicating high-level outcomes and anticipated benefits, backed by data and tailored to your audience's preferences.

What strategies can I employ to negotiate a favorable deal with the chosen vendor?

Refer to OutSail's negotiation guide tailored for purchasing new HCM systems. Understand your organization's goals, assess your leverage with the vendor, and seek assistance from professionals to ensure you negotiate terms that align with your objectives and maximize value.

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Meet the Author

Brett Ungashick
OutSail HRIS Advisor
Brett Ungashick, the friendly face behind OutSail, started his career at LinkedIn, selling HR software. This experience sparked an idea, leading him to create OutSail in 2018. Based in Denver, OutSail simplifies the HR software selection process, and Brett's hands-on approach has already helped over 1,000 companies, including SalesLoft, Hudl and DoorDash. He's a go-to guy for all things HR Tech, supporting companies in every industry and across 20+ countries. When he's not demystifying HR tech, you'll find Brett enjoying a round of golf or skiing down Colorado's slopes, always happy to chat about work or play.

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