Annual Planning for Your HR Tech Stack: A Strategic Approach

Strategize your HR tech stack with our annual planning guide. Assess tools, identify gaps, budget wisely, and align with business goals for success

Brett Ungashick
OutSail HRIS Advisor
November 8, 2023
Collage of HR technology interfaces and analytics charts

The HR tech stack is the backbone of any modern HR department. It's a collection of software, tools, and technologies that help manage HR functions efficiently. From payroll systems to recruitment software and employee engagement tools, your tech stack plays a vital role in the daily operations of your HR department.

The need for annual planning in this domain is evident. As businesses evolve, so do their HR requirements. What was effective last year might not be as efficient this year. Thus, the HR tech stack must evolve and adapt to meet the changing needs of your organization.

But what exactly does this annual planning entail, and why is it so crucial? Let's dive in.

Assessment of Current Tools

Before embarking on any changes, it's vital to take stock of your current HR tech stack. What tools are you using, and how effectively are they meeting your HR goals? Here's a step-by-step guide on how to assess your existing tools:

1. Gather User Feedback

Start by collecting feedback from the end-users of these tools. Your HR team and other employees who interact with these systems daily can provide valuable insights. Are there features that they find cumbersome or unnecessary? Are there any recurring issues that need addressing?

2. Analyze Usage Metrics

Most HR tech tools offer analytics and reporting features. Take advantage of these to understand how often and effectively your team uses them. This data can highlight underutilized features and areas for improvement.

3. Review Vendor Performance

Evaluate your vendor relationships. Are they responsive to your needs? Do they provide adequate support and updates? Are they evolving their product to keep up with industry trends? Your vendors should be your partners in success, not just providers.

4. Identify Overlapping Features

Sometimes, you may find that multiple tools in your stack offer similar features. This redundancy not only wastes resources but can also lead to confusion among your HR team. Identifying and eliminating such overlaps can streamline your operations.

5. Ensure Compliance

Regulations in the HR industry are continually changing. Ensure that your tools are up-to-date with the latest compliance requirements. Non-compliance can lead to legal issues and fines.

Once you have a comprehensive understanding of your current HR tech stack, you can move on to identifying gaps and needs.

Identifying Gaps and Needs

Identifying gaps in your HR tech stack is an essential part of the annual planning process. These gaps represent areas where your current tools fail to meet your HR objectives. Here's how you can go about it:

1. Employee Feedback

Reach out to your employees to understand their needs and expectations. They can provide insights into what's missing or what could be improved in your HR tech stack to make their work lives easier and more productive.

2. Benchmarking

Compare your tech stack with industry standards. Are there any new emerging trends or technologies that could significantly improve your HR processes? This could be in employee onboarding, performance management, or data analytics.

3. Consider Future Growth

Think about your company's growth trajectory. Will your current tools support your HR needs as your organization expands? Ensuring scalability is crucial to avoid bottlenecks in the future.

4. Integration Possibilities

Assess the compatibility of your current tools. Are they easily integrated with each other, or do they create silos of information? A seamless flow of data between different HR functions is essential for efficiency.

5. Automation Opportunities

HR processes often involve repetitive, time-consuming tasks. Identify areas where automation can improve efficiency and reduce the burden on your HR team.

Once you've identified the gaps and needs, it's time to allocate the budget effectively for new acquisitions and upgrades.


Budgeting for your HR tech stack is a critical part of the annual planning process. It involves determining how much you can invest in acquiring new tools, upgrading existing ones, and maintaining your tech infrastructure. Here are some steps to help you allocate your budget wisely:

1. Prioritize Needs

Not all gaps in your HR tech stack are equally urgent. Prioritize based on their impact on your HR objectives and employee satisfaction. Some improvements may be more critical than others.

2. Consider ROI

Evaluate the potential return on investment (ROI) for each planned tech acquisition or upgrade. Will the benefits of efficiency, time savings, or improved HR processes outweigh the costs? Use ROI calculations to justify your budget allocation.

3. Vendor Negotiation

Don't forget to negotiate with your vendors. They might be willing to provide discounts or flexible payment plans, especially if you're a long-term customer. Make the most of your budget by seeking value-added deals.

4. Maintenance Costs

Remember that technology isn't just a one-time purchase. Consider the ongoing maintenance costs for your tech stack. This includes software updates, support, and any subscription fees.

5. Future-Proofing

Set aside a portion of your budget for unexpected developments. New compliance regulations or sudden changes in your business environment may require adjustments in your tech stack.

Effective budget allocation ensures you're maximizing your resources and aligning your HR tech stack with your broader business goals.

Aligning with Business Goals

To make your HR tech stack truly strategic, it must align with your company's broader objectives. Here's how you can ensure that your tech acquisitions are in sync with your business goals:

1. Collaborate with Other Departments

Your HR tech stack doesn't operate in isolation. It should complement the tools used by other departments, such as finance, marketing, and operations. Collaborate with these teams to identify synergies and opportunities for integration.

2. Executive Buy-In

To ensure that your HR tech stack aligns with business goals, you need buy-in from your executive team. Clearly communicate how these tech investments will contribute to the company's success and provide data to support your claims.

3. Regular Reviews

Annual planning shouldn't be a one-time event. Regularly review your tech stack to ensure it's aligned with your business goals. Adjust as needed to keep your HR department at the forefront of industry trends.

4. Employee Training

Invest in training programs to ensure that your employees can effectively use the new tools. A well-trained team can maximize the benefits of your HR tech stack.

5. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Define KPIs that measure the impact of your tech stack on your business goals. Use these metrics to track the performance and ROI of your HR tech stack.


Strategic annual planning for your HR tech stack is not just a one-time exercise; it's an ongoing process that ensures your HR department remains efficient, compliant, and aligned with your company's objectives. By assessing your current tools, identifying gaps, allocating your budget wisely, and aligning with business goals, you set the stage for a successful HR tech stack that empowers your workforce and drives your organization forward.

Embrace this strategic approach, and your HR tech stack will catalyze lasting success in the ever-evolving world of human resources.

What is the HR tech stack, and why is annual planning crucial for it?

The HR tech stack comprises software, tools, and technologies essential for managing HR functions efficiently. Annual planning is crucial to ensure it evolves to meet changing organizational needs.

How can organizations assess their current HR tech stack effectively?

Organizations can assess their current HR tech stack by gathering user feedback, analyzing usage metrics, reviewing vendor performance, identifying overlapping features, and ensuring compliance with regulations.

What are the key steps in identifying gaps and needs in the HR tech stack?

Identifying gaps involves collecting employee feedback, benchmarking against industry standards, considering future growth, assessing integration possibilities, and identifying automation opportunities.

How can organizations budget effectively for their HR tech stack?

Effective budgeting involves prioritizing needs, considering ROI for tech acquisitions, negotiating with vendors, accounting for maintenance costs, and setting aside funds for future-proofing.

How can organizations ensure alignment between their HR tech stack and business goals?

Alignment with business goals requires collaboration with other departments, securing executive buy-in, conducting regular reviews, investing in employee training, and defining KPIs to measure impact.

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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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