Five Questions to Ask HRIS Vendors Before You Buy

Finding the right HRIS partner can be a challenging and time-consuming process, especially when so many vendors can look similarly promising. But, understanding the right questions to ask throughout the process can help a savvy software buyer make better decisions. Here are 5 questions OutSail recommends asking:

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

Choosing the right HRIS vendor for your organization is a critical decision that requires careful consideration. With so many options on the market, it can be difficult to determine which product will best meet your needs and budget. To ensure you make an informed choice, there are five key questions you should ask potential vendors before signing any contracts. By taking the time to ask these questions, you’ll be able to compare different products and select the one that best meets your requirements in terms of features, scalability, cost, implementation timeline, and customer support.

Question 1: Can you tailor the system to our specific needs?

When considering an HRIS (Human Resource Information System) for your organization, it is important to determine whether the system can be tailored to meet your specific needs. Every organization has its unique requirements regarding HR processes and workflows, and finding a system that can accommodate these requirements is crucial for optimal efficiency and productivity.

To assess the customization options of an HRIS system, it is advisable to have a conversation with the vendor. Inquire about the flexibility of their system and whether it can be customized to align with your HR policies, organizational structure, and reporting requirements. Understanding the level of customization available will help you determine if the system can be tailored to suit your organization's unique needs.

A flexible and customizable HRIS system will allow you to configure workflows according to your specific processes. This means you can map out and automate your organization's HR processes within the system, ensuring consistency and streamlining operations. For example, if you have a specific approval process for leave requests or expense claims, a customizable HRIS system will allow you to configure the workflow to match your requirements.

User interface design is another aspect that may be customizable in an HRIS system. Personalizing the interface to reflect your organization's branding and design preferences can create a more cohesive and engaging user experience. This customization can also help with user adoption, as employees will find the system more familiar and visually appealing.

Furthermore, a customizable HRIS system should offer the flexibility to incorporate specific fields or modules relevant to your business. This means you can capture and track information unique to your organization's HR needs. Whether capturing additional employee data, implementing custom performance review forms, or integrating specific modules like recruitment or training, the ability to customize the system ensures it caters to your organization's specific requirements.

Question 2: What kind of customer support do you provide?

Excellent customer support is essential for successful HRIS implementation and long-term satisfaction. Inquire about the vendor's customer support services, including:

  1. Dedicated support team: Ask the vendor if they have a dedicated support team that assists customers with technical inquiries, troubleshooting, and system-related issues. Having a dedicated team ensures that you can reach out to experts who are knowledgeable about the HRIS system and can provide prompt assistance when needed.
  2. Response time: Inquire about the expected response time for customer support inquiries. It is essential to know how quickly you can expect a response when you reach out with questions or concerns. A vendor with a responsive customer support team will help minimize downtime and keep your HR processes running smoothly.
  3. Support channels: Ask about the available support channels provided by the vendor. Common support channels include phone, email, and live chat. Multiple options allow you to choose the most convenient method for contacting the support team based on your preferences or the urgency of the situation.
  4. Onboarding and training: Inquire about the vendor's onboarding and training process. Adequate training ensures your HR team can effectively utilize the HRIS system. Ask if the vendor provides comprehensive training materials, user guides, and online tutorials. Access to these resources will empower your team to learn the system at their own pace and refer back to them when needed.
  5. Ongoing training options: Whether the vendor offers ongoing training options is worth considering. HRIS systems often evolve and introduce new features and enhancements over time. Ongoing training sessions or webinars can help your HR team stay updated on these changes, enabling them to make the most of the system's capabilities and stay ahead of industry trends.

Remember, a vendor with robust customer support services demonstrates their commitment to ensuring customer satisfaction beyond the initial implementation phase. It is essential to have reliable support available throughout your usage of the HRIS system to address any issues or questions that may arise and maximize the system's benefits for your organization.

Question 3: How do you handle data security and compliance?

Data security and compliance are paramount regarding HRIS systems, as they handle sensitive employee information. Inquire about the vendor's security measures to protect your data from unauthorized access or breaches. Ask about encryption protocols, access controls, and security audits performed regularly.

Furthermore, discuss the vendor's compliance with relevant data protection and privacy regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Ensure the vendor's system adheres to industry standards and best practices to safeguard your data and protect your organization from legal and reputational risks.

Question 4: What are the integration capabilities of your system?

A crucial aspect of an HRIS system is its ability to integrate with other software applications used within your organization. Integration capabilities allow seamless data exchange between systems, eliminating manual data entry and reducing errors. Ask the vendor about their integration capabilities and whether they have pre-built integrations or application programming interfaces (APIs) for commonly used HR software, such as payroll or time and attendance systems.

Additionally, discuss the vendor's experience integrating their HRIS system with other third-party applications. Inquire about the ease of integration, potential limitations, and any additional costs associated with integration services. A vendor with robust integration capabilities will ensure your HRIS system works seamlessly within your existing software ecosystem.

Question 5: What is the total cost of ownership (TCO) of your system?

Understanding the total cost of ownership (TCO) is crucial to make an informed purchasing decision. The TCO includes the upfront cost of acquiring the HRIS system and ongoing expenses, such as maintenance, upgrades, and support fees. Inquire about the vendor's pricing structure, including licensing fees, implementation costs, and any additional charges for customization or integration.

Moreover, discuss the long-term costs associated with the HRIS system, such as annual maintenance fees, software upgrades, and potential future add-ons or modules. It is essential to have a clear understanding of the TCO to evaluate the financial feasibility and return on investment (ROI) of the HRIS system over its lifecycle.

Conclusion: Making the Most of Vendor Discussions

When considering the purchase of an HRIS system, thoroughly evaluating vendors is crucial to ensure the system meets your organization's unique needs. By asking the five questions above, you can gather essential information to make an informed decision. Tailoring the system to your specific needs, assessing the quality of customer support, addressing data security and compliance, understanding integration capabilities, and evaluating the total cost of ownership will enable you to choose an HRIS vendor that aligns with your organizational goals. Remember to consider these questions during vendor discussions to maximize the benefits of your HRIS implementation and set your organization on a path toward HR process excellence.

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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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