After having worked on both the client and vendor side of numerous projects, I’m keen to share some experiences that I have encountered during those projects by not being engaged as part of the vendor selection process. Having to select the right vendor who will work with you and your team to implement your system is imperative for the success of the project and the investment you are about to make. To ensure you have the right implementation partner on this journey with you, here are some tips that I believe need to be kept in mind whilst selecting your vendor.
1. Thoroughly interview potential vendors based on your business requirements.
So, you have a need for a vendor for your new HRIS/ERP project. You advertise your request out in the market, once completed proposals has been received from potential vendors, it’s time to select a few vendors and organise meetings with them. This is the time for you and your team to get to know the potential vendors and obtain all the information that you need in order to make your selection. Some of the questions that you could ask are:
- Has the vendor implemented a HRIS/ERP system before?
- How long have they been in the HR/Payroll business for?
- How many resources will be allocated to this project?
- Will those resources be onsite or offshore? Most vendors these days have their technical resources based offshore so you will need to know this information.
- Will they have functional leads based onshore so your team can engage with them effectively?
- Will the vendor’s project manager be based onsite or offsite?
- How often will they visit the client weekly/fortnightly?
The meeting will also allow you to discuss the “why” you’re implementing a new system which will subsequently allow the vendor to get some context about your project. To ensure the meeting is effective, have the key stakeholders in the room that will be making the decision on which vendor to select.
2. Have a comprehensive list of requirements prepared for the vendor
This is where you (as the client) need to be explicit with the potential vendor in terms of what you want out of the new system. You should consider what some of the day to day challenges currently being faced with the existing system are, what problems will the new system solve and what efficiencies you are expecting from the new system.
There needs to be a significant return on investment if you are going to be implementing a new, expensive system. The vendor needs to show you some efficiencies during their system demonstration.
Having a list of requirements prepared beforehand will help the vendor understand what you want. This will also assist them to understand the features/functionalities in the system they will be demonstrating to you.
3. Always request a system demonstration based on your requirements
A system demonstration is critical for you to understand if the vendor has understood your needs as the client. It will also allow you to gauge how confident the vendor is during the demo process and whether the vendor has experienced consultants to deliver the project in a timely manner.
You may also want to consider having a list of requirements prepared which will help the vendor understand your needs.
4. If possible, obtain references from other companies where the vendor has implemented HRIS/ERP systems before
If you’re able to obtain references, it will give you piece of mind knowing that you are selecting the right vendor to work with you. But tread carefully as it could also be a possible grey area – the reference may not be reflective of how co-operative a previous client was or the true capability of the vendor and their resources.
5. Understand the extent of customisation that will be required in the new system
Usually vendors push clients into customising a lot of features so you should be mindful as to whether the features are required and their costs. If you decide they are required, then you should be clear with the vendor what the cost will be and how maintenance will work. Usually, there will be an ongoing maintenance cost for customised features, especially if there are going to be upgrades or patches that need to be applied therefore you need to be clear on any features that might impact your requirements list.
6. Resource commitment from the vendor
You should ensure the vendor will not have any resource constraints once the project has kicked off. Some vendors tend to resource their consultants on multiple projects during the same period which can be challenging at times. You should also make sure the following questions are addressed:
- What resources are going to be allocated to your project? Are they based onshore or offshore?
- Will you be getting a dedicated project manager from the vendor?
- How often will the resources be coming to the client’s site?
- Who will be part of the Steering Committee from the vendor’s side?
7. Integration and mobility functionalities
If you’re still going to be operating legacy systems after the new HRIS implementation is completed, you should ensure the legacy system and the new HRIS system can be integrated. This will ensure efficiency and hopefully mean that you don’t have to duplicate any data entry into the legacy system.
Mobility functionality is a critical business need these days as most users work from a laptop, tablet or smartphone – ensure this is part of your requirements list.
8. Decision time
You now have met a few vendors and have gone through the process of discussing your requirements, sat through demonstrations, seen cost proposals and have relevant information you need to make your decision – time to make that one million dollar decision and select the vendor that will work with your business and implement your HRIS/ERP solution!
Once a decision has been made and you have informed the successful vendor, the vendor should prepare a Statement of Work (SoW). Before the project can officially commence, you will need to thoroughly review the SoW and ensure every requirement discussed during your meeting has been incorporated in the SoW before you sign on the dotted line.
Happy reading and Good luck!