Choosing a new system!?!

How to choose the right HR/Payroll system?

Deciding to bring in a new HR/Payroll system is a huge decision for any organisation. It isn’t just the cost(s) which can easily spiral, but also the time and resources that it takes to implement a system.

So, what is it you need to think about when considering a new system? Here are a few of my top tips and some advice to help when you embark on this type of project.

1) Be prepared.

Make sure that before you start looking for a new system, that you are clear about what you are trying to achieve.

Consider why you want to bring in a new system, what is it you’re trying to fix or improve?

Are you wishing to make a longer-term cost saving, maybe you wish to streamline working practices or is your current system simply dated?

Being clear on what you want to achieve will help narrow down which systems you consider as

part of the tendering process.

2) Get an expert in.

Ensure that you bring in someone (whether they are in house, a consultant or a fixed term project manager) who understands HR/Payroll system implementation and has a good track record of managing similar projects.

This will be a valuable asset as it will reduce the resource required from your internal team and you will have a central project manager who can work closely with your system provider throughout the full project lifecycle.

3) Source a system.

If you already have a project manager with experience of HR/Payroll systems, they will be able to provide useful advice and guidance on the systems available.

Some key points to be mindful of are:

  • Any system sales teams you meet with will say ‘yes’ to any question you ask. Ensure that you ask them to follow up with details in writing. Many times, you will find that once you have signed contracts, the system doesn’t actually deliver everything initially promised by the sales team. Usually there are ‘work-arounds’ to these issues but make sure you challenge the sales team up front.

  • Do your research online first. Take a look around and before meeting with any sales teams, take a look at their websites. Look if they have ‘client’ pages where you can see which other organisations they have worked with before.

  • Be prepared. Make sure that prior to any pitches, you have a list of questions. These can come from your previous piece of work when you considered why you wanted the system. Consider what ways of working you want to change, where do you want to save time and resources and ask the right questions to find out whether their system will help you achieve those goals.

  • For any suppliers you shortlist, ask them to set up some client visits for you. This is an opportunity for you to meet with other organisations that have implemented their system and ask questions. Be sure to ask what challenges they found, lessons learned and what their biggest benefits have been from bringing the system in.

4) Manage the Project

This sounds like obvious advice but many organisations underestimate the amount of work that goes into implementing a new system. It is important that you have enough resource to manage the project effectively. If you don’t have resources in place, timescales will move which could impact on costs too. As well as a project manager, you will need time and resource from all impacted departments such as HR, Finance and IT.

5) Next Steps

Once you have signed a contract with a supplier, you will be assigned an account or business manager. They will liaise with you on the initial steps of setting up the project. This includes an initial project initiation meeting where timescales and payment terms will be discussed.

6) Now What?

So now you have your system provider, you have a project manager and you’ve signed on the dotted line, so what’s next?

To ensure you get most from the system, ensure you have your end goal in sight. Many organisations will implement a new system and will just transfer their current ways of working, straight onto the new platform. This is a missed opportunity.

If you have committed to spending the money and time on a project like this, make sure you get the most out of it.

Here are a few tips on areas where you can increase the effectiveness of a new system:

  • Process map all of your current internal HR and Payroll processes. This is to look at where there are opportunities to streamline processes and save time (and potentially money).

  • Consider how you and your employees utilise the current system you have. Are there opportunities to automate some of the processes? One way to do this is to set up workflows and cut down on manual reminders or prompts that you may currently use. For example, when a new starter is entered into your new system, a workflow could send a reminder to the manager to set up their induction a week before they start, it could also prompt the IT Manager to set up their IT account for when they start. The possibilities are huge. All of these workflows can save your internal HR and Payroll team time.

  • Calculations! Depending on what system you are moving away from, calculations can be a big frustration for many organisations. I’ve seen many teams manually calculating holidays, absence triggers and sick pay which all takes time and is open to human error. Bringing in a sophisticated system can take this burden away and make the whole process error proof. Many systems can make these calculations for you but only if you have the right information in the system, in the first place. So………

  • Clean your data! As mentioned above, bringing in a new system is a huge opportunity to improve ways of working. One key area where this is most true is the data you hold on your employees. Depending on the system you are moving away from and how confident you are in the accuracy of your current data, there could be an opportunity to ‘clean’ it all ready for the new system. This is a huge opportunity not to be missed. Any system is only as good as the data you hold in it so the cleaner the data goes in, the more accurate the reporting will be when it comes out.

  • Reporting is another big benefit of bringing in a new system. Most systems will come with a standard report pack which, for many organisations, is sufficient enough. These cover many of the standard reports required from the Finance department as well as more standard staffing reports for HR. Be sure to consider what reports you would like in the future as this will impact on what information you need to collect, clean and load into the system in the early stages of the project.

Bringing in a new system provides a variety of opportunities such as more sophisticated reporting, more accurate data, self-service modules, smoother recruitment processes, automated calculations and workflows. The list goes on.

In conclusion, if you are committed to bringing in a new system, take advantage of everything that can offer.

If you would like to discuss systems project management, please contact us via the website contact form or email on

#systems #hr #finance #project #management #projectmanagement

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