August 17.2017, 5.00pm
One size doesn’t fit all: 7 killer questions to ask your software vendor about integration
Getting the right answers is about more than just asking questions of the right people. It’s also about asking the right questions. “Judge a man by his questions, not his answers,” as Voltaire so eloquently put it.
This is particularly true when it comes to asking your software vendor about integration. Asking the right questions will help you to evaluate both the technical capabilities of the vendor’s integrated software and determine how qualified they are to provide the service you require. It’s as much about interviewing the people behind the technology as it is about assessing the technology’s worth.
These seven questions are fundamental to understanding the kind of integrated solution you’re getting and determining whether it meets your needs.
1. Whose remit is security?
With cyber attacks like ransomware posing a significant threat to any business, having information stored in a secure, SaaS platform can obviously offer peace of mind. Find out what security protocols are in place, discuss the technical support that the vendor offers and the level of disruption that any migration to the cloud could involve.
Important points to discuss will be cost, security and practical considerations like support structures in the event of a breach.
Security is more important than ever, with HR now assuming responsibility for the data they control, so you need to know that your data will be properly protected. You need to know where the data will be stored, who’s responsible for protecting it and how secure any solution will ultimately be. You need to consider the security protocols that the vendor currently employs and the steps they take to ensure that they are future-proofed against cyber criminals.
The best vendors can offer cloud-based data storage with the most up to date security protocols. At CoreHR, we offer the strongest security possible to our clients through a managed hosting service where we locate and maintain technical environments in an ISO certified data centre.
By taking advantage of our cloud platform, organisations can customise security protocols and control user access – plus we’re hosted on the world’s most secure cloud platform, so your data will be protected by the best the industry has to offer.
In a nutshell, when questioning your software vendor, ensure that they meet these same standards as security is vital.
2. Is the vendor equipped to meet your needs?
The best vendor for one industry isn’t necessarily the best one for you. Research a vendor to see what clients they work with, look at the industries they supply and check out their professional credentials. Testimonials and reviews can be great sources of information and can flag potential issues.
Ask if there are any hidden subscription costs, customer service issues or limits to their technical support that you need to factor into your decision. Can they adapt to your changing needs and scale up as your organisation grows?
You also need to drill down into the details of whether their software is suitable for you. Maybe you want something that is customisable so you need to see if this is an option. Others will prefer an out-of-the-box solution that can be installed with a minimum of fuss or technical acumen.
Depending on your vertical too, you’ll want to check reporting requirements. offer out-of-the-box reporting and solutions for a number of industries so that our software integrates with the varying requirements of different verticals.
You need to know what you’re getting and be confident that it can support your HR needs, now and in the future.
3. What type of system can you get?
You may be looking to overhaul your entire HR suite but sometimes older legacy systems have to be accommodated and supported, at least on a temporary basis before you make the upgrade to a single platform. Can your vendor provide systems that will integrate successfully with the software from an existing system?
Ask if there will be any impact on reporting from using third party integrations. Will your new system be fully integrated with legacy programs or can you expect any technical or reporting issues from the systems’ inability to interface fully?
The best vendors should offer multiple modules for the likes of HR and Payroll from a single platform that will manage all your needs. Why finagle with outdated legacy systems when vendors can offer a streamlined, single platform SaaS solution?
Changing your software suite shouldn’t mean that you have to sacrifice any of the functions that your current system supports. A good vendor will offer a range of modules that cover everything from Payroll to Recruitment, Talent Management and Time & Attendance, which can remove the need for integration. However, if there is a need, ensure the vendor also provides flat files for easy integration.
Our cloud platform enables organisations to use programming models, operating systems, databases and architectures they are already familiar with. The flexibility of the solution means organisations can mix and match architectures to best serve their business needs.
4. Will the suite be GDPR-compliant?
The GDPR is part of the EU Data Protection Regulation and it will replace the existing Data Protection Directive in May of 2018. The new legislation will strengthen people’s data privacy rights by demanding higher standards of transparency, security and accountability from any organisation that deals with private data.
HR is increasingly dealing with large swathes of sensitive data relating to employees. HR needs to be able to access this data quickly and easily in the event that employees make a request relating to their data. There are also serious penalties coming in for any data security breaches.
You’ll need to ensure that any system you adopt will meet the requirements of GDPR, both in terms of compliance and security. Your company could be fined up to 4 percent of your annual global turnover or €20 million so being fully GDPR-compliant is an absolute must.
Data protection is a growing area of concern in this digital age so you need a vendor who will be able to maintain the highest data management standards. For more detail on GDPR, check out our full blog on what GDPR means for HR leaders.
5. What support can you expect?
Can the vendor offer a fully-qualified and on-hand support structure to deal with any software, hardware or security concerns? What sort of turnaround time can you expect in the event of any problems? What are the support protocols and how experienced are the people dealing with your potential issues?
Talk about their after-sales service, both in terms of emergency situations and equally important areas like systems training, and troubleshooting. Find out if they have a live chat service, dedicated customer support, engineers on hand and account managers to offer you ongoing support.
6. Will the software support any legacy systems?
Though digital transformation may be an ongoing journey for an organisation with legacy or outdated systems, upgrading to a streamlined, integrated SaaS-based solution is worth it for the ease of use and extra capabilities.
The best vendors will be able to advise you on what is and isn’t possible in terms of upgrading existing systems or integrating new software with your existing suite. Can add-ons be accessed from mobile devices; will the legacy system recognise all of the updates; are there any issues with your legacy program accessing data in the cloud; and what sort of flexibility will the integration provide going forward?
Your vendor needs to provide a solution that has the flexibility to mix and match architectures to best serve business needs while being scalable and elastic enough to handle ongoing digital transformation and evolving company needs.
7. Are you getting an out-of-the-box solution or will it be configurable?
The vendor should be able to advise whether your new system will be ready to go and fully set up once it’s been installed. Some organisations will want a standardised model that ticks all their HR needs with an out-of-the-box solution.
Others will demand a configurable SaaS solution which can be tweaked or configured to handle addition fields or screens. You may want different workflow processes and procedures to what comes with the default settings so this allows you to implement them.
The ability to adapt for different sectors and data sets is key. We deploy a SaaS solution which the client can configure with additional screens and fields, and report on them along with workflow processes and procedures.
Taking on a new integrated HR system is a serious commitment so you need to know that it can do what you want it to.
Before you know the questions you need to ask, you’ll need to establish what you need from your HR software. Do your research, talk to your peers and think about what you want your system to be able to do.
Finding the perfect match for your organisation is all about knowing what you want from the technology and finding the right vendor to deliver it.
Organisational change can be challenging – but it doesn’t have to be. Download ‘The Role of HR in Change Management and 5 Tips for Success’ to find how what steps you should take for change management success, and why.
By Mark Sexton