No nonsense guide to choosing HR software! | elementsuite
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Choosing the right HR software

Does it feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day. Especially for you HR tasks, processes and compliance? Are you constantly plate spinning? Don’t have the time to focus on your people and be proactive? And above all, losing touch with all the reasons you chose human resources as a career path. In other words, if this sounds familiar, then it’s time to look at your options around HR software. To help shoulder that burden, streamline processes and improve the employee experience. Whilst saving time and money for the business.

But not at the expense of employee experience.

Why do you need HR software?

The world of work is a revolving door where constant change is the only predictable thing. With profound disruptions and challenges, companies are facing greater pressures than ever. Attracting, retaining and engaging their people, whilst delivering business performance improvements. And above all, delivering value that contributes to increased margins and operational efficiencies. As a result, HR technology is mission-critical. With the need to build flexibility, resilience and future-proof processes. Businesses need to plan for the known and the unknown to navigate an ever-changing landscape. Research from Gartner says 48% of HR leaders are prioritising organisational design. 42% are prioritising the future of work. This all means you are not alone.

The Compelling Need

  • HR systems are no longer just for HR and people teams, they benefit and touch every part of the organisation. Key stakeholders such as
  • C-suite
  • IT
  • Finance
  • Payroll
  • Marketing
  • Operation
  • Compliance

Will all reap the rewards. From workforce planning to remote working. Recruitment to engagement. Operational efficiencies to compliance. Every department and function has a vested interest.

With HR Software you can…

  • Automate manual tasks
  • Have peace of mind around compliance and Working Time Directive (WTD)
  • Eradicate time-consuming tasks and data entry
  • Eliminate excel and manual workarounds
  • Make light work of workforce planning and scheduling
  • Empower your people with self-service
  • Deliver a tailored employee experience
  • 24/7 access to learning and training
  • Save time
  • Save money
  • Increase margins
  • Improve operational efficiency
  • Better data, better insights and better 360° visibility on which to base decisions

If you’re looking for tips on how to build a robust business case to add weight to your request and support what you need. Download the elementsuite Business Case Calculator. Another great tool is to create an HR Heat Map that utilises your HR processes and functions. It’s a great way to visualise your key areas of concern

How to choose the best HR software for your business?

What’s most important is choosing what’s right for you. That might seem abundantly obvious. But once you start looking at the plethora of options, it can feel like a minefield. Just think about all the gadgets and functionality on a new smartphone. They wow us when we first see them, but how many of them do we use daily?

When you start talking to HR software vendors and their sales teams, you’ll see all the bells and whistles. Plus functionality that you didn’t know existed. This is great if it helps you, but will it help you achieve your goals, objectives and outcomes? And are they able to help you future-proof your HR processes? Are they scalable and more importantly are they flexible? This is a big decision, so you need HR software that is flexible to your changing needs. You need the flexibility that’s not going to add additional cost for changes to processes. You also don’t want to be left behind either.

As HR software continues to develop: you need to make sure you get updates to your operating systems. Just like the iOS updates with an iPhone. Where and how your workers work continues to change. With more pressure to provide flexible working, you need HR software and processes that are secure. Plus the ability to accommodate any number of scenarios, such as remote and flexible working.

No nonsense HR software that delivers the results

What are the functionalities and characteristics your HR system needs? Especially as your business needs change?

Implementing new HR software can be a time-consuming process. But let’s be practical here. The larger your business, and the more complex your organisational structure, the longer it is likely to take. Unleash reports a staggering 84% of HR projects fail. To make sure you are one of the 16% of highly successful projects. Take a look at Why do HR Tech projects fail and how to avoid the pitfalls, for some useful tips. Above all else, it needs to be successful. It needs to work and deliver all that fantastic value that the sales team promised you.

1. Mobile-first and mobile-friendly HR software

Many people incorrectly assume that HR technology is mobile-friendly. However, if you have a current legacy system, you will know the truth can be very different. You may be able to access some areas but they aren’t practical and not designed with the user in mind.

In a highly connected world, the expectation is that we can access systems via our mobile phones 24/7. Mobile centric HR Tech puts more control in the hands of the user and improves their experience. As businesses shift to accommodate flexible and remote working. This is no longer a nice to have, it’s a must-have.

Most of us take our mobile phones for granted, expecting to be able to transact our lives using them. And we all expect that experience to be easy, intuitive and without frustration. How many websites have you visited and abandoned because they didn’t work on your mobile?

Mobile-first HR tech is all about ‘delivering benefits to both your people and to the business. Benefits that enable HR teams and leaders to deliver efficiencies. As well as superior user experience, leading to greater engagement. And all the related benefits of an engaged workforce.

Integrating mobile HR software is essential

HR functions should be providing the processes, standards, and systems. Allowing personal HR information to be managed securely by employees via their mobile devices. This can be achieved through authentication and authorisation

Mobile-centric HR is vital. Especially for staff working shifts. Out of hours. Remote locations and staff who do not visit an office regularly. With more staff working flexibly and from home, mobile HR is the key to empowered, happy staff.

Golden Nugget: When you ask an HR vendor to demonstrate their software. Make sure you see the experience demonstrated from a user’s perspective, on a mobile phone. Can you check holiday allocation, update details, swap shifts and request a review with your manager? Also ask the vendor about Authorisation (how granular can the system be, with ‘who sees what.

2. Employee self-service

A mobile-first approach to HR software makes enabling self-service considerably easier. Employee self-service or ESS is not about relinquishing HR responsibility. It’s about empowering your people. Your people want easy access to their records. The ability to access what they want, when it suits them. Leading them to not having to contact the HR team. ESS provides your people with single, centralised access to everything they want.

According to IBM, 70% of HR executives are looking for HR digital transformation. With a key focus on delivering a personalised, transparent, employee experience. HR self-service can deliver and it shouldn’t feel impersonal. Self-service can deliver on personalisation, experience and transparency for your people. And it will improve engagement too.

Self-service needs to be intuitive for users at all levels of the organisation. And you need to make sure you can set permissions for each role. For example, Managers have access to more records and data.

The power of a single point of access is powerful and saves a lot of time and frustration for everyone. Merging all aspects of your employee life-cycle into one intuitive self-service experience. This delivers efficiencies and productivity together with improving staff satisfaction. There are wide-ranging processes that benefit from a self-service approach such as:

  • Sickness, absence, holidays and other time off
  • Payslips
  • Work rota and scheduling
  • Shift swaps
  • Availability for work
  • Payroll processes (e.g., bank and personal details maintenance)
  • Recruitment processes
  • On-boarding
  • Self-drive training
  • Benefits enrolment
  • Health and safety

Best practice tips for HR software self-service success

Make sure you leverage the real value for the business, that means embedding it and ensuring staff use it. No white elephants. Although we’re talking about technology, when it’s intuitive you’ll achieve exponential:

1. Keep it user friendly and intuitive – removes barriers to adoption

2. Personalise and brand. Your system should feel like your business home hub, which is branded and personalised for roles and users

3. Create awareness and communication – transitioning from traditional methods to your self-service is a change

4. Access to key and regularly needed documentation such as payroll and training aids with high adoption rates

5. Keep it simple – avoid jargon and language that doesn’t resonate with your people

There is a lot of research regarding the vital role of employee experience in driving a company’s success. Employee self-service aids that goal, delivering benefits for leaders, managers and staff.

Golden Nugget: Make sure that you can accommodate your organisational structure now. You also need to make sure that it’s easy to make changes as you change. Test the mobile experience for yourself – is it intuitive? And does it feel like home with your branding? You shouldn’t need to pay extra for this either.

3. Airtight security in your HR software

As we all know, HR and payroll records contain highly sensitive employee data. Protecting your employee records is a high priority. So you need to defend your data with the highest level of security.

HR data includes everything from home addresses and tax files. Dates of birth, employment records, sickness and medical records, background checks, and bank account records. Plus performance records and attendance records.

With more remote and flexible working. There are risks of theft or unwanted access to your confidential data. Forward-thinking companies are investing in HR technologies. Delivering superior data, a single source of truth, that can be accessed 24/7. The value and outcomes from a business operation perspective are phenomenal. However you need to make sure you choose a cloud-based HR software vendor that operates the highest security standards available. And that its processes continue to check and monitor to ensure security is maintained.

Data protection and security are always major concerns when considering a cloud HR solution. IT leaders will be looking for the most secure systems to protect the business and its reputation.

24/7 security

You want a secure system that is available 24/7 and is easily accessible. It should work from any device, to support remote working and flexible working, which doesn’t compromise security. It’s preferable to work with just one HR platform from one vendor. If that is not possible you need to make sure that your selection easily integrates with your other core systems.

Human resources and payroll teams need access to the right level of data to onboard new staff. Set up payroll, pensions and other benefits, which means access by the right people. At the right time. At the right level of authority.

Setting up these protocols and permissions based on job description, grade or area of responsibility is an essential functionality need. HR technology will give you an essential audit trail of who, what and when changes to data were made. Complete transparency.

Golden Nugget: Involve your key stakeholders and in particular your IT team early in the process. Having them onside early in your buying decisions will be invaluable. Removing potential blockages to a successful implementation. Facilitate a specific IT conversation with your chosen vendor in the early stages.

4. Payroll accuracy in HR software

Payroll processes are complex, and human errors will negatively impact employees and ultimately cost the company money. Handling payroll, even with the help of a payroll service, can be complicated. With a myriad of contract types, working hours and absence types, this creates another level of complexity. Avoiding payroll chaos, and reducing payroll queries is what you will achieve with HR software. Let’s face it, there is no room for error. The critical success factors for effective payroll that will significantly reduce queries are:

1. Effective payroll service delivery model

2. Effective data capture to improve data accuracy and integrity

3. Flexible and secure data reporting for checks and reconciliation

Your staff have to trust the process 100%. It needs to deliver a positive employee experience, where queries are the exception. A poor payroll experience impacts numerous areas of your people strategy and directly affects staff retention.

EY Global Payroll Survey highlights handling late submissions, corrections and legislative requirements as some of the biggest hurdles for payroll.

Employers running PAYE needs to complete certain tasks each tax period, as well as ensure that staff are paid correctly. Payable time must be recorded correctly. Including accurately converted to net pay after tax and national insurance contributions, payslips produced, and correct submissions made to HMRC. If you are a business with varied shift patterns, where employees have other entitlements. This could be tips, bonuses, commissions and travel allowances, this becomes increasingly difficult to manage.

Core payroll data management tasks include

Collecting variable hours and converting to pay

Managing attendance: holidays, sickness and other absences

Workforce management – multi-site, multi-shift, multi-contract

Maintaining the HR system of record and time

Processing joiners and leavers

Reduce payroll errors and complexity

Whether you choose to process payroll internally. Use software or outsource to a third party. It needs to integrate seamlessly with your other processes and systems. Whilst outsourcing can alleviate a lot of the stress, there remains a degree of involvement internally. Payroll software can work well, but the devil is in the detail. The goal is to simplify the complexity, reduce errors, save time, reduce manual keying and minimise payroll queries.

Payroll providers store critical data, certainly, security is essential, but integration is just as important. Having clarity on where data is “mastered” and having a single source of truth is critical. You don’t want to be raising queries on various data sources to check pay.

If you select HR software that embraces employee self-service, you’ll reduce your instances of errors, fast. One system that can easily manage promotions, payroll changes, new joiners and leavers automatically.

Whenever HR adds a new employee, or a manager makes a salary change, shift or rota change. This should all be in a single source, automatically updating so it is reflected in payroll. With an employee-centric system, employees can self-serve their holidays and absences, passing the changes to managers for approval. Which then automatically updates payroll. No more inaccurate reporting, poor employee experience or concerns around security and compliance

Golden Nugget: Ensure you meet with the wider business when deciding on an HR software vendor. That includes your payroll team whether internal or external.

5. Flexibility and future-proof

When we think of flexibility and future-proofing we often think of technology. HR technology is the human enabler for delivering a robust, resilient and agile organisation both today and into the future. Whatever the future might be.

HR needs flexibility to successfully navigate constant change, and deliver more flexible and dynamic workplaces. And the structure and processes that underpin both HR and the organisation to deliver flexibility. Activating HR flexibility can be tough as people leaders adjust to new regulations, changing attitudes and flexible ways of working. HR software is about laying the foundation for your HR flexibility and futureproofing any changes.

Dynamic HR software is flexible, nimble and shouldn’t lock you down into thinking you have to mould your organisation rigidly. You want to hold on to your organisation’s culture, reputation and brand. HR software should not create impersonal experiences across the business. They should enhance and improve user experiences at all levels of the organisation.

What it should do is automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks. Remove human error and release HR teams to focus on what’s important.

The chance to future-proof your HR software

HR technology is central to the evolution of HR. Using logical automation that works to the beating heart of your unique organisation. No longer do you need to have a ‘piece of software’ dictate people processes to you. Quite the contrary, mobile-first technology that fits naturally into your organisation, that’s intuitive and removes the burden of manual entry.

Embrace the opportunity to adopt best practices with tools such as workforce management and scheduling. Give staff full access through mobile-first to show what shifts they are available for. Plus see when they are working in advance and who is working on their shifts with them. Smart HR software enables easy shift swaps and the ability to rota staff to multiple locations.

More than just software, it’s a platform. Working like a fabulous lego set creating scenes and structures that suit your organisation. They should match your business need and the unique complexities of your organisation.

Today future-proof HR technology is a reality. The new breed of SaaS HR technology gives you flexibility, enabling you to connect to your existing systems and processes. You don’t need to rip everything out and start again, start small and build up.

Golden Nugget: Ensure you honestly assess your organisation, and effectively map your areas of strength and weaknesses. Map out your organisational structure and if you want to make changes. Do it before you move into implementation mode or after implementation.

6. Compliance

Keeping up with compliance has always been an integral part of any HR teams’ remit. Ensuring that all employees are treated fairly and legally. However, the pandemic has firmly placed the spotlight on the management and adherence to legislative updates. Historically HR and payroll get plenty of notice to plan forthcoming legislative changes and impacts that affect employees. But during the pandemic when the Government introduced new schemes. Only giving scant detail, with a drip-feed approach to the details puts considerable pressure on HR and payroll processes.

For many, this has been a realisation that their legacy HR systems just couldn’t cope. Systems that are inflexible and unable to accommodate changes as speed. Record keeping and regulatory compliance can be a time-consuming process. Therefore it is prone to human error, particularly if you are relying on spreadsheets and manual processes.

Make sure your HR software has robust compliance built-in. This means tackling both your legal requirements as well as company policies and rules. Never worry again about WTD and over-scheduling staff.

Mitigate errors that may result in non-compliance

We’re all human and unfortunately, mistakes do happen. The more we remove the burden of manual keying, the easier it is to mitigate errors and reduce corporate risk. Mistakes can be corrected, but businesses are rightly concerned about the potential HMRC penalties that could be imposed. Use your HR software and systems to digitise legislative updates, mitigates your risks and remove human error. HR software will give you a robust environment that will enable you to simplify the GDPR and compliance complexity.

Make sure your HR software includes

Employment contract templates that can be easily updated to changes in current employment legislation for that geographical region. Make sure it includes regional variations if you operate in other countries


Rule driven processes that allow for automated approvals, WTD, reminders, escalations and RTW. Ensure your software can accommodate your own rules and regulations around working practices, and scheduling shifts. For example, businesses such as airlines, retail, manufacturing

Policy templates around harassment, code of conduct, social media

Acceptance tracking and audit trails of what was changed, when and by who

GDPR compliance

Golden Nugget: When you consider your new HR software vendor. Make sure you get an early copy of a contract as this might form a part of your decision. You don’t want to have any contractual surprises once you’ve made your decision that derail you.

7. Onboarding and training

The right HR system will enable you to have a single version of the truth. Therefore managing your workforce more effectively – wherever they are. Make sure you look for tech that includes automated onboarding and talent acquisition capabilities.

This is not designed to de-humanise the process. But to speed up the recruitment process. Enabling you to be more effective, handle more candidates efficiently and not miss out on winning the talent you need. With so much competition for talent, getting this right whilst saving time. Creates a positive experience for candidates the moment they interact with your organisation. This is key.

The Society for Human Resource Management estimates one in every twenty-five employees leave their jobs due to poor onboarding processes. That is to say, it’s imperative to manage the process efficiently. Which also ensures your new staff are contributing to your business as soon as possible, whatever their role.

Effective time tracking across the entire workforce to help you easily monitor productivity. Whilst including smart performance management that supports managers to have continuous conversations with their direct reports.

Make sure your choice includes

  • Workflows for the hiring process
  • Compliant templates
  • Single sign-on
  • Electronic E-signatures for faster acceptance of offers online
  • No need to re-enter data once candidates become an employees
  • Track new employee onboarding status in real-time
  • Online, self-drive induction content
  • Interactive learning, induction and videos

Dynamic HR software training

HR software can deliver some amazing and measurable results that enable your people to be the best they can be. Using HR technology to deliver learning and training is not a new idea. The way people work, along with access to learning and training has changed. Digital tools are empowering staff to access what they need when it suits them and are more engaged.

Everyone has their preferred learning style and the VARK model is often referenced to identify how people learn best. Visual, auditory, reading/ writing and kinaesthetic. Personalised learning is one of the most significant trends and something to look for as part of your HR software. Utilising the power of technology to enable every learner to be treated as an individual. Firstly, this application of technology empowers staff to take ownership of their learning. Secondly, having more control thus increases motivation, commitment and speed of learning.

Golden Nugget: Locked in but not locked out. When you sign a multi-year contract for your HR software. Make sure you are not locked out of innovations, improvements and enhancements. Make sure what you’re buying is always current and doesn’t stand still. You should get the benefits at no additional cost.

8. Data-driven

With the right HR software, you will be able to consolidate all your people’s data into one place. Love it or hate it, HR teams need access to 100% reliable people data. And more than ever they need real-time data. So many HR Leaders tell us that they simply just don’t trust their data. Which means they are slow to react and unable to respond quickly and make informed decisions. Only 38% of HR leaders say their data is accessible in real-time.

Today, having the answers to make great people decisions is a necessity to maintain business continuity and respond to change.

HR leaders want to make decisions based on data they trust. Not based on incomplete data, which does not reflect the current situation. So often the data is out of date (as it takes days to get it). Or it’s unreliable because it’s pulled from various systems. Stitched together in excel and spreadsheets that contain legacy errors that no one has spotted. This is not about poor decision making, it’s about relying 100% on the data to make your decisions.

Your HR software also needs to…

Anonymise or pseudonymise the data

Ensure employees have the “right to be forgotten”

Archive and purge data safely

Ensure appropriate levels of data security are in place, particularly with new working environments

Fully GDPR compliant

Create permissions within the system to enable managers to access the people’s data they need

Unlock the value of your people data

Every day, people across your organisation are making decisions. Decisions that either impact your people or need to be supported by your people. Even with good data, it can be challenging to extract what you need. Whilst converting it into insights that inform better decisions. The data needs to be made easier to interpret to make good decisions quickly and achieve better business outcomes.

HR systems cannot be rigid. Everyone’s HR data setup will be slightly different, therefore capitalising on new technology will make data more accessible. Businesses are needing to collate more people data and add new fields. Therefore your choice means you need flexibility, to capture what your business needs.

People analytics is directly linked to business value.

Applying people analytics should be an underlying business function. However, if your organisation doesn’t know where to start with people analytics. It can be difficult to connect the investment to the business value. Let’s take a familiar issue such as employee attendance. Managers are observing late arrivals on Monday mornings or sickness on a Monday. Often this is spread out over many months and often missed when done manually. However, people analytics gives you the power to make connections that might have been overlooked and take action.

With a consolidated view of your attendance data. You have single source of that data. Meaning you can draw out actionable insights which are valuable to the business, enabling you to address issues, faster. People analytics enables better staff scheduling, a better understanding of how to reward people, and the ability to prevent issues. Best of all you can make a decision based on facts and you can trust those decisions.

Golden Nugget: Dig into the data that is captured around the business. For instance, how your key stakeholders capture that data. Spend time with your functional heads and stakeholders. Understand what data they need and what outcomes they want to achieve.

9. Staff love it

Delivering an amazing employee experience is paramount, with any decision you make relating to HR software. You need to keep your workforce connected, engaged, informed and aligned. It needs to feel natural and intuitive. Maintaining employee engagement and productivity levels in an ever-changing environment is challenging, with more remote and flexible working patterns. Ensuring your staff are happy, means delivering a new kind of experience that can only be achieved using HR software.

The smartest, most intuitive technology needs to work in harmony with humans. The right combination of tech and talent will win the day for HR teams. Intuitive self-service tools is essential, along with strong two-way communications and effective performance management and recognition tools. Removing friction and frustration from many processes. Including, booking holidays, changing shifts, accessing personal records and checking payroll. Doing this without waiting for someone in HR is a win-win for HR teams and employees.

With a people management system that puts employee experience front and centre. You can find and hire the talent you need faster and reduce attrition rates. You also need an HR system with flexible pulse surveys. In addition,  continuous conversation tools and data-driven insights help you understand employee sentiment in real-time. In conclusion, make this ongoing rather than annual.

Make sure your solution enables you to add your branding therefore the experience is seamless.

Tech that benefits everyone

The right cloud HR solution should benefit everyone in the organisation. It needs to be user-friendly and allow for employee personalisation. Boost business resilience with the agility that allows employees to work flexibly and remotely whilst staying connected to the organisation. Wherever they are logging in from.

A cloud HR solution will allow you to respond to shifting priorities faster. Giving you instant people insights to inform decisions, two-way communications, and flexible goal setting. You’ll want a highly flexible system that will allow you to easily configure workflows. Create custom fields, and tailor reports, communications, branding and more. All managed by you through clicks, not code.

A cloud system liberates HR teams from time-consuming admin and paperwork. Therefore enabling you to concentrate on building greater workforce experiences for your people. The whole time supporting HR teams with automatic system and compliance updates.

Golden Nugget: Request a feature list offered by each HR vendor. offered by different HR software vendors. Triage each of these features. Effectively mark which features are essential, useful or nice to have for your organisation. This will help you compare providers.

Tools and guides to help you

This guide is to make sure you don’t get tripped up in your journey to choosing your HR software. This is a buying decision that requires budget and commitment. Needed from leaders and functions outside the HR and payroll teams.

In conclusion, you want to get it right and see the value as soon as possible. In addition, here are some key questions and links to tools that will help you get it right.

HR buyers checklist

Employee self-service?

Performance and talent management?

Workforce management and scheduling

Single platform for all your business units and locations

Ability to easily accommodate different employment contracts and hourly paid

Data visualisation and dashboards delivering real-time insights

Can you automate core HR processes?

Hiring and onboarding processes should be automated

Integration with payroll

Tailored to your processes and branding

Mobile-first for employees to access 24/7 on any device

Read more about HR software

How to build a compelling business case

Why do HR projects fail and how to avoid the pitfalls?

Tech and talent: the future for HR is agile, adaptive and inclusive

Success factors from using Workforce Management

Best HR software for the future

Looking for a HR system designed by people who love HR?

elementsuite is a disruptive, single platform cloud-based SaaS HR software solution that’s agile, flexible and simplifies complex HR processes.

Our all-in-one intuitive HR solution is designed with the employee experience at heart. Being ‘people first’ means you can manage the entire employee life cycle from hire to retire. Have your employees feel at home by incorporating your company branding into our platform. We are proud that elementsuite seamlessly moulds into our clients DNA to ‘look and feel’ like your business.

Do you want to simplify and digitalise your HR processes? Our unique implementation methodology is transparent, removing cost and protracted implementation processes. Implementation can be delivered in weeks and months, not years, enabling our clients to benefit faster.

See for yourself and book a demo from our friendly team or give us a call for expert advice.

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