An HR Head’s Quest to Find the Right HR Tech Solution

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Aug 21, 2020

A big part of my job is making sure employees are happy — because happy employees are engaged employees. And in our quest to keep employees happy and engaged, we knew we needed HR technology that had the right breadth and depth of functionality around performance and personalization.

In assessing our needs, I knew a hard decision was looming: Our current professional employer organization (PEO), which was managing payroll, benefits, compliance, and HR, had to go. 

When a PEO No Longer Works

Of course, a PEO can be a good solution for companies that do not have HR or recruiting resources and want to outsource the entire function using a co-employment model (meaning that employees receive their W-2s from the PEO, not your company). However, as a rule of thumb, once you hit 50-100 employees, you should transition off a PEO. When your company has reached that size, the cost per employee of a PEO becomes prohibitive.

My company didn’t outgrow our PEO just because we had become too big. Rather, we needed to move away from it because we really needed something to make our own — software that was customizable from the ground up. 

We’re very hands-on as an organization — not to mention, we employ some brilliant technologists. So having to explain to employees why they couldn’t do what seemed so intuitive (and necessary) — such as updating their address in the system — was a daily struggle. 

The PEO’s user interface was dated, to say the very least. We needed better reporting and analytics. And more than anything, we wanted to implement a performance-review process that fit our company culture, aligned with our specific values, and could tie easily to compensation. 

Creating that process on our own with a PEO was a daunting, almost impossible process. So that pain point was really where my search for an HR software solution started.  

The Search for a Solution

Ironically, around the same time that I kicked off my search, our CFO was asking for better HR reporting capabilities. This made us double down on our desire to have an all-in-one HR platform.

We started the search by defining our specific requirements. We knew that creating 360 reviews — separate self, peer and manager reviews — for every employee was going to be the best way to collect meaningful feedback. We also wanted to empower departments, teams, and employees to set their own goals that laddered up to our company objectives. So we embarked on a vendor selection process to find a SaaS-based HR solution aimed at mid-sized companies.

We short-listed Zenefits, BambooHR, and Namely not because these were the best solutions — but because they appeared to be the best solutions for our unique needs. When searching for your own solution, your list of vendors may very well be different. 

After polling our team’s wish list, I looked closely at levels of customization capabilities, abilities to streamline HR processes, and payroll functionality for each company. But some didn’t offer everything we wanted in one solution. Since our objective was to make things simpler and more straightforward, the idea of having to manage multiple vendors to get what we needed wasn’t amenable. It had to be one and done.

While it was tempting to fast-track a selection after seeing product demonstrations, I didn’t just focus on features and function. It was extremely vital to make sure we’d have a vendor-partner versus just another service provider. We wanted to work with an HR software company that truly understood and connected to our business goals and company values. 

In the end, we’re happy with the choice we ultimately made — a one-stop-shop with deep functionality and a wide breadth of services to support our growth and unique requirements. 

And yes, I know you probably are curious which vendor we chose. But I don’t want the main takeaway here to be about a specific software solution. Rather, to my earlier point, I want to stress that this is about assessing vendors based on your own company’s distinct criteria. There are many great solutions out there. By examining vendors not based on my recommendation so much as your own requirements, you should be able to find one that aligns with your expectations. 

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