The HR software you buy is going to impact everyone in your business for years to come.
You’ve issued RFPs, read all the responses diligently, short-listed the best three, and heard their presentations.
Now you need to do that crucial aspect of due diligence – speak with the references they gave you. To get the information you need, try asking the following ten questions:
1. Why did you choose this supplier?
The answer to this question will reveal their experience during the buying process, which they can compare with the reality of the implementation. In other words, did the vendor live up to the sales pitch (and if so, are they likely to do the same for you)?
2. How long did the software take to implement?
Vendors often promise that the software will be delivered in the perfect timescales for you. Rarely is this actually achieved. This will give you a sense of the vendor’s track record of timeliness and promise-keeping.
3. What additional costs have you incurred that you weren’t expecting?
Similarly, vendors often present costs attractively during the sales pitch. But are there any catches or small print that you should be aware of that increase the price?
4. What would you do differently if you could do it again?
This question is useful as a way of finding out if there are any problems that you haven’t specifically asked about. It is also useful for revealing things you may need to do as a buyer to help the implementation go smoothly.
5. What problems have you had (and how were they resolved)?
No implementation is ever completely problem-free. The important thing is how the problems are resolved. From what you hear, is the vendor the kind of company who will help you through the many bumps over the next few years?
6. What’s been the best thing about the vendor and the software?
Don’t forget, it’s also critical to ask about the good things. There are great vendors and solutions that can dramatically improve your business. Find out if this is one of them.
7. What does the software not do that you wish it did?
It’s incredibly difficult to know exactly what you want until you’ve started using the software. This is a great opportunity to learn from someone else’s experience so you can minimize your own omissions. At this stage, you can still negotiate for new functionality from the vendor.
8. What was most important to you when selecting a vendor?
This will reveal to you how much attention you should pay to the reference. If what they were after was the cheapest option, and you are after the best option, what you hear from this reference will have limited value.
9. Would you describe the solution as good value?
A cheap product could be poor value, whilst an expensive product could represent outstanding value. So, rather than ask purely about price, find out whether, on reflection, it was a good value solution.
10. What discount did you achieve?
The reference may or may not feel comfortable sharing this with you, but there’s no harm in asking so that you are better-armed for your own negotiations!
The time you spend with references will prove a remarkably good investment. It will help you to avoid the slick sales organization that never delivers and steer you towards those truly great suppliers who genuinely care about delivering an outstanding solution to their customers. They do exist, and taking the time to find them will return many times over!
Did I miss any questions to ask an HR software reference? Add them in the comments below!
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