Give Us Our Paper Performance Reviews Back: Why Some HR Users Want to Ditch Software

Technology should make our lives easier.

In my performance management consultancy I have the opportunity to speak with many HR professionals. Ironically I have been hearing a growing number of negative comments from HR folks who took the automation plunge only to get push back from their end users.

These unhappy employees wanted to return to their paper reviews. How could this be when the automation trend is gathering steam?  My curiosity was piqued.

Employee Performance Evaluations

Returning to paper forms is clearly a step backwards. So what is going on?  Could it be that these disenchanted new users are luddites? I don’t think so. Or maybe these disaffected employees are computer illiterate? No, that clearly isn’t the case. The common negative chord coming from the users is the sheer difficulty of using the systems that are being foisted upon them.

What every software vendor/developer should know is that users are drawn to solutions that make their lives easier and repelled by those that make them more difficult. It would appear that this basic principle has been lost on some solution providers.  Which begs the question: why are some systems so difficult to use?

Software is the engine under the hood of a solution. It is that invisible code designed to take the drudgery out of work flow applications. An elegant yet intuitive solution gives the user a lot of logical choices on a single screen without adding confusion to the equation. Think of a road map. You can get to anywhere you want to go without getting lost or ending up in a blind alley.

So why does some HR software act like the first generation Apple Maps and direct us off cliffs?

Shaving Development Costs

Some systems lack the horse power under the hood to get us smoothly and safely to where we want to go. The developer, in efforts to cut corners and reduce development costs (it can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop even a simplistic solution), will skimp on the development cost, leaving the user in jeopardy.

Performance Management or an After-Thought?

Some systems on the other hand were not designed from the out-set to be a performance management solution.  These systems started their singular life to meet a need other than performance management such as payroll or recruitment.  Then the vendor got the brain wave that they could bolt on a make shift performance management solution as if attaching an aftermarket side-car to an off-road motorcycle.

In this instance the developer is constrained by the design of the original hosting solution and does not have a blank canvas on which to build the new add on. This specious integration appears to have merit until users take it for a test drive. These systems, while true to their roots, tend to be short on performance management functionality, and long on end user frustration.


A well thought out and carefully designed performance management solution is not unlike any other well designed solution. It earns its stripes by how easily and quickly data can be input, filtered, accessed, and shared to solve every-day business problems. If users have to work too hard to create and share data or, worse yet, the data needed is non-existent, then the solution will be ignored and under-utilized.

Let us know what you think about paper performance reviews in the comments below!

Looking for Talent Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Talent Management software solutions.

About the Author


Ron Hiller

As President and CEO of Insights For Performance Ron and his development team launched the company’s flagship product TalentPeak™, a web based performance management software in 2004. Ron and his team have worked nonstop over the past 10 years releasing new features on virtually a monthly basis. The TalentPeak system has evolved in part from input from the extensive international HR experience of some of the team’s members and from ongoing client feedback. We continue to make system enhancements based on advances in technology and client suggestions.


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