Choosing HR Software Fit For Your Team: The Complete Guide

Team-Tailored BizTech Tools: Team First, Or Tool?

Here’s a question every entrepreneur faces during initial growth phases – Do I choose the best software my money can buy, and train my team to work according to its needs?

Or would it be better to let my team dictate the kind of software which would work well with them, even if that costs me a few top-of-the-line features found in some other tools?

Over 70% of entrepreneurs base their infrastructural software decisions on the advice of their peers in the startup world – but, more often than not, that’s a mistake, well-researched though said mistake may be.

Over 70% of entrepreneurs base their infrastructural software decisions on the advice of their peers in the startup world

What may work well for Company A may be disastrous for Company B. Unfortunately, mistakes in software choices rarely ever directly damage the bottom line, and so are harder to spot.

Instead, business software (biztech) tools incompatible with your organization slowly reduce productivity, bleeding profits without highlighting the source of damage. Tools which are less user-friendly may kill efficiency, reduce employee engagement, and increase discontent with leadership decisions – thus influencing higher employee turnover rates.

And you further end up losing more time and money swapping them out of your infrastructure, once you comprehend the negative fallout.

So, to clarify, we’re not going to present you with a list of Best HR Tools Of All Time Guaranteed To Bring You Success, And Win You The Ever-Lasting Love & Respect of Your Employees. Because such one-size-fits-all answers don’t exist.

Instead, we’ll teach you how to pick the best HR software, not just for you but for your organization. Such a novel concept, isn’t it?

Lesson One: That first question we started with? Your team comes first. Always.

Why? Because burdening employees with resource tools that don’t smoothly complement their professional needs is one of the 11 leading causes of employee disengagement. The decision for an infrastructural software solution should consider the opinions of people who would be affected by their inclusion the most.

Moving on, in this article, we’ll address:

  • Pitfalls to avoid when determining choice of infrastructural software
  • Crucial criteria according to which every software option must be evaluated before final selection

First Consideration: Purpose of the Tool

While it may seem simpler at first glance, ascertaining a tool based on its purpose is a rather convoluted activity. It’s not as straightforward as “Oh, I need a team management tool. Let’s see what ranks highest in Google reviews”.

Nature of your Human Resources

Well, if you wanted a TV, then you wouldn’t go buy a radio now, would you? It wouldn’t serve your basic need, i.e. visual entertainment.

So why wouldn’t you consider the nature of your team before buying a random HR suite, just because it was top-of-the-line and highly acclaimed by Unilever or Wal-Mart? Remember: One man’s mead is another man’s poison.

Instead of checking reviews first, your search should start by understanding the specific requirements for your own team.

Is it a big organization? Well then many of the tools and suites offered by smaller companies may not be able to fulfill your exact needs, or may not scale well to your size. After all, if the people making your software haven’t been in your shoes and don’t understand your specific needs, how could you expect their product to fulfill those requirements?

Do you have a virtual team spread over the world? Well then, in today’s world, that automatically disqualifies any non-Cloud software. I mean – why would you even consider a tool for remote team management if it doesn’t make use of the most convenient real-time connectivity infrastructure available today?

Also, smaller companies with virtual teams located in more than one physical location need more emphasis on detailed features pertaining to data sharing, reports, time logging, leave management, and other related day-to-day business management happenstances such as those managed in CakeHR.

Since having teams scattered across the globe brings about immense complexities relating to work-hours in different time-zones, greater emphasis on the sort of features listed above would allow your team to surpass the downsides of working from different physical locations, and ease up on the amount of following-up required with you at any given point.

Are your employees not the most tech-savvy people in the world? User-friendliness and simplicity in the software take high priority then. Complex tools may slow down work and counter-productively increase performance issues in your organization.

Do you run an outsourced phone support center for client businesses, with employees logging in from different parts of the globe? Then you don’t just need a complex scheduling software capable of handling its function across various time-zones, you also need a work tracker, a conversation recorder, and a feedback system for you to review their performance based on customer reviews.

Do your teams already work and communicate via Google Apps? Then software tools like CakeHR which seamlessly integrate with Google Apps would significantly boost productivity and efficiency. Have offices in locations such as California as well? You may need HR suites with sufficient data-gathering capabilities to satisfy the compliance requirements of the state’s new Paid Sick Leave law.

As you can imagine by now, there are several pre-conditions unique to the nature of your team which may make some biztech tools far more valuable than others, even if the ones most suitable to you aren’t at the top of reviews or awards lists.

Once you’ve figured out the exact requirements for a tool, as dictated by the nature of your team and not the other way round, then you can search for appropriate software tools and select the best ones amongst them using reviews as a yardstick.

Complementary Advantages

Unsurprisingly, the basic purpose which you want the software to fulfill is the first factor you need to examine. But, this function can even be fulfilled best by biztech in which your needed function is a side-feature, or one amongst many complementary features.

So, for example, if you’re looking for a company work-calendar management tool to keep an eye on who’s off and when, then an HR suite like CakeHR can perform that function admirably.

It will also allow employees to remotely apply for time-off, keep an eye on their vacation days without necessitating multiple trips to the HR department, and securely upload and share documents on a centralized storage which can be accessed from anywhere and through any device.

As you can see, depending on the aspects of Human Resources which you wish to have managed through the software, there are different groupings of features which would complement each other.

Simply put, these aspects of HR can be divided into the following rough groupings:

  • Benefits, compensation, and payroll
  • Recruitment-focused job boards and applicant trackers
  • Training-oriented Learning management suites, and onboarding tools
  • Talent & leadership management tools
  • Employee performance & engagement data-gathering, analysis, appraisal, feedback, and recognition tools
  • Time & attendance tracking, and leave management

Complementarity among the various features offered by a particular HR tool significantly increases productivity and efficiency since related functions can all be mapped under the same biztech.

Moreover, an ICT software maker specializing in employee performance tracking, for example, is far more likely to provide kick-derrière tech relating to engagement data analytics and review tools than payroll – because the former grouping signifies overlapping expertise in areas which wildly differ from the compliance and infrastructure requirements of payroll & compensation tools.

Once these two steps are complete, rate each of the remaining biztech HR tools on the shortlist based on the conditions discussed under Second Consideration: Purpose of the Tool.

Second Consideration: Performance of the Tool

As we’ve mentioned in earlier posts of this series, every biztech choice today must fulfill certain conditions in order to be the best viable tool to integrate into your business. These conditions are visibility, convenience, integration, ease of access, record-keeping, transparency.

In essence, these qualifications allow entrepreneurs to separate good business tools from underperforming or potentially incomplete and burdensome software programs. Mind you, we don’t mean it separates well-coded software from buggy tools – we assume you do your research well enough to separate those on your own.

Yet, in today’s hyper-competitive environment, having a tool which just does its basic job well isn’t enough. With HR software for example, data gathering and analysis are just as important as the basic function of the ICT tool.

Thus, those 7 conditions listed above help separate out-performing and well-designed biztech tools from underachieving ones. They aid you in picking tools which provide the best access across multiple devices, or figure which software would reduce your individual burden as the CEO the most.

Having already covered their scope in previous articles, we won’t be rehashing these conditions, but they’re discussed in greater detail here.

However, before moving on from this discussion, let’s quickly visit some examples of practical applications of these conditions:

a) Cross-platform Apps:

The world of biztech is far too widespread today to invest in software which is limited to a particular platform. Moreover, cross-platform presence allows your employees to access these tools from smartphones and tablets, giving them the convenience of working on the go.

This criterion single-handedly fulfills the conditions of visibility, convenience, and ease of access. As such, the presence of your chosen tool on mobile platforms such as iOS and Android is a must.

b) Cross-software Integrations:

As we’ve discussed before, while there are several suite software available, the most customized working experience can only be achieved by testing and implementing different complementary biztech tools.

With programs and bundles such as Slack, Payroll and Google Apps finding widespread use in today’s business environment, it’s critical that your chosen tool provide smooth integration with these software tools and more. This criterion serves as a perfect practical fulfillment of the conditions of transparency, convenience, record-keeping, and integration.

c) Organizational charting:

Increasingly a must-have feature in HR management tools, organizational charts enhance transparency and efficiency in a business multi-fold. By shining a light on the various interactions and professional relationships between various employees in a team, this simple feature empowers employees with the necessary knowledge to better fulfill their work.

While many smaller businesses yet consider this an optional tool, the best businesses in the trade treat its presence in any chosen software as a given for the boost in efficiency it provides to the teams.

Now, we’re sure many of you are wondering – shouldn’t these conditions be the first consideration? Well, that’s the difference between putting yourself or your team’s needs first.

By following this particular order, you guarantee that the names of biztech software tools remaining on your list at the very end will serve your organization’s needs above all, regardless of any compromises you may have to make among these secondary sets of conditions.

But, while the First Consideration helps you choose tools best suited for your organization, and the Second Consideration helps you figure which among them is the software best suited to maximize business performance and efficiency by increasing access and reducing redundancy – they mean nothing unless you heed the taboos of the Third Consideration.

Third Consideration: Pitfalls to Avoid In Picking HR Software

Every exercise has its hidden pitfalls, its taboos which people unwittingly cross because their expectations from the end-result are impractical or idealistic.

These are the ‘No-No’s you need to remember, or else all your efforts in the past two considerations are for naught.

It’s Not A Magic Problem Solver

Many CEOs with smaller teams of 15 personnel and above only start looking at HR software when they start facing specific issues with communication, scheduling, feedback, teamwork, etc.

Their teams either don’t communicate well with each other, or keep delaying work by lagging behind on important updates to one another. These are just two examples among many similar situations.

Here’s the thing – you switching to an HR software at this juncture will not solve that problem. Such issues largely arise due to friction between teams, or lack of communication because one team doesn’t really care about the output of the other, or because of a lack of camaraderie and cohesiveness in the organization.

None of such issues will be solved by the HR tool you seek, no matter how good it may be. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that software can end troubles in the organization started by humans – these are just inanimate tools.

They may emphasize the extent of your problem, and the damage caused by it to your business. But it won’t make them go away till you actively solve them.

Cost is a Tertiary Consideration

Yes, you read it right. And just to remind you – we’re a smaller to medium sized business who’ve faced these problems in the past ourselves, so we know intimately that of which we speak.

Practically speaking, estimation of worth of a tool is thrown askew when you figure cost into it. Keep in mind that some mind-blowing tools are free, like Gmail and the entire host of free productivity plug-ins available for its use, while other expensive biztech may be absolute garbage.

We aren’t trying to say either that expenses aren’t an important consideration for a startup CEO or an entrepreneur – simply that, if you find the tool best suited for your organization, it’ll make you money in the long run.

Since HR tools are chosen to be ideally used for the next few years or so anyway, paying slightly higher for the best tool for you shouldn’t cause you to disqualify it or rank it lower than other sub-par biztech. But that shouldn’t stop you from trying to negotiate a lower price either.

In Closing: Picking the Best HR Software for You

As I’m sure you’ve noticed so far, we don’t always recommend picking large end-to-end suites simply because they try to juggle too many hats at once. As comparisons, awards, and online reviews go to show, such cumbersome biztech suites often fail to impress on any significant level, while either barely performing or under-performing on several crucial metrics.

While choosing such a solution definitely rids you of the headache of having to sort and choose several over-performing sets of software tools, you also lose out on benefits of efficiency and are at a much higher risk of being left behind by your competitors.

But there’s also the other end of the same spectrum. While a single bulky suite is quite unlikely to ever exceed on most metrics, since it’s trying to be a jack-of-all-trades, it’s also statistically unlikely to land on the perfect set of software groupings to solve all your needs on your first go at this exercise.

You will likely have to revisit performance metrics every year or so and ask yourself the question – does this software perform well in the functions I expect it to fulfill? Chances are that you may find a newer software does the same job significantly better.

But, yet again, here’s the upside to having a bunch of different HR software solutions managing various complementary aspects of your business – replacing one doesn’t require you to overhaul your entire system and face the accompanying time and monetary costs. All you need to do is change that single faulty bulb, rather than replacing your entire house’s wiring, so to speak.


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A small and apparently an unusual step can lift you to big heights. Check out CakeHR software to know how a small effort of ours is enabling big changes at work.

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Written By

Aniket Saksena

I'm a business/academic/creative/HR writer, interested in pursuing and researching as many fields as possible in an effort to become a cross-domain business expert and opinion leader.