6 key areas to consider before investing in workforce management software

Any financial outlay for HR or workforce management technology is likely to be significant – indeed, research from Gartner shows that in 2023, 46% of surveyed HR leaders expect to increase their HR technology budget, beating out staffing and recruiting (45%) and total rewards (41%). Technology was ranked as the leading HR investment priority for the second year in a row. The Gartner research also revealed that HR leaders expect technology-related initiatives to hold the highest potential for HR function efficiency.

Every business has its own unique circumstances and needs to consider, but there are some common questions to ask before committing to workforce management software technology . In this blog, we outline six critical areas to consider, from data security to the user experience, as well as the questions that you should ask both your relevant internal stakeholders and your shortlisted technology vendors.

1. Integration

Integration with existing software or platforms is a key consideration. Most vendors will offer an open application programming interface (API), which allows you to build your own integrations between systems, provided they both support the API and you’ve either got some in-house programming talent, or you are prepared to pay a third party to do this.

Questions to ask:

  • Can your software integrate with our existing system(s)?

  • Will there be any impact on reporting from using third-party integrations?

  • Will your new system be fully integrated with legacy systems or can you expect any technical or reporting issues from the systems’ inability to interface fully?

  • Will the legacy system recognise all updates?

  • Are there any issues with your legacy program accessing data in the cloud?

  • What sort of flexibility will the integration provide going forward?

  • Can data be imported from Microsoft Excel and other business software?

2. Price

Price may not be everything but it’s always a key consideration. Budgets are always finite, and you’ll want to get the most value for money and a solid return on investment. Fortunately, cloud solutions allow for scalable pricing and negate the need to spend heavily on infrastructure.

Questions to ask:

  • What pricing structure is used by the vendor? Do they charge a flat per-employee, per-month (PEPM) fee? If so, how are users classified? Some vendors charge based on a company’s total number of employees while others charge for the HR staff who’ll use the system (this is most common in applicant tracking or recruiting software).

  • Are volume discounts offered? Some vendors provide an enterprise rate for customers with more than a specific number of employees or users.

  • Are tiered packages offered? Some vendors offer tiered features and pricing. They may start as a fixed price/low-touch model and increase to custom-scoped tailored packages depending on customer size and complexity.

  • Are there any hidden subscription costs?

  • Will there be additional costs relating to data interface development and support – especially if your new HR system will be integrated with and share data with existing business systems?

  • Will training be offered by the vendor once the new system is implemented or is this an extra cost?

3. User experience

A great user experience can guarantee high adoption of new technology. This is especially important for deskless workers, who need to be able to use new technology on-the-go, without having to commit to time-consuming training sessions and instead can learn ‘in the flow of work’. Clunky interfaces and absence of a uniform experience between solutions can also impact the user experience, especially for those who may not be tech-savvy. A good user experience will factor in how people already work and make decisions.

Questions to ask:

  • What employee and manager self-service functions are provided?

  • How different is the experience for administrative staff?

  • How customisable are the user interfaces?

  • How intuitive is the software? Does it require complex training documents, or will employees instinctively know how to use the software?

  • Does it help to streamline processes or remove roadblocks associated with certain tasks?

4. Reporting and analytics

HR is rapidly becoming a data-driven business unit. Workforce management software can be a repository of valuable data, enabling users to spot trends as well as threats and opportunities. Effective workforce management thrives on historical data – this helps with roster creation and resource allocation. It’s not just having access to data – it’s how you use it. Today’s software solutions should provide a range of reports to drill down on specific metrics of interest and provide insights to the business.

Questions to ask:

  • Does it have embedded analytics or is data pulled from multiple systems into a data mart – or more often into Excel – to manipulate (meaning data integrity and security may be compromised)?

  • Are reports standardised and templatised or bespoke (or both)?

  • Can those analytics be predictive?

  • Can the management team access reports and data anywhere, any time through easy-to-use analytics tools?

5. Support

There should be reliable multi-channel support from the solution vendor as well as an easily accessible resource hub or knowledge centre. An online portal should be available in case you need quick self-service.

Questions to ask:

  • Can the vendor offer qualified support to deal with any software, hardware or security concerns?

  • What sort of turnaround time can you expect in the event of any problems?

  • What are the support protocols and how experienced are the people dealing with your potential issues?

  • What is their after-sales service, both in terms of emergency situations and areas such as systems training and troubleshooting?

  • Will customer support and account managers be on hand to offer ongoing support?

6. Data security

How does the solution protect employee data, which can include sensitive personal and financial data? Cloud-based solutions mean data will be stored online somewhere, so it’s important to ensure that it’s adequately protected with role-based access controls and at least the option to encrypt data.

If you rely on third-party data-services firms, it’s critical to check that they not only utilise a robust security system (able to guard against unauthorised access and detect malicious software) but also one that complies with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules on how and where to store personal data.

Questions to ask:

  • Where will the data be stored?

  • Who’s responsible for protecting it?

  • What security protocols does the vendor currently employ and what steps can they take to ensure that they are future-proofed against cyber criminals?

  • How many staff from the HR/IT teams will hold an administrator’s account?

  • Is the system open to remote access?

  • Who will be given remote access?

  • How will access be regulated? Through two-factor or multi-factor authentication? With physical security keys?

Next steps

After you’ve researched the market, tested some of the solutions on offer, reviewed client testimonials and decided on the best solution for your business, it’s time to make an airtight business case. As the name suggests, a business case is not about making a ‘HR’ case; it’s about understanding and articulating the needs of the business and ensuring relevant stakeholders have what they need to make an informed decision.

That includes clarifying why your organisation should be investing in new technology, identifying the benefits such an investment will bring, aligning the business case to the goals and strategy of your organisation, and defining what success will look like for each of your ‘reasons for change’.

Download our handy guide to building a business case for WFM technology.

About Humanforce

Humanforce is a leading provider of composable, best-of-breed workforce management, payroll and wellbeing solutions that simplify onboarding, scheduling, time & attendance, pay, employee engagement, and communication for frontline workforces. Founded in 2002, Humanforce has a 1700-strong customer base and over half a million users across a wide range of industries, including aged care, child care, hospitality, retail, local government and more. Today, we have offices across Australia, New Zealand, and the UK.

Our vision is to make work easier and life better by focusing on the needs and fulfilment of frontline workers and the efficiency and optimisation of businesses.