This content is part of the Buyer's Guide: Your guide to buying a talent management system

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Evaluate HR technology to fit your talent management processes

Choose your talent management system wisely or risk irking your employees. Learn the criteria for evaluating software that matches up best with your talent management processes.

Even if businesses have identified specific challenges with certain talent management processes, it's important that they go one step further and identify the features and functions that will add value to their talent management strategy.

Once a company has determined its talent management software needs and has built its business case, it needs to turn to specific purchasing criteria to consider when buying a talent management system.

The benefits of talent management software suites

While there are several very good standalone talent management applications on the marketplace, there is an increasing trend to purchase a suite of integrated talent management applications as opposed to a collection of independent applications that are later cobbled together.

This trend of adopting a talent management suite is occurring because certain talent management processes are typically closely tied to other processes. For example, compensation management often leverages performance management data, and recruiting is often tied to the onboarding process of a newly hired employee. With standalone applications, businesses lose the ability to have end-to-end processes that operate across the pillars of talent management. Although, in some -- but not all – cases, it is possible to replicate data between systems, this isn't always going to have the desired effect. An organization might be able to replicate a list of courses from its learning management system to its career development planning system; however, employees may not be able to have learning courses added to their development plan or be able to go directly to the course in the learning management system.

Other benefits of standalone systems are user experience and branding. Having a consistent look and feel across talent management applications is going to enhance usability, adoption and an organization's internal branding.

While talent management software suites are often the direction that organizations lean towards, bear in mind that no vendor is superior in all of the pillars of talent management. However, some vendors' suites do excel against other suites, and picking a suite that is a leader could be advantageous. That said, if the leading suites are weak in areas that are important to a business, it should consider a set of standalone applications or select one or two and add a suite to cover the remaining processes.

Talent management software soars in the cloud

Cloud has surpassed on-premises as the deployment model for HR and talent management systems. This is largely because cloud HR systems offer a lower total cost of ownership than on-premises systems and are generally easier for HR departments to purchase because they fall under operational expenditure as opposed to capital expenditure. Maybe more importantly, cloud technology offers more regular and rapid releases of new features and functionality.

When looking for talent management software, consider cloud vendors and take note of how often they release new functions and what functions have been part of their recent releases.

In particular, regular releases of new features and functionality -- often two to four times per year depending on the vendor -- offer HR departments the chance to continuously enhance their processes. These new features could be small or incremental enhancements, or they could be new modules or submodules in their own right. No matter what type of features they are, faster updates to talent management software mean faster progression of a company's talent management processes.

Mobile talent management software

With the growth of cloud, enterprises have seen a subsequent growth in mobile capabilities. Many cloud vendors offer a mobile application as part of the suite, typically at no extra cost. The quality of mobile applications can vary across vendors, and some have traditionally focused their mobile development on one particular device (e.g., Apple iPhone) or platform (e.g., Android), as opposed to covering a range of devices or platforms.

The need for mobile talent management tools varies from organization to organization. If a company has a workforce that is largely based on the road or out in the field, then it is more likely to want deep mobile functionality that covers all of its talent management processes. A manufacturing organization or business where most employees are office-based may view the functionality as less important.

Mobile approvals are often a sought-after function, particularly for recruiting processes where time is of the essence. In an age of continuous performance management, mobile functionality that caters to this can be desirable. Mobile learning is important if an organization has factory workers. The ability to assess workers in the line of work can be important for compliance or for the operation of specific machinery that requires training.

The importance of user experience

As mentioned above, user experience is important. Users of the system -- particularly casual ones -- often expect an engaging and useful interface, partly because most of the websites or mobile apps that they use have been built this way. For many users, their expectation when interacting with any application is that it will be as easy as their mobile or tablet device. This has put pressure on many vendors to focus on refining their user interface and user experience. In this day and age, it no longer makes sense to choose functionality over user experience, as users simply won't accept or use a system that is difficult or frustrating to use. And if users won't use the system or only reluctantly use it, then your talent management processes will not be as effective as you need them to be.

HCM suites with talent management and talent management suites with HCM

One consideration that buyers often consider is whether the talent management system is part of a larger human capital management (HCM) suite. Looking forward, some buyers may wish to consider whether a core HCM system is included in the suite or whether the suite has payroll or workforce management capabilities. For other buyers, being able to keep your existing HCM system and integrate a talent management system might be the only consideration.

The large HR technology vendors offer full-blown HCM suites that encompass core HR, payroll and talent management. They may also include development or integration platforms. However, some of the other vendors offer systems that focus more on talent management.

Whether a business looks at a full HCM suite or focuses more on talent management depends on its talent management roadmap. There isn't really a direct correlation between quality of talent management systems and whether they are part of a larger HCM suite. While one of the talent management systems leaders has its functionality as part of a wider HCM suite, it's still worth heeding some of the points discussed earlier about what a company's key talent management needs are before it selects a suite because the suite is all-encompassing.

Next Steps

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