HR Tech

Buying HR Software? Use This Technology Requirements List.

October 21, 2022
March 8, 2024
Andy Przystanski
Lattice Team

HR software isn’t something you buy on a whim. On average, it takes midsized companies four to seven months to evaluate and implement it. Depending on what you’re shopping for, rushing into a purchase might leave you with a botched performance review cycle, low survey participation rate, or worse. In some cases, implementing the wrong tech could hurt your culture or skew employee attitudes against your people programs altogether.

If you’re in the market for a tool, you need an HR technology requirements list. In addition to other HR technology shopping best practices, like setting a timeline and talking to references, taking the simple step of listing out your must-haves will give you the clarity needed to make the right call.

Why You Need a Requirements List

First, your buying decision will influence employee adoption. For example, even if a tool supports continuous feedback, that doesn’t mean it does so in a way that’s intuitive to users. HR software that’s designed for employees first, built with the usability of apps like Instagram or LinkedIn, makes it easier to drive participation in ongoing activities like pulse surveys, feedback, one-on-ones, and more. That’s why it’s essential to consider the employee user experience as a key part of your requirements list. Well-designed tools can turn managers into career coaches, foster cultures of recognition, and transform HR leaders into data scientists.

Second, HR tech buying decisions are high-stakes decisions. The systems you use, for better or worse, influence your people strategy and, long-term, company culture. For starters, the people programs you implement — like quarterly performance reviews or semi-annual engagement surveys — are contingent on what your HR tech stack can support. When you evaluate software, it’s important to consider whether it meets your future needs as well.

Keeping a requirements list makes it easier for you — and everyone else in the buying process — to stay focused, prioritize, and ultimately settle on a vendor.

Finally, having a requirements list just makes the buying process easier. The HR tech industry is only getting more complex — there are hundreds of point solutions for every HR discipline, not to mention a host of new and legacy “all-in-one” suites that claim to do everything. Keeping a requirements list makes it easier for you — and everyone else in the buying process — to stay focused, prioritize, and ultimately settle on a vendor. It also shows due diligence and gives you a paper trail when it comes to justifying your decision to a potentially skeptical C-suite.

Example HR Technology Requirements List

Below is a sample requirements list for your vendor search. Don’t think of these as product features — as those will vary depending on the kind of tool you’re looking for. Instead, think of them as differentiators that are meaningful to you. While you might not intuitively list requirements like ease of implementation, self-service guidance, or partner ecosystem on your must-have list of features, they’re just as influential to your success.

Questions to Ask
Compatibility With Existing Systems
Can the potential system sync with your current HRIS, communication platform, email, SSO, etc.?
Reporting Functionality to Show Value Can the system easily show adoption across modules, and drive long-term habits?
Self-Service Guidance Can admins roll out programs and encourage tool adoption with pre-created content? (Look for tools like Lattice University, Change Management Hub, and content for all personas.)
Product Velocity and Innovation Does the vendor innovate new tools for HR admins often and ahead of other peers, and make thoughtful product updates consistently? What have they told you about product feedback so far?
Flexibility to Support Various HR Programs For example, can the tool support different goal and feedback methodologies? Are they flexible enough to meet your people programs’ current and future needs?
Reliable Support and Service What awards have their customer care team won? What does the CSM relationship look like, from implementation and beyond?
Speed and Ease of Implementation What do ratings sites like G2 share about the tool’s ease of implementation? Does the vendor provide a clear plan?
Broad and Connected Platform Are features built in-house and do they easily intersect with one another to drive accountability and adoption?
Thought Leadership and Partner Ecosystem Does the company have an advisory team to help formulate the company’s strategic program and offer suggestions throughout the partnership?
Widely Adopted Tooling What’s the reputation of a vendor from the user’s perspective, manager’s perspective, and admin’s perspective?
Trusted because of strong brand reputation Does the partner have great Glassdoor reviews, notable awards, a positive external brand, and a trusted HR community?


Features to Prioritize

The above list represents some of the more holistic qualities you’ll want to look for when evaluating HR software. That isn’t to say product functionality shouldn’t be a priority. On the contrary, listing out the features you need (and will need in the future) is an essential part of the buying process.

Start by listing the specific functionality (e.g., built-in survey templates) that you’d expect to see from the tool. Without prioritization, you likely discover that your wishlist will get overwhelmingly long, fast. Give the list structure by breaking down the features into tiers — like needs, wants, and nice-to-haves. Think critically here, avoiding the temptation to list everything as a need.

It helps to write down why your top-tier needs are important to you. If you’re evaluating a people success platform, here are examples that might apply to you:

  • Communication platform integrations: HR-led initiatives like continuous feedback can sometimes feel siloed, especially when it lives in a standalone tool. When your HR software integrates with Slack and Microsoft Teams, it becomes part of employees’ daily workflow.

    Integrations and partner ecosystem: People management tools need to integrate with the rest of your HR and organizational tech stack. Don’t limit your focus to just HR technology integrations, either: For example, Lattice’s parternship with AWS empowers you to meet IT security, compliance, and infrastructure requirements while setting employees and the business up for success.
  • Built-in templates: Performance reviews, development conversations, and one-on-ones offer challenges to managers and employees. Sometimes, knowing what to say (or do) during the conversation is the hardest part. Tools like Lattice include templates and talking points, backed by our Advisory Services team, to make those touch points easier and more impactful.
  • Customization: Your people strategy isn’t set in stone. When you want to iterate and improve your processes, software should empower you to do so. Look for features like supporting multiple review templates, tapping into private questions for talent planning, and cross-analyzing competencies and rating questions to ensure inclusivity across different HR methodologies.
  • Flexibility: Company priorities can change at any time — and the best organizations stay nimble in challenging times. Tools like Lattice support adjusting goals after they’ve launched or even making late changes to performance review assignments. That flexibility makes administration a much smoother experience.
  • Individual Development Plans (IDPs): For those looking to drive employee development, individual development plans (IDPs) empower individuals to set both long-term and short-term growth goals. Lattice makes it easy for managers and their reports to keep IDPs top of mind, whether in weekly one-on-ones or dedicated developmental reviews. This makes development a dynamic and ongoing process — not a one-and-done annual conversation.

You want to purchase HR software to make your life easier. But making sense of an increasingly vast HR technology landscape almost feels harder than the problems you’re trying to solve in the first place.

It helps to know what to look for. Whether you’re evaluating a recruiting tool or a people success platform like Lattice, download Navigating the Employee-First Era of HR Technology to learn more about the HR trends and technology vendors redefining the industry.