Because you know talent management is crucial to the success of your company, you’ve decided you need a new talent management system. Maybe your software is not meeting your needs, you want to stay up-to-date, or you’re currently using a manual system. How do you choose from the many options available today?

These tips will help you make the right decision for your organization. Some companies pick randomly from a few systems they have heard of and don’t perform the proper due diligence – and, in the end, waste time and money. Before making a decision, a proper analysis is required for a successful implementation.

Before you begin evaluating options, consider that the process is not easy and will take time—the typical software selection project lasts three to five months.

“There are few more important decisions in Human Resources and Learning and Development today than choosing the right learning and talent solution,” explains Rob Caul, author of the white paper How to Choose & Deploy Your Next Learning & Talent Management Solution. “Get it wrong and you are in danger of being faced with an expensive and unloved white elephant, get it right and it can help define the future long-term success of your organization.”

Talent management systems considerations

As you look around at your options, many will sound alike in their functionality and capabilities. But the difference is how each system executes. The user interface is important, but did the maker focus on that rather than usability?

You also want to consider cost, the number of people who will be using the system and its functionality—which should be a big part of your decision-making process.

Questions to ask during evaluation

Here are some questions (from an HR Market Analyst at Software Advice) that you should ask talent management software companies when you talk to them about their product and services.

  1. How is your product different from other competitors’?
  2. How can your product improve the processes within our company?
  3. How will you help us be successful?
  4. Can I get a reference?

I would add several other questions to their list, including:

  1. What are some of the common mistakes made during implementation of your system?
  2. How long is a typical implementation?
  3. Who should be part of the implementation project team?

And here are a couple questions that need to be answered about your company:

  1. What will the acceptance within our company be like for this system?
  2. Will our company’s IT department be able to handle the system?

And two additional questions of mine:

  1. Is this the right time for our company to take on this project?
  2. Are all the key stakeholders behind the project?

The idea is to get as much information as possible, to weigh your options and to make sure you select the right product for your company.

Steps to selecting and deploying your new talent management system

A white paper by e2train called Choosing and Deploying a Learning and Talent Management Solution lists 12 steps companies can take to evaluate systems:

  1. Define and engage everyone that will be affected by the new system.
  2. Map out your business goals. A successful talent management service will by fully integrated within your company.
  3. Prioritize what features are important for your company. Sometimes people decide they need everything, but what this decision does is waste money and time. Companies that successfully choose proper systems zero in on exactly how they need the system to function.
  4. Consider implementation issues.
  5. Select a person with clear responsibilities to manage the evaluation, selection and implementation processes.
  6. Make a list and establish a process to evaluate companies.
  7. Secure buy-in from the top management.
  8. Develop a launch plan.
  9. Budget for the entire project.
  10. Keep an eye out for the future, including the future of the software and of your company.
  11. Don’t only look at the technology; look at the team that will be using it.
  12. Continue to engage everyone affected once the system is implemented. And look for ways to make improvements.

If you haven’t read it already, you might want to read my post about why it’s important to have an integrated talent management system. This is also a good thing to consider when evaluating products and thinking about ways to improve the talent management in your company.

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