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The 3 Most Common Complaints About HR Software

By Stuart Hearn, writer
Jan 30, 2018
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> Human Resources

Find the right software that aligns with your business structure and goals.

Businesses are evolving at an astonishing rate, and software, in general, is becoming a necessity rather than a luxury for larger conglomerates.  However, not just any software will do. While some packages have been shown to boost engagement and productivity levels, others do nothing but frustrate managers and employees alike while wasting valuable time.

HR software is a large part of my life. I have thoroughly researched what makes great performance management software. I have also heard a lot of complaints in this area. It's only by listening to customers' experience that software providers can develop the right product. Equally, HR executives should know what to look for – and what to avoid – when it comes to performance management software. 

Below are the biggest and most notable complaints I have heard about performance management software. Such grievances turn CEOs and company leaders away from a technology that can provide invaluable and numerous benefits.

1. All too often, HR software is overly complex

Often, software providers forget the golden rule: Technology should be simple and user friendly. Partially as a result of "feature creep," most software applications have too many features. The more features you include, the less value you add, and the less user adoption you get. Users eventually get overwhelmed or realize that the software requires far more training than they can afford. After all, time is money, and the longer employees have to spend getting to know the software, the less time they have to perform their job functions.

An interesting study demonstrating the desire and need for simplicity is related in the book "One Page Talent Management: Eliminating Complexity, Adding Value" by Marc Effron and Miriam Ort. The study revolved around camera users. When given the choice, consumers most commonly selected the camera with the most high-tech, diverse features. However, when these same consumers were asked to use the camera they had selected, they quickly became frustrated and ultimately settled for a simpler design.

Great employee appraisal software revolves around simplicity. It focuses on a small number of key features that add the most value. Software such as this gets the greatest user adoption because people love to use it. The problem is that simplicity can be surprisingly hard to achieve, which is why most software falls short.

2. Many HR executives claim that performance management software doesn't add value

HR software of any kind requires investment and persistence. When business owners don't see a return on this investment over time, it is understandable that they would be irritated and somewhat disillusioned.

Most performance management software focuses on collecting data from users for HR decision-making purposes. The majority of the time, though, users see this data collection as a series of tick-the-box exercises. When users develop this response, they don’t see the point or relevance in putting in sufficient effort, so the data collected is not reliable. 

A better approach is for HR executives to look for software programs that complement their performance management system. For example, many companies these days have transitioned over to continuous performance management. Therefore, these individuals are seeking programs with features and data relating to giving and requesting feedback. They are also keen to find a software app that schedules one-to-one conferences while providing guided discussion points for these check-in meetings. Another useful feature involves the capacity to update SMART objectives in real time. Such features result in genuine user adoption, so the data collated from the system is more accurate and reliable. 

3. HR software can feel clunky to employees and managers

Anyone with experience of software will tell you that clunkiness is a leading customer complaint. This is normally due to the fact that the software has been designed by experienced IT engineers around a technical specification rather than around the user and their particular needs.

HR software users should look for packages designed by HR experts. Software should be designed by someone who knows the ins, outs, demands and complications of your industry. At each and every stage, the software developer should understand the user's motivation and anticipate what it is they want to do at that particular step or with that particular function. If the developer has no expertise or experience in the area of HR, the result can be clunky and unintuitive software.

No company should expect software to be the magic solution to all of their problems. As with any performance management tool or workplace process, its adoption and ultimate success are dependent on your workforce and the effort invested in learning the software. At the same time, no matter how much effort you put in, you won't reap the rewards if your tool is ineffective.

Protect yourself and your business. Do your research, and find a product that's right for your company. When you manage to find the right fit, you'll be sure to enjoy the rewards.

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Stuart Hearn
Stuart Hearn
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Stuart Hearn has twenty years of experience in the HR sector. He co-founded plusHR, a leading UK HR consultancy, and previously worked as International HR Director for Sony Music Publishing. Stuart is currently CEO of Clear Review, an innovative performance management software system.
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