As companies grow, the employee support needs increase. Before you put your money into an employee management software solution, research a few areas to get exactly what you need. Too many features can result in a difficult system to use. Too few and it may become expensive to add the features to make it really useful.

Supporting Infrastructure

Where do you want to run the software? This is a question to have in your mind as you evaluate the different products on the market. At the end, this could be a deal breaker if you find a product that doesn''t support your infrastructure vision.

Could you use a product that runs completely in the cloud or do you want an in-house hosted system? Some companies site data security and privacy as the reasons for locally hosted applications. Or they just want more control of things such as backup and recovery.

Cloud-based applications reduce the technical infrastructure required to support them. They also tend to be more accessible than local systems. It is possible that the nature of a company''s contracts preclude using the cloud. Government and financial projects that are highly regulated may require the security that an in-house system provides.

Application Features

What do you need to do with this employee management system? This is a good time to make a list of features that you want. Some of the typical features include:

Employee role and compensation history
Track review scores and dates
Email messages with archiving
Employee self-service
Open enrollment for employee benefits
Report writing tool
Import and export data

One you have a list of the features you want, prioritize the list. The highest priority is a feature that you must have in a software offering before you will even look at it the product. The lowest priority are those "nice to have" features that won''t negatively impact the business if it''s not there. This gives you the "shopping list" to take with you when reviewing software. It''s also the list you can give vendors if you are going to issue an RFI (request for information). 

Self-Service

How engaged are the employees in their own management? Self-service applications are available for functions such as time tracking, scheduling, goal setting and performance reviews. These areas all come with some form of management input or override capability. 

If the business'' culture is not conducive to employee self-service, it can take a lot of effort to get that established. Don''t assume that just because the software feature is available that it will be used. It can be expensive and time consuming to train staff and make the system accessible to them unless the company already supports other self-service applications.

Accessibility

This relates to both the self-service and architecture questions. If you''re using self-service applications, should employees have access to them any time and from anywhere? Or is it sufficient to have access during business hours when the employee is at their desk and workstation? Companies that have employees located throughout multiple physical locations around the country, or the world, may opt for cloud-based applications making access easier to implement.

Privacy

What privacy policies need to be accommodated by the employee management application? Can information such as social security numbers or health care information be seen by people other than the employee? Information security has become a complicated matter and needs to be considered when evaluating software.

Notes and Reporting

What manual efforts will an employee management software package remove or reduce? Some companies implement a product only to discover that the manager and employees still have to maintain a folder full of notes and spreadsheets. A system that allows both employees and manager to write and save notes contains a more complete record of the employee. Report generation tools, or the ability to filter and select data to be exported to a spreadsheet, will make sure that all of the critical information is in one place.

Get What You Need with Room for Growth

Take some time to understand what the most important features are for your business. Evaluate software products with an eye toward what meets your needs yet allows for growth. Some systems are modular and you can implement only what you need at the time. Future modules can be added as your business grows. The goal is to find an employee management system that provides sufficient value without adding overwhelming overhead.

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