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What to Look for in HCM Software (Part 1)

We’ve all been there. Whether it’s a new car or an upgraded phone, we’ve invested in some snazzy features that sounded cool when the salesperson pitched them but now that we’ve driven off the lot or have left the store, we are clueless about how to use them.

Maybe you’re cruising down the road and have no idea how to turn down the voice navigation on your car because apparently it’s not linked to the stereo volume. Or maybe when you go to the home screen on your iPhone, it’s cluttered with apps you’ve never opened because you have no idea what they do. And you’ve had this phone for more than a year. You probably paid extra for these upgrades but they’re not doing anything for you, simply because you aren’t sure how to use them. Or worse, maybe like your GPS that is yelling at you every time you miss a turn, the inability to use your technology is frustrating the heck out of you.

The right technology can make your life easier, however, it’s easy to get talked into something more robust than you need or miss out on great features simply because you don’t know how to use them.

If you’re reading this, you’ve got some questions about what you need when it comes to Human Capital Management (HCM) software. Maybe your “process” is a stack of paper or maybe you are using software, but like that tricked-out phone, you don’t know what half of the icons are for.

If you have an HCM challenge at your business, there is a good chance it’s related to a process problem that can often be solved by a combination of the right tools, coupled with someone helping you take a critical look at your methods.

Take Inventory

Before you get caught up in the “latest and greatest” features, get a solid understanding of how your internal company is structured and your current processes as they relate to onboarding, offboarding, and everything in-between. Let’s get super practical:

  1. Grab a white board or a pad of paper and set a timer for 30 minutes. Account for all of the things that happen during the life cycle of your employees from hiring them through their last day. Think about how they’re recruited, how they sign off on policies, how they’re evaluated, how they request time off. You get it. (If you’ve already mapped this out, add anything you may have missed with HCM software in-mind.)
  2. Once you’ve reviewed your process flow, write down what you’d like to see your HCM software do for you (for example, managing onboarding documentation) and rank these functions in order of priority.

Look for software that can accommodate what you are currently doing. Once you’ve surveyed the big picture and the details, then work through this transition in baby steps. If you bite off too much from day one, you will find yourself overwhelmed and wanting to give up.


If you haven’t shopped software in a while, you will definitely be surprised by all that today’s HCM software can do for you. More than just record-keeping, today’s HCM applications cover the entire employee life cycle from hiring to onboarding, benefits administration, payroll management, in-house training, performance tracking, time and attendance and more. Our clients report that the features they can’t live without when it comes to managing their HCM processes are:

  1. Employee Self-Service Capability – Your employees should have the ability to update basic information without going through an HR office. This should include access to pay stubs and end-of-year forms.
  2. Electronic Onboarding – This can be a huge time saver if you hire often, but maybe more importantly, this gives your company an edge in recruiting millennials as your applicants’ and new hires’ first experience with your business will be digital.
  3. Built-In Timekeeping – If you have a significant number of hourly employees, you should not be using a timekeeping service that is not native to your payroll system!
  4. Advanced Reporting – In today’s age, you need access to a variety of reports in specific formats. What works for one company doesn’t always work for another, therefore you need flexibility and control to customize your reports – not to mention easy-to-view, quick access dashboards that are perfect for those times your CFO says, “I need these 10 things in a report this afternoon!”

Perhaps more important than your software, is finding the right HCM provider to work with you to get the most out of these tools and streamline your processes. Stay tuned for part two of this series where we’ll help you identify “must haves” in an outsourced HCM partner.

In Your Corner

At Patrick Payroll, payroll is just the beginning. We like to come alongside our clients and identify what’s working and what’s not in their HCM processes. If you could use someone in your corner to knock out your payroll and HCM frustrations, let’s set up a time to talk.