Here’s what might be missing from your HR tech RFP

As organizations navigate HR tech purchases, they often turn to a tried-and-true mechanism: the request for proposal or RFP. And this won’t fade away in 2024. In fact, HR leaders say that technology represents the top investment priority for their departments this year, according to Gartner.

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The RFP provides potential vendors with detailed information about the project or service needs, allowing them to submit a proposal demonstrating how their offerings meet the organization’s requirements.

But does it always capture the information CHROs need to make an educated HR tech purchasing decision? Not by a long shot, according to data from Gartner. When the firm polled more than 3,000 HR software buyers, eight out of 10 said they experienced regret due to a poorly structured buying process.

Advice from Sapient Insights Group

The team at Sapient Insights Group recently shared advice for HRE readers, all about crafting RFPs for HR tech purchases. Ultimately, they suggest considering the scalability of underlying platforms, data-related implications and the program’s adaptability and user experience.

This firm has seen it all. Renowned for its independently funded HR Systems Survey, Sapient Insights Group is a landmark for human resource technology buyers. The reportā€”considered the largest of its kindā€”encompasses 150-plus HR technology vendors within the 2023-24 edition. This data includes an active research community with more than 2,600 participants from 80 countries.

Beyond functionality and cost criteria, the Sapient team says HR leaders must further vet technology as vendors rapidly roll out developing functionality. As the months tick by, this process is unlikely to get easier because the HR tech market is projected to grow 5.41% by 2030, according to findings by Kings Research.

Because many HR teams use standard or repurposed RFPs, here are points that may go unnoticed in the 2024-and-beyond procurement process based on the guidance offered by Sapient Insights Group team members.

Alignment with business goals and challenges

Throughout the RFP preparation, emphasis must be placed on connecting the HR tech solution to the broader business objectives and challenges to be addressed. Identifying the expected business outcomes ensures a strategic alignment with organizational goals.

Prioritization of top requirements

Instead of drowning in an extensive list of features, organizations should focus on the top five or six significant requirements, often called the “big rocks.” This prevents the RFP process from being bogged down by concerns withĀ less critical functionalities.

Role-based use cases and demos

Organizations should prioritize role-based use cases and, equally important, role-based demonstrations during the RFP process. This ensures a tailored understanding of how the proposed HR tech solution aligns with specific job functions within the organization.

Vendor’s technology and business partners

A comprehensive RFP should hit the vendor’s critical technology and business partners. Understanding these relationships provides insights into the solution’s broad ecosystem.

Mobile experience and security measures

Details regarding the mobile experience, technology requirements for optimal use and robust data security measures should be explicitly outlined in the RFP. Role-based demonstrations on mobile devices commonly used by the workforce are essential for a thorough evaluation.

Vendor’s financial security and M&A plans

The RFP should encompass an assessment of the vendor’s financial stability. Additionally, understanding the vendor’s plans or the likelihood of mergers and acquisitions is crucial for predicting the long-term viability and evolution of the chosen HR tech solution.

Service packages and levels

While RFPs often delve into service offerings, they may fall short in specifying service packages and levels. Clarity on the depth and scope of services can influence the overall user experience.

Ethical AI development models

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In the era of advancing artificial intelligence, RFPs may not sufficiently address ethical considerations in AI development. Inquiries about the ethical frameworks guiding AI, openness in training models and the ability to understand and adjust AI decision-making processes are elements of responsible and transparent HR tech solutions.

Data transfer and system integration

RFPs sometimes lack detailed explanations regarding how data enters and exits the system. Address concerns related to data security, privacy and system integration with clear communication about data transfer processes.

Implementation and training opportunities

RFPs may neglect to inquire about system-related knowledge transfer and ongoing training opportunities. Ensure the workforce is adequately equipped to navigate HR tech for a smooth transition and sustained user proficiency.

Dashboard and reporting capabilities

Dashboard and reporting capabilities are touted, but sometimes this is overstated. RFPs should inquire about the flexibility and variety of formats available for data that supports the organization’s needs.

Two-way vendor partnership

Opportunities for a two-way partnership with the vendorā€”such as participation in customer forums, advisory boards or beta testing initiativesā€”may not be explicitly addressed. Establishing collaborative channels enhances the vendor-client relationship and contributes to the continuous improvement of the HR tech solution.

User-centric design

Use the RFP to underscore the importance of tailoring the user experience to the specific audience. For instance, if the solution serves the workforce, the experience should target employees over administrators or managers.

Related: ESG considerations when purchasing HR tech

Evaluating system scalability

an illustration of a person considering HR tech
Credit: Image Creator

Ensuring scalability in HR tech involves specifying regions and languages, addressing customer service adaptability, identifying the platform and server locations, and incorporating mechanisms for continuous improvement in the RFP process.

Regions and languages

Specify regions and languages for employee, manager and administrator use, considering not just translation but also compliance with tax laws, employment regulations and linguistic nuances.

Customer service function

Outline options for expanding customer service to adapt to business changesā€”confirm ongoing support is equipped to handle organizational growth and evolving needs.

System platform

Identify the platform on which the system is built (e.g., AWS, Azure). If built on an internal platform, delve into system stability, maintenance and the potential for developing adjacent applications through Platform as a Service (PaaS) options. Side note: Be sure to involve IT counterparts in the RFP process.

Server locations

Specify where servers are located, acknowledging the importance of physical location considerations in certain countries.

Metrics for implementation and adoption

Establish metrics to gauge implementation progress and ongoing application adoption levels, identifying a measurable approach to success and user engagement.

Dashboards and reports

Create dashboards and reports tailored to different audiences, presenting usage trends and insights for continuous improvement.

Security and privacy considerations

Attention to data security and privacy is imperative, necessitating details on storage, encryption, access levels and vendor partnerships, plus due diligence to investigate any historical security issues.

Detailed data security requirements

Obtain details about data security, including storage locations, encryption measures, data transfers, access levels and required security clearances. Ensure alignment on termsā€”for example, is your definition of a “part-time employee” compatible with the vendor’s definition?

Vendor partners and security measures

Identify all vendor partners with access to data and inquire about the security measures in place to safeguard sensitive information.

Past security breaches

Conduct due diligence to research any past security breaches involving the vendor, gaining insights into their track record in maintaining data security and privacy.

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Jill Barth
Jill Barth is HR Tech Editor of Human Resource Executive. She is an award-winning journalist with bylines in Forbes, USA Today and other international publications. With a background in communications, media, B2B ecommerce and the workplace, she also served as a consultant with Gallagher Benefit Services for nearly a decade. Reach out at [email protected].