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Looking for new technology at HR Tech? 20 questions to ask

Steve Boese, HR Tech Conference chair
Steve Boese
Steve Boese is HRE's Inside HR Tech columnist and chair of HRE’s HR Technology Conference®. He also writes a blog and hosts the HR Happy Hour Show, a radio program and podcast.

A large technology conference like HR Tech provides an amazing opportunity for attendees to discover innovative solutions that can transform their organizations. Our exhibitors at HR Tech are all making their final preparations for the big show and are excited to showcase their products and services.

But with so many interesting exhibitors to meet with, and limited time, it is crucial for attendees to make the most of their week by asking the right questions of potential new providers (and of their own organizations). In this quick guide, let’s take a look at some of the best questions attendees should ask HR technology companies to determine which might be a fit or at least worthy of further exploration.

Before the expo

Prior to walking through the doors of HR Tech’s largest-ever expo, consider these questions:

  1. What is the status of our current HR technology environment?
  2. What solutions do we have that we are not satisfied with?
  3. What gaps in HR technology coverage need to be addressed?
  4. What are our most important considerations for building our HR technology solution set?
  5. Where is the organization heading in the next one, two or five years? Are we growing? How much? Expanding globally? If so, in what countries?
  6. What are the top three most critical areas of HR technology that we need to address, or at least have a solid plan to address, in 2024?

Hopefully, you have thought about these questions in advance of meeting with any prospective HR tech providers next week. Having a game plan will definitely help maximize your time in the expo!

Meeting with providers

Once you’re on the expo floor, keep these questions in mind for any interactions with exhibitors:

  1. What business or talent problems does your solution solve?
  2. What makes your technology stand out?
  3. Can you share customer success stories or case studies?
  4. Does your solution support (insert any “must-have” capabilities, functions or processes that the solution must accommodate for your organization to even consider this provider)?
  5. How does your technology integrate with other external HR systems?
  6. What is your roadmap for future development?
  7. Do you offer customization options if the standard functionality does not meet some of our critical requirements?
  8. What data security and privacy measures are in place?
  9. What is your “customer success” philosophy regarding onboarding, implementation, and ongoing service and support?

Of course, getting a “feel” for the people and the culture of the provider organization is also critical when you are interacting with booth staff and company leaders. So, while you are asking questions, and watching demos and presentations, make as many observations as you can about the interpersonal interactions and attitudes of everyone you meet.

Post-conference follow-up

After you return from the conference, you may reconnect with tech providers you met on-site. Here are some questions to keep the conversation going:

  1. Can you provide customer references that we can contact?
  2. What are the standard contract terms and exit strategy in case we end the contract and need access to our data?
  3. What is the expected Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), considering software licenses, implementation costs, training costs, and post-implementation service and support?
  4. What is your Service Level Agreement (SLA)? In other words, how much downtime is planned and expected during a month/year?
  5. What is the near-term, medium-term and long-term viability of your company? In other words, if we enter a partnership with you for one or more years, supporting critical HR and business processes, can we expect your organization to remain viable, healthy and able to fulfill all contractual obligations?

Next steps

These 20 questions are certainly not all the questions to consider when evaluating HR technology and making important decisions for your organization (and, as always, this advice also needs to be vetted by your purchasing and legal teams!) But these are good starting points.

Plus, having a list of questions to ask of multiple providers will help you make comparisons and distinctions in a crowded, complex HR tech market. Getting these and other questions answered is one of the most valuable opportunities at HR Tech, and we can’t wait to see you there next week to make it all happen!