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The 5 characteristics of a Top HR Product

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.

One of my favorite projects to participate in is the review and selection of the Top HR Products of the Year, alongside my Human Resource Executive and HR Technology Conference colleagues. Submissions recently opened for the 2024 awards, and I am looking forward to seeing the newest and best in HR technology—leading up to the announcement of the Top HR Products in late summer.

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While the extensive set of evaluation criteria that has been developed over the years is too long to expand upon here, I thought it would be interesting to share a few general characteristics of our previous Top Products winners. I want to do this not necessarily to inform solution providers that are vying for the awards, but rather to help HR leaders, who can use this information when assessing HR technology for their organizations.

What makes a standout Top HR Product?

In no particular order, here are my top five characteristics of a Top HR Product:

Compelling user experience

A technology solution for businesses should have an intuitive and user-friendly interface that simplifies complex tasks such as managing HR processes, payroll function, benefits administration or talent management. A clean and easy-to-navigate interface reduces training time and encourages adoption among users by making the system seamless, and perhaps even fun, to use.

Recent Top HR Product winners offering a compelling user experience include:

Entries for the 2024 Top HR Products competition are due April 17. Submit a nomination.

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Impactful analytics and reporting

Access to comprehensive analytics and reporting tools empowers businesses, managers and HR leaders to derive actionable insights from their HR and workforce data. Advanced analytics capabilities inform decision-making, help leaders identify trends and enable HR to measure the impact of initiatives on organizational performance. Clear and customizable reports facilitate communication across departments and support strategic planning efforts.

Examples of previous winners whose products excel in analytics and reporting capabilities include:

Customization, personalization and flexibility

Businesses have unique requirements, so a technology solution should offer customization options to help the company adapt to different organizational structures, policies and workflows. Flexibility in configuration ensures that the solution can cater to the specific needs of the organization, leading to higher user satisfaction and adoption. And personalization allows individuals to adapt the interface, menus, layout, look and feel to make the experience their own, as well as more engaging and productive to use.

Previous Top HR Product winners offering leading customization, personalization and flexibility are:

Effective integration capabilities

It is crucial that any HR technology solution easily integrates with existing systems and platforms for it to be effectively adopted. Integration capabilities allow for data exchange between different—and usually external—systems, streamlining processes, reducing duplication of data entry and ensuring data consistency. Effective and accurate integration also enables faster access to information, enhancing decision-making capabilities.

Recent Top HR Product winners whose solutions most effectively integrate include:

Noteworthy level of innovation

How unique is the technology solution compared to existing offerings in the market? Assess whether it introduces new features, functionalities or approaches that haven’t been seen before. Innovation often involves bringing fresh ideas or concepts to solve existing problems in novel ways. How much did the solution make us pause and say, “That was really cool!”

Some Top HR Products that have recently done that are:

While industry awards like Top HR Products are important distinctions—and a vote of confidence in a particular solution’s capabilities, design and potential impact on customers—they should be just one data point in an organization’s HR technology decision process.

The Top HR Product designation can help HR learn about the best in HR technology innovation, understand what the market-leading providers are creating and gain insight into how HR technology is developing to respond to workplace trends and business challenges. However, it can’t be a substitute for your organization’s vetting process into a provider organization’s culture, business approach and “fit” as a strategic partner. While we think that all the Top HR Products are likely to be great partners and provide value, return on investment, etc., it is important to remember that every client organization is unique, and the “best” product for one might not be the best for another.

As you head into the second quarter of 2024 and your plans for new HR technology this year begin to firm up, please do consider these factors as you evaluate the many options and opportunities the HR technology market offers. And of course, stay connected to the HR Technology Conference and Human Resource Executive for information and insights on all things HR technology.

Get a look at the global leaders in the HR technology market at HRE’s upcoming HR Technology Conference Europe, May 2-3 in Amsterdam. Click here to register.