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Why HR Software Is Not the Answer to Your Problems

You may want to revamp your reasoning for considering HR software. Here is why...

Phil Strazzulla
HR Tech Expert, Harvard MBA, Software Enthusiast
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A lot of companies think the solution to a given problem is to buy a new piece of software.

Sales not performing well?  Buy a new CRM.  Not enough leads from marketing?  Let's replace our website with Hubspot.

Sometimes this logic is sound, but most times it's very misplaced.  At this point in the technology lifecycle, tools without strategy will very rarely fix major problems in your business.

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Software augments, software doesn't invent or replace

When people freak out about AI replacing their job, I always try to calm them down with the analogy of AI as an exoskeleton.  It's not anywhere near the level where it can replace a human's ability to think and do, let alone strategize.

While that's calming news for many people, it should also be a warning to others who think that a fancy new piece of business software is going to solve all your issues.

In fact, if you are thinking this way in the first place, you probably have very little understanding of what a given solution can do.  With this level of sophistication, you are going to have a really hard time finding/buying/implementing the right tool.  

Getting good at buying and using business software is something that takes a long of time, and repetitions.  Of course, if you're reading this, you already know that and are probably way beyond the naive philosophy that tools will solve your problems.

Nonetheless, here are a few common refrains we hear from HR and Recruiting teams that you should be weary of thinking yourself.

Our Employer Brand is broken, we should talk to Glassdoor

After a layoff, or years of under management, a company's Glassdoor page can start looking pretty haggard.

If your culture is toxic and it's showing up on the internet, that is a major issue that needs to be addressed before the communication of your culture can be accurate and exciting for talent.

In the case where you just need to do a better job, it's going to take more than having the brand package on Glassdoor to boost your image.  There needs to be strategy behind what you do in order to define and communicate employee value propositions across all the touch points in the candidate journey.

Yes, that's hard.  And unfortunately, to do it well you can't just rely on a rep at Glassdoor whose focus is to up-sell you on job ads.

An employee frustrated sitting at her desk

Our Culture is broken, we should buy recognition software

After a poor annual survey, grouping of employee relations issues, or disruptions caused by any number of external factors, many companies will turn to employee recognition software.

Can these offerings help build company culture and engage employees?  Absolutely!

However, if your organization is in the bottom quartile of culture with rampant attrition, lack of employee trust, etc, it will be extremely difficult to launch a successful recognition program.

This is another time when HR and c-level executives need to come together to form a more holistic strategy around what needs to be done in order to build trust and cohesion.

Recognition is almost certainly part of that strategy, but simply buying one of these tools and throwing it out there isn't going to work.

We aren't meeting our DEI goals, let's buy a tool

Companies that want to turnaround years or decades of underperforming on DEI need to take a look in the mirror and develop a real plan before marching down the path of stocking up on diversity recruiting tools.

This is another situation where yes, these tools will absolutely help you to engage and hire under represented talent.

However, if you have a leaky bucket for diversity talent, or are simply using a sourcing tool to find Black engineers, veteran sales people, or female executives without any plan on how to effectively interview and hire them, you are not going to be successful!

HR and Management is still needed, and that's a GOOD thing

We live in a world where smart managers who are multidisciplinary and can think in terms of systems will continue to add value way above what a narrow focused plan or tool can do.

Understanding the multifactor nature of most problems, and developing holistic solutions that have a high chance of success are still king when it comes to pushing the ball forward in business.

Tools can augment what you're doing.  And in many cases they can literally make your team 2-10x more efficient (imagine high volume hiring without an interview scheduling platform, sourcing without AI, or hiring in general without an ATS!).

However, the best leaders and the most effective teams will always realize that their ability to build the right strategy.  The only last piece of advice is to stay agile and not get bogged down for months or years in planning!

Phil Strazzulla
HR Tech Expert, Harvard MBA, Software Enthusiast
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Phil is the founder of SelectSoftware Reviews, a website dedicated to helping HR and Recruiting teams find and buy the right software through in-depth, expert advice. He has bought over $1 million worth of HR and Recruiting tools. Additionally, as of 2023, nearly 3 million HR professionals have relied on his advice to determine which business software they should buy.

Phil studied finance at New York University and started his career working in venture capital before getting his MBA from Harvard Business School. His in-depth understanding of the Saas landscape, especially HR Tech, stems from nearly a decade of researching and working with these tools as a computer programmer, user, and entrepreneur.

Featured in: Entrepreneur Harvard Business School Yahoo HR.com Recruiting Daily Hacking HR Podcast HR ShopTalk Podcast Employer Branding for Talent Acquisition (Udemy Course)

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