The Most Important (and Overlooked!) Features to Consider When Selecting Performance Management Software?

January 16, 2018

Congrats! You've made the decision to upgrade your performance management strategy. Get ready for a happier workforce and healthier bottom line!

As you consider different software solutions be sure to ask about these most important, and often overlooked, elements of great performance management software.

Cost of implementation

For most organizations, getting started with a dedicated performance management system will be completely new territory. You may have several members of your management or even leadership teams who are software-fatigued and wary of learning another system. That's why implementation is so important.

Your performance management system should come with the kind of support that makes a great first impression with users. But many performance management vendors only provide limited support, or charge support as a separate service.

Unless your entire office is extremely tech-savvy, you should probably select a solution that offers full training (preferably at no additional cost) at kickoff so that every employee feels great about using your new tool from day one.

Key Questions:

  • Who will be responsible for setting up the platform initially? You or your provider?
  • Are there any extra costs?
  • Is there human support during this process?
  • Will there be training for the staff?
  • If yes, is the training in-person or remote?

 

Ongoing support

Even with the smoothest launch possible, questions will arise. As mentioned, many vendors charge support as a separate service, which can dramatically increase your ongoing expenses throughout the year.

Look for a solution that offers regular, ongoing support at no additional cost to avoid sticker shock after kickoff.

Key Questions:

  • Are there any limits to the support you receive after implementation?
  • What form does ongoing support take?
  • Do you have someone's phone number? Email address?

 

Data security standards

We cannot overstate the importance of data security when it comes to selecting a performance management system. More data than ever before is falling into the laps of employers and HR departments, and you need to make sure your business is protected by using a system that's completely compliant.

Look for a solution that offers real-time encrypted backups (preferably using HTTPS protocol) to reduce any exposure to data loss. A performance management system that goes above and beyond will also have features that protect against liability, such as review reminders and alerts for missing signatures.

But beyond the legal and regulatory risks, performance data that is collected and stored properly can be a huge asset to your business. Make sure your performance management system offers consistent, compliant record keeping to help guide decisions about hiring, promotions, compensation, succession planning and more.

Key Questions:

  • What is the vendor’s data security policies?
  • How are passwords handled and stored?
  • Who owns the data, you or the vendor?
  • How is the data encrypted?
  • How often is the data backed-up?
  • What happens if the system ever goes down?

 

User-friendliness

Let's say you've finally found a performance management system that checks all your boxes for features. Great, right? Not so fast. Just because a performance management tool is packed with bells and whistles does not mean it will work on a day-to-day level.

Employee performance is a company-wide initiative and if you really want to bring those productivity benefits home, your performance management software must be adopted by the whole organization. That means it must be intuitive and enjoyable to use.

This is especially important for teams on the go. Make sure your software can be accessed 24/7 on any device. You should be able to get more feedback, from more stakeholders, more often—while reducing the overall cost and admin burden of your performance management process.

Key Questions:

  • How easy is it to navigate the dashboard? From mobile and tablet?
  • How easy is it to get sign-off from within the system?
  • Can the system be customized with your branding?
  • What do the employee analytics and data visualizations look like?
  • What kind of reporting tools are included?

 

Flexibility

The state of performance management is changing fast and your software must be capable of evolving along with your business.

If the CEO asks for something new next year, will it require switching platforms? Or paying for an extra module? Make sure your performance management system is flexible enough to meet all your needs, both current and future.

Walk through your existing process and make sure the software can support every last step, or that there is an easy change that doesn't impact your long-term vision. Many solutions won't support seemingly simple things like multiple sign-offs, automatic calendar reminders or self-assessments.

Key Questions:

  • Does it include customizable automated workflows?
  • Can it deliver continuous feedback?
  • Does it have features for customizable 360° feedback, real-time and peer review feedback?
  • Is review timing flexible or fixed?
  • Can it deliver anonymous feedback?
  • Do system expansions and adjustments come at an additional cost?

 

Practicality

As much as we wish purchasing a performance management solution were a golden ticket to running a perfect OKR process like Google, the reality is great performance management takes time. Find a solution that lets you automate your existing performance management process while helping you grow into the performance strategy you aspire to.

One of the most important features to look for is how the system traces personal performance objectives back to the organization's most important goals. A great performance management system will make it easy to break down top level objectives and track progress as part of the employee performance record.

Key Questions:

  • Can the system be configured around your workflows?
  • Can it cover all the bases included in your homegrown system?
  • Can permission be granted to the right role (manager, administrator, etc.) in order to allow them to create and edit appraisal forms?
  • Are your launchers, authors and signers all customizable?
  • Can managers add goals and development plans?
  • Can employees add goals and development plans?

 

Final Takeaways

Your people are your biggest business assets. And purchasing a performance management system is an important decision.

A future-proof performance management system will adjust to your business—not the other way around. Choose a system that will make it easy for you to make the incremental changes that will yield big results in employee happiness and productivity.

 

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