Seemingly, the Workforce Management space is quite crowded. If you look up solutions online, you will see thousands of options. But, apart from desired features and functionalities, how do you assess whether a solution is a good fit for your organization?
The reality is that many of the options available are designed for either small businesses or specific verticals where the customer requirements for features and functions are not as advanced, and the software does not need to be architected in a way where it must handle large volumes of data. How can you tell if the WFM vendors you are considering, are a good fit for your business? The question is more critical if you are a large enterprise with highly complex needs. In that case, here are a few things you should consider when assessing a WFM vendor:
1) Who are their top five customers and how many employees do they usually target?
If the average deal size for your vendor of choice is 35 employees, with their largest customer having less than 500 employees, it is a telltale sign that the platform was not developed to handle the transactional volume of an organization in the large enterprise space.
Software products are developed and architected based on their target markets. A robust architecture that can handle high volume and provide lightning-fast performance is more costly to develop and maintain. As such, solution vendors that are used to working with SMB clients are very unlikely to overspend to meet the needs of a segment outside their sweet spot.
It is critical for prospective buyers to do proper diligence on this variable as oftentimes salespeople put their firms in situations where they are the frog that tries to inflate itself to the size of an ox causing great risks for your business.
Once implemented, a solution designed for a much lower volume is unlikely to handle the demand 4x the volume it was created for. As a result, the solution will be slow and unreliable.
2) What is the breakdown of the industries using your solution?
It goes without saying that not all industries have the same requirements for a WFM solution. Factors such as employee and location count, regulations, collective bargaining agreements, talent profiles, mobility, business demand, and much more, directly impact the requirements of a solution. What works perfectly for restaurants might not be a good fit for manufacturing. A great healthcare solution does not necessarily meet the requirements of a retailer. An app that was designed for gyms or restaurants will likely not have the necessary architecture and functionality that’s required to support the needs of a mining business.
It's not to say that a solution cannot be used across various verticals, but verifying the industries a vendor has a footprint can be useful in assessing their ability to handle business structures similar to yours. Product-market fit should be a key criterion for buyers when down-selecting vendors for their WFM project.
3) Do they have their ISO or SOC certifications?
Going through the process of being ISO or SOC certified is a major investment and not easily obtainable. In today’s world where cybersecurity is at the top of CIOs’ minds, this is the basic price of entry.
ISO and SOC certification demonstrate that a vendor has implemented rigorous information security practices and processes. ISO certification (e.g., ISO/IEC 27001) indicates that an Information Security Management System (ISMS) has been established and adheres to international standards for information security management. SOC (Service Organization Control) compliance (e.g., SOC 2) indicates that the vendor has implemented controls for security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy. These certifications can assure customers that the software vendor takes information security seriously and has measures in place to protect sensitive employee data. If your vendor does not have these certifications, they are likely not a good and safe option for your firm.
4) Get your technical people to look at their publicly available APIs
An often-overlooked requirement for WFM solutions is a fully documented open API. WFM applications sit at the core of your business operations and need to integrate with Finance, Payroll, HR systems, and sometimes even business applications such as document management or a CRM. Modern, cloud-native solutions would have fully documented APIs (endpoints to facilitate the automated integration of data from your solution to another vendor and import of data from third-party software into your system). The sophistication of the solution and wealth of functionality can be derived from the inventory of APIs: A handful of APIs versus a very extensive library is a clear indicator of the breadth and depth of the solution.
5) Are they recognized by the leading analysts in the market?
Industry analyst firms specialize in research on market trends and technologies and advisory to software buyers. Companies such as Gartner, Leapgen, Constellation Research or IDC are leading analysts in the areas of HR and Pay Tech. Large enterprise organizations will often consult analysts or market guides when selecting vendors to invite to RFPs.
If solution providers are included in analyst research, it is a sign that they are a significant player and meet market criteria specific to large enterprises. Recognition in market or cool vendor guides can also be an indicator that a vendor is changing old problems with innovative solutions and is leading a new way for their competition.
This is not meant to be a finite list of variables to consider when completing an evaluation of who can handle your volume and/or complexity for WFM, however, it is a good starting point to minimize your risk in investing time and money on a vendor that is not well suited to accompany you in your journey of providing positive business outcomes through a successful digital transformation.
Before selecting potential vendors for a WFM transformation, customers should establish key requirements and non-negotiables for a solution. An RFP process can help establish selection guidelines and force you to define solution and vendor requirements. It also provides a scientific framework to compare solutions to one another.
Consulting with an advisory or analyst firm that knows the market can be a good solution to make sure your vendor selection fits in your digital transformation and technology roadmap, and that known use cases confirm that the solution is a good fit for your business.
Don’t be blinded by shiny objects and make sure to thoroughly review all your options.