Selecting a Solution for HR & Payroll: What You Need to Know

Marlo Hertling

When selecting a software solution for HR or Payroll, the features and outcomes are always top of mind. Well guess what? The technology matters too.

What You Need to Know About Selecting a Software Solution for HR and Canadian Payroll

Discussions about technology can be intimidating. However, in order to make the best decisions about your solution, it helps to have a basic understanding of what's important. So we'll keep it simple.

When looking for a new solution there are two key technology areas to consider:

  1. The technology that the vendor is employing and;
  2. The options available for accessing or deploying the software.

Technology Being Employed

Let's start by looking at some of the things you should discuss with vendors about their technology.

What is the underlying database?

There are many database technologies available. What's important is that you select a vendor who is using a current database technology. This will have an impact on how easy it is to access your data for reporting purposes, and for ‘future proofing' your new solution. If talking about databases isn't something you are comfortable with, this is a great opportunity to ask your IT department to join the conversation.

What language is the product programmed in?

This is important because it has implications for future development of the product. Ask the vendor what enhancements their product has received in the past year and what they are planning for the next year. This will give you insight into whether the product has become stagnant or if the vendor continues to invest in developing the product. In today's technological environment you want a vendor who is flexible with their programming language and poised to continually work with emerging trends such as programming for web self service, social media etc.

Is the solution interfaced or integrated?

If you're looking at a fully integrated solution for HR and Payroll, it's important to know if the solution is integrated into one data source or if the solution maintains a separate data source for Payroll, HR and Time & Attendance. When your solution is fully integrated, your data will always be accurate and there will be no lag time in data changes or reporting. If your data sources are interfaced it is important for you to understand how they are linked and what the processes are for you to get information from each database for cohesive reporting.

How much time and skill is required from your IT department?

You will want to understand how much time and expertise you will need from your IT department. How much time does it take to update the solution and how often is it required? Can anyone build a report or will you need an IT resource to create reports?

Benchmark Processing Speed

It's important for you to understand how quickly you will be able to process a payroll, benefits, entitlements, etc. so ask your vendors for their benchmark processing times. This can vary greatly based how the solution is deployed.

Not sure what questions to ask? Download the People Management Software Checklist.

Software Deployment Options

Next, you'll want know what your options are for deploying the software. Many vendors now offer several options for how you can deploy their solution. This is good! Because you now have more choices in finding the best fit for your organization.

Here's a brief summary of the three mainstream options.


Your data and software installation are on-site and you have access to your set-up


Your data is on a service bureau server and you use their software. Changes to your set-up are accomplished by submitting requests to the service provider.


Your data and software installation reside in the Cloud and you gain access through a highly secured internet connection. You still have access to your set-up.

In Summary

Technology has changed the landscape of selecting a software solution for HR and Payroll. It's no longer just about the functionality – it's about finding a solution that uses current technologies which will adapt and guide your organization into the future. While functionality and ease of use are definitely key in selecting a solution, it's also important to include a technology overview as part of your assessment.

With the right functionality and technology you will be investing in a solution that will serve your company well into the future.

About the Author

Marlo Hertling

Marlo Hertling has worked with leading HCM organizations and has been helping Canadian companies implement HCM solutions for more than 15 years. She is the Vice President of People & Culture at Avanti Software Inc and serves as Avanti's HCM subject matter expert.

Previous Article
5 Considerations to Avoid HCM Implementation Disaster
5 Considerations to Avoid HCM Implementation Disaster

When it comes to implementing a new HCM (Human Capital Management) solution, its success depends on the fro...

Next Article
2014 Canadian Payroll Deductions: Quick Reference Guide
2014 Canadian Payroll Deductions: Quick Reference Guide

Get all the 2014 Canadian Payroll deduction information you need from our easy to follow quick reference gu...