As your company scales or embraces remote work, you might find it more challenging to maintain an efficient, engaging employee onboarding process. A spreadsheet or project management tool may have worked fine before, but it’s not cutting it now. Or, perhaps you’re using an employee onboarding platform that simply isn’t meeting your needs. 

Onboarding has a lot of moving parts, between signing paperwork, provisioning accounts, and helping your new team member acclimate to their new role at your organization. This is also a crucial time to jumpstart engagement and retention, which require more of a red carpet experience than your average onboarding process.

The right employee onboarding software to help you scale your team more efficiently and strategically, and there are many solutions to choose from. Here’s how you can evaluate employee onboarding software to find the solution that’s right for your organization.

Determine your criteria and prioritization

Different organizations have different goals and workflows, which may require specific software features and functionality to support them. It’s important to begin the evaluation process by understanding what those are, and which are most important to you. This allows you to evaluate each employee onboarding solution thoroughly against the things that your organization needs to be successful.

This is a great time to set up an evaluation taskforce to gain perspectives from key stakeholders and product users. For instance, rope in someone from your executive team, Finance, IT, Payroll, and Operations, as well as hiring managers and even some recent hires. Leverage this task force to develop a crystal clear understanding of what you’re looking for in a solution to meet current and future needs.

Determine your goals

The first step is to understand why you’re looking for new employee onboarding software. Some common goals are to:

  • Scale hiring without sacrificing the new hire experience.
  • Streamline onboarding throughout your organization to give each new hire the same red carpet experience, regardless of department, office location, or remote work status.
  • Build a more efficient onboarding process, allowing your People Operations team to automate administrative tasks so they can focus on more strategic initiatives.
  • Simplify the onboarding process for hiring managers and your IT department.
  • Develop a more strategic and engaging onboarding program to engage and retain employees.

You’ll want to see how each employee onboarding solution you consider helps with these goals.

Build your ideal onboarding workflow

Consider your current onboarding workflow, and what would make it better or easier. 

Let’s say, for instance, you would like to send each new hire a welcome email, and get them set up with a G Suite account prior to their first day. An onboarding solution that allows you to store a welcome email template and auto-provision an email account can help you build a more efficient process. 

Or if other departments often forget to complete tasks in a timely manner, a solution that sends automated task reminders can eliminate this tedious and repetitive administrative work for your People Operations team.

Prioritize features and functionality

As you think through your goals and workflow, pair them with the employee onboarding software features and functionality that support them. Make a note of which are must-haves, and which are nice-to-have.

Here are some features to consider:

  • Integrations: Reduce manual data entry by selecting onboarding software that integrates with your ATS, HRIS, payroll solution, and benefits provider.
  • Intelligent workflow and notification engine: Streamline processes and reduce non-compliance risk with intelligent workflows that assign tasks, trigger personalized emails, and send reminders when tasks are not completed.
  • Email templates: Save time and streamline communications with custom email templates.
  • Surveys: Collect and analyze employee experience program feedback and track progress over time.
  • Calendar integrations: Sync relevant information to your calendar, such as new hire start dates, activity due dates, birthdays, and anniversaries.
  • Preboarding: Reinforce your candidate’s decision to join your organization by offering a strong employee preboarding program. Introduce new employees to your company culture, mission, team, and onboarding program before they commence day one.
  • eSignaturing: Eliminate the need to print, sign, and scan paperwork.
  • Bulk onboarding: Save time and support seasonal hiring or hiring for similar roles by onboarding multiple employees at once.
  • Dashboards: Get visibility on employee and manager progress with smart dashboards.
  • Account provisioning: Save your IT and Operations team time and money by automating the setup of key systems for new hires such as G-Suite, Slack, Okta, Onelogin, and more.
  • Mobile access: Allow team members to onboard, request and approve time off, and view team member information from any device.
  • Permission settings: Keep employee data secure by providing access only to those who need it. For instance, allow your Payroll team to see employee salary information, but don’t allow your IT team to access it.
  • GDPR compliance: Maintain compliance with GDPR if you have employees in the European Union.

New hire onboarding isn’t all documents and signatures—it’s the beginning of the employee experience. Look at these features not only from the lens of your internal stakeholders, but from those of your new hires as well.

Contact employee onboarding software vendors

Once you’ve determined the features and functionality you’d like to see in an employee onboarding solution, build a shortlist of products to demo. 

With hundreds of employee onboarding software vendors on the market, it would be quite time consuming to look at every solution on the market. Narrow them down by seeking recommendations from your HR peers, seeing which products integrate with your current HR tech stack, browsing vendor websites, and reading third-party reviews. 

Some organizations will send a formal Request for Proposal, in which they ask the vendor to complete a questionnaire about the product functionality and features. 

Request demos

Reach out to your shortlisted vendors to schedule product demonstrations. Attend each with your goals, ideal workflow, and prioritized list of features and functionality  you’d like to see in a solution. 

Walk through the entire employee onboarding workflow, as both the employer and employee, then do the same for offboarding. Make sure you see all of your must-have features and integrations in action, and take note of how they meet your needs. 

You should also ask each vendor about their:

  • Customer support. What types of support are available (i.e. phone, email, chat) and when?
  • Implementation. What is a typical implementation timeline, what role do the vendor and customer each play, and how much HR downtime can be expected?
  • User training. What resources are available for administrator and end user training?

It can be helpful to bring in key stakeholders at this point to make sure they will sign off on each solution, and actually use it—although an additional demo can be arranged for this purpose.

Get a quote

Request a formal quote from each employee onboarding software vendor to see how one-time implementation fees and ongoing subscription costs compare. Look at how pricing changes as your company grows so you can be cognizant of budgetary needs in the future.

This is also a good time to review contract terms to identify any red flags or items you’d like to negotiate.

See what customers have to say

Following a product demo, some organizations will review a customer reference with similar goals and needs. Customers can provide helpful insights and best practices around using the software, and paint a realistic view of the possible benefits and shortfalls you may experience. 

Keep your own priorities in mind, and be prepared with specific questions that will help you determine whether the software meets your specific goals and needs.

For example, you might ask a customer reference about:

  • How well specific functionalities and features work.
  • Their implementation experience.
  • How well the vendor supports user training and adoption.
  • The quality and availability of customer service.
  • Whether they feel they can grow with the vendor or if they will need to find another solution in the future.

Organizations may also choose to read product reviews on sites like Capterra and G2 Crowd or peruse case studies to make a more informed decision.

Get buy-in from stakeholders

Many people are typically involved in a software purchase decision. If you learned about each stakeholder’s needs early in the evaluation process, you can share how your shortlisted vendors fit the bill when you present your research. For example:

  • HR stakeholders: Share how a given solution can improve employee engagement and retention and increase HR productivity.
  • Finance: Illustrate the expected return on investment from the platform, and share how a payroll software integration can save time and reduce errors.
  • Department heads: Show how the software can save them time, while supporting an onboarding process that retains new hires.
  • IT: Share the vendor’s security certifications and demonstrate how the platform can reduce the IT department’s administrative burden. 

Stakeholders may request an additional demo to see the platform in action, or request a more thorough one-on-one meeting with the vendor for additional information before providing sign-off.

Final thoughts on evaluating employee onboarding software

Modern employee onboarding software can help you manage the many administrative tasks associated with hiring a new team member, while also supporting strategic initiatives to engage and retain talent. 

But as every organization is different, it’s important to evaluate software based on your own needs and priorities. It’s not about finding the solution that has the most robust feature list, it’s about finding the solution that has the right feature list, and partnering with the right team that truly understands your company and needs.

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How to Evaluate Employee Onboarding Software