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How to Evaluate Employee Onboarding Software

by Jen Dewar

Jan 10, 2019

As your company scales, so must your employee onboarding process. A spreadsheet or project management tool may have worked fine early on, 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 employee acclimate to their new role at your organization. Plus, employee onboarding is the perfect time to jumpstart engagement and retention, which require more of a red carpet experience than your average onboarding program.

You also know that you need new employee onboarding software to help you scale your team more efficiently and strategically, but you’re not quite sure how to evaluate solutions. Well, you’re in the right place. We’re going to walk you through a typical employee onboarding evaluation process so you can make the choice that’s right for you.

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.

It can be helpful to set up an evaluation taskforce to gain different perspectives from other people involved in the decision making process, as well as product users. For instance, rope in someone from Finance, IT, 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.

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 or office location.
  • Build a more efficient onboarding process, allowing your People 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 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 allow you to focus on more important things.

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.
  • Calendar integrations: Sync relevant information to your calendar, such as new hire start dates, activity due dates, birthdays, and anniversaries.
  • Pre-boarding: 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Demo your shortlist of employee onboarding solutions

Once you’ve determined the features and functionality you’d like to see in an employee onboarding solution, build your shortlist of products to demo. With 132 employee onboarding software vendors represented on Capterra, it would be quite time consuming to look at every solution on the market. Narrow them down by speaking with other HR professionals in your network about your needs, 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. Use the information you gather to create your shortlist, and reach out for a product demonstration.

Attend the demo 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 process, as both the employer and employee, then do the same for offboarding. Make sure you see all of your must-have features in action, and take note of how they meet your needs. It can be helpful to bring in key stakeholders at this point to make sure they will sign off on it, and actually use it—although an additional demo can also be arranged for this purpose.

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.

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.

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.

Evaluate Employee Onboarding Software

Jen Dewar

Jen Dewar is a marketing consultant in the HR technology space with a focus on developing educational content for HR professionals and recruiters. She is passionate about diversity and inclusion, lifelong learning and development, and treating people like people throughout the candidate and employee experiences. Outside of work, you can find Jen snowboarding in Tahoe, enjoying a glass of wine in Sonoma, or hanging out at home with her husband and son.