An HRIS Case Study: Selecting an HR & Payroll System for a Midsize Company

An HRIS Case Study: Selecting an HR & Payroll System for a Midsize Company

In a recent article I wrote for the Global Talent Advisors, I offered the first in a two-part series on HRIS Case Studies. The previous post focused on How to Optimize an Existing HR System. Today we discuss How to Implement an HR Payroll System for a Medium-Sized Company. 


I was asked to implement an HR & Payroll system for a medium-sized company, as their contracted Project Manager had resigned to take up a permanent position elsewhere.

On reviewing the project files, I noticed that the solution had been chosen on the basis of a visit to an exhibition, a few phone calls and letters and a product demonstration to a few HR people. There had been no involvement sought from IT or Finance, and Payroll had been only cursorily consulted. As a result, the project had some very serious omissions, not the least being that with the wrong version of email client the automated or “triggered” actions would not actually work. Without these, one of the big benefits of an application would be neutralized.

Turning to the terms of the contract, I found a very unfavorable picture: a minimum term of 4 years with heavy penalties for early cancellation, and vagueness as to upgrade and development costs.

My instincts told me that this application was in fact inappropriate to my client’s actual needs in terms of scale, being too large, too resource-hungry and potentially too expensive. As a result, I wrote an overview for the HR Director and advised him of my findings, together with an appreciation of current sunk costs, possible replacement costs and a revised timeline.

As the project was still early into the implementation stage, I reasoned that the client might escape without too much of a severe penalty.

The HR Director agreed, and instructed his legal people to negotiate a suitable settlement. Meantime, a new selection exercise was set up, under my guidance, to source a more suitable software solution. 



  • Look for a solution on a scale with your organisation’s needs and resources.
  • Negotiate contract terms. Vendors are realistic
  • Talk to all parties who have an interest in the project; life will be easier when you have everyone informed and onside.
  • Have more than one demonstration; the first can be an initial “beauty parade” overview, followed by a further more detailed demonstration concentrating on specific organisational requirements.


  • Buy software on the basis of cursory examination and a perception.

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I am a consultant specializing in the selection of HR & payroll software for a range of clients in many sectors in various countries, primarily UK, Europe and the USA. I came into HR for a background in Finance, and this analytical training has stood me in good stead. A few years after, I was asked to computerize the payroll, which was manual at the time, which, having successfully been accomplished, the next step was to find an HR system for the personnel records. The rest is history, as ever since then people have asked me to do things because I “knew about that stuff” and the whole arena of HR & payroll systems was an area of considerable trepidation for HR & payroll professionals, and Information Technology had very much occupied that space by default at the time. My philosophy has always been to act as an enabler with clients, lighting the way for them to arrive at the most suitable conclusions; that way, the client has ownership, and the knowledge stays with them rather than passing through the door after the project. After co-founding the niche HRmeansbusiness consultancy in 2000, I went on to build and launch the HRcomparison website (for comparison of HR, Payroll and Time & Attendance software), that was the first of its kind in the UK and currently features over 60 vendors. Currently I am working on a series of webinars and seminars for 2015 on HRIS topics and a book is already under way. Sharing Our Expertise and Making Worldwide Connections

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