When we use a system every day it is really easy to fall into the trap of ‘coping’ with issues and creating workarounds, or even reverting to offline methods which may be easier to handle.

I often think about this with my mobile phone – how often do I look through the apps, remove the ones I don’t need or use, update the apps, maybe move them around my home screen based on how often I access them, and in particular encourage myself to use apps I may be less inclined to (like the one which reminds me to drink enough water throughout the day).

HR & Payroll software is no different – we should stop and take stock at least once each year to ensure we are getting the best out of the software and that it is meeting the needs of our business. Here I share my top tips for HR and Payroll systems annual ‘Health Checks’.

1 – Review those requirements

When you initially purchased the software (I hope) you had a defined list of requirements, likely quite detailed but as a minimum they should have defined what problems or purpose you required the system to support. I recommend reviewing those requirements and benchmark your current software setup against the list you originally created. Make a list of the things it isn’t delivering – your initial to do list! You can download a guide I wrote here on how to Benchmark your HR Software.

2 – Access the system as different people

By this I mean review the system experience from a number of users perspective. Often if you are a system administrator you have access to the entire system, logging in occasionally with an alternative security profile can inspire you to think – “this user would really benefit from this function/screen”.

3 – Write that pain list

Think about all the things your system doesn’t do or you wish it did better, and then challenge yourself to a)find out if your system can actually do it or b) find out how other users work around this problem.

4 – Think about what you haven’t enabled yet

This may seem like an obvious point but I often see clients who have a full suite of functionality in their HR system but only use a fraction of it. Review the list of modules you have licensed and then identify the functionality you aren’t using – perhaps this can form the basis of your system development plan for the next 12 months.

5 – Review your Branding

Most HR and payroll platforms allow a certain level of branding within the core product, often set up when the software was implemented. Review the look and feel of the system (from the back office perspective as well as employee and manager self service views). Identify where the system may not reflect the employer brand and consider how to adapt or fix that.

6  – Check your Test Scripts

Often a neglected document, test scripts to use when software updates are released are a critical document. If you have added new functionality or features make sure these are included in your testing documentation. Consider asking your software supplier if they have a standard testing document which may help you create your own comprehensive version, and consider who should complete each test (system administrators running payroll tests may not be the best idea!).

7 – Review the Software release schedule for the year ahead

After ensuring that your system is up to date during your health check, and now you have your test scripts in place, review the release schedule and ensure you know what is coming and when. This allows you to plan database copies and resources to be allocated to your upgrades/patches to ensure you are able to fully test the functionality and features before this is released to the wider user base.

8 – Update those guides and FAQ’s

Do you have a system inbox for queries or a ticket logging system? Check those queries and determine what are the most frequently asked questions or issues raised? Consider creating a landing page to host the answers to those queries or use screen recording software to capture the correct process to share with users. User guidance is a great way of limiting the number of queries that HR and Payroll teams have to handle – allowing more time to be focused elsewhere.

9 – Maintain your users

This should be a process which is managed continuously but it is worthwhile taking a detailed look at users, what access they have and if you feel the level of access is appropriate. Check for users who may have changed roles in the business and document your processes for how you will capture this in future.

10 – Data and Reporting

Not to be forgotten is your reporting solutions. Take time to review which reports you share regularly, what does the recipient do with them (for example I know of lots of people who receive the same report every month and make the same pivot table in it) – why not look at providing the summaries for the users. Consider what question the report is supposed to be answering and then review the report to see if it does help you answer that question.

System Health Checks are an important annual activity. If you need support with your own system health check Phase 3 offer an independent system review service.

This article was written by James Proctor, Director of Consulting and Services at Phase 3.