The Art of HCM Platforms - [William Tincup] Interview

About William Tincup

William Tincup is a very well known writer, speaker, advisor, and a lot more in the HR industry. He is the president of the RecruitingDaily.com. He also hosts podcast series, he has written over 200 HR articles, spoken at over 150 HR and recruiting conferences and conducted over a thousand HR podcasts and has been recognized as one of the most influential HR leaders in the world by a lot of internationally renowned websites.

The Art of HCM Platforms - [William Tincup] Interview

Aishwarya Jain

We have the pleasure of welcoming William Tincup today to our interview series, LeadersHum. I’m Aishwarya Jain from the peopleHum team. Before we begin, just a quick introduction of peopleHum. peopleHum is an end-to-end, one-view, integrated human capital management automation platform, the winner of the 2019 global Codie Award for HCM that is specifically built for crafted employee experiences and the future of work with AI and automation technologies. We run the peopleHum blog and video channel which receives upwards of 200,000 visitors a year and publish around 2 interviews with well-known names globally, every month.

Aishwarya

Welcome William, we are thrilled to have you. 

William

Wonderful being here, Thank you so much for asking me.

Aishwarya

Our pleasure William.

So William, tell us a little about your work at the RecruitingDaily.com. What keeps you motivated? You know, What is it that makes you jump out of your bed every day?

William

Well, right now, what makes me jump out of my bed is getting my kids to their classes on time in the living room. So that’s what gets me out of bed. Work-wise, RecruitingDaily is about all things talent. So if you’re hiring or you’re sourcing or recruitment, marketing, even HR, there’s a lot of HR content. It’s a community for people that hire so it’s been around for a decade.

I was specifically brought in four years ago to help with the events business, to help them build online events and offline events. And that’s actually the fun experiment to figure out, how do you take on an online community that thrives and then do something local like in a city, in their neighborhood, if you will. That’s been actually fun. Right now, during Covid-19, obviously, no one’s leaving their house, but we’re still having virtual events. 

So, it has changed the idea of what an event is. But in short, I help with the community itself and I answer a lot of questions for practitioners about vendors. And I talk to vendors and do demos of a lot of software. So I’d say my day kind of consists of half and half at this point where I’m talking to practitioners about what’s going on, what technologies they’re using, what they’re not using etc.

And in half the time I’m talking with the technology vendors, mostly marketers product or the C suite on what they’re doing with their products. Where they’re going, where they are out right now, where they want to go, partnerships that they wanna have, things like that. So, I kind of sit at the intersection between what you do with people and technology, in the technologies that kind of help you thrive now so that we make sure we kind of recognize where we are at right now.

I’m spending even more time talking to practitioners than before, because there is just so much uncertainty, and with people, maybe their budgets got cut, maybe they lost their position, etc. 

So really, when you are in your community like that. At that point, your job changes and the job is, how do you help people? How do you make sure that people know that they’re loved? How do you help people through and get to their next gig? etc, long-winded answer but thank you for asking.

Aishwarya

Right, That’s wonderful, William. And now that we are into this pandemic, we’re suddenly seeing tools helping us stay connected with each other, right?

So, there are these human resources platforms and all kinds of human resources platforms right? So what do you think, which is that platform which is going to kind of stand out now? And do you think there are certain features and platforms that are going to really, really help in the future after the Covid is done? 

William

I think you can break it up into three things:

  • Everything video related

So you and I are using Zoom and we would probably use zoom before Covid-19 because I’ve used it for a number of years, if not that, we would have used Skype, or we would have used GotoWebinar, where we would use something other types of technology to look at each other and shoot a video.

However, in the recruiting space, videos are been kind of a video interviewing tool. And now, with everyone working remotely, you’re working from home, you can see the proliferation of video in a way it may be intended or unintended consequences of our undetected uses of now, people are using video all the time for everything because we want to see each other, just as if we were in the office.

Or if we’re collaborating on a project, we want to be able to talk to each other, which is normal and that’s a phone call. But we also wanna be able to see each other, so you could do that through a lot of different technologies. But I think video interviewing would be one category of software that a lot of people are using, not just for interviewing, that they’re using it for all kinds of other collaboration. 

  • Learning

So any of the learning platforms that are out there that have content or that can create content. I think learning platforms are even more important now than they were before. And so you historically, probably look at that as category wise as the LMS, right? Well, that’s fine if you want to kind of use that terminology but just think of like anything training, anything learning, and then think of not just that content of what can be consumed, but also what can they share and how can they interact with the video in that way that they interact with content?

That’s one thing we are gonna learn, that we have learned already, is that people have a little bit more downtime or they may not as productive as they want to be or could be and so they’re using some of that time to train, which is a good thing. It’s not a bad thing, actually,  but that puts the pressure on us to make sure that we have a great learning system and also great learning content. 

  • The third category I’d probably like to highlight is the things that foster remote work.

So any of the systems that you have, any of the HR systems from sourcing, outplacement, how does that help you remotely? And How does your payroll, compensations, success, succession software, performance software, like all of that suite of software? How does that foster more in a home-related or work from home related activities? 

So, if you have a software or maybe it’s not as great, it’s hard, it’s something that a person can explain at the office, like, ‘Okay, sit down. Okay. You go through this, click that do this’. Now at home, we can’t do that. So, How do you get to the point where you can make it easy for people? So you hire new employees and they’re not going to go to the office.

That’s happening pretty much every day right now, we hire, we interview, we assess, we hire, and then we onboard. Onboarding used to be at one point, especially, it was kind of traditional at work employees that we would do the onboarding phase and take them through, all the different legal, take him through the different policies and things like that, and all that stuff is relevant, you still going to do all that stuff. How do you do it virtually? How do you do it in a way that you’re not gonna be standing next to the person? So I think that those are the three larger categories that I’d look at if we talk about how video helps your business? Has video fostered your team working culture, collaboration, learning, training, development, software, content?

“Has video fostered your team working culture, collaboration, learning, training, development, software, content?”

How does that help your staff? How does that help everybody on the team? And then all technologies, anything that helps you with remote work, now during COVID-19, during a pandemic and then after the pandemic, I think it’s also important to kind of think of life after the pandemic in a positive way. How has this affected us? Not just, immediate things that are affecting us. But how did it affect us in the way that we want to do work differently or consider work being done differently in the future?

Aishwarya

Right. So what you’re saying is that video conferencing and LMS, and good succession planning systems, all of this, it has to be connected to the main HR system.

So are you saying that there has to be more integration to the HR system?

William

It’s always the best. And the reason is simple. I think most HR folks get this if your systems are connected to one and another. So if your performance and your compensation, your reward system are tied to, let’s say payroll, then you don’t have to do double entry. So if those systems talk to one another, either they’re in a native system that’s already all built on the same platform, or you do that through integrations.

So let’s say your succession management software is a third party vendor. That’s fine! You use your core HR performance, rewards, and then you can connect that with succession. And the reason that you want that data to flow both ways, if you will, is so that you don’t have to do a double entry, triple entry, quadruple entry of that data. And, that’s where errors happen.

That’s why it’s important to tie a lot of things to core HR, payroll benefit, and HRIS is so that you just don’t have to actually type in anymore and reduce errors, which reduces mistakes. Mistakes kind of make it a better experience not just for the people operating the systems, of course, but for all employees and how it impacts the employee’s experience

If we make fewer mistakes on the back end, they don’t even know that it is there, but they know when it doesn’t work, and if you think of HRIS and If you think of HR software, in ways like electricity in your house or plumbing in your house, you’re not really thinking about it on a day to day basis. You only think about it when it doesn’t work.

“If you think of HR software, in ways like electricity in your house or plumbing in your house, you’re not really thinking about it on a day to day basis. You only think about it when it doesn’t work.”

So that’s why integrations are great but data flow and workflow, you could fix the workflow part with processes. You want that data to flow easily in between applications, whatever applications they are.

Aishwarya

Absolutely. And I’m sure you’ll agree that recruitment now is going to change, right? I mean, it has to be more tech-related, tech-oriented.

So do you think that chatbots will really make a difference? And, chatbots vs high tech experience. What is your opinion? 

William

Well, first of all, you can’t and you shouldn’t take the human experience out of recruiting. And as recruiters and hiring managers, there’s going to be a human element. But where bots, machine learning, and AI, all can help, is making things more efficient for both parties.

So a bot, let’s just take that as a simple example. A bot can ask clarifying questions and answer clarifying questions. So imagine the job is for a front end developer and we really wanted that front end developer. You want 10 years of experience, but you want to have them to have at least five different experiences. You have five different places or five different experiences, even the same spot and you want him to have a degree in computer science, for whatever reason, that’s just something that’s important to the hiring manager. Okay, So a bot can actually take you through that.

“Hey, how are you doing? Are you being safe? Great. Let me ask you a couple of quick questions. And you asked me questions as well. Do you have a degree? Do you have a bachelor’s degree in computer science? Where are you from? When did you graduate? Do you have a rough idea of your GPA at the time? Great. You said that you are a front end developer, your resume, your profile, etc. You said that your front end developer, That’s fantastic. How long you’ve been doing that?”

So like a bot can ask, just as a recruiter would ask, all of these clarifying questions that are important to the hiring manager, into the role description, into the job description. And they can also flip that for the experience for the candidate, they can answer a bunch of questions.

So a candidate does ask all kinds of crazy questions. “You know who’s my boss? What are they like? Is it a big team? It is a small team,” As a candidate can ask all those questions and the bot can answer those questions as well. And what’s great is if the person’s not qualified, If the candidate is not qualified, you can actually experience at that point that the bot can then say, “Listen, based on everything you’ve told me, you’re not qualified for this position, and because of this, the hiring manager watched out of your 10 years of experience, five different bespoke, if you will, are different experiences within those 10 years, and it sounds like you’ve been doing in that 10 years the same front end development, which is fantastic.

You’ve gone deep, but they want a little bit more variety, so you’re not qualified in their mind for this position, however, you know within the ATS your data is going to stay live, unless you prefer not to be.” And then when recruiters search for another front end developer, they might have different requirements, so that could well be done with a bot.

Okay, we didn’t do anything difficult there, but now what’s good about that for 2 to 3 different reasons. A- The recruiters only are getting people that are really qualified for the job. So there’s a purity in the flow of what comes true to them. You know, they are dealing with people that already hit all the requirements for the hiring manager. Let’s say the hiring manager has 10 different requirements, and maybe even you’ve prioritized those 10. You’re gonna ask all of those questions to a bot. And you’ve got a record of that. That actually everyone can look at that sticks inside of the ATS, so you can always go back and refer to that data. 

And if a person’s not qualified or if they are qualified, let’s do it if they’re not qualified, they know right then and not two weeks later, we’re gonna keep the position open. We will get back to you. There’s none of that stuff. It’s you know where you stand immediately as a candidate, which I think as a candidate is a fantastic thing because I’d rather know, right then, do I have a chance or is this a No, it’s no. Okay, I move on to the next thing.

If it’s not, then you can create a different experience for the candidate. Let’s say that, “Hey, listen, we’ve asked all the clutter of clarifying questions. You’ve also answered some questions. You seem like a good fit for this. You’re gonna go to the next phase.

Okay, so the next phase is a skills testing assessment. So here’s what that means. You’re gonna take an hour-long test and it’s gonna be a method too understated by this company. It’s objective. You’re only gonna have it for 60 minutes and it’s gonna ask you a bunch of probative skills related questions. So now that you’ve answered with the way that we wanted you to, now we’re gonna really have to fact check that and make sure that you actually have the skills that we require”

Well as a candidate again, I’m not intimidated by a test, and I know where I’m going. I know we’re in the process that I started. Questions have been asked and answered, and now I’m gonna go do a skills test. And if I pass the skills test, then there will be the next step. Whatever that is, behavioral assessment, personality assessment. And then by the time you get whether it is the human interaction the recruiter can then take everything and go, “Listen, you’ve passed the behavioral test. You’ve passed the skills test. You’ve passed the personality test and look like you are a fantastic fit. Let’s schedule a time for us to talk.”

Now you bring the human element back into it, where you are only dealing with, recruiters are only dealing with people that are really hyper qualified for the job, and they could go deeper. And that’s the real upside is with all of these technologies. You aim for this efficiency and so what do you do with that efficiency? You become more human and as you become more human, you then can go deeper with candidates in much the same way. You just go deeper with him, and I think that’s what these technologies kind of can help. They’re not replacing jobs. They aren’t replacing recruiters. If anything, they’re actually helping recruiters to become more efficient with highly qualified candidates.

They’re not replacing jobs. They aren’t replacing recruiters. If anything, they’re actually helping recruiters to become more efficient with highly qualified candidates.

Aishwarya

I absolutely agree with you. So, use the chatbot and use technology. To do all the mundane and all the routine tasks, you know, engage the candidate because we do see a lot of drop off rates during that. Yeah, Yeah you are offered, but we’re still evaluating you, so the chatbot can keep that time and keep the candidate engaged, give results quickly, and then you kind of free up people to do you know, the people job of it and not really waste time during routine tasks. 

William

Hundred percent and the tests still have to get done. Especially if your hiring manager is giving you kind of the 10 different things and you really kind of delve into those, those things have to be asked and those questions have to be asked and, as it relates to skills, or behavioral assessments of personality assessments, again, there’s like 80,000 different things that you could add to this.

But the idea is, those things still have to happen. It’s now you can do with bots, it’s more wayfinding, it’s almost like every application you ever know, take Google maps, for instance. Like, remember if you can remember a world before Google Maps, which I can’t and I’m so glad that Google Maps is here or a world before Siri, where you just ask a question out of thin air and an answer would come back. 

People are okay with interacting with bots. It’s actually okay to tell people it’s a recruitment bot that’s been programmed to ask you a bunch of questions that we would ask you. So you know, because there’s the thing that folks need to remember is those questions have to be asked and answered on both sides.

So this is just a way to make that more efficient and also float through and wayfinding like here are the next steps for those that go forward. Here are the next five steps. Let’s start with Step One and then take him to the next five steps. If they pass, I mean, that’s the thing.

That’s what we know as we’ve done it, traditionally, if they don’t pass the behavioral assessment, they don’t move forward, now what we’re doing is we’re letting them know that I’m more in real-time it’s like, “Hey, your personality is just not a great fit for the team. So the team dynamic has one thing, and you’re in conflict with that dynamic. You’re a good person. It has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the team dynamic, and you’re just not a great fit. So we’re gonna pass now. So this job is no longer viable for you at this moment. But your data and our recruiters always check the ATS first for hires because there’s already data there”.

Like you could explain to them in a very humane way that they’re not going forward, It’s okay. Not all salmon make it up the stream. So you’re not going to go forward? However, this just might not have been the right job for you. We might find another job next week or next month, next year. So if we do find a good job or a good fit for you, I would like to be able to reach out to you and then advance those discussions if you’re okay with that. 

But as a candidate, what’s great about it is, I know right then, okay, this job’s not gonna happen. I don’t have to think about it tonight. I have to think about it tomorrow. I don’t have to ponder it and worry about it. I have a kind of definitive knowledge that this isn’t going to move forward. Okay, I can deal with that. 

Candidates, you have to treat them like porcelain. Again, it’s one of those deals, I think they would rather you just tell him the truth and so that they know what’s going on rather than not. And I think we’ve hidden from that for a long time, we’ve hidden behind maybe workflow process. Or maybe because we’re so busy, etc. But I think the faster you can let a candidate know where they stand, the better for them. The better experience for them and a better for you. 

Aishwarya

Absolutely. I think it also reduces anxiety, you know that a lot of candidates might be having.

William

Yeah, 100%!  and it’s anxiety that we don’t really deal with. We let the candidates kind of deal with themselves. They anxiously awaiting like a response. And whatever the responses, it’s okay. They’ll deal with it. But there’s just something. Tell me something. You hear that candidates will tell you that time and time and time and time again. Just tell me. I mean, I can deal with bad news. Just let me know and I think this is Using bots, Machine learning, AI, using these types of technologies to help candidates have a better experience and also create efficiency for yourself so that you can go deeper.

“Using bots, Machine learning, AI, using these types of technologies to help candidates have a better experience and also create efficiency for yourself so that you can go deeper.”

The efficiency thing, I’ll deal with that for just a second. What that really allows you to do as a recruiter and hiring manager is spend more time with the candidates so that you really make a great hiring decision. So you make quick decisions. You don’t have enough time, so you run the risk of making a bad hire, and bad hires, they could set an organization back. One bad hire can ruin a team.

One bad hire can ruin a team.

It could create a turnover and not only just ruin the project, but it can ruin all kinds of things. So if we flip that and we’re more efficient on the front side, we give ourselves more time to then go deep with the candidate and just go, ‘You know what? Workers spent three hours together’. And normally we would have had a 30-minute interview, but now we’re gonna do it. We’re gonna as a team, spend three hours together.

We’re just gonna bat around ideas and we risk it. See how you think. And you’re gonna get to see how we think. And you get to make an informed decision, if this is a good team for you or if this is an intellectually challenging problem for you, etc. So we can actually do that if we have time.

And it’s once again a better experience for the candidate because you know what if they’re also nervous about, ‘Hey, this looks like a really good opportunity. I think it’s a very good fit’. The more time we can give them, they get more insight into the job, the team, the boss, the company, the culture, all of that stuff, the more they can make an informed decision on whether or not that’s a good place for them and a good time for them, etc. 

So I think these efficiency tools really help everywhere in the process. They help the candidate have a better experience, they help recruiters have a better experience and more time, better efficiency, let people know where they’re at in the process like there are a million different ways to cut that, these are actually helpful.

And lastly on this particular point because of the consumerization of bots, I mentioned Siri earlier, but we’re all dealing with bots, and we’re okay with it. Like almost every website we go to, we shop, there’s a bot there, that pops up and says, “Hey, you know what? I’ve seen that you’ve looked at these things over here. We have a sale on these other things over here you might want to look at like that.

That’s a bot!! like we all are comfortable with that now, maybe 10 years ago we weren’t. But now you interact with a bot, on almost every website there’s a bot. So that’s the consumerization of that technology is helpful for recruiters. It’s helpful for us.

If you want to take that internally with the organization we used to call employee self-service, where essentially HR would browse a bunch of different files, maybe the health insurance files or whatever it is the sexual harassment policy, whatever, and we would say, pull yourself a self-service. 

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So if you need to find something instead of calling us or emailing us, just go to the portal, and then go find the things that you need. Well, now, in the front end of those portals, shocking, there’s a bot, you know, that basically sits there, then says, “What do you need? What are you looking for?”

I need to find the health insurance plan that is the most up to date health insurance plan, my son needs to go to occupational therapy, and I don’t know if it’s covered.

“Here’s the plan, by the way, occupational therapy is covered in your cases for 40 visits a year,”

Like you’ve just answered my question and we didn’t call HR. Now, the beauty of that is now you’ve given HR time to actually do the things that HR wants to do.

“Now, the beauty of that is now you’ve given HR time to actually do the things that HR wants to do.”

And so again, the efficient, same concept. We just moved it further back into the employee’s experience, not the candidate experience.

Aishwarya

Absolutely.
Yeah, I think if the chatbot can just answer my questions in a second or two, then why won’t I just take that option. I just do that.

William

Yeah, it’s an easier way to interact and get the answers. I think that’s the thing, that again you’re trying to get questions answered, and as you’re trying to get questions answered, as an employee, you want both the quality of the answer and the speed of the answer, right?

I emailed the HR, this years ago, I still haven’t heard back from them. I don’t know what’s going on. Well, a bot can mitigate all of that. And I think you said something earlier, that’s a very important highlight, anxiety. We all have anxieties, so let’s just can’t get over the fact that it’s not like one person has anxiety. Everyone has anxieties.

Candidates have anxieties, though it’s different, employees have anxieties, those are different. And if a bot could help them get to a document and help them, maybe answer their question that there have but a lot of these questions that I would tell you that or maybe benefits related those were easy to load up in a bot. And they’re easy to have. Can I see this doctor? It’s out of network, so the question is too full. Can I see them? And if so, what does it cost? Like all of that stuff could be answered like we don’t have to call HR.

We don’t really even have to log in to a portal other than to get to the chatbot. But you could even imagine where that checkpoint doesn’t reside in a portal. It resides just may be on your desktop when you open up the application, and any time you want to ask a question about – Hey when is my next performance review, its Monday, the 21st of May. Okay, cool. You know you can ask the bot anything employee-related and the bot should be able to tell you those things.

Aishwarya

Absolutely!
That’s amazing, right! It’s just like, you know, as simple as A, B, C and then you just get your work done, and it’s just so simple.

William

HR software should never be seen and just be heard, it should be seamless, not just in the way that it flows and data and those types of things, but in the way that it answers your questions because we all have HR questions. I have HR questions. You have HR questions. Everyone that would ever listen to this show is going to have an HR question. Maybe today, maybe tomorrow.

And those questions did you get answered, at a high-quality level, accurate level, so accuracy is important, and speed is important. And instead of bogging down, people that are in HR wouldn’t have to do that. We could actually do that in a different way.

Aishwarya

Yeah, absolutely. But you know what, William?

There are so many, tech tools out there, and just so many of them claim to have these different features. How do you really decide what’s best for your organization?

William

Well, the first thing you do is really simple, you look at your own priorities and say, what are we solving for? And so what’s the most important thing that we’re solving for? And then as you evaluate technologies, you only evaluate the things that you really need, not necessarily what other people are doing, not necessarily what other people are trying to sell you but what is the real need that you have and evaluating technology, and you’re right, there’s a lot of options.

So looking out of one of the things I tell folks to do is to always talk to your peers. So the first thing I would do is just talk to a couple of your peers and say, ‘We’re looking at a new LMS. What experiences have you had good, bad, or otherwise? But what other? What other experiences have you had?’

Then they can shed some light. Great. Then go and look at rating sites. Rating sites, in this case, G2, Software Advice, Capterra, and there are not hundreds, but there’s a lot of rating sites out there for software. And look at people’s experience with the software and you’re gonna, it’s like a restaurant. You know, a restaurant might have 200,000 experiences of the year. Some of those they’re going to be bad, most of those are gonna be good. So you’re looking at, probably an  80, 20, 30, 70 types of the split, where you see content that’s positive and some content that where people maybe didn’t have a great experience.

Okay, the third thing you do is you look at ‘GlassDoor’ and look at how employees of that company view their own company, past and present employees, how they view their CEO, etc, and at that point, you steer ready, in my opinion, you’re ready to build a shorter list based on just some of the data that you know, and then that shortlist should be about 10 different places. And what you want to do with those is all the exact same.

So create a baseline, we’re going to go and do an hour-long demo, not an hour and 15, not an hour and 1/2, not 30 minutes. An hour-long demo. Here’s the team, and we’re gonna do it with Easton proprietors and everyone grades out what they saw, what they experienced, questions that they ask, questions that got answered, etcetera. You’re not really looking at the price at this point. All too often, people rush to price. I suggest that you’re going to get the price. Trust me. It is inevitable that you get the price. 

Right now, get to the features and functionality that makes sense for what you’re trying to achieve. Nail that first. Make sure that you’re not buying features that you’re not gonna use. Make sure that it’s resolving the pain or the problem that you’re trying to get us to resolve. Those things have to happen first. Then after you have like 10, take the 10 and vote that down to 3 and what you want to with the three vendors, you want to go deeper, just like a candidate.

I mean, what’s funny is we’re talking about the recruiting process a second ago and we’re essentially using some of the same tactics. So get it down to three. They go deeper, maybe invite them on sight. If you want to do that, have a deeper meeting like okay, let them know more of the situation. Here’s our payroll, here’s our performance management. You know, here are these different systems, etc, because at one point you’re going to care more about workflow and the flow of data. And so try to see what fits you the best.

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At that point again, you’re kind of voting what you like in the best of the three. And at that point, you can open up a financial discussion and go okay. ‘All three all graded out Really well. We have three wonderful options? Now what?’ How many years is the contract? What’s the price of the contract is the POEPM (per employee per month). Is that usage-based, Like what, what are the different economic models? What’s the implementation cost if there are so many integrations? Are there any integration costs, like you can go deeper into the economics before you sign anything but yeah, you could take thousands of software and whittle it down more quickly than you think.

If you’re rigorous on the front end of looking at what’s out there and then really looking them up and going deep and you’re done your research if you will, and then going deeper into those team interviews of not just one person looking at the software that’s always a fail!

Have a team of people looking at software, an entire conference room. And if you do it through zoom, where 10 different people are looking at the same screen, and then after that, you have a kind of a post review where you’re all talking out, okay, here’s what I saw, here’s what I saw here is what I saw, here are my notes on this. I give them a grade off create a grading system, but, yeah, you could navigate that world. I always start with practitioners asking practice tests, asking your peer group.

Yes. This is one of those things that you can use Facebook or LinkedIn or just email. And every HR professional and every recruiting professional has a network of peers. So this is a simple question. You know, we’re thinking about purchasing X.I’m open for any suggestions and again good, bad, or otherwise, love to hear your expectations.

You might say that you had a bad experience with a vendor, and that might be a vendor that we end up choosing. That’s okay. It’s okay because it might have been bad for that other person or that other peer. But it might be a perfect fit for you. So that’s how you take that a large swath of software and bring it down to something that’s managed.

Aishwarya

So you really have to, dissect it and have a team kind of look at the sales demo and, you know, see how many questions have been answered and then really see the fit of the product. You know what your requirements are, what your needs are, right?

William

Yeah, that’s right. The reason that you get the team involved is, more often they’re the ones that are gonna be in the software the most. You know, there’s a lot between the economic buyer, sometimes the admin or super users, and then the people that use it day in and day out. You really want all of those people! As best you can, you want all of those people in the room they’re going to ask different questions like an admin is gonna ask admin related questions, a user is gonna ask user-related questions, and that maybe never logs into that system is gonna ask buying related questions, all of which are important. And again, you’re not trying to save, all of those things for the last thing. My advice to folks on price is don’t rush to price!

“My advice to folks on price is don’t rush to price!”

Get to price, but first of all, make sure that you have solved whatever pain that you’re trying to solve for first and make sure that solution does what it says that it’s supposed to do, and when you get past that, then you’re going to talk about price. No one’s signing a contract, you know, without talking about price. So you’re going to get the price. I promise it will happen, but you don’t need to start there, and you shouldn’t start there.

Aishwarya

Right! And I do remember that you had called, sales demo has jazz hands and that like got on to me. And so you know, what is the perfect sales demo for you?

William

The perfect sales demo for me is live software, so I’m not looking at a PowerPoint. I’m not looking at some top presentation where they’re showing me something that’s really scripted. Perfect demo for me is where they’ve gotten permission from one of their clients to crack open their software, or their instance and show you how they use it because you can’t hide anything then.

You can hide things in PowerPoint, you can hide things in a polished sales demo. You can’t hide things or rather it’s very hard for you to hide things in live software. 

So my best and my favorite again, I give to practitioners almost every day is “look at live software” because it cuts out all of the potentials for someone to say that they have something and they don’t actually have it. It is being worked on, and it will be live maybe next month. But it’s not there now.

And it’s so easy, for a marketer, our product person or salesperson at a vendor to say that they have it because they know that it’s and it’s being beta tested right now and that 100 customers are using it, but it’s not live yet. And what you, as a buyer, want to know, is the difference between Is it being beta tested? Is it being Alfa tested? Is it on the road map? Will it be developed this year as opposed to our people using it right now, and that’s with every feature and function that you care about. And so live software as much as you can get into live software, the better.

Aishwarya

And, have you seen any particular feature, that the customers really, really wanted? I think HR Systems kind of missed out on that.

William

Actually, what’s funny is it’s training related. It features inside the application that helps you in the application. So say its performance review software and inside the application, it gives you training. Hey, you haven’t done a performance review and, you know, a year or in six months or whatever he hears how to go back through that. So here the important questions asked. Here’s some important questions that you want to answer, except for it’s in application, Help, Support, Training.

So you don’t have to go to a help box and go to the Internet or go to YouTube or go to a user community. You don’t have to go to LinkedIn. You don’t have to go find something somewhere else or god forbid to the vendor’s Web site and search for things. It’s inside the application, and it’s where you need it. Why that’s important is that it’s at the point of need. And like we said with performance reviews, I’m trying to figure something out because, Sally, her reviews coming up next week and I haven’t done the reformers review in six months. I’ve actually forgotten you know how to do a performance review. I need a quick video that shows me what to do, how to do it.”

And so it’s at that point of need, and it’s not pushing him off to something else or somewhere else. It’s answering that question when they need it where they need it. That’s the feature that’s the most important. And the more vendors that do that would make a better experience for all employees because it’s in an application, they don’t have to go somewhere else to get that information.

Aishwarya

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense, actually, because of your kind of solves the problem right then and there.

And that also brings me to the question of, you know, user interface. Ah, you know, let’s admit all legacy systems, they are very complex to use, and they just take too much time. You’re doing this simple task, So UI, how do we solve the problem of a simple intuitive UI?

William

Well, there are three things, So there’s UI, UX, UA  when people think of UI so that you understand kind of its user interface, it’s how you interface with the software that would be on your phone, your tablet, your desktop.
UX is your user experience. And so that’s how you travail the software is that one click, two clicks, and 92 clicks, is it easy to find. UA is user adoption. All three of those things, UI, UA, and UX are important when you look to purchase the software.

“All three of those things, UI, UA, and UX are important when you look to purchase the software.”

The intuitiveness of software is as you know, one person’s intuitive, this is not necessarily another person’s intuitiveness.

So let’s not make statements like it’s just intuitive for everybody because that’s not necessarily true. So the first thing is, that’s why you do a lot of demos and you look at a lot of software is, can I answer the questions without asking the questions? That’s intuitive.

I mean, if you think of the intuitive as a word, it’s someone expecting that you need something before you know you need it. That’s intuitiveness. So is the software intuitive? If you can look at it and travail and look like it’s set up in a way that organizationally, it makes sense to you, the pull-down to the drop downs or the click-throughs makes sense to you. And that’s what I’m careful with my words here because it makes sense is what intuition is about. 

It’s got to make sense to you if it doesn’t make sense to you that it’s not intuitive and possibly they have a UI problem. And that’s why you want frontline users, testing software because you don’t want to buy software that you think is intuitive and get in a five-year contract, and then all of a sudden, your front line users use it, and they think “this thing’s terrible. I don’t even know where to start.”

So there’s a real reason that you look at UI and UX and UA, and you think about these things carefully and you solve them. Because getting back to that scenario where we would shortlist the firm’s down a 10 down to three, et cetera. Once we’re down to three, we might find one system has a better UI. It’s just everyone feels like it really is intuitive to their questions, and their UX is also very easy. If you’re having a bad experience with that software, you might love your job, but hate the software that you’re using and that actually impacts your employees’ experience.

“If you’re having a bad experience with that software, you might love your job, but hate the software that you’re using and that actually impacts your employees’ experience.”

They confine things and click through things and get to the reporting that they need to. In a way that’s easy for them. The help function is easy to navigate like it’s stuff like that that we kind of forget, but we need to also think about HR software as a part of the employee’s experience. And… 

And there’s a real reason to make sure that UI, UX, and UA that you think about these things as your purchasing software before.

Aishwarya

Absolutely. And you know that makes a lot of sense,
Thank you for your answer.
And when you talk about the user interface. Would you kind of choose a user interface that gets after a high level, really rich set of features?

William

Well, the features of the software, all software, not just HR or Recruiting software, but also for software from what’s called feature bloat. Meaning there are features within a system for a client that they don’t use that maybe they never needed. And maybe we should have never been developed. Okay, we’ll put all that stuff aside, but you only look at the features that you’re going to use because those are the only ones that really matter. And so a rich feature set, sounds great. 

So let me give you an example. I’m gonna sell you a global payrolls system to you. And at one point, I might tell you, you have 130k employees all around the world, you could do global payroll from your iPhone. Now, that sounds fantastic, right?

Like I can do 130k employees, the global payroll from my iPhone sounds fantastic. Up unto the point where you actually think about it and go, why would I ever, in any, in any case, or scenario, do global payroll for 130k employees across the world on my phone? It would never happen. So that’s a feature that’s positioned as a feature, but it’s not a feature, cause you’re never gonna use it. So when you say a rich feature set really draws circles around the ones that you know you’re going to use those of the rich features. All that other stuff, it’s cannon fodder, you’re not gonna use it. And it’s not a rich feature. 

And in the US, whether you prioritize, you got to get your features first. You got to get the things that you know that you need to get done you have to have that, doesn’t matter how intuitive this software is if it doesn’t do the things that you need to get done. So features do trump UI, UX and UA on some level because it’s got to do the things that you need it to do.

I know only the things that you need it to do, so I tend to take a really hard position on features that it’s not a feature, and in fact, that’s a sales word,  a marketing word. It’s not a feature unless people use it. And it might be something that you put into the software. But if people don’t find it important and they don’t use it, then it’s not a feature.

“It’s not a feature unless people use it. And it might be something that you put into the software. But if people don’t find it important and they don’t use it, then it’s not a feature.” 

Aishwarya

Right! Absolutely. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Because if you don’t have the right features and if my requirements are not meant by your system, then I’m not even gonna going to care about the usage of stuff absolutely!

I was actually interviewing Lou Adler and, talking a little about hiring, he was talking about performance-based hiring. Is that also something that you believe in or not. Do you have a different stand on that?

William

I like performance-based recruiting because it sets the bar,
and I’ve known Lou for 170 years, and he’s one of the smartest guys on the planet about this stuff. I like it because it keeps the emphasis on making sure that you’re hiring great people and not just filling roles. Right?

You’re filling the role with the right person. That’s gonna kind of quickly make an impact on the organization, stay there a long time and do a great job. And so the performance base is not just about like you have 40 open positions that I gotta fill in as fast as possible. So it makes the recruiter really think things that they don’t normally think about a post higher, how that person’s gonna authorize.

And I’d rather have the conversation with recruiters that, ‘you know what if it takes us another month of an open position, but we get the right person, I’d rather get the right person in the wrong person and start this process all over again.’ 

So I actually I purposely agree with Lou on performance-based recruiting and it aligns interest, and it aligns incentives and it aligns all of our thinking to the same thing. And that in itself is smart because now we’re not working against each other. Now we don’t have a difference. You know, we don’t have a conflict of interest, if you will.

Aishwarya

Yeah, it’s solid robust data that you can depend on, and just really, really be satisfied that yeah, this is gonna be the best talent for my organization. Yes, makes sense.

If you have any other important sound bites that you would like to leave for our viewers, that would really be great.

William

Yeah! I think, for me, when you evaluate software, first of all, give yourself a break, and you cut yourself a little bit of slack again, you mentioned it earlier in the show that, you know, people have anxiety, candidates have anxiety. 

Well, you know what? Buying software is riddled with anxiety, and we don’t talk about it enough that when you buy software, you’re also making a big choice for the organization, for the users, for yourself. And so there’s a lot of anxiety, technically in buying the software!

And making quotes, unquote the right choice. And so if you make a bad pick, try to leverage it as best you can. But also, I think, forgive yourself if you make a bad pick. And, you know the goal is obviously like with hiring that you don’t make a bad pick. But it’s also true that occasionally you fall in love with a software. It checks everything off the box. Everyone graded out. Price was right, you implemented, and two years later people hate it. And that happens, happens every day. 

And so what I would say in that is that you can fix that there’s a couple of ways to fix that. You can bring in a consultant, you can bring in someone from the company that sold you the software to optimize and help, you kind of fix the things that are broken. Most of those things will probably be process-related, and in the other side of it is, give yourself a break, like okay, you made a bad choice, it’s okay, and so you should kind of think about that when you’re purchasing is like, hey, we’re gonna make the best purchase based on the best data that we can, we’re all gonna be in agreement.

And if two years down the road, this isn’t the best software, we will hire somebody, bring somebody, and we’ll do something to kind of get through the contract, and then we’ll make different purchasing decisions. But give yourself a break. I think that sometimes there’s a lot of guilt, a lot of anxiety and a lot of shame for making a bad purchasing decision. And, I don’t suggest that anybody has any of that stuff. 

So my advice there that I haven’t already talked through is just, ease back on yourself and relax a little bit. Have fun in the process. Lower some of that anxiety and lessen some of that guilt and shame. 

Aishwarya

Wow, that is wonderful advice. Because I don’t think anybody even addresses these questions about anxiety. And you know they’re so nervous about just making a decision, nobody addresses it.

William

Yeah, and yet purchases were made every day. So imagine all of the, you know, all the complexity that’s going on with people that’s behind the scenes. They’ve got that anxiety. They’ve got all that stuff that they’ve got you now go and wrestle with and most of her doing it alone, that’s also difficult, they’re not doing it with a team. And, getting that economic buyer The user’s getting a bunch of those people together to where it’s a shared decision.

We’re making the best decision as a team. And again, we might get it wrong! We might get it wrong. And if we do, we’ll figure that out. As that time comes, we’ll figure that out. But it also if you do with the team and helps you because now, not all that pressure is on you, but say, it’s on the team of which you are a member to make a good decision, and you’re gonna make the best decision you could make with the data that you have. And with the agreement that you have with everybody in the room and hopefully, it works out. But sometimes it does.

Aishwarya

Yeah. Yeah. I think that’s an important lesson to everyone out there to not feel guilty and kind of getting weighed down by the burden, that’s great advice. And I just think you have reduced the anxiety for a lot of people.

William

Yeah, well, I hope so. I hope so.

Aishwarya

Yeah. Well, you know, it was a pleasure talking to you William. I had a lovely time. I think he spoke a lot about so many things. And I’ve learned so many things through this conversation. I really appreciate your time and sharing your views with us. It’s been an enriching learning experience for me personally and I’m sure, it will be for our viewers too, So thank you so much. And I love to stay in touch with you.

William

Well, I’ve had a wonderful time myself. I appreciate you asking. And I hope that people have learned something. And if you need any help, and anybody that watches the video, if you have any questions, reach out. Happy to help out.