Who Are You Going to Call? How to Make Good Decisions on HR Technology

Making sound decisions about Human Resources technology is a daunting task. First, there is a plethora of options in every functional area. Second, the variations between the various vendor solutions require significant review based on well-meaning vendor efforts to differentiate their offering and legitimate variance in what each vendor provides. Third, the investment in any HR Technology tool is sizable, so there is financial pressure to ensure that money is well spent. Finally, the sources of advice to guide the decision-making process are numerous and disparate in decision-making counsel, often resulting in more confusion versus buying clarity.

Traditionally most HR Technology decisions are made due to historical experience or the counsel of trusted advisors. The technology used at a previous company and highly opinionated social discussions often profoundly impact future decision-making. The limitation of personal experience and social discourse is evidenced by the breadth of exposure they have experienced and the factors that may affect whether what you hear about any HR technology is outstanding or onerous. Since most people have limited exposure to various HR technologies, it is common for most potential customers to seek additional input from a wide range of sources to compensate for this inadequacy.

There are plenty of potential advisory inputs regarding HR technology purchases. They include management consultants, research firms, expert networks, and crowdsourced technology review companies. Management consulting firms often have partnerships with several human capital vendors and practice areas devoted to deploying specific technology solutions. Consultants are typically hired at a high cost to validate requirements and then orchestrate an evaluation process that often includes Requests for Proposals, vendor demonstrations, reference reviews, and consensus decision-making. Consultants have traditionally been the most active advisory source in the past decade. However, there has been an erosion of their influence and market share due to cost, the time required to conduct assessments, and concerns about vendor influences.

One source of technology insight that has grown in the past decade has been expert networks. These advisory firms source technology experts and advisors by matching customers, investors, and researchers with experts with specific insights and experience that can be leveraged in the evaluation and decision-making process. These vendors broker a network of skilled authorities to various sources seeking informed assessments to support financial and deployment choices. The expert network industry surpassed $1.9 Bn in 2021 revenues, generated by more than 100 expert networks industry, and has seen 18 percent average growth since 2015.1 The largest company in this space is GLG, but there are many other contenders in this area.

Advisory firms dedicated to technology evaluation also provide viable expertise when evaluating solution alternatives. These firms often make annual efforts to share their perspective on a wide range of HR technologies. There are two distinct types of technology evaluation businesses. The first is traditional HR technology research companies that study the vendor market, customer needs, and the evolution of enabling technology to identify and rank contenders vs. pretenders in all areas of HR functionality. The expertise and research investment of these technology firms ranges, as does their true objectivity regarding human capital technology alternatives. Even well-established, research-based technology advisors like Forrester, Ventana, Gartner, and others have had their objectivity questioned based on perceived partnerships and favored technology solutions.

The second type of technology evaluation expertise has been developing for the past ten years but expanded significantly during the pandemic when many companies curtailed team evaluation efforts. Crowdsourced aggregators of technology assessments understand the value of collective customer reviews. In addition, input from multiple customers is illuminating when looking for clarity on technology purchases.

Active for over ten years, technology review platforms enable buyers to write and view technology product reviews to improve software buying decisions. These resources grew in volume and quality during the pandemic due to decreased capability for group review and evaluation forums. Technology comparison platforms help consumers begin the vendor selection process by providing product rankings aggregated from peer reviews. Technology review platforms allow buyers to independently find relevant references to help support informed decisions instead of relying only on a vendor or research firm-supplied resources. This collected technology assessment information allows buyers to gain more confidence in their choice of technology and spend less time in vendor demos and evaluation meetings.

Additionally, these platforms are beneficial for vendors, or software companies, to connect and authentically engage with their ideal customers. Vendors can educate the market and influence active buyers by helping them learn what their product(s) can do for them. While both product reviews software and technology review platforms aid in building a positive reputation for a product, the reality is that this data can be manipulated to present or hide specific information from potential customers.  All the options to support technology decision- making have inherent weaknesses that must be understood to maximize the effectiveness of any one approach. Better still, we recommend the utilization of multiple assessment tools. Before you can initiate this effort, it is helpful to understand the wide range of potential options in each of the advisory categories presented to this point.

Technology Consulting Partners

All the following consulting companies provide technology evaluation consulting support services. Most of these vendors also have technology implementation partnerships with at least one human capital software vendor that brings true objectivity into question, but it has not limited their viability.

HR Technology Research Firms

These companies provide expert guidance and tools to enable faster, smarter decisions and stronger performance on an organization’s mission-critical priorities founded on extensive research in all aspects of HR Technology.

Expert (Insights) Networks

These companies broker an established network of technology experts who advise and opine with interested parties seeking to invest or purchase products and/or services from qualified vendors.

Technology Review Platforms

Hundreds of Technology Review Platforms rely on customer reviews to provide insight into all aspects of HR Technology. I have summarized a few of the larger companies in this space together with a longer list of some of the smaller companies that aggregate and summarize customer insights with actionable analytics to support technology evaluation efforts.

Here are the four largest Technology Review Platforms. All four of these companies provide their research-based aggregated assessment information for free. However, they do have fee-based services and are included in this summary.2

1.  G2 Crowd

Chicago-based G2 Crowd has over 400,000 reviews and lets users sort reviews by the reviewer’s company size, organizational role, and industry. G2 Crowd rates vendors on a five-star system. Reviews on G2 Crowd are typically lengthy and in-depth. The website asks reviewers to answer specific questions on what they like and dislike about products, the business problems they are solving, and the benefits they’ve realized. G2 promotes its own proprietary algorithm to filter fraudulent reviews from a company’s own employees or direct competitors, and the community layout allows viewers to vote as to whether reviews were found as helpful or not. The emphasis of G2 is on appraisals, which can all be filtered and compared to competing product offerings.

Pricing Considerations:

While there is no cost to research and review products, G2 does sell services to suppliers, which may include sharing your site history at the company level (they call it ‘buyer intent data’). So, for example, if you are searching HCM solutions, those same providers will see that someone from your Company has been looking at their products, which will result in their sending outreach and advertising directed to who they believe to be decision makers at your Company. They even have “connectors” that will share data directly with CRM platforms of their vendor/supplier customers.

2.  TrustRadius

TrustRadius is a community of professionals sharing software reviews, having software discussions, and collaborating on best practices. TrustRadius doesn’t have as many reviews (approximately 140,000), but the reviews they do have are high-quality (averaging over 400 words in length), and each is authenticated and verified before being published on the site. Reviews rate vendors on a scale of 1-10, and reviewers often give detailed responses TrustRadius does not run paid vendor advertisements, which limits suppliers’ ability to create a conflict of interest and/or skew the review results. The platform also uses “TrustMaps” to organize products based on their review scores and research frequency, helping users further vet the validity of product value.

Pricing

Like G2, TrustRadius also sells buyer intent data to suppliers/vendors, along with connectors that tie directly to their CRM platforms. In addition, they also sponsor events and webinars for their supplier customers to help them better take advantage of buyer intent data and bolster their marketing outreach.

3.  Capterra (Owned by Gartner)

Capterra has been owned by Gartner since 2015 and makes money by selling referrals and sales opportunities to vendors. As a powerful resource for comparing IT tools, Capterra. com boasts thousands of reviews in over 600 categories. Reviewers give their tools one to five stars on features and functionality, ease of use, and customer service, and a main score is pulled from the average of the three. Reviewers can also chime in on the overall pros and cons of the product in question. In addition, Capterra provides users with a wealth of information about products, including data on the starting price, pricing details, whether there is a free trial, deployment types, and available training options. What’s more, users have the option of comparing two competing solutions head-to-head on Capterra. Capterra is a great tool to use to discover software options. With more than 5 million monthly business software buyers using the platform and extensive product descriptions and functionality features built into the listings, users can get a lot of great supplier-provided information. Ads drive the platform, and Gartner owns it, so some of the analysis favors and reflects the Gartner analysis.

Pricing

Gartner does offer services for vendors. When you click on the Capterra link for “vendors” off their main page, you are redirected to a Gartner Digital Marketing page, where vendor offerings are available. For example, if a vendor signs up for a “Premium” service, they get increased product visibility, detailed campaign analytics and reporting, premium marketing services and content, and access to competitor analysis, buyer insight, and intent tools.

4.  PeerSpot (previously IT Central Station)

PeerSpot is a member-based peer review site that boasts over 300 thousand members who have reviewed products in over 600 market categories. Each reviewer must give their title, the size of their organization, and the industry that they work in, which makes for some very trustworthy reviews. Reviews rate products on a simple five-star basis and reviewers give in-depth replies to several prompts, including features, pros and cons, and improvements the tool made for their organization.

Pricing

PeerSpot also provides services for vendors/ suppliers for a fee which includes sponsored comparison pages (sponsored products that automatically appear in a competitor’s solution page), enhanced profiles, and lead generation tools.

Additional Technology Assessment Companies/Sites

The following is an alphabetically sorted list of additional companies and websites that provide a variety of technology evaluation/assessment information and tools:

  • AlternativeMe – platform for optimizing connections between a variety of software and product alternatives.
  • AlternativeTo – Provide what application you want to replace, and they give you great alternatives based on user recommendations.
  • Analyzo – find and compare the best software and services for your business.
  • AppStorm – Features new web, desktop, and mobile apps.
  • AppVita – Featuring the best in web applications.
  • Astrogrowth – Software guides and comparisons to discover platforms for each category.
  • BetterBuys – find, research, and select the right software and technology solutions for your organization.
  • io – provides their own experts who have direct experience and insights from being real software users.
  • Clutch – reviews and rankings of software trusted by top firms and decision-makers.
  • ComHQ – discover the right software and tools for your business.
  • CompareCamp – product reviews and comparisons.
  • Credence Apps & Reports – reviews from existing users.
  • CrowdReviews – community-based research and rankings platform.
  • Crozdesk – web apps finder.
  • Cue – research and select the best software and services to grow your business.
  • DiscoverCloud – compare apps for for businesses.
  • Erli Bird – Where Great New Products Are Born.
  • eBool – Product finder with alternatives.
  • Expert Insights (Cybersecurity) – cloud-based cybersecurity solutions and services research.
  • FeedMyApp – web & mobile apps reviewed.
  • Fitsmallbusiness – provides clear, comprehensive, and actionable content.
  • GetApp (Owned by Gartner) – Review, compare and evaluate small business software. GetApp has software offers, SaaS and Cloud Apps, independent evaluations, and reviews.
  • Get Tech Press – Get access to 3000+ tech journalists, Growth Hacks, Submit sites, Facebook groups, and more.
  • GoodFirms – authenticated reviews and research on prevailing software trends.
  • Inspector Jones – Inspector Jones has helped over 100,000 businesses to find software. They highlight what to look for and who to put on your shortlist to find the world’s best software.
  • IT Qlick – Software buyers resource with directory, free TCO pricing calculator, buyer guides, reports, and head-to-head software comparisons.
  • Makeuseof – a destination for learning more about technology and the many ways that it can improve your life.
  • Mattermark – Research, prospect, and track the fastest-growing private companies with deal intelligence.
  • Netted – the best apps, products, and services that make your life better.
  • PATResearch (Predictive Analytics Today) – B2B discovery platform which provides analysis, ratings, research, reviews, commentary, comparisons, best practices, and buying guides for Enterprise Software and Services.
  • PCMag – top software review site with copious amounts of content.
  • ProductHunt – ProductHunt is a curation of the best new products every day. Discover the latest mobile apps, websites, and technology products that everyone’s talking about.
  • SaaSHub – The independent software marketplace.
  • SaaSGenius – search for software designed for online use.
  • SaaSScout (formerly SoftwareFindr) – Product Research Platform powered by Big Data and AI.
  • SaaSWorthy – unbiased & insightful reviews, comparison, Q&A, social popularity, and buyers’ guides.
  • SelectHub – locate and select the right software to meet your needs.
  • Serchen – Software marketplace and matchmaker.
  • Siftery – Discover products that are a great fit for your company.
  • SocialCompare – a collaborative community-based comparison engine.
  • SoftwareAdvice (Owned by Gartner) – provides research and user reviews on software applications.
  • SoftwareConnect – phone consultations to simplify software searches.
  • SoftwarePundit – in-depth software reviews.
  • SoftwareSuggest – business software discovery platform with reviews and comparisons.
  • SoftwareWorld – software review and rating website.
  • SolutionsReview – a collection of technology news sites that aggregates, curates, and creates content to connect buyers of enterprise technology to sellers.
  • TechnologyAdvice (Owned by Gartner) – is a resource for both buyers and sellers of business technology.
  • Technology Evaluation Centers – is an impartial advisory firm, helping customers find the best software to fit their needs.
  • TechnologyCounter – connecting buyers and sellers of business software.
  • ToolOwl – A site that reviews tools.
  • Top Best Alternatives – is a crowdsourced software discovery and recommendation engine.
  • Top Ten Reviews – provides reviews on products categorized according to each product group and displayed in an easy-to-follow format.
  • Trustpilot – consumer reviews. Get the real inside story from shoppers like you! Read, write, and share reviews.
Overall Technology Decision-Making Guidance

HR technology evaluation should be driven by identified, prioritized, and validated business requirements. That fundamental initial step starts by connecting to people who know and understand what those requirements represent for the business. Additional building blocks to an effective technology assessment include establishing a viable budget, timeline, and internal team of people to guide the overall evaluation process. Making the right decision when you need to seek additional guidance on HR Technology purchases is critical in achieving the overall transformation you desire. There are many options to consider with inherent advantages and disadvantages. When you decide “who you are going to call,” make sure you do so wisely.

Endnotes

1 Expert Network Market Size, https://inex.one/blog/expert- network-market-size, Max Friberg, November 7, 2021.

2 Top 4 (of 100) Technology Review Platforms for 2021, https://www.netnetweb. com/content/blog/top-4-of- 100-technology-review-platforms-for-2021, Steve Zolman, April 29, 2021.

Dan Vander Hey
Associate Director of Enterprise Process Consultingat| + posts

Dan Vander Hey, Associate Director in Enterprise Process Consulting at Cognizant. Vander Hey is a nationally recognized HR transformation, strategic sourcing, and human capital technology expert. He’s an author, speaker, and consultant to Fortune 1000 Companies in areas focused on human capital management, best-fit process optimization, and innovative people practices. For more than two decades, he has designed and deployed a wide variety of enterprise systems, including PeopleSoft/Oracle, SAP, ADP, Workday, Ceridian, and UKG. He holds an M.A. in psychology from Humboldt State University and a B.A. in psychology from Biola University. He can be reached at[email protected].

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