Five Steps to Select a Talent Management System

In the face of a struggling economy, the last thing companies want to do is waste money and hinder operations with a poorly performing talent management system. This can cause them to miss out on crucial business insight on their talent strategies, which can result in talent gaps and decreased ROI.

Still, studies show that many companies are not maximizing their current talent management investments to best suit their specific organizational needs. The longer a company goes without an optimized talent management system, the more difficulty it will face in acquiring the talent needed to execute business objectives.

With that in mind, here are five steps to consider before selecting a talent management system:

Assess current gaps and document all requirements and goals. The first step is to evaluate the current talent management system to determine where it is underperforming. It’s important to start by gathering feedback from recruiters, hiring managers, executives and employees to develop a clear set of items that should be improved as well as the requirements and business-driven goals the organization needs from its talent management system. It’s also beneficial to document the processes that are working well so such procedures can continue after making the switch.

Exhaust opportunities with current providers. As the current provider will want to maintain the business relationship, consider presenting them with the list of gaps to see if they can fix the problem areas. If considering staying with the current provider, make sure they clearly demonstrate how they will meet the company’s new needs and put in writing how and when they will make the necessary changes.

Look for a partner, not a provider. In developing a talent management strategy, HR should seek to work with a partner to build an ongoing relationship, not just a provider or vendor. Present the list of gaps, requirements and goals to prospective new vendors and ensure they can fulfill the company’s needs and commit to key performance goals in writing. A true partner should be willing to agree to penalties for not meeting specific performance goals.

Negotiate setup costs to minimize the financial impact of switching. Economic pressures have left many HR organizations with little reserves for the large upfront investment required to implement a new talent management system. That’s why it’s a good idea to find a partner that will spread some or even all of the setup costs over part of the lifecycle of the contract. Be sure to review the contract with the current provider for any costs associated with contract termination and data transition.

Prepare to make the business case to the executive team. After completing due diligence and identifying potential partners that can help meet the company’s goals, it’s time to make a clear business case to executives about why the change is needed. Clearly outline the deficiencies of the current system and the impact they have had on operations as well as the steps taken to mitigate the issues. The discussion should be open and honest and focus on the benefits of implementing the new strategy.

Given the dynamic status of the economy, it’s understandable why companies may be unwilling to dedicate resources to identifying and implementing a new talent management system. However, having the wrong system in place can foster the underperformance and underutilization of talent. Adopting a new system that’s the right fit for the organization will help put the right people in the right positions, ensuring short- and long-term success.

Marcel Messier is president and chief operating officer at Technomedia, a provider of talent management services. He can be reached at