11 Questions to Ask Yourself When Building Talent Management Requirements

December 6th, 2019

If you’re an HR professional coming up on the end of the year, you’re probably begging for an end to end-of-year performance reviews, engagement surveys, or managing employees’ time off for the holidays. If any of those activities made you cringe to just think about, you probably need to invest in talent management software! These products can help turn HR headaches into clear value-adding processes when it comes to make the most of the talent you’re already paying for.

Talent management can be a vague, ill-defined area, and knowing what tools you need to manage your talent isn’t always a simple task. We’ve curated a list of 11 questions you should ask yourself to help clarify your requirements for your future talent management software. These questions touch on what your talent pool looks like, what HR software you currently use, and what talent management features you should prioritize.

Know your labor pool

1. Will your personnel benefit from talent management?

Not all talent management software is equally suited to all talent pools. There are more granular questions we’ll address later on, but the first question you should ask is whether your personnel will actually benefit from talent management. Remember, talent management is usually more of a medium-long term investment in your talent. This investment pays off through your employees’ growth over time, both in terms of skills development and engagement with/commitment to the company.

If you’re in an industry that doesn’t utilize specific personnel in career positions, talent management may not be as valuable an investment. For instance, transient, or short-term workers may not be with your company long enough to benefit from more structured goal setting, or they may not need continual skills certification or advancement to make learning management worthwhile. It’s always smart to invest in your people, but make in an investment that can pay off!

2. How big is your talent pool?

Like the majority of HR software, talent management products are scaled by the size of their target users. Due to this kind of market segmentation, you should be keenly aware of how many people will be utilizing the software. Getting a product scaled larger than your business can result in you overpaying for features or capacity you don’t need. On the other hand, getting a product scaled for businesses smaller than yours can lead to missing functionality and a lack of necessary customization as your personnel needs become more complex over time. Checking reviewer size demographics on products’ pages on TrustRadius can provide a good starting point for identifying which products cater to your size range.

3. Are you in a specialized industry?

Some vendors have developed talent management tools specifically catered to various industries. For instance, businesses in healthcare can look to talent management software like HealthStream that focus on the continued learning management so crucial to keeping medical professionals up to date. Similarly, PeopleAdmin’s SelectSuite tailors its talent management services to government and higher education users. Specialized products don’t exist for every industry, but if your field has particularly specialized needs, check to see if someone’s designed a program to meet those needs.

Know your current HR software setup

HR software is a confusing space, even for those of us who routinely live in it. While vendors have been making strides in integrating different product areas together, not all software plays nicely together. Knowing what your current setup can set the parameters for how your future talent management purchase should fit with the rest of your software.

4. Do you currently use a Human Capital Management suite?

If you’re already using an HCM suite that you like and fits your needs well, you should, and probably already have, checked to see if it has a talent management module you can add to your current package. There is a chance that standalone talent management suites can offer deeper and more customizable features than broader HCM suites, but it may be a risk worth taking for native integration and a product setup you’re already familiar with.

5. Do you currently use an HRIS/Core HR product?

Core HR management products provide the foundational HR processes every business needs like payroll and employee data tracking, but lack the strategic HR functions of HCM suites. We’ve broken down the distinctions between the two software types for a more in-depth comparison.

If you’re currently using a core HR management software to serve your needs, a standalone talent management suite can complement your existing software better than an HCM module. However, you should also remember to check if, and how well, talent management products integrate with your core HR system before committing to one. Speaking of integration….

6. Do you currently use other HR point solutions?

Data-driven HR decisions and reporting are increasingly important. These capabilities are enabled largely by the accessibility of data across systems from centralized platforms or viewpoints. In order to make the most of more powerful HR forecasting, modeling, and reporting, take stock of what other point solutions you use for processes like payroll, benefits administration, or time tracking. Talent management software can, and should, make use of all this data to enable goal setting, performance reviews, and gauge employee engagement. However, if your point solutions aren’t designed to integrate with your talent management software, what should have been an easy and automated process will quickly become a nightmare.

Know what talent management functions you need— now and in the future

As we mentioned, “talent management” can include many different features, not all of which may be helpful for you. Consider which strategic functions you need in the first place, and which features are most important to you. In the short term, what goals do you want to achieve using talent management software? In the longer term, how will those goals change over time? Some specific areas to consider include:

7. How do you want to track employee engagement?

HR’s role in ensuring employees stay committed to, and satisfied with, the business is a crucial factor of retention and company culture. Being able to measure, document, and report on engagement is an underappreciated facet of the process, and one that surveys tools with specialized engagement metrics can enable. It’s worth remembering that employee engagement software is only as effective as the follow-up and action taken offline afterward!

8. How do you want to establish goal setting and tracking?

Every talent management product by definition has some level of support for this capability. The difference between products is how well each supports employee self-service regarding goal setting and tracking, versus manager-established goals and visibility. Have an idea of whether you want more structure and hierarchization or democratization of performance management before looking at actual products.

9. How much recruiting does your business do?

There is a lot of variation in the quality of support for recruiting and onboarding across talent management products. Given the presence of robust standalone applicant tracking and recruiting systems, you may want to err on the side of a standalone product if recruiting is a fairly constant and intensive process for your company. However, if you’re happy with your existing processes or don’t want to buy another software, most talent management suites do support some recruiting and onboarding.

10. Do your personnel need continual skills training or recertifications?

Talent management products’ learning modules have grown to better support recertification processes as well as more academic learning content. Learning management system (LMS) functionality will be particularly valuable if you’re in a knowledge-based industry or a highly regulated industry, such as healthcare or energy.

11. Would your business benefit from defined succession planning?

Some more specific questions to consider: Do you have a 5-year plan for who will be on your leadership team? A ten-year plan? What happens when you move on to bigger and better things or retire? If you don’t have answers to these questions, and that bothers you, you may want to emphasize succession planning functionality.

However, succession planning isn’t a must for every business or every role. If your business goals aren’t as connected to having specialized people or skill sets in management or lower leadership positions, succession planning may not be as core to your organization.

Go forth and manage

Talent management looks different for every business and team, but talent management software can usually play a role. These questions should reveal the information necessary to build out your required features and integrations list when shopping for talent management software. Need a primer on what talent management is? Look here! Unsure how it fits into other HR management types? We’ve got you covered!