How to Choose the Best HR Onboarding Software for Your Agency

by Mike Tannian on January 05, 2023

Choosing HR onboarding software can feel overwhelming. Learn how to find software that meets your public sector organization’s needs.

Article Highlights: 

Trying to find the best HR onboarding software for your agency? It makes sense. Onboarding software quickly acclimates new hires to your organizational culture, streamlines your internal HR onboarding processes, and helps you reduce time on paperwork. A standard onboarding process can even improve new-hire productivity by 50%

But even if you understand the significance of a streamlined process, you still need to learn how to choose onboarding software for your agency. And with so many products on the market, it can be overwhelming to narrow down your options and choose the one that comprehensively meets your needs. 

Fortunately, a few key actions can help you select the right HR onboarding software, from conducting a thorough audit of your existing onboarding process to asking comprehensive questions during a product demo. In this post, we’ll dive a bit deeper into these steps so you can find the best onboarding tool for your agency. 

1. Audit Your Employee Onboarding Process

Before you can even think about specific onboarding software products, you need to understand your existing onboarding process. By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of these procedures, you ensure you’ll find a product that sufficiently meets your organization’s needs. A great way to start this audit is by gathering feedback from everyone involved in the onboarding process, from recent new hires to members of your hiring team.

During this audit, you might learn that new hires feel like they lack resources and connections during onboarding, so employee experience is suffering. As a result, you should search for HR onboarding software that demonstrates your company culture and provides opportunities for new hires to connect with the organization. 

Or perhaps new hires and tenured professionals in your agency struggle with time-consuming new hire onboarding tasks and paperwork. These roadblocks impede a new employee’s productivity and limit the time you can commit to other essential HR tasks. As a result, your organization wants to move towards a paperless onboarding process. 

When conducting your audit, you want to capture information like: 

  • What is the most error-prone part of the onboarding process? 
  • What part of onboarding takes the longest time?
  • What do new hires and existing employees have to say about the onboarding experience?
  • Do new hires feel prepared for their first day on the job? 
  • In general, what’s going well? What could be improved? 

Once you’ve gained critical insights into this process, you can narrow down the onboarding HR software features that will maintain the procedures that are working well and fix those that aren’t

2. Create a List of Non-Negotiables

After auditing your employee onboarding process, you understand your organization’s needs. But now you realize you have a lot of needs, and you’re feeling overwhelmed. Enter: your list of non-negotiables. 

Weeding out the “nice to haves” from the “must haves” is fundamental to finding the right software for your agency. Being clear on the necessities makes for a more efficient search process since you can quickly eliminate products that don’t provide critical features for your organization. 

Since every organization has unique needs, you’ll have a unique list of non-negotiables. To refer to our previous example, you may have learned that new hires don’t feel sufficiently connected to your organization after onboarding. As a result, your HR employee onboarding software must showcase company culture, support employer branding efforts, and provide in-app resources like supervisor contact information.  

Depending on your unique needs, you might consider some of the features listed below as non-negotiables:

  • Budget-friendly 
  • Employee self-service
  • Digital onboarding resources (for example, employee handbooks and training courses) 
  • Mobile onboarding app
  • Integration capabilities with existing software solutions
  • Customizable onboarding workflow 
  • Cloud-based 
  • eVerify integration 
  • Digital signatures
  • Simple interface

As you consider what’s mission-critical to your organization, prioritize this list and ask yourself whether a feature is really non-negotiable or just a nice-to-have. Once you’ve refined your “must-have” list, it’s time to identify your available resources for HR employee onboarding software. 

3. Identify Available Resources

In an ideal world, you could ignore resource constraints during your HR onboarding software search. But we all know that public agencies must be disciplined about using their limited resources effectively. So the next step in searching for the right software product is identifying your budget and staff resources

When considering available resources, be sure to budget for the initial purchase of software and  any additional features and set-up costs. Many HR software vendors sell annual product licenses, so consider both your up-front and ongoing budget. 

And remember: cheaper isn’t always better. While you need to be budget-conscious, beware of falling into the “cheapest option” trap. Spending less money in the short term on a product that doesn’t solve your onboarding challenges only leads to more time, money, and energy consumed in the long run. If you don’t invest in the software you need, you’ll likely need to start the process over again to find a better solution.

You’ll also want to consider available staff resources for managing and maintaining the software, including setting up the software if a company doesn’t provide this support. If you have limited IT resources, you may need to rely more comprehensively on a company’s tech support and should consider this when researching products. 

4. Research HR Onboarding Software Choices 

Many people are tempted to jump straight into researching their software options before completing the other steps on this list. But if you try to conduct research before refining your needs and budget, you’ll no doubt feel overwhelmed and uncertain about which path to take forward

Take sufficient time to understand what you need, then refine your research based on these non-negotiables and your unique industry. For example, you might look for onboarding solutions for the public sector if you work at a local government agency. If you work for a university, you might instead Google “employee onboarding software for educational institutions.” 

View product descriptions as you visit company websites to ensure the software addresses your needs. Then, read on-site testimonials and reviews on websites like Capterra. Conducting thorough research in this way helps you understand a product’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as the types of customers the company most commonly serves. 

5. Ask the Right Questions

Once you’ve identified a few companies you’re interested in learning more about, schedule a demo to see how their product works. To make the most of this time, create a list of questions before you meet with a sales team. By asking each company the same questions, you can compare each product’s key features and how they meet (or fail to meet) your organization’s needs. Here are some questions you may want to ask: 

  • What industries and company sizes do you typically work with?
  • Can this software integrate with my existing HCM, TMS, or ERP systems?
  • What support do you provide for implementing this software solution? 
  • What is the base fee for this software? What packages or add-ons do you offer?
  • How does this software support a streamlined onboarding process? 
  • Does this software include X, Y, or Z non-negotiable features? 

Keep in mind that this list of questions is just a starting point. You’ll want to refine questions based on your list of non-negotiable items and the specific challenges you identified in your employee onboarding audit.  

Final Thoughts

At first glance, the number of HR onboarding software solutions on the market can leave your head spinning. But after you audit your existing processes, refine your non-negotiables, and move through other steps on our list, you can quickly identify which products truly meet your agency’s needs. 

Ready to find out if NEOGOV’s Onboard is the best onboarding software for your agency? Book a no-obligation demo today (and don’t forget to bring us all your questions!).

Mike Tannian

Mike Tannian is the Director of Content Marketing at NEOGOV. With a talented team of writers by his side, he aims to produce content that delivers real value to public sector HR professionals at every stage in the buying journey.

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