HR Technology Conference and Exposition 2012 – Ask the Expert – The Cure for HR Tech Angst

Dear HR Tech Conference Expert:
My travel reservations are confirmed, and I can’t wait to visit the Windy City for the 2012 HR Technology Conference & Exposition! Our company is in the very early stages of selecting a new performance management system to replace our manual processes, so “kicking all the vendors’ tires under one roof” will be a great way to compare software and evaluate what’s right for our midsize company. My problem is, I’ve never attended an industry trade show of this size. With more than 200 exhibitors at this year’s event, finding the best performance management solution for our midsize company could be like finding a needle in a haystack. Help!

Signed, HR Tech Angst in Albuquerque
Dear Albuquerque Angst:
Fear not, my HR Tech Conference novice; with a clear talent management vision, some simple preplanning and a sensible pair of shoes, you’ll be navigating the labyrinth of the 2012 HR Tech Conference Expo Hall like a seasoned veteran and return to Albuquerque with a solid plan of action.
1.      Create your vision. Take a cue from Stephen Covey and begin with the end in mind. You mentioned that you’re currently using manual processes for handling performance reviews. Bringing automation to your people processes will save your organization time and money, and performance management is a great place to introduce a more streamlined and efficient process. Since you’re a midsize company, you may not have the resources available to get the whole enchilada of talent management technology today. But before you begin your selection process, consider how your talent management practice will evolve over the next three to five years. For example, after you’ve successfully identified and implemented a performance management software solution, will integrated learning content and activities be needed to reinforce development? Will you eventually tie performance results to compensation decisions? Understanding your organization’s three- to five-year talent management road map will help you determine what you should plan for today, as well as what you can set aside or eliminate entirely from your technology equation.
2.      Build a tactical Expo plan. With an understanding of your talent management vision and a road map laid out, develop a tactical plan of attack for the HR Tech Expo. As a midsize company, maybe you’ve identified performance management, goal planning, 360-degree feedback, compensation and learning management as your core talent management needs. That’s a great start, and knowing exactly what you need will help you eliminate providers on both ends of the talent management spectrum — those that under deliver (don’t offer these solutions as a fully integrated platform), as well as providers that over deliver (bundle additional solutions that you don’t need). Evaluate the vendors exhibiting at HR Tech and make note of those providers offering that sweet spot of solutions your company needs.
3.      Work your plan. Once you’ve made it through the HR Tech Conference on-site registration, you’ll have a complete map of vendor locations and corresponding booth numbers in your conference guide. Find a comfortable corner and map out a path to the booths you’ve identified in your plan. Ask specific questions, watch a demo, take notes and grab some swag. Summarize your booth visits when you’re back at your hotel and review your materials on your flight home before the entire experience becomes a blur.
4.      Have some fun. Above all, enjoy yourself! There are hundreds of talented, knowledgeable, experienced HR technology professionals just waiting to talk to you. Don’t be afraid to meet, greet and participate in any contests or giveaways offered by the Expo vendors. I’ve even heard one vendor (Reviewsnap) is holding a “Happy Hashtag Challenge.” Be sure to visit them at Booth #754 to get in on their unique contest and get a chance to win some of the great prizes they’ll be giving away. While you’re there, take a test drive of their performance management software solutions; they may be the perfect fit for your organization and a quick remedy for your HR Tech angst!
Signed, the HR Tech Conference Expert