User Experience—the “New Battleground” for HR Solution Providers

When we launched Reviewsnap one of our main objectives was to deliver one of the easiest-to-use performance management solutions in the entire industry. A June 24 article on reminded

us just how important—and how difficult—this objective can be.

In “Tech Insights: The Trick in Making Easy-to-Use User Interfaces,” author David Creelman asks HR professionals the question: If a 5-year-old can master an iPad, why can’t a 45-year-old Director of Operations figure out the performance management software? The answer, he writes, is that “designers of iPad software have been a lot more concerned with the user experience than have the designers of HR tools.”

Sadly, Creelman’s criticism of the state of HR tools isn’t unjustified. Some HR solutions are downright user-unfriendly. The good news is providers know there’s a problem—and they’re doing something about it.

Last October, HR industry analyst, Josh Bersin, wrote an article for Forbes titled, “The 9 Hottest Trends In HR Technology … And Many Are Disruptive.” In it, he states that vendors “are focused on building ‘systems of engagement’ rather than ‘systems of record.’ This is not only focused on making software easier to learn: it’s focused on making it possible for employees to use these systems themselves, effectively freeing up hundreds of HR staffers who do administrative work.”

This article shows that providers are indeed working to raise the bar on the user experience. It also shows that companies are shifting to cloud-based HR solutions, in large part, to gain an improved user experience; according to Bersin, 40 percent of companies that want to replace or revamp their HR infrastructure want cloud-based systems. We’ve even seen evidence in the marketplace that non-cloud solutions are being redesigned to mimic the simplicity and intuitiveness of SaaS alternatives.

As Bersin notes, user experience is the “new battleground.” It’s where designers of HR tools are now waging their competitive wars. At Reviewsnap, we know firsthand how challenging it can be to create a user interface that actually is easy-to-use. Every organization has a unique set of needs and goals, along with a different definition of “easy to use.” This is precisely why we built our solution with the simplest possible interface—and why we made it so flexible and easy to tailor. If you read our case studies and testimonials, you’ll see that nearly every one of our clients describe our solution with terms such as “user-friendly,” “easy to understand” and “easy to navigate.” We’re proud of these endorsements. But we know we have to earn them again and again, day in and day out.

User experience isn’t a one-and-done deal—and this is where we believe many solutions providers stumble.

Easy-to-use interfaces are only part of the total user experience. Implementation, customization, ongoing support and a host of other elements make up the user experience. Prior to and during implementation, for example, providers must conduct ample due diligence, making certain their solutions will function exactly the way clients need them to. And after the solution is up and running, the due diligence should continue. Weeks or even months down the road, the client’s definition of “ease of use” may have shifted slightly or morphed into something else entirely based on changing needs or market conditions. In other words, ease-of-use can become a moving target.

Creating a simple user interface and a great user experience is tricky stuff. But it’s absolutely essential for business tools, especially those designed to serve today’s busy, often overburdened HR departments. In our experience, we’ve found that communication and collaboration with clients—both before and after a purchase has been made—are the secrets to delivering on the ease-of-use promise.