Nothing lasts forever and HR software is no exception. Depending on which industry pundit you listen to, the average lifespan of an HRMS is between five and seven years, after which it’s probably looking a little antiquated next to the shiny new options on the market.

Being clear about what you want is key. So, if you’re looking to upgrade or replace your HR technology with the latest in the workplace people process automation (or even just acquire your very first system), what do you need to consider? Here are three suggestions that have proved popular in 2017…

Keep it mobile

The first wave of HR technology was licensed software installed and run on-site. Wave number two was the now-ubiquitous cloud deployment. And the third (and current) wave is mobile. In other words, it’s not enough to provide HR automation for your office desktops, people want HR in their pocket via a downloadable app.

Whether it’s booking time off, running payroll, or checking the progress of your latest recruitment campaign, users are looking for pinch’n’swipe functionality, anytime, anywhere. Just remember to look past the vendor’s sales pitch and select a system that fits with your BYOD policy, can be used offline when coverage is patchy (and auto-synchronizes when the connection is reestablished) and includes simple but effective proactive features, such as push notifications to prompt necessary action by people and managers.

Analytics, of course

Analytics (predictive or otherwise) tend to show up in every new year’s trends list and will undoubtedly continue to do so until HR get to grips with the potential of Big Data and integrated information systems, at which point analytics will be ‘business as usual’.

The real challenge here is not so much finding an HRMS that offers useful analytics but making the necessary skills and attitude shift to really take full advantage. This means having (or hiring) HR staff who have the data skills to ask the right questions, interpret the resulting answers and translate HRMS outputs so that your organization’s decision-makers can a) understand them, and b) act on them. A more holistic, strategic HR function could be just around the corner…

Don’t forget to give people what they want

If you want your HRMS to really have an impact then it can’t be the preserve of a few HR specialists. A more global, cross-discipline appeal is necessary and the first key step is providing features that all users will find valuable.

Once the basic employee self-service functionality is working seamlessly (including access to personal records, making time off requests, online paychecks, access to the team directory) you can get more creative. The good news is that with social media and online shopping being so integrated into people’s everyday lives, all you have to do is give them a system that works. Before you know it, HRMS-enabled benefits enrollment, learning and development, and onboarding will be the norm and you’ll be crowdsourcing skills and project solutions via your built-in social collaboration tools. The technology is here already, driving the workforce to use it is the next step.