HR Provider vs HR Partner: Do You Know the Difference?

Human Resources

Searching for a new technology solution to support your HR, payroll and workforce management goals can be intimidating. For some businesses, it may be that outdated technology isn’t meeting their needs. For many other businesses, their current HR provider isn’t performing to standard or is not providing the level of partnership they need to truly succeed and achieve their goals. What’s the next best move?

Let’s first gain a solid understanding of what human resources means for your business and then we will note key differences to watch out for in the beginning, middle and end of your HR selection and implementation process.

What Human Resources Means for Your Business

The Small Business Association (SBA) defines human resources in two ways:

  • The people who work for a company or organization.
  • The department of a company that is responsible for managing company resources.

The latter definition is commonly referred to as human resources management (HRM). The SBA puts the following responsibilities under HRM:

  • Recruitment and hiring
  • Training and development
  • Payroll and benefits
  • Employee retention
  • Creating a safe, healthy and productive environment
  • Communication across the organization

Your HR must do all of these things while striking a balance between what best serves the needs of your employees and what meets the market-driven needs of your business. But it’s how this balance is achieved that is critical to the overall success of your business. 

HR Provider vs HR Partner

The dynamics of how organizations evaluate HR technology solutions is changing: Now, organizations understand that the software they purchase is only one part of the equation. The partnership they have with the vendor before, during and after purchase is critically important, especially when it comes to HR, payroll and workforce management.

This prioritization of technology solutions that businesses choose to invest in has led many HR groups to place vendors in one of two categories:

  • Providers: Companies that strictly provide technology
  • Partners: Companies that provide technology and a great customer experience that builds meaningful, lasting relationships

The relationship starts when a company evaluates, selects and purchases a solution. It’s during this stage that business leaders start to understand the solutions a vendor has to offer and learn how they form relationships with their customers.

In the Beginning: Key Differences of a Provider vs Partner

An HR provider will often highlight their product features and capabilities and may highlight how what they have to offer is better than the competition. HR providers may also offer a great deal on their solution and later leave businesses to find a number of hidden fees within their contracts or invoices.

HR partners tend to be more understanding of a business’s specific goals and needs. They recommend custom-tailored solutions to show how what they have to offer can add value to your organization, as well as solve problems. At purchase time, partners are typically transparent about all costs and potential fees and leave no room for surprise when the first invoice arrives.

Here are two important questions to ask an HR provider when evaluating different solutions:

  1. How has your solution delivered value to customers with similar needs and goals to ours?
  2. What other costs and fees are not captured in this proposal?

In the Middle: Key Differences of a Provider vs Partner

After a selection has been made and a purchase has followed, it is time to begin the implementation process. This phase is mission-critical and will greatly impact the future success of the solution.

An HR provider may have a standard approach to implementation that deploys a solution with little guidance. The provider may lack the bigger picture of the business’s goals and the goals and needs of its people. Their process may require a lot of administrative time and effort from their clients — from data collecting and configuration to testing the environment.

However, an HR partner will implement a consultative solution that leverages their knowledge of unique goals and business needs, as well as their knowledge of best practices gained through experience. An HR partner also understands that the implementation process can be overwhelming and time-consuming for their clients who are busy with day-to-day tasks, so they invest in tools to streamline the experience by automating technology solutions. Partners will also provide a best practice-based configuration that further adjusts to specific needs and offer tech-enabled testing options.

In discussing what building out a solution should look like, there are a few additional questions to ask an HR provider or partner:

  1. What is your implementation philosophy and methodology?
  2. How will you help us realize a faster time to value?
  3. What investments have you made to ease the time and effort required from our team during implementation?

In the End: Key Differences of a Provider vs Partner

The first few months after rolling out a new HRM solution can be both exciting and stressful. During this phase, the business is building confidence in the new solution and working throughout the organization to increase user adoption.

During this time, an HR provider is quick to get through implementation. This means that they may decide the implementation is complete and transfer any questions to support with little guidance. They may even recommend purchasing additional service hours if further technical assistance with the new solution is needed.

An HR Partner takes the time to ensure the transition is painless from implementation to support to make sure the business is confident in the new solution and that the first year goes smoothly. They provide technical support resources, training and enablement and support the rollout of the new solution to the broader organization.

To get a clear picture of how an HR solutions vendor will help make the first year a success, ask a few more specific questions:

  1. What happens after our implementation is complete?
  2. How do you support us after go-live as we transition to long-term support?
  3. What happens if we need to fine-tune parts of our solution after go-live?

A People Company

At Quanta, we know that great talent doesn’t grow on trees. As your HR partner, we help you find and  keep the best people by designing custom-tailored payroll and HR solutions that allow you to focus on the big picture – your employees. Get in touch with us to schedule a personalized demo of our HCM platform, or for general inquiries. We’re happy to help.

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