If you’re anything like me, you have trouble keeping all the details of a conversation in your head.  Think back and try to remember the specifics of a conversation you had three weeks ago…

I find it especially hard to remember information when making large purchasing decisions.

Trying to stay organized in life

The first time I looked at apartments, I was so confident that I would remember all of the details from each unit.  I got back from five showings and started to wonder if the balcony was on the first or second apartment…was it the one on Hampshire Street that had the office, or was that the one in Somerville?

I ended up in this place:


It was kind of a dump.  It was also next to the “leaning tower of Cambridge” – a building that is basically ready to collapse at any point.

Thankfully, I’m now a lot more organized when I shop around for big-ticket items.  I still have a detailed spreadsheet from the last car I leased.  A CRV is just way too close to a Rav4, etc to keep all the details in my head!

Staying organized when buying HRTech

As it turns out, buying HRTech presents the same problem.  In fact, it may even be more difficult if you’re doing demos over the course of months for different systems, all of which are pretty similar.

I have a lot of advice on buying an applicant tracking system, but for specifics on staying organized, it’s pretty simple:

  • Make a list of the 5 must-have features you need in a new ATS (think about why you’re looking at a new system in the first place and then codify those wants into questions).
  • Of course, put together all the nice to have features too. Some of these might be the difference between using one vendor vs another.
  • Go one step further, think about the various stakeholders in your organization and what they care about – from your boss to security.  Ask them now what they care about so you can catalog this information on the demos.
  • Something that people underestimate is the trustworthiness of their sales rep. First off, this person may represent you in future demos with a larger group.  But, more than that, this person is choosing to work at this vendor.  If they are top notch, that says a lot about the organization as a whole.
  • Lastly, make sure to record pricing – the pricing model as well as how that translates into one time and recurring costs for your organization.

When you’re on a demo, and someone shows you an amazing new feature, you think to yourself “I’ll never forget this!”  Take it from me, you probably will.  Our lives and brains are too full on any given day to retain most of what we hear.  Make it easy on yourself, and go into the process of buying any new software with a plan to stay organized!


Phil Strazzulla

Phil Strazzulla is the founder of SelectSoftware, a site dedicated to helping HR professionals buy the right software and tools through free online guides.  Phil started his career working in venture capital at Bessemer before attending Harvard Business School for his MBA.  He originally got into the People space by starting NextWave Hire, a recruitment marketing software company.  Follow Phil on Twitter @PhilStrazzulla or connect with him on LinkedIn