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Choosing the right assignment management system for your organisation

The remit of global mobility (GM) functions continues to grow in both scope and complexity, making the case for introducing GM-specific technology to your organisation ever more compelling. In this blog post we discuss the importance of asking the right questions to ensure you select the right assignment management system for your organisation.

Global mobility programmes are pivotal to the growth and success of international businesses. The complexity of managing a mobility programme was steadily increasing well before the pandemic hit us – and I think we can all agree that the pace of change and the degree of complexity have only skyrocketed since. 

Shorter lead times, liaising with multiple stakeholders with different priorities, and containing costs while maintaining flexibility in the reward models, represent just some of the typical challenges faced by GM teams. Now, add embedding sustainability, virtual assignments, international remote work, water-tight compliance (or setting the parameters for the level of risk you’re willing to accept!), the enhanced importance of tracking, and the ever-changing travel restrictions into the mix, and it’s not hard to believe it when GM professionals say they are juggling more moving parts than ever before – even if they have seen a dip in the number of mobile employees they look after due to the pandemic.

While the main driver for global mobility continues to be enabling the business to move the right people into the right roles in the right locations around the world (or more recently: bringing jobs to people, wherever they may want to be based!), there is significant pressure on mobility professionals to free up time to deliver value-added solutions that demonstrate how GM can be a strategic asset to the business. In this climate, the need for an effective technology solution to manage a mobile workforce has become essential to the global operations and growth for most international organisations.

Top 5 things to consider when choosing assignment management software

With an increased number of software solutions available in the market offering more functionality than ever before – all of which may appear equivalent at first sight! – companies looking for assignment management software need to carefully assess their options to ensure they make the correct decision that meets their specific requirements. 

There is a lot to think about, and asking the right questions before you make the final decision can be the difference between a successful investment with measurable efficiency gains, or a waste of time, money and resources. So, here is some food for thought:

1. How will the system be an enabler for you?

The first thing you should do, before you reach out to any suppliers, is decide what you want to achieve by implementing a system. Doing this helps define your requirements, as well as getting the buy-in from the business, because you will be able to clearly outline how investing in a system will benefit the company. There are as many reasons for wanting a tool as there are organisations: for some, the key driver could be tracking all mobile employees in a bid to promote duty of care and compliance; for others, it could be reducing errors and measuring lead times. But for most, having powerful analytics and management reporting capabilities available could make all the difference. It could be something completely different for you. Keeping this in mind will make the whole process easier for everyone involved, because it helps you stay focused on your priorities, without being distracted by the “nice to have” features that don’t really suit your purposes. 

2. Is the tool fit for the future?

Selecting a new system is always an exciting process for a GM team, because it means you are taking the necessary steps to enhance and improve your ways of working. As great as it will be to level up from spreadsheets or a simpler system, you should also look at things from a long-term perspective. Given the rapidly evolving nature of any software, you will need guarantees regarding how the supplier intends to evolve and remain relevant. A good supplier will not only seek to respond to existing and future customers’ needs, but also to anticipate them. They should be able to give you an indication of what is on their development roadmap, so that you can also gauge potential future benefits to your organisation. Another key point to consider is to make sure future upgrades will be extended to existing customers, and not just new ones that opt for the tool after the features have been launched.

3. Does the software improve your employee experience?

There is growing demand to improve the employee experience (EX). This is no surprise, as we are so used to having slick apps in our personal life; the expectation is that workplace systems should offer a similarly enjoyable, consumer-grade experience. Businesses are increasingly aware of the importance of EX, and one way they are addressing it is by equipping their teams with high-spec software systems. Companies are increasingly looking for solutions designed not just for in-house global mobility specialists, but for ones that can also incorporate their ultimate customers, the mobile employees, and other stakeholders in the process.

Does the tool also cater for the varying levels of access through an intuitive interface? For your HR business partners around the world who are specifically interested in a snapshot of their relevant population, or C-suite “approvers” who need to only access the tool a couple of times a year, will the experience be tailored and seamless? In addition to catering to all your internal stakeholders, ensuring quick and frictionless collaboration with your vendors through one integrated system should also be a key consideration. 

4. How credible is the supplier?

As obvious as this may sound, in addition to the usual background checks on experience, history, financial stability and ESG standards, it’s important to ensure that you are fully comfortable with the supplier’s way of working. Rather than solely relying on their marketing materials and sales pitches, it’s always worth taking the time to speak to someone who has worked with them before. A good collaboration is key to the success of any partnership, so: do you think you will work well together? What added value will they bring to the project? Do they hear your concerns? Can you bounce ideas off them? Do you think you can trust them? Finally, are they financially stable with a commitment to continuous investment in improving their offerings, so that you can rest assured that what you have chosen will remain up-to-date and relevant? 

5. How will you be supported?

You might be made to feel like you’re the centre of the universe for the supplier during the sales process when they are working hard to win you over, but it’s important to know what you can expect from the relationship after the contracts have been signed and the chase is over. Any implementation requires considerable commitment from both your company and the supplier – you will need clarity on the resources that they will dedicate to the project. Rather than accepting a standard answer regarding implementation timelines, ensure that the supplier has a full understanding of the scope of the project and is prepared to account for the fact that an initial specification may evolve. Make sure that you are given guidance on how the project will be managed and reassurance that your priorities are taken into consideration when planning the phases of work. Also, consider how your team will familiarise themselves with the system – is full training included? Perhaps even more crucially, be clear on what will happen once the system has gone live: will you continue to receive support and assistance, for example for onboarding new joiners in your team? Is the support included in the annual fees, or is it something for which you will be charged extra? 

The adoption of technology tools helped companies across many industries through the most acute phase of the pandemic. It made possible a lot that was previously considered impractical and less productive – just think of the rapid adjustment to digital communication platforms, with entire companies switching to remote working seemingly overnight! However, when it comes to assignment management software, different organisations require different solutions. Global mobility teams are more motivated now than ever before to digitalise their programmes and implement automation. They successfully navigated through the many challenges that Covid-19 presented to our industry and, often enough, gained that coveted seat at the table in the process. It is still well worth your while to drill down to your needs and to do the due diligence thoroughly to minimise the potential for mishaps. All implementations take a significant amount of your time, energy and money and by being well-prepared, you can make sure it goes right on your first attempt. 

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You can find information on our website about ECAEnterprise, our range of online calculators and tools for expatriates, or feel free to request a free personal demo or give us a call to discuss your requirements.

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