A lot of brands are getting into Employee Advocacy, and with more than 30 Employee Advocacy vendors that I know of, picking a vendor can be a real challenge.
Some of the great vendors in this space are smaller, and don’t spend a ton of money on marketing, so it is an easy mistake to only pick from the vendors with the biggest marketing budgets.
In addition, vendors compete in different categories, and you may need more than one vendor to satisfy all your needs. No single vendor does everything that a brand needs, to deliver a robust employee advocacy program.
I suggest the following 3 steps.
- Set Goals
- Clarify Requirements
- Assess Fit
1. Set Goals
First and foremost, define measurable goals for your program. If you start with a pilot, how will you measure the success of that pilot? Far too many brands launch with no plan for how they will measure ROI of their program, then, when they request funding to expand their program, their executives demand to see ROI before giving them more money. You CAN measure ROI in these kinds of programs, and you should.
2. Clarify Requirements
After you establish clear goals for your program, then determine what the tool needs to do for you. (Also called: business requirements or functional requirements.) Determine the specific capabilities that you need the tool to provide. In my Buyer’s Guide, I grouped the typical requirements into four categories:
- Employee Enablement, which includes things like pushing content to employees
- Performance Measurement: collecting, measuring and reporting the things that employees do and the outcomes of those actions
- Compliance management, which includes a wide array of regulatory concerns, some of which vary across industries, and some of which apply to all industries
- Mobile Applications: which are critical to most organizations who uses this kind of tool, but many vendors do not have one
- API, which very few vendors offer, and is something that I see as important to the development of the ecosystem in this space
Within those areas, there are many, many features that you might consider, and no vendor has everything that any company needs. So it is important to define your requirements thoughtfully, based upon the business goals you set for your program.
3. Assess Fit
Once you and your internal stakeholders agree on the requirements, you need to consider the teams who will deliver and support your product for the coming few years. You can do this by meeting with the team. Ask them to let you meet the person who will manage your account. Often, vendors will assign one person to implement your product, and then someone else to mange your account. You want o meet the account manager before you make your decision. Some vendor’s may not like that, but you need to know who is going to be supporting you when you need help.
It’s a bit of a process, but you are making an important commitment when you ask your employees o adopt a new piece of software, and, at some point, your business leaders will come to you and ask you to prove ROI, so it is best to think about that at the beginning, when you can make the important decisions that will determine whether you actually achieve ROI from your program.
My Buyers Guide for Employee Advocacy Software includes more information about the 28 vendors in the space, and trends among the technologies that brand are using.
I hope that helps.