Here are 7 key questions to ask your software provider…
You’re launching a strategic leadership development program. You’ve designed the programme around your company’s unique leadership framework. You want to benchmark your future leaders against that framework, and you want to use 360 Degree Feedback to do so. You need help to get your 360 designed and implemented. So you’re looking for 360 Feedback software you can customise. You’ve found some providers…..now what should you ask them…
1. ‘How bespoke can you make my 360?’
Most providers can offer a tailored questionnaire, but what about the rating scale, the reporting relationships and the open text questions? For a robust 360 you will need to customise the content and communications to your development programme. This is especially important if your programme objective is to develop consistent leader behaviour and values across the whole organisation.
2. ‘What about the 360 process? Can that be customised too?’
The culture of your organisation is unique. You have ways of doing things, processes you follow, assumptions about responsibilities and communication. Some 360 processes allow the individual to ask for feedback from the colleagues they choose, directly. Other providers require a central collation of raters to be uploaded into the 360 delivery tool. Which you choose will depend on the level of comfort and experience in your organisation around feedback. In some cultures, for example IT and media, employees have complete choice over who they get feedback from. While law firms tend to prefer a more structured process with approvals.
Even who gets the reports (individual, their line manager, HR), when and how (paper reports, online, downloads) are important factors.
3. ‘What kind of reporting can you provide?’
Individual 360 Feedback reports come in many shapes and sizes. At least, an individual 360 report should show key trends (top agreed areas of strength and development needs). It should also show the detailed breakdown of data (both anonymously). The text feedback should also be anonymous). The report should be simple and easy to read.
Some reports will include additional dynamic sections that are generated based on the individual’s ratings. For example, they may contain such as a Johari window or Development Action Points. These can add value to the report and even more so if they can be customised to your program content.
Don’t forget to ask about group or aggregate reporting. For large development programs, it’s important to be able to get data on a group basis, whether that is by role, location or other criteria. With this data you can measure, on a larger scale, the impact of the development activities over time. This will allow you to pinpoint any modifications or areas for improvement in the programme.
4. ‘Can I buy or rent the 360 Feedback tool?’
You’ll want an online software tool that’s fast, secure and easy to use. The most cost effective solution is Software-as-a-Service. This means that you ‘rent’ the tool and the data-space from the provider. So your organisation doesn’t own the tool, but it also means that your IT department are not responsible for updates, fixes, etc – the provider is! Also, with S-A-A-S, there is no software to download to employee devices – everything is accessed securely on the internet (or via your intranet or Virtual Private Network).
So do ask your prospective provider what options they offer, and ask for a demo and trial to see how it works in your organisation.
5. ‘How will you support us?’
This is critical. If someone wants to provide feedback, gets stuck and needs support, they are unlikely to want to wait very long. They may go away and not return to the tool until they receive a reminder. Some 360 software providers will offer support with a ticketing system, meaning users may have to wait some time before they receive a response to their query. Other providers will be able to offer help by email within an hour or two, which is preferable. Check where the support team is located and their hours of business. Again, check out the level of support in the trial, and also their level of responsiveness to your questions and queries before the sale.
6. ‘Can you advise and guide us?’
Some 360 software providers offer only the software and tools for implementing the 360. Others also offer additional help such as
– advice on design of bespoke content
– communication plans
– briefing and training
– post-feedback follow up.
You may not need these additional services. But you may benefit from a menu of support if you have a small team or little time.
7. ‘What are your pricing options?’
Pricing can vary enormously between providers. Some charge per user (including both ratees and raters), while other charge only for ratees, regardless of raters. Some suppliers charge based on pricing bands, while other charge on a pack basis. In this case, larger packs will cost less per 360 than smaller packs. Others charge on a pay as you go basis, however this tends to be more for off the shelf 360s.
Check how your providers price for the products and their services. Ask them all for a quote for the same items, so you can compare like for like.
As you can see, if you’re looking for 360 Feedback software you can customise, there are quite a few things you need to consider. Here is a link to the CIPD Fact Sheet with more information.