What to Look for When Buying Healthcare Talent Management Products

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

By Donna Wright, MS, RN; Consultant, Creative Healthcare Management 

Talent management products are a wide range of tools and systems that support tracking of educational offerings, competency assessment, and performance appraisal information. They can also be used to:

(1) Track or search employee skills—for example, “Do any of our employees speak Russian?”

(2) Help with employee development—for example, has an employee completed orientation to a job, piece of equipment, or specialty area?

Talent management products can be on paper or automated (electronic) systems.

When you are shopping for talent management products or even just considering an upgrade or change to your current methods, there are a few things to keep in mind:

What kind of information or actions do you want the system to produce?

Putting information in a system is not the purpose. You’re going to want to be able to use the data for some purpose. What is that purpose? Many organizations never really discuss or reflect on this as a group before they go shopping. They are just looking for a new system because they do not like their current one or they do not have a system and feel they need something. Most systems that you use should actually achieve multiple goals for you.

The first step in selecting the right talent management product is to think of all the things you want from the system in a perfect world. Brainstorm with a group of colleagues to make sure you’ve created a comprehensive vision for what you want this system to achieve for your organization. What are the questions you need answered?

Danger point: Do not first look at systems and see what they can do and then begin to dream about what you want. If you do it this way, you will limit yourself and your organization. Most systems have a lot of potential. They can do a lot for you and can be customized to achieve many goals. Dream first. Shop second.

Who will be at the center of the talent management system input and tracking?

Before you select a product, determine who will input and track information in the system.  

Will the manager be the one who enters and tracks the data most of the time? If so, you have manager-centered competency assessment, education, or performance evaluation.

If you make the employee be the one who enters and tracks the data, then you have employee-centered ownership of their work and outcomes.

If the educator is the main person tracking and watching data, then the educator takes on the major accountability for outcomes and practice.

Most health care systems have a combination of all three above, making it even more important to watch who is at the center of most of the entry and tracking. In the end, the talent management product will actually define major accountability philosophies for your organization. Most people don’t realize this, but it’s true. The tracking systems you choose have a major impact on the articulated philosophies you have around accountability for your organization.

The bottom line: Talent management systems are only as good at the people behind them. They cannot do the role of leadership for you. They cannot replace accountability for practice and outcomes. They only serve as tools to see a clearer picture of where you are and where you want to go with the very talented pool of professionals you have in your organization.


A staff development specialist known for her irreverent wit, Donna brings a global perspective to her work. In this country and in the over two dozen others, Donna’s best known for the work she does based on two of her books, The Ultimate Guide to Competency Assessment and Relationship-Based CareThe Ultimate Guide has become the industry standard for HR departments in establishing and assessing competency, and Donna specializes in setting up systems for organizations to ensure accountability and measure competency.