As a PeopleStrategy employee, naturally, I have been following the reports on the tiff between ADP and Zenefits very closely. For those who haven’t had as vested an interest, ADP is suing Zenefits and its founder, Parker Conrad, for defamation. ADP claims that Zenefits (in cases where the two share a common customer) was obtaining client information used for payroll from the ADP system in an unauthorized manner and that this posed a security risk. ADP blocked Zenefits from accessing customer data through its RUN payroll system on June 4th.  Zenefits claims the shutdown has to do with ADP viewing it as a threat to its HR business and issued a blog post to that effect. This led ADP to file the lawsuit last week claiming that “no factual basis exists for this claim.”

At this time, it’s difficult to determine who is “right” as it appears to be a classic case of “he said, she said.” It’s not so hard to know who will lose and it is isn’t ADP or Zenefits; it is their mutual customers. To ensure you don’t find your company caught in the crossfire between two “partnered” vendors, here are some recommendations to keep in mind.

Do your due diligence. When selecting an HR/payroll vendor, make sure you understand exactly how the solution they are selling you works – is it truly a single platform? Is your data housed in a single database or does it reside in multiple systems? Are they relying on third-parties for specific processes such as payroll, benefits administration, time and attendance or others? If so, they need to provide detailed information and/or documentation on what those agreements involve and how it impacts you.

Protect your data. There are no shortage of data breaches these days. Your vendor has a responsibility to manage your sensitive employee data in the most secure and private way possible. It is your responsibility to understand how your vendor is protecting your data or, if they are accessing any of your data through a third-party, and what that process entails. Any vendor you choose to do business with should have documented processes and protocols for how data will move to and from its systems and any vendor partners. If they don’t, run, don’t walk to the nearest exit!

Don’t short change yourself on service. The customers involved in this disagreement still have the same business and service requirements they had before this all happened – right? Now what will they do?  After all, they didn’t ask to be put in the middle of this. Granted this is an extraordinary circumstance, but it brings to light a very important aspect of any vendor-client relationship – service. It is very important to know what you can expect on a daily basis, when you have a question or a product issue. Find out what kind of service reputation the vendor has in the marketplace. Talk to their clients – they will tell you the truth.

Choose a partner you can trust. Often times, we don’t really know whether or not we can trust a person or a company until we have a relationship in place. But if you do your due diligence, you should have a pretty good idea going into the partnership. Again, talk to clients. See what kind of results you get when you Google the company. Ask your peers. In today’s connected world, there are seemingly endless options for uncovering the information you need.

Exercise your right to leave. If you find yourself in a situation where either the solution or the vendor is not delivering on expectation, walk away. Yes, in the short-term, it may cost you some additional time and money to start over again with another solution provider, but it will save you time, hassle and money in the long-term. Make the decisions that are best for your business, not for your vendor’s business.

You have options that don’t involve needing to work with multiple vendors. You have options that put your interests first. You have options for making sure you don’t find yourself on the losing end of an ugly – and avoidable – situation. Check out this brief video featuring Randy Cooper, PeopleStrategy CEO, on what makes PeopleStrategy different and exercise your option today.