VR-BUG-WEBThe human resources management system (HRMS) have been a central part of human resources departments for decades. Though useful to HR, these systems have also been static. Speaking generally, their functionality has not advanced greatly while other technologies have made great strides, and the information in them has been restricted to mostly use by HR professionals. However, along with growth in distinct and integrated talent management systems and in workforce management systems, this has begun to change as the HRMS is being integrated with these newer systems. The changes make it possible for HRMSs to become more strategic as HR professionals use them in new ways. To that end, Ventana Research will conduct a benchmark research project to evaluate the evolution of these systems and processes to determine where they are becoming more strategic applications for HR.

HRMSs are evolving from basic uses in maintaining core identifying information for employees, information on organizational structure and positions (often referred to as position management information) to providing talent profiles that include skills, competencies, certifications and interests, both at previous jobs and projects within employees’ current jobs. HRMSs also now maintain employee directories.  While these used to be limited to simple identification data, the growth of social collaboration systems enables users to find others who are expert on specific topics, enjoy specific activities or may have worked on specific projects and then connect with them. Such contacts can help increase productivity and engagement.

vr_HCA_03_widely_used_types_of_human_capital_analyticsModern HRMSs also can track more strategic talent metrics. Previously, the data in an HRMS was used largely to track compliance with government regulations, and that remains an important function. But now, by integrating HRMS data with data from talent management and workforce management systems, business and HR leaders can track metrics such as performance, leadership effectiveness and others identified in our human capital analytics benchmark research.  In addition, as HRMSs are now part of an ecosystem of HR applications, embedded analytical applications can analyze this information and help make it more useful to the business. Our research on human capital analytics finds that while spreadsheets are still the most widely used tool to analyze HR information, the use of dedicated and embedded human capital management (HCM) analytical tools is growing fast; more than two out of five (43%) participants said they plan to use them in the future.

The research we are preparing to conduct on the next generation of human resources management systems will assess the degree to which organizations are relying on these systems as an integral part of their talent management processes and their relation to systems for management of performance, compensation and succession. It will try to determine whether organizations are using talent management applications dedicated to these processes, manual processes for these functions or an HRMS.

vr_nextgenworkforce_mobile_device_deployments_increasing_updatedThis new research also will investigate adoption rates for next-generation technologies including integration with mobile technologies, business collaboration, big data, cloud and even wearable computing, in an effort to understand where companies are planning investments. In other research, we have found strong adoption of mobile technologies in workforce management and human capital analytics and less adoption in payroll management, despite the fact that employee self-service is considered an important part of the value proposition by more than half of participants in our payroll management optimization research. Similarly, in cloud computing, despite many more product offerings for HCM, our research shows many companies staying with on-premises applications and yet a larger number of them to examine the shift to this computing model. Please stay tuned as we conduct new research to publish best practices and insights in our education and guidance to our clients and through future analyst perspectives to determine if how and where these technologies are elevating the productivity and performance potential of employees.


Stephan Millard

VP & Research Director

Now available from Ventana Research is our Value Index on Total Compensation Management for 2014.  Total compensation management directly addresses one of an organization’s largest investments – employee pay. As such it is a critical activity for supporting other human capital management and talent management processes.

VR_TCM_VI_2014Our Value Indexes are informed by more than a decade of analysis of how well technology suppliers and their products satisfy specific business and IT needs. For each we perform a detailed evaluation of product functionality and suitability to task in five categories as well as of the effectiveness of vendor support for the buying process and customer assurance. In this case the resulting index gauges the value offered by each vendor and its products in supporting total compensation management, which is necessary for running an organization efficiently and managing its largest controllable expense.

Total compensation management has evolved significantly over the four plus years in which we have published a Value Index on the topic. From both conversations with reference customers for this report and analysis from our benchmark research on this topic we conclude that it is still evolving as practice in organizations today. The research shows that spreadsheets are still the primary tool for compensation planning in one out of four (26%) organizations and used often by an additional one-third (35%). But it also shows that others use stand-alone compensation management products and still others have integrated the process and technology within a human capital management application suite. Regarding the latter our benchmark research shows that three in four (76%) participating organizations said that it is important or very important to have compensation management and talent management systems integrated; in addition lack of integration to talent management is the most widespread impediment to successful compensation management, selected by two-third (66%) of participants.

For compensation management to be fully effective in today’s organizations it also must include several next-generation technologies in use in other parts of human capital management. The most important of these is analytics that help managers make better compensation decisions. The increasing importance of compensation analytics is evident in our human capital analytics benchmark research, which reveals that the metric most often used by executives (75%) today is compensation.

Mobility and collaboration are becoming important to total compensation management.  Mobile capabilities are found in six of the compensation management products we reviewed for the Value Index; our human capital analytics research reveals growing adoption: one-third  of companies are using mobile technology for these analytics today, and more than half (52%) intend to use it. Collaboration, though less widely adopted, is important in larger organizations to enable managers in various roles to comment on the correct total compensation for their employees.

The 2014 edition of the Total Compensation Management Value Index evaluated both products that are part of a larger suite of talent management products, which was the most common type, and others that stand alone. In general, we find several benefits to a suite. Among them are analytics integrated with other talent management applications, a common user experience and centralized administration, which make ownership and adoption somewhat easier for the customer.

TCM_2014_Weighted_OverallAmong the compensation management products we evaluated, all cover core compensation management of salaries or hourly wages as well as merit pay, bonus pay and some kinds of incentive pay. Functionally, the differences among the nine products appear in areas such as support for complex plan rules, the number of geographies covered and the ability to support various types of compensation plans (for example, focal vs. anniversary plans) as well as the implementation of next-generation technologies. Some products offer more effective application management tools and better product documentation for support and business case development. While we recognize that some organizations may need only basic salary or hourly wage capabilities, we believe that many organizations with 1,000 or more employees will require more advanced functionality.  Therefore we based our overall assessment partly on the array of capabilities that comprise total compensation management.

Based on these evaluation criteria, the top vendor in our 2014 Total Compensation Management Value Index is SAP SuccessFactors, followed closely by PeopleFluent. This finish mirrored the ratings in the 2012 Total Compensation Value Index. Eight of the nine vendors in this year’s Value Index we rated Hot; this close grouping indicates the general maturity of this market. In this year’s Value Index following the two leaders are those also rated Hot who are: Oracle, Towers Watson, beqom, IBM, Decusoft and SumTotal Systems, and then ADP who was rated Warm. Two new vendors to this Value Index are Decusoft and Towers Watson, and then beqom who was previously known as Excentive.

In today’s competitive business and employment environment, more companies see compensation as a differentiator for their employer brand and want technology that can help them advance their compensation programs to attract and retain top talent. Next-generation technologies such as mobility and analytics enable employees to understand the total value of their compensation packages. As compensation plans become more complex, the need for capabilities like integrated budgeting and modeling become greater so finance departments can ensure that plans adhere to budgets. Furthermore, integrating compensation and performance management, as well as other key talent management applications, helps businesses judge and motivate their top performers. If these critical issues affect the performance of your own business, I urge you to utilize our 2014 Total Compensation Management Value Index for insights on how to address them most effectively.


Stephan Millard

VP & Research Director

In the past year Workday has been making efforts to improve its human capital management (HCM) suite focused directly on the core human resources management systems and talent management software. In my previous analyst perspective about Workday I looked at its mobile capabilities for HCM. These additions, in concert with the enhancements discussed here, offer useful improvements. I have also noticed changes in the HCM market that impact all large competitors in it, including Workday. Before discussing these changes, it might help to summarize the company’s past three major releases.

vr_HCA_02_key_benefits_of_human_capital_analyticsWorkday Release 20, which came out in September 2013, added a Big Data product to Workday’s current HCM and financial suites. This advancement can help HR use range of analytic discovery capabilities on big data that can exploit value from HR and external data. Workday provides a set of prebuilt templates companies can use to quickly analyze questions most commonly asked of the human resources department by management, such as who might leave or who the best performers are. In addition, Workday Big Data Analytics, which was launched with Workday Release 20, offers basic tools to import and analyze structured and unstructured data, allowing users to go beyond the packaged templates. Taken together these two tools and templates allow companies to see value quickly and encourage them to invest in skills needed to work with the data in ways that answer questions specific to their business.

The big data capabilities can benefit companies that invest in them. Organizations need to better understand the relationship between investments they are making in HCM software and business outcomes. In our research into big data analytics the most-often named benefit of big data analytics is better communication and knowledge sharing but if you look at our research in human capital analytics the top benefits are improve efficiency and productivity (61%) and engage and retain more of the workforce (52%) which indicate part of the opportunity and challenge for Workday to ensure it meets the HCM value of big data for HR. To be successful in human capital analytics will require more linkage from its big data analytics and its workforce planning and analytics and ensure these offerings are intuitive and provide guidance for HR professionals and not just present easier to read reports and charts.

Workday Release 21 came out in January 2014 and made major improvements to the Web browser user interface. It simplifies navigation and makes the application more intuitive to use. As with other human capital management applications, Workday’s new user interface utilizes design principles of consumer applications such as Google+ or LinkedIn, providing cleaner screens and graphical elements to cue users on where to find information quickly. Technologically this release moved the Workday user interface base from Adobe Flex to HTML5. This followed other Web-based applications moving in this direction; HTML5 offers more responsive design capabilities.

Workday Release 21 also improved application usability was primarily in its Performance Management application. It enables managers and employees to execute performance reviews on mobile devices. This will appeal to the increasing number of organizations that adopting mobile devices for HCM. According to our research on human capital analytics, one-third of organizations currently use mobile devices for talent management and roughly half (52%) are planning to adopt it in the future. As I have written in previous perspectives, product usability is a leading buying criterion for most HR applications, and mobile capabilities are increasingly part of that requirement. Workday is smart to continue to focus on usability within the suite and will need to demonstrate why they are simpler and faster than others in the market and their own previous releases.

Finally, Workday Release 22, which debuted in May 2014, features a new recruiting application. Workday Recruiting focuses on delivering applicant tracking capabilities within the recruiting process. Other HCM vendors have added similar features in the past 12 months. (I wrote about this trend in an earlier analyst perspective.)

vr_socialcollab_most_important_workforce_metrics_updatedWhile Workday Recruiting is fairly standard in terms of core functionality, the release includes a mobile capability as in Workday 21, which makes the application more usable for a significant percentage of people in talent management tasks. In addition, the recruiting application includes robust analytics including a dashboard to track important metrics. Templates in both Workday Big Data and Workday Recruiting can track metrics important to recruiters and the company overall. Two of our research projects, on social collaboration and human capital management and human capital analytics, find that employee retention and engagement are among the five most important recruiting metrics.

As we look ahead Workday and others will need to invest is in functionality for sourcing and recruitment marketing. While Workday has several partnerships with vendors such as Jobvite and Broadbean, applicant tracking vendors should make it easy to use these partners’ tools so customers gain the information they are seeking without feeling like they are managing multiple applications. Workday will also need to invest further into video interviewing technology like that from its partner HireVue, as leading vendors which offer applicant tracking applications and candidates can personalize their resume and interactions with HR and hiring managers. The use of video is important to HCM across the spectrum of manager and employee needs from learning, performance reviews to work scheduling and collaboration.

Looking at these releases in a larger context, I see Workday’s value proposition as twofold: first, a single complete HCM suite that provides market-leading functionality to drive more efficient processes and workforce productivity, and second, competitive total cost of ownership by offering it all through cloud computing. The three recent releases deliver on these value propositions, adding several pieces of competitive functionality on the HCM suite. Workday is missing a complete compensation management set of capabilities like that found in other HCM suites which is becoming increasingly important to integrate with payroll, performance management, recruiting, succession and overall employee retention efforts. But to fulfill on delivering the HCM suite Workday will have to make critical decisions in regards to the gaps it has and where it works with partners still makes sense. This becomes more important as going forward Workday will also be competing with their partner’s for both mindshare and products in the places they don’t partner. For example, Workday is partnering with Kronos for offering a complete workforce management offering as it only offers basic time and attendance tracking along with time-off capabilities but Kronos has its own HR, payroll and recruiting applications as part of its workforce management suite. In addition the partnership with Cornerstone OnDemand for learning management is another example where Workday is competing in its focus for providing its talent management applications in the cloud.

But as I said at the beginning of this perspective, I believe the HCM market is beginning to resemble the consumer applications market. Large vendors such as Oracle and SAP, and mostly midmarket focused vendors including Ceridian and Ultimate are all investing in cloud HCM suites and seeing results from doing so. In addition, cloud-based partners like Cornerstone OnDemand offer competitive, and in some cases stronger, functionality in some aspects of talent management. In sum, strong functionality offered on a cloud platform is becoming table stakes. Differentiation will now is likely to come from ease of use, intuitive applications and customer relationships with clients. Workday appears to be aware of this evolution and is investing in it, but the company will need to rationalize the reality of its partnerships and its product suite to provide better clarity to its customers and the market.


Stephan Millard

VP & Research Director

Cornerstone OnDemand is a large pure-play vendor of talent management software, with more than 1,700 clients, more than 14.5 million users and more than 60 percent growth in revenue over the past 12 months. At the company’s annual customer conference this year, CEO Adam Miller talked about a trend in the market of talent management applications going beyond automating a series of processes to help engage employees within organizations. I agree with this analysis and would extend the trend to cover the full range of human capital management (HCM) applications.

vr_bti_br_whats_important_in_choosing_technology_updatedFrom our benchmark research and discussions with vendors in this market, I see four main fronts vendors like Cornerstone must focus on. These are usability (and accessibility) of the applications, collaboration among users, the value of a suite over a collection of individual products, and advanced analytics. Considering the first, usability is the top criterion for technology product selection in our business technology innovation benchmark research and also in our two most recent HCM research projects, on payroll management and human capital analytics. The second, collaboration, is the area in which most research participants want improvement by vendors of human capital analytics.

Cornerstone’s recent product announcements indicate recent investments in advancing usability and the value of the suite. At the conference, it announced two new products: Cornerstone Onboarding and Cornerstone Marketplace. Both connect parts of the Cornerstone Talent Management platform and provide the framework for extending the platform. Onboarding links its recruiting, learning and performance management products, providing a more seamless experience for users as well as including standard capabilities for onboarding new hires, such as forms automation and task management. Marketplace provides a framework for purchasing and working with Cornerstone’s partners, whose products and services supplement the suite, and it makes integration and management of partner products easier for customers to manage.

The company also announced an update to the suite that includes several enhancements to improve usability. Specifically, the June ’14 Product Release improves the user interface for Cornerstone Learning and streamlines the performance review system of Cornerstone Performance. The release also adds a high-volume hiring capability to Cornerstone Recruiting. Together these enhancements show Cornerstone investing in building a talent management system that promotes employee engagement.

In addition, in the past year or so Cornerstone integrated collaborative and mobile capabilities into the suite; these are competitive with what others have done, as I have written.  Nevertheless, there are still more areas where Cornerstone should work to create a complete system that impacts employee engagement.

vr_HCA_02_key_benefits_of_human_capital_analyticsSpecifically it should invest in analytics and its Universal Profile, which provides a substitute for a human resources management system (HRMS). Our benchmark research on human capital analytics finds that the benefit organizations realize from these products second-most often in over half of organizations (52%) is better engagement and retention of the workforce. Toward that end, Cornerstone said it is developing analytics that it will release later this year as a stand-alone product. That should fill some of its gap in analytics, though there is still more to do.

Cornerstone Universal Profile has some strong capabilities, but in my view the market favors having an integrated HRMS in a suite as do Oracle, SuccessFactors an SAP company, SumTotal Systems, Workday as well as others, which competes with Cornerstone on learning management. All these vendors have strong talent management products to go with an integrated HRMS.

Another trend that may affect Cornerstone is the entry into talent management of vendors that are strong in HRMS and payroll. Among them are Ceridian and Ultimate Software, both of which I have written about recently. While presently these vendors don’t have talent management products to equal Cornerstone’s, both are well-funded and have started to invest strongly in this area.

I think Cornerstone’s management understands what is required to provide a talent management system that supports employee engagement. The product enhancements released over the past year show a consistent focus on areas needing improvement to achieve that goal. But competitors are also releasing products that offer the same value proposition. Cornerstone will need to continue to execute well to maintain its leading position in the talent management market. I recommend that if your organization is evaluating talent management products it should consider Cornerstone’s.


Stephan Millard

VP & Research Director

vr_Payroll_Management_02_motivation_for_payroll_investmentOur recently released benchmark research on optimizing payroll management assesses how organizations use payroll information, processes and technology. It finds that most of them still need to improve. Our analysis compared the forces motivating investment in payroll management systems to broader strategic drivers for human capital management (HCM) that I previously outlined and found substantial agreement. Three of the five leading factors – demand for higher employee productivity (48%), limited alignment between pay and performance (36%), and inconsistent execution of performance goals (24%) – are part of a broader HCM agenda as seen in previous research projects and discussions with clients. But apart from that the research found a disconnect between what motivates companies and what they actually are doing.

While organizations generally are accomplished at managing their core payroll processes, not many are making investments in technology tools to help achieve their HCM objectives. Specifically, in the Technology dimension of our Performance Index analysis, half rank at the two lowest of four performance levels. A key reason for this is that many have not integrated payroll management with other HCM proces­ses. While organizations long ago auto­mated their basic payroll processes, the Performance Index analysis in this research places only one in five organizations at the top Innovative level of overall performance; they have taken steps to integrate their payroll processes with other HCM systems.

This contrast shows up in several areas of the research. For example, four out of five organizations said that their payroll processing system is accurate (61%) or very accurate (21%); only 1 percent said theirs is not accurate. Yet seven in 10 participants reported that their organization uses spreadsheets universally or regularly to track payroll management functions or compliance activities, and 39 percent said reliance on them has made it difficult to manage payroll efficiently. More importantly, only half of participants said they have a human resources management system (HRMS); these systems track and report on information needed for compliance with state and federal employment requirements.

vr_Payroll_Management_03_integration_of_system_lagsElsewhere the research shows that only 8 percent have integrated payroll management with their talent management system; while 22 percent said they plan to do that in the next 12 to 18 months, fully half have no such plan. Similarly, 29 percent have a dedicated workforce management system, but only one in five have integrated their payroll management system with it; nearly half (48%) export data from the time and attendance system and import it into payroll manually. The research shows benefits in more systematic operations. Among organizations that have integrated workforce management and payroll management, 62 percent said they have reduced their payroll error rate, which is one of the top five metrics used to measure payroll process effectiveness. So while organizations are focused on improving efficiencies within payroll itself, most are not yet investing in the areas where broader gains can be made.

vr_Payroll_Management_01_integrated_payroll_management_provides_valueTo attain greater workforce productivity, which is the second-highest priority found in our research, organizations need to connect payroll management to other processes such as performance management, goals and benefits. In the research three in four (77%) of those that have integrated their payroll and talent management systems reported having an effective or very effective payroll management process, compared to 62 percent of organizations that do not integrate these systems. Additionally, two-thirds of companies reported better alignment between incentive compensation and performance after integrating their payroll and pay-for-performance systems.

In the next year, as the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act takes effect, it is likely that one part of this integration will get more attention and I have assessed – integrating workforce management and payroll. Businesses will need to make sure that the actual hours that employees work match precisely with what is reported in their time and attendance and workforce scheduling systems. Beyond that we urge companies to evaluate broader integrations to achieve the goals that lead them to invest in payroll management to start with – demand for higher productivity, greater alignment between pay and performance and inconsistent execution in performance.


Stephan Millard

VP & Research Director

Ultimate Software is one of the larger players in the market for human capital management (HCM) software, with roots in providing human resources and payroll management products. Recently I attended its annual Connections conference. Last year the company focused attention on expansion of its global capabilities, which I analyzed, while this year it highlighted broadening and modernizing of the product suite.

A major effort in modernizing the suite was to improve the user experience for UltiPro, its HCM suite. This update reduces the number of clicks it takes to execute any task in and makes the applications visually more intuitive. In addition, the home portal design elements now resemble some that other vendors have introduced which provides pictures of a user’s team members. The user interface team, led by Patañjali Chary, VP of user experience, used advanced application design approaches such as eye-tracking models to provide information on the screen in places users expect to find it. The result feels lighter and provides visual cues to guide the user through the product’s features.

Also as part of the redesign of their user experience, Ultimate used HTML 5 to enable mobile access to  UltiPro. During the event company representatives described its approach to mobility as “responsive design.” Essentially that means the application can automatically detect the device being used and deliver a user experience designed for that device. This is an evolving capability we are seeing as more vendors strive to provide compelling user interfaces.  However, using responsive design and HTML5 to develop for mobile devices still produces some application screens that do not render cleanly for all mobile devices. I find developing native mobile applications to be a better approach, at least for the present. However, this capability should improve over time.

vr_Payroll_Management_06_what_to_integrate_with_payroll_managementUltimate’s speakers showcased three new products which expand the breadth of the suite, two of them in talent management. There is a new compensation module called UltiPro Compensation Management. This is a necessary addition for Ultimate. Our recent benchmark research in payroll management optimization shows that compensation management is a very important application to integrate with payroll management for nearly half (45%) of organizations. Ultimate’s product enters a segment in which many mature products are available; it is likely to find most use for midsize companies that already use UltiPro and have basic compensation planning needs. This addition enhances Ultimate’s expansion from a payroll and HR management vendor to providing a more complete human capital management suite.

The second major module recently released is UltiPro Recruiting, which provides applicant tracking capabilities to current UltiPro customers and follows other HCM platform vendors that have released a recruiting product in the last 12 months. I recently wrote about growth in the recruiting market.

The third new announcement expands the functionality of the core product through a time-capture device, UltiPro Touchbase. Based on technology from the company’s acquisition of EmployTouch in 2013, it is a hybrid device that users can unplug and use like a tablet as well as meeting all the needs of a standard time clock with employee punch-in and -out methods. It also adds features designed to avoid “buddy punching,” such as photo verification. This addition should help Ultimate stay competitive in the workforce management and payroll management markets where others vendors also have introduced their own time-capture devices.

Following last year’s emphasis at Connections, Ultimate has continued to expand UltiPro’s global capabilities. It released the product in three additional languages and continues a partnership with Celergo to provide international payroll capabilities. As Ultimate tries to compete in more deals for organizations that have an international presence, I believe it must invest more rapidly in this area to catch up with other vendors that have strong international capabilities, such as Oracle and SAP.

vr_Payroll_Management_01_integrated_payroll_management_provides_valueIt is clear that Ultimate Software is making significant investments in its products. In 2014 the company plans to invest more than US$100 million in product development, which represents approximately one-quarter of its total revenue for 2013. This effort should benefit its customers and perhaps win new ones. Our research in payroll management optimization finds that companies that invest in integrating their payroll and talent management functions end up with more effective core payroll processes than those that keep them separate.

Ultimate Software’s strategy is further evidence of the continuing trend of vendors of HR and payroll management software broadening their product offerings toward complete suites of human capital management applications. In recent years ADP and Ceridian have invested in this strategy, as Oracle and SAP did earlier by acquiring Taleo and SuccessFactors, respectively. While specialized stand-alone products will continue to drive innovation in segments of HCM, the move toward integrated suites is coming to dominate. This is happening for reasons on each side of the relationship. As organizations struggle to make their array of human capital management applications work together, having fewer vendors to support and more consistent product release cycles to manage can provide hard cost benefits and softer benefits of better communications between customer and vendor. From the vendor perspective it is much less expensive to cross-sell to an existing customer than it is to find and sell to new ones.

Ultimate’s investments in expanding and modernizing its products make sense, and the company is proceeding in a logical fashion. The new individual products provide expanded coverage, and the improved user experience should please customers. For organizations, especially midsize ones, that are evaluating HCM platforms and have not looked recently at Ultimate’s I recommend including them in the evaluation process.


Stephan Millard

VP and Research Director

At Saba’s recent global customer conference executives discussed the company’s latest product enhancements, progress made during the past year and plans for the future. Saba provides a talent management suite that includes all capabilities except compensation management and is a leading vendor of corporate learning management systems. The majority of its 2,200 customers and 31 million users in 195 countries use the learning system, Learning@Work.

vr_HCA_06_technology_for_human_capital_analytics_improvementIn conjunction with the customer conference, Saba announced the spring release of its talent management suite, Saba Cloud. It has added predictive analytics to help with candidate selection, improved the Web conferencing application with peer-to-peer high-definition video and added mobile goals management to the performance management application. Our benchmark research shows that organizations are seeking improvements in these areas. For example, in our research on human capital analytics the three areas in which the most companies seek improvement are collaboration, big data and cloud computing.  Among its investments in these areas, Saba has improved collaboration in Web conferencing, in big data with new predictive capabilities and more generally for cloud computing with their release of Saba Cloud.

Presenters also demonstrated a recently released recruiting system, Recruiting@Work. This component is a necessary part of a complete talent management suite and should be welcome to Saba’s existing customers. Combining the recruiting product with the learning management system could accelerate onboarding and training of new employees and reduce their time to productivity, which is a compelling value proposition for the software. The heart of Recruiting@Work is applicant tracking, but Saba is using technology partnerships in its Saba Marketplace to add functionality in key areas such as talent sourcing, provided by Simply Hired and TalentBin. The recruiting product also has embedded mobile and social capabilities that could help it compete in the market. Recruiting@Work is one of several such products introduced in the past year; I recently analyzed growth in the recruiting market.

vr_HCA_05_capabilities_sought_in_human_capital_analyticsAt the conference Saba executives emphasized the in-line predictive capability of Saba Cloud, called The Intelligent Mentor (TIM). Currently it is included in the new recruiting product and the succession planning and learning management systems. TIM enables managers and administrators to take actions based on the information it gleans from the applications. Our human capital analytics research finds that taking action based on outcomes is the most important capability for analytics systems.

Presenters offered an example of this functionality within the learning management system, where TIM provides a recommendation engine for choosing courses based on information about the user such as courses signed up for and taken or topics expressed interest in. This is useful for the end user, who can find useful learning content, and for administrators, who can upload course libraries without having to index the courses in the system, which can be a time-consuming process. This predictive capability enables the learning management application to track users’ behavior and information and eventually make recommendations based on their profiles.

Also at the conference Saba announced plans for releasing two new modules: compensation management, to round out the talent management suite, and a benchmarking capability that helps customers compare themselves to their peers in a variety of areas of human capital management. This will be the second compensation management application for Saba; several years ago it released one that it eventually discontinued. I will track these products as they are released.

Overall, Saba is broadening the functionality of its suite, adding predictive capabilities, enhancing collaborative and mobile capabilities and more generally moving the applications to the cloud. These steps should help it remain competitive in the human capital management market. However, Saba faces challenges with its financial management from years past and resulting management changes. As a result of these setbacks, Saba has had challenges in its growth while having the products and services readily available. It is competing in a crowded market and to be successful Saba needs to grow with more new customers and continued retention and cross-sales of new products to existing customers. Despite these business and financial challenges we recommend to organizations looking to update their talent management systems especially with a focus in learning and collaboration examine Saba’s latest products.


Stephan Millard

VP and Research Director

Learning is an integral component of human capital management, and a new generation of learning management systems advances learning in organizations around the world. These systems have evolved over the years from a classroom scheduling tool that facilitated instructor-led and classroom training into an array of enterprise applications that deliver and track various types of training. Recently new technologies, such as business analytics, cloud computing, social collaboration, and mobile technology have become part of the learning management process. To assess the impacts of this ongoing shift, Ventana Research is conducting benchmark research on how organizations are implementing and using this new generation of systems.

Until now learning management systems have been designed to take defined content from a few instructional sources and instructors and distribute it through an organization according to a defined process flow. While that approach will always have a place to accomplish some basic learning objectives, customers are now seeking to apply to learning new tools that enable collaboration in the learning process, access through mobile devices and embedded advanced analytics that help evaluate effectiveness of learning programs.

The previous generations of learning management systems were limited in flexibility. They could use only a few types of content and lacked the ability to share knowledge widely and easily. In addition, providing access to learning content only through a Web browser limits access to content to those with laptops and network access. This excludes employees and managers who travel frequently from having convenient access to learning content and related tasks. Now advances in mobile technology for learning management are coming to market.

Other processes in human capital management also are affected vr_HCA_06_technology_for_human_capital_analytics_improvementby these next-generation technologies, as several instances of our benchmark research show. In our social collaboration research more than half (57%) of participants said social tools are important in recruiting. In research on human capital analytics, collaboration is the most sought-after technology enhancement, by more than half of organizations. This also is the case in our next-generation workforce management research. It is clear that business is making collaboration a priority for HCM in general, and learning management will adopt it as well. Social collaboration provides several ways for employees to engage with others, empowering contact with knowledge sources, tracking activity streams, broadcasting information and using video for live or recorded sharing. Even newer methods measure outcomes through gamification techniques that rate individuals’ activity and provide rewards that enhance their stature in the organization. These approaches can augment more formal learning and encourage people to embrace it more.

vr_HCA_07_ease_of_collecting_data_adds_to_satisfactionIn addition, our human capital analytics benchmark shows that organizations are employing more complex learning metrics using advanced analytics tools within learning systems. The learning metrics that most companies are tracking today are performance after learning has occurred (which 64% do) and retention rates, which correlate learning to retention of workers (39%). These and other sophisticated metrics require the ability to combine data from other systems with learning management data. The research shows that companies that have human capital analytics systems to facilitate collection of data from multiple systems are more satisfied (86%) with their system than are those whose system lacks such capabilities.

The objectives of our new learning management benchmark research will include interest levels in the different next-generation technologies, rates of adoption and specific organizational areas where more investment is occurring or desired. It also will explore how different segments rate and use this technology, comparing employees to managers and executives, companies of various sizes and industry sectors. It will assess intentions for integrating next-generation learning management with other HCM applications, particularly talent and workforce management, and how that may change from past learning management efforts. Learning plays an integral role from onboarding new employees through career development and in compliance to policies and regulations. Evaluating these and other related questions can reveal where adopters may find the greatest return on investment in advanced learning management.

Overall this benchmark research will provide valuable insights for organizations using or planning to use advanced learning management systems. The early insights this research uncovers into best practices and benefits will help organizations save time and resources and make shrewd technology investments. With the global economy growing and companies competing for the best available talent, understanding how advanced learning management systems can help retain talent, share knowledge more effectively and increase productivity can be a competitive differentiator. Please look here for my analysis of advancements and key insights from this benchmark research.


Stephan Millard

VP & Research Director

In the past year Kronos announced a major release of its Workforce Central suite and more recently, made an announcement regarding a major investment that should help keep the company well capitalized. Kronos is one of the largest vendors of workforce management systems, providing time and attendance, labor scheduling, absence management, HR management, payroll and recruiting applications. In 2013 the company grew to almost US$1 billion in revenue, selling to companies around the globe and having users in more than 100 countries. Kronos offers two product lines based on the sizes of companies. Workforce Ready serves small and some midsize companies, and Workforce Central serves companies from the upper midsize through the very large. A while ago my colleague Mark Smith discussed several major enhancements to Kronos’ products, and there have been notable events since then.

In February Kronos announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement for $750 million of investment by venture capitalists Blackstone Group and GIC of Singapore. This support should help Kronos invest further in its growth and workforce management products. In addition, since being taken private in 2007, Kronos’ revenueVI_Hot_Vendor_2014 has grown 45 percent, which shows not only its effective execution as a business, but the strength of the market for workforce management products.

Kronos already showed strong performance in its products in the past year. Workforce Central took the top spot in our 2014 Next-Generation Workforce Management Value Index.  In 2013 its Mobile Solution won one of our Technology Innovation Awards. Recently the company announced Release 7 of Workforce Central. Here is my analysis of the most significant enhancements to the suite.

VentanaResearch_TechInnovation_Award_Winner_2013There is a new addition to the Workforce Central suite – Kronos Workforce Collaboration, a module that enables managers and employees to share relevant workforce information using popular social tools including user profiles, wall posting and polling. Kronos Workforce Collaboration is sold as an add-on to Workforce Timekeeper, one of the applications in Workforce Central, and is powered by Tibbr, Tibco’s enterprise social networking platform. For example, this set of capabilities will help managers address scheduling issues by understanding how employees feel about their schedules; accommodating them better can help improve retention and engagement. Our next-generation workforce management benchmark research shows that collaboration is the most wanted improvement in workforce management technologies, as more than two out of three (70%) participants said it is important, so this addition may be well received.

Release 7 of Workforce Central also enhances Workforce Scheduling with the ability to schedule workers according to their skills. This capability can be useful in industries that require special competencies, such as clinical healthcare or manufacturing. Kronos also enhanced notification capabilities of the suite, providing alerts that are easy for users to see on the main page of the application and that also can be sent to mobile devices. This could help staffing and HR managers, for whom multitasking is a daily reality, reduce the time spent trying to manage information.

Despite such investments into the product line, we see other areas in need of improvement. For instance, the Workforce HR and Payroll products could use expanded mobility that provides self-service for both employees and managers. And since Kronos has a global emphasis in its customer base, it should extend Workforce Payroll and HR to meet international requirements such as multiple display languages, currency formats and conversion capabilities and support for local regulatory requirements. Also improvement in Workforce Activities more integration with recognition and rewards functionality would be recommended, and retail clients using Workforce Scheduling could benefit from a more robust demand engine to speed the ability of customers that have large, complex workforces to generate schedules.

Considering the workforce management market on the whole, the investments vendors are making in their products, as well as the capital investments by private equity firms, show that these products are becoming more essential to businesses. Specifically, they are moving beyond just improving efficiencies to provide new ways for managers to make decisions that improve key activities like employee engagement and the quality of products and services delivered. As well as Kronos, other vendors of workforce management suites such as ADP, Ceridian and Infor have introduced both collaboration and mobile capabilities.

Another new technology, analytics, has been a focus in workforce vr_Payroll_Management_03_integration_of_system_lagsmanagement providers for several years. These capabilities help companies more effectively meet both labor cost objectives and product and service improvements. Employers in the United States now need more accurate ways to track and predict time and labor information so they can comply with the Affordable Care Act and manage their healthcare benefits strategically. However, our recent benchmark research on payroll management shows that organizations need to focus on integrating time and attendance information with payroll data (only 20 percent have integrated these systems) to minimize errors in the data, which will be used to determine eligibility under the Affordable Care Act.

According to our research more than half (54%) of organizations do not have a dedicated workforce management system; for those organizations and others that have only a partial workforce management system, complete suites like Kronos Workforce Central can automate and connect the separate workforce management processes in one system. Beyond improving process efficiency, they can help align workforce efforts to the company’s business objectives, which is the most important priority companies in our research have for workforce management. The improvements Kronos has made in Release 7 can help them attain these larger business benefits. If your organization is evaluating workforce management suites and has not looked at Kronos’ products lately, we recommend including them in your evaluation.


Stephan Millard

VP & Research Director

At its recent 2014 analyst day Ceridian showed the progress it has made on its Ceridian and Dayforce human capital management (HCM) platform since last year’s launch of its broader HCM portfolio. Ceridian’s overall HCM business, which the company says had revenue of $950 million in 2013 and now has more than 100,000 customers, consists largely of payroll-related products and services such as tax filing and payroll cards, but also benefits, Untitledhuman resources and workforce management products.

In recent years Ceridian has made investments in its Dayforce HCM product line, which provides cloud-based payroll, HR, benefits and workforce management and recently added talent management capabilities with now over 900 customers.  The company also sells employee assistance products called LifeWorks, which have approximately 50,000 users. Since last year’s analyst day, we evaluated Ceridian in our Workforce Management Value Index, where Dayforce Workforce Management was awarded our Hot Vendor or top level classification. Recently it has also expanded its Dayforce Touch that is used for time capture and self-service HR needs and has expanded significantly to support a range of identity and validation options.

At this year’s event Ceridian discussed its overall progress during the past year and reported growth in its Dayforce HCM user base, which includes customers in North America and 50 other countries. According to the company, the Dayforce HCM business is growing enough to cover the attrition of legacy customers. In addition, Ceridian says it continues to provide support for its other payroll and HR management products, as the majority of its customers today use core HR management and payroll products other than Dayforce HCM. The company will also continue to offer a conversion program to manage the transition of customers using older products to Dayforce HCM. This is wise, as Ceridian continues to generate a substantial portion of its total HCM revenue from these users.

The company also previewed several new capabilities throughout the analyst day. First it announced the release of Dayforce Recruiting, which was made available with the 6.42 release of Dayforce HCM and targets existing customers. As I recently wrote, other HCM suite vendors also are launching new recruiting products. For Ceridian, this product continues the Dayforce HCM strategy of providing all products on one platform and database and as one cloud-based system for its applications. The unified design makes information across the system available in Recruiting, including job descriptions to populate requisitions taken from the HR management system. Recruiting, which focuses on providing applicant tracking functionality, offers an easy-to-navigate user interface for recruiters and hiring managers and includes most of the standard features of applicant tracking, such as job requisition libraries imported from the Ceridian HR management system, configurable workflows for requisitions and candidates, candidate profiles that take data from both online applications and LinkedIn, and candidate search capabilities. Where the recruiting product does not provide recruitment capabilities directly, Ceridian has formed partnerships to fill those gaps, including agreements with Jobvite for recruitment marketing capabilities, HireRight for background check capabilities, and Sovren for resume parsing. This expansion of the Dayforce HCM suite is well timed as many companies look to expand their workforces.

Ceridian’s team previewed several other capabilities and changes that will make their way into Dayforce HCM in the coming year. Highlights included a change in the design of the user experience to make the application more closely match how consumer social media applications work and a demonstration of new capabilities that strengthen analytics embedded in the suite. Presenters also discussed plans to enable the HR management application to handle global requirements, a new document management capability to handle HR documents within the system and long-term plans to add more talent management functionality to the Dayforce suite.

vr_nextgenworkforce_critical_workforce_technology_areas_updatedCeridian demonstrated an early version of its new user interface that moves Dayforce toward a more social and collaborative approach. The main page for users runs on an activity stream, much like a Facebook wall, letting users see and post on specific activities that are relevant to them – for example, whether they like their schedule or want to swap shifts with other users. Ceridian also is redesigning the product’s management functions to work on the same social application design concept. Indeed, including collaborative and social design elements into the interface aligns with our benchmark research on workforce management, which shows that the most desired technology enhancement is collaboration capabilities, cited by 70 percent of participants. Today’s new generation of employees are likely to be pleased that it works like the social media applications they are accustomed to.

However, one possible challenge of Ceridian’s new design is that it is based entirely on HTML5. Since the new user interface must work on mobile devices as well as PCs, the HTML-only design may be an issue: Native device applications are more likely to render and operate correctly on mobile devices. While the company’s management team said HTML5 is the direction for the new user interface,  I think it should further expand and support native applications for the major mobile devices as well that our research finds are important for deployment.

Ceridian also demonstrated enhanced analytics capabilities expected in its 6.44 release later this year. The new version will include richer visualization capabilities, the ability to search existing data with natural language, and features to help managers take action more easily on that information. These enhancements follow a trend among other HCM suite providers toward including complete analytics functionality within their products. It is also in line with our recent benchmark research on human capital analytics, which shows that dedicated reporting and analytics tools embedded in HCM suites is one of the fastest-growing segments of human capital analytics, with nearly two out of five (38%) companies planning to take this approach in the future.

The new human capital analytics capabilities or what they call vr_HCA_05_capabilities_sought_in_human_capital_analyticsbusiness intelligence includes several new capabilities, but a few stood out. One is the ability to export data and charts from the system and insert them into PowerPoint or other presentation media, which enables business users to share relevant information and take action based on outcomes from the analytics more efficiently. This aligns with two of the five most sought-after capabilities for human capital analytics: the abilities to take action based on outcomes and to present data visually. The enhancement Ceridian demonstrated that lets users search for existing data using natural language matches another of the five capabilities research participants seek most. Specifically users can type relatively free-form questions into the search bar and the system will dynamically parse and then build analytics, including visualizations, to show the results. These and other more general improvements will enable Dayforce users to do more with the system and help them make better decisions with the information.

Finally, Ceridian discussed its product roadmap for 2014.  Beyond its human capital analytics enhancements, the company plans to release many advancements for global HR management. It also intends to continue enhancing Dayforce’s talent management capabilities, which should serve customers well and help keep the HCM suite competitive. Our analysis of best practices in customer deployments in 2013 identified Guitar Center who uses Dayforce HCM and received our prestigious overall business leadership award. Ceridian approach to engage and support their customers is done through what they call their XOXO program that has a team of seasoned industry professional with over 100 years of HCM experience.

In the HCM market overall, Ceridian’s latest investments are further evidence of a trend by workforce management, payroll and HR software vendors like ADP, Ultimate Software and Workday to offer more complete HCM and talent management suites. For customers this evolution can result in fewer vendors to manage and generally lower HCM costs. If your organization is presently evaluating HR, payroll or HCM products including workforce management, Ceridian’s Dayforce is worth examining with its current available HCM portfolio and a continued expansion in its product portfolio.


Stephan Millard

VP & Research Director

Stephan Millard – Twitter

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