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May 20, 2013 in Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Information Management, Social Media, Workforce Performance | Tags: Business Intelligence (BI), HCM, HR Management(HRMS), Master Data Management (MDM), SumTotal, Workforce Analytics | by stephanmillard | Leave a comment
One of the most important ongoing challenges in human capital management is to do master data management (MDM) of core human resources information more effectively. This challenge is often most complex for large organizations that have operations spread around the globe and HR management systems in each country or each operating division. To address this issue, SumTotal Systems recently announced the release of elixHR Platform at its TotalConnection user conference. This is the latest evolution of SumTotal’s core HR management system and is targeting this challenge of MDM for HR data. ElixHR system is one of SumTotal’s larger offering of human capital management products; others include talent management, workforce management and payroll management as well. SumTotal also has mobile and social products for HCM, which my colleague Mark Smith assessed on their release last October.
In elixHR Platform, SumTotal provides a conventional HR management system with added features that will enable customers create what the company calls a “virtual system of record.” The product includes a set of predeveloped batch or more timely connectors to the HRMSs of other large vendors Oracle, PeopleSoft, Salesforce, SAP and Workday. The connectors enable elixHR Platform to aggregate all employee records without requiring the customer to migrate from its other source HR systems. Thus it can provide customers a virtual centralized employee record within the existing software environment. As a result, SumTotal’s product provides a possible cost-effective approach to master data management of HR records spread across multiple systems.
Two-thirds (67%) of organizations in our benchmark research on information management said they have data spread across too many applications and systems. The capabilities of elixHR Platform can help them address this problem cost-effectively through use of a single product that does not disrupt their installed systems.
Along with features from its previous HRMS offering, SumTotal adds new core platform services in elixHR Platform. These include a Microsoft SharePoint portal interface through which to present all HR profile and related information; a competency model; a talent profile that can extend personal information on employees; a job profile framework; a development planning tool to map competency gaps and create development plans for employees; access to some information on mobile devices; a set of social tools with which employees can interact with co-workers; and embedded analytics that work with the IBM Cognos platform. Taken together with the core capabilities, the total offering makes SumTotal’s elixHR product a competitive HR management system for companies that need a way to manage multiple sources of HR records in one place. In much of our research, as in the larger market, analytics comes up as one of the most important applications for human resources information. This priority toward analytics shows up in our recent work on next-generation workforce management where three in five respondents (61%) said they are planning to improve their workforce analytics capabilities. And according to our benchmark research on workforce analytics, the number-one source that businesses use to generate workforce analytics is their HRMS; this is true most often for larger corporations.
While SumTotal’s approach can help businesses solve expensive problems of master data management across human resources information in multiple systems, it does not relieve some other costs, the primary one being managing systems and data integration between multiple HRMSs. In that regard, customers still have to maintain data integrity across all the systems that are connected to elixHR Platform, and as any of the downstream HRMSs get upgraded, they will have to check that the SumTotal connectors are still fully compatible. This risk is not unique to SumTotal’s product. As vendors introduce “cloud connectors” and similar data and process integration services, issues like this will accompany the benefits the products bring.
The elixHR release is part of SumTotal’s larger strategy. Recently the company has made efforts to reposition its human capital management suite to increase its exposure in the market and represent its products more effectively in evaluations. ElixHR should help to differentiate SumTotal’s HR management system to customers. SumTotal is a market leader in learning management products and has several other strong offerings; with these additional investments in marketing and sales efforts, they may be able to increase their presence in the HRMS market. As one of the few vendors that have a complete human capital management offering, it is worth evaluating.
VP & Research Director
November 30, 2012 in Business Performance, Operational Performance, Workforce Performance | Tags: Mobile Technology, Social Collaboration, Workforce Analytics, Workforce Management | by Mark Smith | Leave a comment
Since the early ’80s, when I personally experienced the transition from written time cards to cards for swiping on a time clock at a grocery retailer I worked at, I have been interested in the software and technology of workforce management. That gives me a perspective not many analysts can match when it comes to transitioning to new technology to help organizations manage and engage workforces. Ventana Research recently completed benchmark research on next-generation workforce management, covering technologies for worker and manager environments and operations. While the research found only 10 percent of organizations at the highest level of overall maturity, which we call Innovative, we did find organizations beginning to deploy and use new workforce management technologies. While we did not distinguish in our research between hourly and salaried employees, the majority of organizations were time-clock-based organizations using technology to manage the nuances of scheduling and working with hourly-based workforces.
The research investigated a range of technologies that are changing the way businesses operate today, including analytics, collaboration, cloud computing, mobile technology and social media. Each of these plays a key role for workforce management, and sometimes in a combinatory fashion, as happens for example when workers collaborate using smartphone mobile technology or where workforce management and analytics operates in a cloud computing environment. Our research found that collaboration (70%) was the most important technology for workforce management, with analytics (68%) right behind it. Priorities can vary based on the maturity and readiness of an organization, but having ways for workers, managers and management to collaborate can drive businesses toward a more open and productive workplace.
Organizations are pretty pragmatic when it comes to workforce management, with a large number (63%) focused on the demand for higher productivity. Many also realize the importance of improving inconsistent execution (48%) and scattered information (44%), which both result from not using dedicated applications for workforce management. Clearly the opportunity to improve is significant, but many organizations still use personal productivity tools such as spreadsheets. We found 92 percent of organizations use them universally, yet almost half (42%) find the use of spreadsheets makes it difficult to manage a workforce. More than half of organizations see assigning goals and tasks to workers (56%) as the top needed capability, followed by providing communication to resolve issues (52%).
The demand for more easily defining and assigning tasks has led to a new generation of applications that let managers routinely work with their workers more directly. At the worker level, providing the basics like access to company and work information (75%), accessing training and learning classes (67%) and collaboration with others on best practices (63%) are the most important features that organizations need in their workforce management applications.
When it comes to improvement, many organizations (45%) are looking for new applications to increase productivity and drive better results. Even with the new generation of time clocks that have biometric or proximity check-in to providing information back to the workforce, from notifications to information on a new policy, there is a lot of change underway. Almost half (41%) of organizations plan to examine new technology. This mood for change and improvement extends to analytics, which almost two-thirds (61%) plan to improve over the next year. But analytics have to be available for all roles and provide not just a picture of the past but also what might happen in the future with current workers’ activities and schedules.
Since collaboration was the most important technology we identified for workforce management, we investigated the most important methods for future deployments in the organization. Our research found discussion forums (30%), broadcasting like Twitter (29%), application sharing (28%) and wall posting into activity streams like Facebook (27%) are the top priorities. We also found collaboration has been the most engaging when workers use mobile technology such as smartphones and tablets. Tablets have the most potential for expanding into existing and new deployments, according to 34 percent of organizations. Smartphones, while already used in two-thirds (67%) of organizations, are slated for expansion in a quarter (26%). This expansion in mobile and collaboration features indicates a new level of priority for the next generation of workforce management.
It should be no surprise that having usable applications and technology for workforce management is critical; our research found that usability was the most important technology consideration (81%). But to get that technology, setting the business case is essential, as justifying a budget for investment (63%) is the largest challenge.
Organizations that plan to upgrade or examine new applications and technologies should prioritize their needs for workforce management, considering roles of management, operations, managers and workers, and consider which methods can increase productivity and drive better results. The goal should be to address the needs of the existing and also a new generation of workers that wants to engage and use the latest technologies (mobile, social and collaborative) in their workplace.
CEO & Chief Research Officer