[After many vendor briefings in Q1 2011, I published a series of blog posts summarizing my reactions to those briefings which really captured, as of then, how I evaluated vendors and their products/services. Rereading those posts after a two year hiatus, I was struck not only by their relevance to my current thinking about this topic but also by how much they needed and deserved an update. If you'd like to read the originals, they can be found here, here, here, here and here. But I hope you'll be more interested in my current thinking because two years is a lifetime in our neighborhood at the intersection of HRM and IT.]
My first post in this reprised series focused on the importance of understanding the ambitions of HRM software/services vendors and the implications of those ambitions for buyers, investors, employees and the industry. Next came a post focused on the different strategies of these same vendors, the many moving parts that must be addressed in those strategies, and the implications of the differences in strategy for buyers/investors/employees/the industry. Now for the fun part, at least for me — their software — in this third reprise of the series!
I’d love to do an individual post on the good, the bad and the ugly of each relevant vendor’s software assets, but for that you’d have to pay me (as clients do) serious money. I’d have to do a ton more detailed homework and then be willing to discuss every word I wrote, seven or eight times each, with vendors who took issue with my writing. As you can well imagine, life’s too short and too full of more interesting thing. But you can figure out all those details by yourselves using my scripted scenario demo process discussed here with and with much more here as applied to your particular business needs or areas of specific interest. So instead of a feature/function/architecture/object model play by play — although I may yet do some version of this — I thought I’d share the list of emerging capability topics that seems to cover much of what I’ve been hearing, seeing, and thinking as I’ve gone through zillions of vendor briefings and demos and integrated their perspectives with my own.
This is my working list of topics for which all core HRMS as well as the major talent management vendors (major as to their scope of offering as well as their vendor viability) must have a clear strategy and plans for execution. To be viable in my eyes, vendors must have more than a powerpoint on these topics. Vendors must have real product already in current delivery and a lot more to come in 2013 on most to all of these topics as well as a clear strategy and road map for all of them to get high marks in my eyes. But please note that nothing here is a substitute for having true SaaS InFullBloom under the covers. Good software is a pre-requisite no matter what else is going on, at least in my book. Without further ado, here’s my list as of 3-31-2013:
- Mobile — this is not just about taking existing transactions and reformatting them for mobile devises but rather about rethinking HRM, especially talent management (TM), workforce management (WFM), and strategic HRM analytics/decision-making, for a mobile world, and one in which the variety of form factors for such devices is exploding.
- Social/Collaboration — which types of collaboration are being built into the platform and then unleashed in what order to what HRM, talent management, and workforce management processes with what intended business impacts? Here too, it’s not just about “socializing” existing transactions or processes but about rethinking HRM from a workforce collaboration perspective.
- Global — what platform capabilities for what target markets and in what countries backed up by what go-to-market plans and “feet on the street,” to include VARs and other types of distribution relationships? I’m particulary impressed (or not!) by how much of the heavy lifting of regulatory compliance the vendor has taken on for the covered geographies, something which many talent management vendors have avoided entirely by saying that their customers are ultimately responsible and their configuration capabilities are superb.
- Analytics — what types of actionable, embedded, and/or predictive analytics with what types of visualizations, e.g. network analyses is becoming quite prominent when organizations try to figure out what roles and individuals have the greatest business impact? And I should emphasize here that this is about getting real insight to decision-makers in a form they can use when they’re in the middle of making that decision rather than just having a wonderful report-writer or business intelligence solution with which they can figure out the questions and search for the answers. Please note that I haven’t treated so-called “big data” as a separate topic (although everyone’s calling anything big data at the moment) because the real goal is actionable, ideally predictive, analytics, for which the management of big data is a necessary but not sufficient capabilities.
- Embedded intelligence of all kinds — what is the vendor really doing to deliver, “out of the box,” the type of content, guidance, exogenous data, “best” practice processes and business rules, without which self service really is distributed data entry? If Amazon can tell me what I’ve been reading, what others who read what I read are also reading, and the status of every open order almost before I pose these questions, why can’t my TM software tell me which people to hire?
- Integrated HCM – this is the issue of core ERP/HRMS vendors building out TM like crazy while some TM vendors venture into core HRMS territory (absent payroll and benefits) and it’s on this list because I don’t believe that customers can afford to invest enough in talent management (and not just the technology) if their budgets/expertise/management attention/capacity for risk-taking/etc. is consumed with maintaining legacy core HRMS’ and trying to extend them with myriad add-ons nor can they easily replace those systems of record (SORs) unless there are excellent, lower cost, easily implemented and more comprehensive alternatives which integrate fully core HRMS with talent management.
- Talent management integration — where this is about having deep process-based and event-triggered integration (so not just UI or reporting integration) across all of talent management with a clear story on what the vendor includes in TM, what they don’t include in TM, what they really have of what they include, and what their plans are via product development, partnering, agnostic integration, for what they don’t have.
- Integration tools — what capabilities are provided for the inevitable integration needed across disparate HRM enterprise software components, non-HRM but interconnected enterprise software components, various HRM outsourcing providers,etc., to include integration “in the cloud?”
- Workforce management — this is about including within the (highly desired) integrated HRMS/TM foundation every type of worker and work relationship from traditional full-time “regular” employees and roles and every type of part-time employee and roles to the full range of contingent or contracted workers and roles with fixed or varying durations. The goal here is not only to understand how much work and how many workers it really takes to deliver the organization’s business results but also to create the most cost-effective delivery of those results by making the right choices of how to structure the organizations work roles and what types of workers to deploy for each.
What topics are on your list of general HRM software vendor product direction questions? I’d sure like to improve mine, so please share your thoughts.