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Ventana Research defines a human resources management system (HRMS) as the set of applications and associated processes that store and manage the employee information used by an organization’s human resources department. New technologies make it possible for the HRMS to perform better and be easier to use by HR professionals and members of the workforce. The range of evolving technologies impacting the development of the HRMS includeVR_HRMS_BenchmarkResearch business analytics, big data, cloud computing, mobile technology, business collaboration, social media and wearable computing. These advances enable organizations to streamline the processes that the HRMS supports and more efficiently take advantage of competencies that already exist in the workforce. The changes are so substantive for organizations and their HR departments that we have undertaken new research called Next-Generation Human Resources Management Systems.

As well as becoming more efficient in their HR processes, employers want to ensure that their employees can interact easily with HR managers and feel satisfied with these relations. This is facilitated by using new methods such as collaboration through mobile devices. In addition companies today have to manage greater amounts of information than ever before related to benefits and policies and be able to provide specific, relevant information directly to employees at any time. Employers also have to comply with a range of employment rules and required benefits such as the Affordable Care Act for healthcare in the United States. In this context of information overload the HRMS should be able to use big data technologies to become a strategic tool that helps both HR and employees have complete and relevant information about employment.

The basic use of the HRMS is to hold essential information about an organization’s employees. Until recently HRMSs were stand-alone systems that maintained seldom-changing information and were used by only a few people in the HR department. The HRMS, and indeed the HR function in general, was seen as dedicated to keeping records, providing input for payroll, overseeing related compliance processes and managing benefits including healthcare, time off and others not related to compensation. Employees and managers had limited access to self-service capabilities, not to mention ready availability of it on a variety of devices.

This perception has begun to change in recent years. Other types of applications, such as talent management and workforce management, have been introduced into human resources processes, and HRMSs often must share information with them. Such systems potentially expand the kinds of information available to managers and those who work for them. In addition, innovative technologies including richer analytics have expanded the ways this wealth of information can be used and the array of roles – line-of-business managers, executives and even individual employees – that can benefit from using it. Business analytics can highlight the types and quality of talent a company possesses – and needs. Ubiquitous access to HR information through smartphones and tablets improves the reach and speed with which employees and managers access information and promotes sharing, communication and understanding. Embedded social collaboration tools connect employees more effectively and impact metrics such as employee engagement and time to productivity.

Thus the HRMS can play a strategic role in human capital management. HR professionals now can have applications and tools that support a range of workforce processes and also help the rest of the organization with their employment and business needs. A modern HRMS also can help engage and retain talent through advanced and more efficient HR practices. This new market research will explore both the evolution of human resources management systems and the roles of new technologies that being added to them. It will evaluate how organizations are integrating their HRMSs with new technologies and their impact on improving HR processes and increasing the value of HR to the organization.

Such changes in HRMSs and other human capital management systems are facilitating an evolution of HR processes. Key focus points of this research will be to examine the changing role of the HRMS in organizations, how new technologies such as business collaboration are being integrated into the HRMS and related applications HR personnel use, how VentanaResearchBenchmark_PayrollManagementthe applications are accessed through mobile devices and finally the perceived value these new technologies add to core HR applications such as the HRMS. The research will detail the specific ways in which the HRMS is evolving from a system that stores basic employee information to one that integrates benefits and payroll along with integration to talent management and workforce management information and applications to provide more useful information for HR and business leaders. Our latest benchmark research on payroll management already shows that more than half (53%) of organizations see employee self-service as important for accessing an individual’s payroll information. The new research will track as well the changing needs of HR for information related to benefits and pay and to compliance with regulations and policies.

The goal of this Next-Generation Human Resources Management benchmark research is to examine how organizations are evolving in using an HRMS and determine the drivers for and benefits of adapting a new technological approach. It will build upon recent benchmark research findings that show that talent management and workforce management systems are critical for organizations as adapt to a new generation of technologies for their workers and employees. This research also will seek to understand how the next-generation technologies listed above are changing the way organizations operate in human capital management processes and to identify the best practices used by innovative companies. It will examine whether and how organizations are choosing to embrace these new technologies in their HR functions. It also will assess how adopting an advanced approach to using an HRMS impacts an organization’s  people, processes, information and technology requirements as well as its productivity.

Come engage in our research and in return receive best practices and insights that can help your organization. Participate.


Mark Smith

CEO & Chief Research Officer

Ventana Research defines product information management (PIM) as the practice of using information, applications and other technology to effectively support product-related processes across the customer, commerce and supply chain. As organizations increase the number and diversity of products and services they offer to customers and partners, they increasingly need to address limitations in the ways they manage and distribute VRLogobug400x400product information, including related attributes and content that describes the pro­ducts. At the same time, compe­ti­tive pressures require them to be able to incorporate large amounts of new content – video and images, for example – quickly while ensuring that the information present­ed to customers is accurate, operational processes run uninterrupted and timely data is available for business analysis. In an en­vironment in which consumers, suppliers and partners use multiple channels to get to product information – including websites, kiosks, smart­phones and tablets – it is essential that the organization always be able to present complete and up-to-date product information to inspire interest and facilitate purchases.

Product information management and the applications and technology that enable it are designed to help businesses provide the best possible product information to their departments and partners. To accomplish this, PIM software must support multiple business roles, from product managers and marketers to operations and manufacturing teams and to suppliers and those in the supply chain. Manufacturers, for example, need to share product information with distributors and with direct retailers or digital commerce providers on the Internet. For finance and operations departments, effective use of product information increases the efficiency of business processes and reduces the risk of using improper information that could reduce profitability and degrade the customer experience.

Effectively managed information about products is also essential to support a range of decision-making about products and services. Analytics applied to product information can yield a variety of metrics; they can indicate where product information is missing, where it needs to be improved, patterns of product usage and the meaning of feedback about them. In the preparation of product information, analytics can help profile and improve the quality of data and associated attributes to reveal where action must be taken.

Product information management is not the same as master data management (MDM), although the two sometimes are confused. This misunderstanding can distract businesses from focusing on what they need in a PIM application. MDM technology can ensure a single definition of data across the enterprise and improve the quality and integration of data across information systems. Many PIM systems have built-in MDM and now data integration and data quality processes to ensure there is only one defined master record for any given product.

It is important to realize that product infor­mation encompasses more than just the defined name and attri­butes of a product in a database; it includes all related information needed for reference or compliance purposes. Organizations should take care to understand the differences between PIM and MDM as well as how they can complement each other to inform decisions. PIM is essential to enable business units to manage their product-related processes themselves just as IT staff need MDM and integration tools to enable them to manage data throughout the enterprise.

ERP and supply chain applications including product life-cycle management (PLM) have fallen short in meeting the requirements for PIM, leaving many organizations with a lack of consistency in mastering and publishing product information both inside the enterprise and across the supply and demand chain. Commerce software also has lacked depth in providing PIM, a core ingredient for transacting business in products and services. Many commerce providers talk about the importance of focusing on the customer experience, for which effective PIM is a necessity. Web content management software also has a role, but its design is focused on dynamically generating content from a database and personalizing it for business. The lack of maturity in these software categories creates a role for PIM software that can interoperate across business processes and applications.

The goal of PIM is to establish a reliable single source of product information that can be shared across channels. Getting it right is not easy; our benchmark research shows that more than one-quarter of organizations have more than 10 sources of product information that they must integrate and manage efficiently. Half of participants in our research acknowledged that standardizing product information requires substantial effort, and only 27 percent said they completely trust their product information.

In their efforts to produce a reliable product record, most organizations use laborious, time-consuming methods: 37 percent develop custom code, and 45 percent rely on manual effort. One-third of all participants still depend heavily on spreadsheets to create their product records, and almost half (46%) depend on them somewhat. And nearly all (94%) spreadsheet users find major or minor errors in their records.

Processes and tools are available that can automate much of this work. If properly deployed, PIM systems can synchronize all attributes and definitions used in the identification, description, sales and fulfillment of products across all channels that customers, suppliers, trading partners and employees use. Some businesses are implementing PIM that has master data management embedded within it while others connect PIM to their IT organization’s MDM, which can help improve the consistency and quality of data across the enterprise. PIM and MDM projects typically incorporate tools for data discovery, profiling and quality verification to deepen understanding of the data, including relationships and associations among items. This knowledge can be essential for integrating content and data from multiple sources and defining master data.

MDM software by itself and without a PIM context is just for the data infrastructure; this in recent years has slowed its adoption as what is commonly called big data complicates data transformation and creates challenges in adapting to business applications. MDM vendors that continue to insist that their products address PIM often find the decline of interest challenging their market relevance. In contrast, independent vendors focused on PIM have enjoyed a growing market presence in recent years. But just focusing on PIM has its own challenges as VentanaResearch_PIM_VI_2015organizations look for simpler and more interconnected systems that utilize cloud computing and software as a service; many of these vendors have not moved rapidly enough to support these changes.

The benefits of using dedicated PIM technology can be significant. More than 40 percent of organizations said it can help eliminate data errors, improve cross-sell and up-sell opportunities and improve the customer experience through consistent product information. Yet our research indicates that most organizations have not adopted more capable systems: Only 27 percent use commercial software dedicated to PIM, although more than half (57%) said they will change their PIM system within 12 to 18 months. The latter finding in particular underscores the importance of having a reliable guide such as our 2015 Value Index for PIM which can help companies assess and evaluate vendors and products in this software category. I summarize our analysis in another analyst perspective to illuminate further how it can assist your efforts.


Mark Smith

CEO & Chief Research Officer

Mark Smith – Twitter

Ventana Research

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