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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

Maximizing the performance and value of people in the workforce should be a primary focus for any business these days. It is a complex task, especially for larger organizations, and chances for success can be increased by investment in human capital management (HCM) applications. In this competitive software market SAP is making a strong push, aided by acquisitions in the last three years of SuccessFactors for talent management and more recently Fieldglass for contingent labor management. Recently I attended the SAP HCM analyst summit to hear about its direction and plans to grow its market share. The company has made progress since our last analyst perspective on it. Mike Ettling, SAP’s president for the HR line of business, discussed its newly refined strategy and organizational structure;VentanaResearchLogo300px the company has added executives from around the globe to emphasize its commitment to helping human resources organizations.

SAP for HCM today is focused on HR applications in the cloud for talent management areas including recruiting, onboarding, compensation, performance, learning and succession. It has added a focus on self-service for employees and managers with payroll matters. SuccessFactors, according to Ettling, contributes 40 percent of the subscription bookings in cloud compuing for SAP. He said that 59 percent of bookings for SuccessFactors are outside North America, which reaffirms its global focus.

SAP offers its products in more than 70 countries and in 37 languages. It manages regional data centers to support in-country databases of employee information and now has more than 1,000 implementation partners. SAP’s primary market is what we term very large organizations, which have more than 10,000 employees. Executives mentioned a renewed focus in the small-to-midsize market but did not clearly articulate how it will compete with the many providers that concentrate on this segment. SAP’s intentions can be seen in these numbers: Some 4,200 companies with a total of more than 28 million employees use at least one of its cloud-based HCM applications. More than 40 customers each have 100,000 users, and 110 each having more than 50,000 users.

SAP’s evolution into cloud computing is well established now. Presenters at the analyst summit made it clear that the future of its on-premises software for HR is limited; there will be no new code lines and the vendor is in maintenance mode as it focuses R&D on its cloud-based products. Meanwhile, as it continues to execute on its mission of talent management and core HR, SuccessFactors has done well in providing to companies using SAP HR on-premises an interface for interoperating with its cloud offering. Next it will need to refine its plans for supporting those customers in migrating to the cloud.

SAP insists on its ability to supply all HCM applications, but it lacks a unified Web presence for them. Currently the SuccessFactors website presents only the SuccessFactors cloud computing products, not the entire portfolio, and the SAP website for HR lacks depth on its contingent labor products. For that you must manually navigate to the Fieldglass website. Fieldglass provides vendor management systems, a necessary part of a comprehensive strategy for HCM. Missing from the site is a discussion of how its products interoperate with SuccessFactors and SAP applications. I was surprised that no one from the Fieldglass organization was present to provide depth; the acquisition closed in May 2014. The parent company should clarify in 2015 how Fieldglass aligns to the SAP HCM strategy.

SAP will have to work harder to present a complete picture that includes contingent labor and workforce management and presents real understanding of the applications required to manage the hourly labor market. SAP speakers seemed careful to not mention any of the workforce management players in the market, such as Kronos and Workforce Software, and did not discuss the aspects of this market, which is a key part of the human capital management market overall. SAP’s information is restricted to noting that its Employee Central can perform time and attendance with absence management and time sheet support; that is only one component of workforce management. SAP ought to create and publish an overall blueprint of what it can offer for HCM and HR departments.

More positively I was impressed with how SAP is addressing the next generation of learning management, making it simple to assemble and deploy learning modules on mobile devices in what it calls content authoring and also supporting open content networks and even recommendations. vr_NGLearning_02_social_collaboration_assists_learningOur research in next-generation learning management finds that collaboration on content (77%) and access to learning via mobile devices (63%) are among the top priorities for organizations. SAP is transforming the methods for how people engage informally with learning and can be self-sufficient in specific business areas while still offering the formal learning environment that is required by policies and compliance programs.

In addition SAP has taken seriously the need to make human capital analytics easier to interact with through the user experience in the latest version of SuccessFactors HR Analytics. This is a significant advance not represented in its website, which still presents basic dashboards that are not sufficient for HR to assess and act on information about its vr_HCA_02_key_benefits_of_human_capital_analyticsworkforce. SuccessFactors had a product in workforce planning, but it is not clear how it utilizes or integrates to SAP’s business planning applications. Presenters at the event showed that it does take the aspects of succession planning and team building seriously and explained how it will use organizational charts more effectively. SAP has historically worked with Nakisa. SAP has the potential to advance analytics and especially predictive analytics through SAP HANA and its acquisition of KXEN, but it is not moving fast enough to blend them with its suite of applications and HR platform. This is a critical step; our human capital analytics benchmark research finds that improving efficiency (61%), engaging and retaining the workforce (52%) and improving management actions (51%) are the top benefits of investments in this area of analytics.

SAP continues to advance its cloud-based payroll management offering, Employee Central, through experience with its on-premises product that has global deployments. Transitioning capabilities to the cloud is not as important as designing and streamlining the tasks for managing payroll administration and employee access to the information. SAP has been taking a blended approach to use its on-premises offering, which ranked first among products in our 2014 Payroll Management Value Index. New advances in 2015 with localized support for time off and benefits along with time sheet management are meeting a growing demand for simplifying payroll processes. Our benchmark research in payroll management shows that this is important to users: 54 percent said it is very important to improve the efficiency of payroll processes, and about as many (53%) said employee self-service is an important aspect of payroll management.

SAP presenters also discussed their efforts to streamline HR operations and administration to make oversight simpler and more responsive. This includes Action Search, a capability to easily search an organization and get access to information rapidly from within Employee Central. I especially like the advances in its people profile to get to information about individuals from the Web and mobile devices. In addition, SAP continues to advance social collaboration through SAP Jam, Ventana_Research_TCM_VI_HotVendor_2014which in the past two years has accumulated 17.5 million subscribers and more than 100 customers. Making social collaboration relevant is done through what it calls work patterns that include employee performance, mentoring and coaching and even onboarding. SAP Jam has great potential, and I hope to see more of it within the talent management applications and in workflow across its applications.

At the summit I heard no reference to what SAP is doing with compensation management, but the company is doing well here. Our analysis rated SuccessFactors Compensation a Hot Vendor in our 2014 Value Index; it is a unique offering that is well integrated with the rest of the talent management suite.

A presentation on the evolved SAP Cloud architecture discussed S/4HANA, which provides a platform for interoperating across on-premises and private and public cloud environments. It includes the use of SAP HANA Cloud’s metadata framework of specific applications. SAP is moving to its own integration technology for process and data requirements and designing its own user experience rather than continuing to work with Dell Boomi. vr_BDI_07_types_of_data_integration_processesIt is not clear to me how this will help most HR organizations, which have and must interoperate with systems from several vendors and need data to flow across processes, which was easily instrumented within Dell Boomi. The demand for integration between cloud and on-premises configurations is growing rapidly; our big data integration research finds that cloud-to-cloud integration will have the largest growth, with one-quarter of organizations planning to address that in the next two years and one-third still evaluating that. This along with eliminating use of the Oracle database and using SAP HANA is key to its efforts in 2015. Presenters made mention of the Smart Data Access tool using HANA for machine learning, but it was not well articulated, referring to “robotic workflow,” which is a foreign language to any HR professional.

SAP SuccessFactors has a new customer experience methodology that uses a nine-step process to ensure satisfaction among a rapidly growing variety of companies using the software. The new approach is being led by service and support professionals from across SAP. This level of focus on customer engagement is critical as SAP must demonstrate commitment to its customers more convincingly and differentiate itself in the market where many competitors have similar HCM suites. On the other side of customer experience is the license payments for its software. Like many other vendors in the cloud computing market SAP offers significant incentives to lock in multiple-year contracts in renting its applications. SAP prefers to trigger the invoice for the subscription to an application at the time the contract is signed, compared to others that do not invoice for license seats until the time of going live – a more reasonable approach from the customer’s point of view, as it takes time to transition from existing applications and processes to new ones and truly have employees using them. This could work counter to the company’s customer experience plans.

SAP’s goal is to grow into a US$2 billion provider of HR applications by the end of 2017 and dominate the market. I believe that for it to do so will require more than just marketing and selling to HR and includes communicating to and convincing CFOs why this is an essential investment to address the talent risk of organizations. When you calculate the cost and time wasted in replacing workers who might have been retained and making new workers competent, investments in HCM and talent management are worthwhile in a financial analysis. But SAP like others does not demonstrate this value for finance and operations management. More than promoting its HCM offerings as part of ERP efforts, it will have to decide if it wants to win the hearts and dollars of Finance.

SAP needs to show it can help organizations manage hourly workers beyond tracking time and absence and contingent workers through its Fieldglass acquisition. Advancing its cloud platform for interoperability with its on-premises applications – hybrid cloud computing – is essential to protect existing customers using SAP ERP and HR, along with helping global organizations with employees based around the world. At the summit I did not hear about any progress in applying its mobile technology to applications in HCM although its platform supports Microsoft Windows Touch and the Surface 3 tablet that is beginning to appear in business as validated in our market research. Nor was there much focus on security, voice or wearable computing via mobile technology. SAP is sticking to the basics when it comes to mobile technologies and use for HCM.

SAP has transitioned SuccessFactors into a fully functioning subsidiary that remains strong in the market for HR and talent management applications. It continues to innovate and introduce simpler and more mobile methods for using its suite of applications. It has work to do to show how its overall HCM portfolio meets the broader needs of HR and workforces, and I expect movement here in 2015. The company is a major player in HCM, and organizations should evaluate its offerings to determine how they can help HR be more effective in supporting the essential asset of its people.


Mark Smith

CEO and Chief Research Officer

Mark Smith – Twitter

Ventana Research

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