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As organizations look to improve the competency and VentanaResearch_NGLM_BenchmarkResearchskills of their workers, learning management system (LMS) technology can help improve their efforts. Our latest benchmark research innext-generation learning management systems finds a range of progress in this regard. Our Performance Index analysis places organizations almost evenly between the two lowest (51%) and the two highest (49%) of four levels of performance. The results differ by size of company as measured by number of employees. For example, only 8 percent of small companies reach the highest Innovative level of performance, compared to 26 percent of very large companies, the largest percentage of any size. Analyzed by industry, the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate sector performs best: Two out of three (65%) are at the top two levels. We attribute this in part to the finance industry’s focus on processes and its need to comply with regulations and teach employees how to do so.

We also analyze performance by four dimensions: People, Process, Information and Technology. In this research, participants perform best in the People (74% at the two highest levels) and Technology (53%) dimensions. Conversely, more than half rank at the two lowest levels for Process (55%) and Information (62%). vr_NGLearning_performance_06_dimensionsWe attribute this difference to the existence of people-centered learning programs and the core technology components for learning management.

Learning management systems have existed in various forms for many years, yet the research finds that a significant number of organizations participating in this research have not adopted this technology. Although nearly two in three (63%) have a training department responsible for learning management, only about half (53%) have a learning management system. Moreover, a formal approach to learning management correlates with size of company: The num­bers of those that have a training depart­ment rise at each size level, from 25 percent of small organizations to 100 percent of very large ones. There is a corresponding in­crease in the number that have learning management systems (small 28%, very large 92%). Because larger organizations have more employees, they likely wish to train them uniformly and more often have resources to devote to this function. Most organizations of all sizes said the primary purpose of the learning management system is employee development training (46%) or compliance-related learning (29%). The use of an LMS automate learning processes and be more efficient in their operations.

Also, learning management systems can contribute to the effectiveness of other employee-related systems including human resources management (HRMS) and talent management. Organizations can gain a more complete view of employees, their performance and what they learn by applying their learning management systems to worker activities. The research shows that most have not done such integration, but some have connected learning management to closely related HR business processes like employee development (35%), which the research shows is the primary purpose of their learning management programs for nearly half of organizations. Performance management (33%) and employee onboarding (27%) are the processes to which they have connected learning management next most often.

Integrating the learning management and performance review processes also makes sense in that the benefit of learning management most often cited (by 72%) is to create more effective workers. Three out of four (77%) of those connecting the two processes are sa­tis­fied or somewhat satisfied with how they link learning management and performance reviews. Looking ahead, the research finds double-digit percentages of organizations planning to connect learning management with other HR business processes in the next 12 months and similar percentages planning to do so within 24 months.

Effective learning management requires content to educate vr_NGLearning_05_socially_sourced_content_gains_importancethose who engage with the system. Yet one of the costliest aspects of a learning program is the acquisition and management of content. For years this has been handled by specialists using purpose-built tools. A new technology capable of alleviating some of this cost is the massive open online course (MOOC) model. The research shows that employees in 40 percent of organizations use MOOC technology as a source of content and courses; however, only 10 percent have MOOC linked to their learning management system, while the rest access it independently. Another emerging option is socially sourced content, which has the potential to reduce dramatically the cost of content development. Two in five (42%) organizations said that using this source is important or very important to their learning content management strategy; just one-fourth said it is not important. Currently most (46%) get no more than one-fourth vr_NGLearning_07_learning_investments_are_increasingof their content from social collaborative sources, but in the next 12 to 24 months 30 percent of organizations expect up to half of all learning content to come from such sources.

Learning management and employee training is a widespread corporate function, and the research finds that 70 percent of organizations have an annual budget for it. In nearly half (47%) of those the budget has increased in the past 12 months; in only 13 percent has it decreased. Thus the opportunity for further investment in learning management exists, as having a budget is the top-ranked consideration (placed first by 15%) for building a business case; among job functions, executives (23%) ranked budget as most important more often than others. Among those ranked first or second in importance, having a budget and ensuring executive sponsorship tied for the top consideration (28% each). These two factors should be considered in tandem.

Organizations building a business case can find key benefits in learning management systems; the most-often found in the vr_NGLearning_01_key_benefits_of_learning_managementresearch are creating more effective workers (by 72%), improving worker training (65%) and improving the efficiency and productivity of the workforce (54%). Engaging and retaining more of the workforce was cited by 44 percent overall, but more executives (60%) and management (vice presidents, 75%) chose this, reflecting their positions in the organization and value of this benefit.

Learning management systems have the potential to transform training organizations by increasing employees’ effectiveness in their jobs and preparing them to act according to their company’s policies and rules. Linking a learning management system to other human capital management processes and tools can bring a tighter connection between people and performance that can result in positive outcomes. Organizations seeking to prepare their workforces better for their roles should examine how the next generation of LMS can help them achieve this goal.


Mark Smith

CEO and Chief Research Officer

Acquisitions and new product releases continue to make the market for human capital management a hotbed of activity, as organizations attempt to fully utilize and increase the value of their workforces as I have outlined in my research agenda. ADP, with more than $10 billion in revenues and more than 570,000 customers, is aiming for the top spot in this market.

ADP plans to grow its current human resources-centric outsourcing business and expand its software and services for human capital management (HCM) directly to organizations globally. It has three major products that target niches from small to midsize businesses to the largest global organizations. At the low end, ADP Workforce Now, launched in 2009, provides a collection of HR, benefits, payroll and time management capabilities to more than 24,000 clients. For midsize businesses, an application suite called ADP Vantage HCM is in pilot deployment and estimated for release in mid-2012. On the high end, through a partnership with SAP, ADP GlobalView handles transactions in 81 countries for more than 100 customers with 1 million employees. ADP’s latest announcement, touts having an integrated end-to-end application platform for talent management for all sizes of business. ADP also continues to offer other applications directly through its partnerships, such as one with Cornerstone for its talent management suite and another with Kronos for workforce management. (To confuse things, ADP just announced an extension to its reselling of Cornerstone OnDemand, which directly competes with the soon-to-be-released ADP Vantage HCM.)

On another front ADP purchased a new learning management system (LMS) to expand into this market. From my review it appears to be a good stand-alone foundation to build on and will need further integration with performance management and analytics and a better interface for users to collaborate and interact with others in the organization.

ADP also has expanded its ADP Mobile, adding to existing employee self-service capabilities such as paycheck, benefits, time and attendance, absence and retirement, new capabilities including inbox, work calendaring and pay-card management. I reviewed its mobile capabilities on the Apple iPhone and found it simple to use and covering key employee-level needs for any size of organization.

ADP Vantage HCM provides talent acquisition, compensation, performance and succession, and is built on a platform that is strong on configurability, utilizing workflow and a rules-based approach. At its foundation is a jobs library that stores information and profiles about individuals who have specific jobs and competencies. ADP has overcome the most impactful barrier to compensation, which is integration with the rest of the talent management suite, according to 66 percent of organizations in our total compensation management benchmark research. However, it needs to make usability a higher priority for employees and managers across its applications; in this area the software needs improvement, and usability is the number-one evaluation criteria for products in HCM according to our research. But ADP has made many tasks easier to use; for instance, it presents the alignment of goals for an individual in one screen for review. This helps align the workforce to business goals, which is the top benefit of a performance management investment according to 81 percent of organizations in our performance management for talent management benchmark research. It has also expanded in its support for competencies and salary data for benchmarking, and is starting to provide content for its newly released LMS.

Looking elsewhere, we see that ADP still could improve its recruiting and applicant tracking systems as part of its application suite. Today, with its talent acquisition capabilities, it can manage requisitions and interviews, handle onboarding by posting positions to specific job boards, get resumes, post applicants into the system and do background checks. ADP also acquired a recruiting processing outsourcing (RPO) company called The RightThing that has helped many large organizations with outsourced recruiting. It uses a candidate relationship management technology called SourcePoint that has the ability to identify and source candidates from job boards and social sites such as Spoke and ZoomInfo. But ADP has not integrated its recruiting technologies with the Vantage HCM suite, and that should be a priority. According to our benchmark in social media and recruiting, half of organizations plan to address candidate integration from sites like LinkedIn and Facebook to identify new talent pools. HR and recruiting organizations expect these capabilities from applicant tracking systems.

Another area where ADP will need to enhance Vantage HCM is workforce analytics; the current offering needs significant improvement in usability and functionality. ADP demonstrated a new technology offering that was demonstrated on a table that presents information in a logical and easy-to-read manner, with access to micro-analytic visualization for details on metrics. HR professionals expect analytics to be simple to use, according to 89 percent of organizations in our workforce analytics benchmark research. ADP also has been investing in search technology as an enabling feature to its applications, letting users search nouns, verbs and actions within the applications and information. One area that it has not addressed is the social collaboration that helps address the needs of employee engagement for retaining talent that our benchmark research finds is a new priority in business.

ADP wants to become the largest provider of cloud-based enterprise software, adding to its current 250,000 software-as-a-service (SaaS) customers with an estimated 18 million employees using its products. The company is building on its strengths in payroll and benefits and expanding its HCM portfolio. It faces some tough choices about continuing or ending partnerships with companies it is now competing against. Future releases of workforce analytics, support for tablets and improved usability of the Vantage HCM suite will help ADP be even more competitive in the market.


Mark Smith – CEO & Chief Research Officer

Mark Smith – Twitter

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