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Our research agenda for 2012 in human capital management outlined the importance of workforce management for all organizations. One provider, WorkForce Software, provides systems that support scheduling, time and attendance, leave and absence and fatigue management. As I noted in my last analysis on WorkForce Software, the company’s focus on the fatigue aspect of workforce management, especially in white-collar environments such as transportation, utilities and healthcare, has provided them both recognition and growth. I attended the company’s first technology analyst summit this week to get a deeper view into the company and its products and see how it is shaping up in light of our research on the key applications providers in this market.

WorkForce Software continues to grow its customer and employee lists, with now hundreds of customers and rapidly growing cloud computing adoption through software as a service. The company continues to advance its core EmpCenter application, which provides a range of capabilities. Part of its unique approach is the configurability provided in its Advanced Scheduler, and its ability to monitor workers that might have multiple responsibilities that organizations need to account for cost or job tracking, which is critical for finance and activity-based costing where grants and budgets need to be closely tracked. This configurability is available without the need for custom programming; the policies and rules are defined by the business users who are held accountable for them. It’s easy to switch between activities and do costing for work at potentially different rates – a critical requirement for organizations such as universities and service businesses that use labor for a variety of needs. The application integrates pre-developed content from labor law and industry regulations to help ensure that scheduling complies with these policies. It’s predictive and policy software approach can assess any potential conflict that could happen with planned schedules is unique.

EmpCenter 9 was released this year with a major focus on supporting global and mobile deployments, and it provides a more open and integrated approach with other applications. On the global side of advancements, EmpCenter now supports 10 languages in addition to English. On the mobile technology side, the company has enhanced the mobile aspects of Workforce Management. It now uses HTML5 so that EmpCenter Mobile can operate across compliant browsers on Android and Apple devices. The company has indicated that HTML5 will replace native support of Android and Apple-based technologies. I am still a little skeptical on a complete move to HTML5, as it has not yet proven its stability across browsers, operating systems and Android devices. In addition, HTML5 cannot leverage local mobile hardware features for camera, video, field communication (NFC), gesturing and other technological advancements the way a native approach can.

The new release provides some critical productivity improvements. For instance, in what it calls one-touch callout, shifts can be announced to workers across multiple channels, such as email, text, phone and even social media, This helps address the preferences of workers; for instance, millennials often respond faster to texts than emails. Event-based scheduling can help plan one-time events or projects that need immediate attention for staffing, and can use one-touch callout to reduce the time it takes to get workers with specific skills. Across the board EmpCenter 9 has improved usability, from simplified steps in prompted wizards to more use of dragging and dropping in the application interface.

At the analyst summit, I got a deeper technology review of the software’s badge and biometric reader options. I got to see the new EmpCenter Engage Tablet, which uses an Android tablet for a range of time and attendance and other necessary worker interaction tasks, and which has a video camera that can be used for identification. This technology supports global deployments in regards to power and network connectivity, and supports attachments for other interaction needs. The Windows-based EmpCenter Touch Screen provides a simple kiosk-based approach that can be used in many environments. The company also can support time and attendance tasks at the desktop, allowing for easy checking in and out of projects. This variety of choices is part of the unique value in WorkForce’s approach compared to others, and it is an area that we focus on in our benchmark research on the needs of organizations in next-generation workforce management.

With regard to openness, WorkForce Software has expanded integration with ADP, IBM, Oracle, SAP and even Kronos to help make its software easier to integrate. I recently came across WorkForce Software at SAP Successfactors conference and saw how the two companies are working to integrate the talent management and new global payroll offerings. These technical partnerships help WordForce Software ensure the highest level of productivity and advancement for organizations who want to employ workforce management. As the company continues to advance its applications, it will need to address the concerns we have found in our data in the cloud benchmark and the broader needs we uncovered in our information management benchmark.

My review of version 9 provided some critical insight into its flexibility for meeting a range of needs across industries, especially those that need to track time and allocate costs. It has many nice capabilities for managers and employees for keeping track of information and alerting them to potential issues that could arise, such as when overtime could occur with a current schedule or when issues arise based on policies and compliance. It also can support a blended rate based on tasks and place of work. These are critical needs for varying industries, and point to the software’s flexibility for business users. Still, nothing is perfect – I believe EmpCenter could use technological advancements in its workforce analytics; specifically, usability and interactivity for a range of needs should have a higher priority than what I have seen. The company should also explore further ways in which it can help organizations engage employees, which will require some examination of social collaboration, and where it can integrate further with the onboarding of workers, to speed the process and find ways to limit the administration and paperwork required.

Workforce Software is doing a great job to advance the workforce management software market. Its challenges are less in its software and more in advancing the visibility of the breadth and depth of its offerings and gaining further adoption in white-collar industries, where businesses still manually handle many of their workforce’s scheduling, tracking and monitoring tasks. WorkForce’s fatigue management feature is a critical distinction for its software, and its approach can be used in many industries. Now, as it is fully engaged in the software-as-a-service approach, the company can gain new customers who don’t want to worry about technical implementation or resource issues at their sites.

If you are ready to reassess your current approach to workforce management and have not considered WorkForce Software, you should examine it more closely, as it has a good reputation and a solid offering in the market.

Regards,

Mark Smith – CEO & Chief Research Officer

We have just released our 2012 Value Index for Total Compensation Management (TCM), in which we evaluate the competency and maturity of vendors and products. Our firm has been researching this category for many years, and our latest benchmark research in total compensation management found some improvement among applications in a field where many organizations still use outdated applications to manage an area with large financial and human capital impacts.

I am excited to bring this research to market again this year. No other research firm performs this level of analysis or follows it up on a regular basis. The Ventana Research methodology utilizes a request for proposal and assessment approach, and each value index takes six months to complete; unlike other analyst firms, we look at the product details that have the most importance to successful adoption and use. In the process we identify best and worst practices that further refine how we assess technology vendors in this category.

Our research, including this Value Index on Total Compensation Management, looks at the complete range of aspects of compensation, from types of pay and benefits to the processes required to manage them and communicate with workers. We examine role-based requirements for an organization, as well as integration with performance and talent management. We look closely at the key product areas – usability, reliability, manageability, adaptability and capability – and also the customer assurance areas of validation and TCO/ROI.

A lot has changed among TCM suppliers in the past year. For instance, Plateau, which we rated Hot in 2011, was acquired by SuccessFactors, which in turn was acquired by SAP. Now SAP is focused on using SuccessFactors offering and placing the product investments on this offering. Taleo was acquired by Oracle and its product was put aside in favor of the newer Oracle Fusion Compensation Management.

This year we found many talent management vendors claiming to manage compensation, but some provide only a place to enter current compensation data for use in performance reviews or provide limited capabilities. These vendors lack a total compensation management approach that can be used across all roles – administrator, management, manager and employee and support the processes, communicated and integration required for meeting these needs and support of talent management.

Our Value Index methodology assesses vendors across the seven categories noted above, each weighted according to its priority to buyers, and sums the results to 100 percent for scoring purposes. We placed a heavier emphasis this year on usability, reliability and manageability, which organizations indicated in our benchmark research are increasingly higher priorities. You can read the details on our methodology and process in the full TCM Value Index report.

Our analysis in the 2012 Value Index found six vendors that provide robust offerings. All six are rated Hot, which is the highest value level and demonstrates maturity of offerings. SuccessFactors ranks at the top, closely followed by Peoplefluent, then SumTotal Systems, Oracle, Excentive and ADP. We noted in our analysis that SuccessFactors and Peoplefluent showed rapid product advancements every quarter, and their focus on usability, manageability and reliability helped raise them above last year’s ratings. Oracle is a vendor to watch, with its latest release of Oracle Fusion Human Capital Management, which includes compensation and is available both on-premises and in the public cloud. New to the Value Index is Excentive, which is dedicated exclusively to total compensation management.

We take a lot of pride in our Value Index, and we believe it is cool to be a Hot vendor. The competitive market for these applications comprises a very mature set of products. Congratulations to the vendors that survived our detailed assessment processes and granular analysis, which represent how organizations assess and select vendors. If you want some further information, you can download the executive summary. We look forward to offering continued guidance to buyers on this critical application category for HR, finance and operations professionals who need to engage and retain employees by taking a comprehensive approach to compensation management and applications.

Regards,

Mark Smith

CEO & Chief Research Officer

Mark Smith – Twitter

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