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October 12, 2012 in Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance Management (BPM), Cloud Computing, Social Media, Workforce Performance Management (WPM) | Tags: Human Capital Management, Mobile Technology, Recruiting, Social Collaboration, Talent Management, Workforce Management | by Mark Smith | Leave a comment
During its annual industry analyst summit this week, human capital management software vendor SumTotal Systems introduced new heads of finance, marketing and sales, and talked about expanding operations in Europe and Asia-Pacific – all part of a business growth strategy that I am sure the company’s private equity owner is expecting. While I wrote about the company earlier this year, SumTotal now says it has signed up 85 new customers so far in 2012 for its human capital management suite, and its 3,500 customers include brand names such as McAfee, American Express, US Airways and EastWest Bank. Customers United Airlines, POET and McCain Foods made presentations at the summit that illustrated why SumTotal is a relevant and strategic HCM provider.
SumTotal Systems this month announced a new release coming in Q4 that introduces workforce planning, builds on its workforce analytics and provides flexibility in the integration of its entire HCM application suite with its newly expanded portal for employee and manager self-service. The new software provides better unification of employee data within SumTotal through master data management (MDM). The company is expanding its social recruitment capabilities through a partnership with Bullhorn; our benchmark in social recruiting found social recruiting is essential to getting access to new talent pools and gaining a competitive advantage in hiring practices. SumTotal will need to elevate the visibility of its recruiting application, as many potential customers do not know it has a solution that addresses the social media channels and job boards.
SumTotal Sytems says it aims to provide a best-in-class strategic HCM suite and is focused on value creation for its customers. It plans to advance its pace of innovation in mobile and social technologies. The company wanted to communicate the strategic importance of its mobile technology advancements, as it has begun to release applications from learning to workforce management on smartphones. SumTotal has ensured it is ready to expand on mobile technologies by using an architectural approach that supports HTML5 to ensure support across a variety of platforms, including Apple and Android. Even so, the company must provide free access to its mobile advancements so customers can try them without requiring approval from SumTotal. Our benchmark research in next generation workforce management found rapid growth for tablet usage, from the current deployment at 28 percent to 34 percent in the coming 12 to 18 months.
On the social collaboration front SumTotal builds on top of Microsoft SharePoint, extending it to support a range of SumTotal applications and services and letting customers integrate all of that with their environments. Our research found that collaboration is the top technology trend in 70 percent of organizations which has accelerated requests to vendors like SumTotal to advance these capabilities. One of its customers at the analyst summit, McCain, talked about publishing between SumTotal and a SAP portal and collaboration environments in a unified manner. I hope to see more examples of this type of integration in the future.
SumTotal said at the summit it is committed to providing the best workforce analytics capabilities. It now provides workforce planning in its HCM environment, providing a unified approach that encompasses everything from analytics to planning capabilities. It can deal with headcount, salary planning, determining the impact of compensation and merit planning. This is a significant advantage over other HCM providers that have only the ability to perform historical analysis. The appetite for workforce analytics is growing; our latest benchmark research shows 61 percent of organizations are looking to improve their analytics in the next year.
To ensure that organizations can get access to all of the critical workforce data, SumTotal has taken an open approach to the underlying data models. Customers can use its MDM and integration capabilities to get data from other cloud computing environments or on-premises applications or from ERP systems and other HR, talent management and workforce management environments. Our benchmark into information management found that 37 percent of organizations say integrating employee information and MDM is critical. The SumTotal HCM Hub Architecture has a SOA and enterprise service bus that can be used to interface to other environments. SumTotal is going to great lengths to have a properly designed architecture that will help it advance its innovation, be flexible for customers’ integration needs and release new applications in a timely manner.
Overall SumTotal Systems’ application suite does more than just meet the needs for core HR functions and talent and workforce management. It also advances into the mobile, social collaboration and social media technologies that have become critical components of every organization’s practices to hire, engage and retain members of the workforce. If you have not considered how you can move to a unified approach to your human capital needs, SumTotal is one of the few providers with a portfolio of applications that can meet your needs today and in the future.
CEO & Chief Research Officer
July 27, 2012 in Big Data, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence (BI), Business Mobility, Business Performance Management (BPM), Cloud Computing, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Information Applications (IA), Information Management (IM), IT Performance Management (ITPM), Location Intelligence, Operational Intelligence, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Other, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Social Media, Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Sustainability, Workforce Performance Management (WPM) | Tags: HTML5, mobile workforce, SAP, SuccessFactors, Time & Attendance, Workforce Management, workforce software | by Mark Smith | Leave a comment
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.
Mark Smith – CEO & Chief Research Officer