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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

The HR Technology Conference and Expo in Las Vegas that begins today will showcase an array of new applications for talent management. The array of applications and advancements to help human resources professionals is evolving dramatically, and this is a place for HR and workforce management professionals to find new methods that help increase productivity and optimize business outcomes. The five business technologyinnovations that will be vitally important in this decade for HR as well as other lines of business: They are cloud computing, social media, mobility, analytics and collaboration. If you want to read what is new in these areas, you can read my business technology guide to the conference. Each of these when integrated with talent management processes can improve the potential of your workforce and help recruit and retain talent.

This year’s HR Technology, the 14th gathering, shows signs of being more bustling than last year’s and on the continuing mission to help my industry colleague, Bill Kutik, in keeping the vendors honest. We anticipate a significant number of new announcements in talent management applications and the specific applications in areas like recruiting, compensation, performance, succession, and others that will advance using these business technology innovations. Now with cloud computing is already the new standard talent management; now it is imperative to progress in integration of them with enterprise systems which unfortunately no one seems to be spending many cycles on in dealing with your business or workforce data in the cloud that our benchmark research found is in significant disarray and needs to be addressed.

Nobody attending will have time to see everything at the conference and exhibits, so I want to highlight some of the announcements in talent management that I think you should not miss at HR Tech and take back to discuss with your colleagues in business, finance, operations and IT. The conference program does not provide what I think is the detailed talent management guide to all the technology announcements so I’ve organized them for you to review and then go and visit the exhibitors to see them for yourself. I have spent the last three weeks doing preliminary review and analysis of most of these announcements.

First in the broader spectrum of talent management application suites a consortium of vendors (BambooHR, emPerform, myStaffingPro and Strategia) has come together in what they call HR in the Cloud to make it easier for their systems to interoperate. In addition look at advances by PageUpPeople and Pilat as options in an integrated offering for talent management. The recent combination of Technomedia and Hodes iQ to form a complete talent managementsuite also will be on display. In what looks to be a significant power move in the market, ADP has unveiled Vantage HCM to provide a unified talent management suite that it can offer back to its significantly very large customer base. Also a newly renamed provider called Lumesse is demonstrating its new suite of applications it has announced. Those in HR who must improve its governance and efficiency of dealing with HR cases should look at Dovetail Software’s offering in talent management, which is available also on mobile devices.

Recruiting and Hiring: To help you reach the broadest pool of candidates in a streamlined method, Talent Technology is demonstrating its Talemetry applications that I assessed; it can help you think about how you acquire talent. Jobvite has announcedits latest in social recruiting with an application within Facebook for social referrals.  Kronos has released Talent Acquisitionversion 9 to help make it simpler to select and hire candidates. Taleo is showing itsmobile and social approaches to recruiting that it launched recently. HireVue announced advancements to its DigitalInterview Platform  to engage with candidates on the Internet and determine their readiness for positions. I already referenced TalentBin under social media but Cornerstone OnDemand has announced a new social recruiting and sourcing application with what they have named theCornerstone Recruiting Cloud.

Learning Management: The year has seen the learning management system (LMS) absorbed into talent management suites; for example, SuccessFactorsacquired Plateau and SumTotal Systems acquired GeoLearning. Not be left out, Kenexa recently announced its alliance with LMS vendorSkillSoft. Sabaannounced the Saba Content Connect Program to expand its customers’ choices on certified content accessible within the LMS.

Performance Management: The need to take performance management seriously should be obvious and ourbenchmark research on the topic has found massive room for improvement to truly be focused on retaining and recognizing talent. Sonar6 is still the coolest looking performance management applications and would engage any manager to worker dialogue on a performance appraisal.Kenexa is demonstrating its new release of its performance management application; while it will need to integrate this with its compensation offering acquired from salary.com, the current version provides the basics. Rypple is showing its social performance management solution that brings collaborative feedback loops and social recognition that I see as a significant advancement.

Total Compensation: An increasingly crucial part of talent retention is compensation management , including incentives and rewards. A pay-for-performance approach is not feasible without compensation management applications. There are a lot of advancements by the technology suppliers and some that are changing dramatically from supplier’s merger and acquisition activity including Plateau who was acquired by SuccessFactors. This should include benchmarking and comparisons like that from Mercer, which I recentlyassessed. Also stop by ADP’s booth to see its acquired Workscape applications, which rated well in our Value Index for Total Compensation Management. Also, not exhibiting at the conference is a vendor that I just assessed called Excentive that can handle the breadth and depth of compensation and incentives independent of any existing talent management suite.

Succession and Career ManagementPageUp People announced CareerPath that is a predictive talent modeling application Saba is demonstrating its latest Saba Talent Management including Talent Review, Talent Calibration and its dynamic people profile and competency management capabilities to help in utilizing talent effectively. SAP recently launched its Career OnDemand application to support its cloud computing approach to human capital management that I assessed and is becoming more competitive in the market.

Workforce Management: Processes for tracking hourly and contract workers in regard to time and attendance, absence, activities and goals are changing rapidly. I recently assessed some key players in this market: Dayforce, which just announced now is part of a larger Ceridian team for delivering a broader suite of capabilities; Kronos; and WorkForce Software. As well I will be stopping by to assess Sability at the show.

I hope you have a productive time at the 2011 HR Technology Conference. If you want to follow my real-time analysis, you can find me on Twitter(@marksmithvr), or you can collaborate with me on any of the social media channels we publish to. Ventana Research is continuing our in-depth of research in the talent management field. Recently we released a totalcompensation management benchmark, and at the moment we are analyzing our latest research on recruiting and social media and designing a new research investigation on the next generation of workforce management. Our firm continues to deepen its research foundation as it is diminishing from others; we are committed to producing analysis founded in facts and not just based on opinion. To ensure you get the right advice my firm launched a new set ofeducation and assessment services for talent management to help get the advice and knowledge without the headache of lengthy consulting engagements or having lingering consultants in your organization.

Regards,

Mark Smith – CEO & Chief Research Officer

Mark Smith – Twitter

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