Workforce management is a key topic of expertise for Ventana Research. We define workforce management as the set of activities and processes organizations use to manage their hourly and salaried workforce for maximum productivity. It involves not only scheduling, tracking and paying for time worked but also aligning that work to the tasks and objectives of the organization. Workforce management is a critical component of every company’s operations, human resources and overall human capital management processes, as I recently pointed out. It helps organizations manage their workforces efficiently in such areas as scheduling, time and attendance, absence tracking and clocking work time, and ensures compliance with regulations and efficient payroll processing. Thus effective support of workers, managers, management and the operations and administration of the total workforce is at the heart of workforce management.
In our latest workforce management for human capital management benchmark research, two-thirds (69%) of participants said workforce management is very important, but, strikingly, only 7 percent said they are very confident they manage their workforce effectively. The research also shows that the biggest impediment to investment in workforce management is insufficient productivity. To remedy this and achieve related goals, organizations must efficiently manage time and attendance, yet an overwhelming four-fifths use time clocks or another time recording system. However, workforce management is more than just documenting time and attendance or time off; it involves scheduling, labor analytics, systematic use of recognition and rewards, skills and learning, and mobile access to information and collaboration systems that help engage workers. Supporting the operations of organizations that manage the nuances of hourly work schedules in industries such as communications, healthcare, hospitality, retail and utilities requires more than scheduling. It also needs optimization of work schedules that adapt the expectations and skills of workers to the requirements of the organization.
Using the right technology for workforce management is essential for optimal performance, and using it effectively should be a top priority. Using our workforce management research as a guide, we have developed a blueprint to help organizations do this. Our approach to evaluating business applications such as workforce management, embodied in our Value Index reports, examines five important evaluation criteria for products including Usability, Manageability, Reliability, Capability and Adaptability and, for vendors, Validation and Total Cost of Ownership and Return on Investment (TCO/ROI). We urge organizations to do a thorough job of evaluating workforce management systems and tools, and we offer this Value Index to help them. It offers both the results of our in-depth analyses of these vendors and an evaluation methodology. Let me provide some perspective on the recently released 2017 Value Index for Workforce Management, in which we identified the three vendors, Kronos, Ceridian and WorkForce Software, as overall Value Index Leaders. Our research finds those that are Value Index or top three leaders in each of the seven categories.
The Value Index can help organizations evaluate existing suppliers and provides criteria for assessing their own existing environments and new projects; applying it can shorten the cycle time for an RFP. Unlike many IT analyst firms that rank vendors from an IT-only perspective, Ventana Research has designed the Value Index to provide a balanced perspective of vendors and products, one that is rooted in an understanding of business drivers and needs. This more practical approach not only reduces cost and time but also minimizes the risk of making a bad business decision. The Value Index can help your organization achieve the levels of efficiency and effectiveness it needs to optimize workforce management.
This Value Index for Workforce Management analysis identified a group of vendors significantly advanced in their capabilities to support workforce management, but we caution that this alone does not constitute a comprehensive approach to the discipline. Our research on workforce management suggests that users view usability and reliability as the most important aspects of the product, more so than capability and manageability. This Value Index report evaluates the following vendors offering products that address key elements of workforce management; they are ADP, Ceridian, FinancialForce, Infor, JDA, Kronos, SAP, SAP SuccessFactors and WorkForce Software. Other vendors that are not represented and that can operate across multiple industries were not included because they declined or did not respond to our invitation to participate; it’s hard to be sure they are ready to meet your workforce management needs if they were not willing to be scrutinized by our in-depth analysis.
We found significant differences in vendors’ support for and investment in newer digital technologies, particularly analytics, big data, collaboration and mobility. With respect to the last category, many hourly personnel are mobile workers and could use their devices to check in and out and to collaborate with their managers. Even newer digital approaches to types of integration, which we examine closely in the Adaptability category, provide critical support not just in migration to a new system but also in synchronization with HRMS, payroll management and other human capital management systems. Support for digital technologies is one of the most important areas organizations should examine as they evaluate products for use now and in the future. We find the market and direction for workforce management is changing: work and resource management for dynamic tasks and activities, collaboration with and recognition of workers, and increasing competencies and learning are important intersections for every organization to consider in not just managing but also hiring and retaining a workforce that meets their objectives.
As noted above, this Ventana Research Value Index evaluates software in seven key categories. The Value Index scatter chart places the product-related and customer assurance scores on the X and Y axes, respectively, to provide a visual representation of the Value Index scores. Vendors whose products scored higher in aggregate in the five product categories are positioned farther to the right on the horizontal axis like Kronos and Ceridian; the combination of scores for the two customer assurance categories determines their placement on the vertical axis like Workforce Software and Ceridian. In short, vendors that place closer to the upper-right corner on the chart scored higher than those closer to the lower-left corner. However, we weight the scores to be 80 percent for products and 20 percent for customer assurance areas, which our research finds to be the proper balance for evaluation of workforce management. This approach is based on vendors’ overall efforts, not on which has the best execution with revenue or customers or the most polished vision with its presentation. We evaluate the core of what you need from software to lead and run workforce management processes and technology in your organization for which organizations base their RFI/RFP.
Determining the next steps and prioritization of workforce management is not easy for operations or HR leaders, but the need for improvement is evident. Our research and expertise – as opposed to mere opinions – can help in this area by providing best practices and practical, research-based perspectives on vendors and products. Please be sure to join our community and then download our Value Index Market Report to get depth and analysis to inform your existing and future efforts.
CEO and Chief Research Officer