8 Topics Your HR Technology Vendor Needs to Have a Clear Strategy For

My first post in this series focused on the importance of understanding the ambitions of HRM software/services vendors and the implications of those ambitions for buyers/investors/employees/the industry.

Next came a post focused on the different strategies of these same vendors, the many moving parts that must be addressed in those strategies, and the implications of the differences in strategy for buyers/investors/employees/the industry. Now for the fun part, at least for me – their software!

I’d love to do an individual post on the good, the bad, and the ugly of each relevant vendor’s software assets, but for that you’d have to pay me (as clients do) serious money. I’d have to do a ton more detailed homework and then be willing to discuss every word I wrote, seven or eight times each, with vendors who took issue with my writing.

Emerging capability topics I’m seeing

As you can well imagine, life’s too short and too full of more interesting things to do. And, you can figure out all those details by yourselves using my scripted scenario demo process discussed here (with much more here) as applied to your particular business needs or areas of specific interest.

So instead of a feature/function/architecture/object model play by play — although I may yet do some version of this – I thought I’d share the list of emerging capability topics that seems to cover much of what I’ve been hearing, seeing, and thinking as I’ve gone through dozens of vendor briefings and demos (and with many more to come) and integrated their perspectives with my own.

This is my working list of topics for which all core HRMS as well as the major (as to scope of offering as well as vendor viability) talent management vendors must have a clear strategy and plans for execution.

To be viable in my eyes, vendors must have more than a Power Point on these topics. Vendors must have real product already in current delivery and a lot more to come in 2011 on at least some of these topics as well as a clear strategy and plan for all of them to get high marks in my eyes.

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But please note that nothing here is a substitute for having true SaaS InFullBloom under the covers (if you’re trying to be a SaaS vendor) or most of the same preferred behaviors even if you’re licensed/on-premise. Good software is a pre-requisite no matter what else is going on, at least in my book.

The 8 critical capability topics

Without further ado, here’s my list:

  1. Mobile — this is not just about taking existing transactions and reformatting them for mobile devices, but rather, about rethinking HRM, especially talent management (TM), workforce management (WFM), and strategic HRM analytics/decision-making, for a mobile world.
  2. Social/Collaboration — which types of collaboration are being built into the platform and then unleashed in what order to what HRM, talent management, and workforce management processes with what intended business impacts? Here too, it’s not just about “socializing” existing transactions or processes but about rethinking HRM from a workforce collaboration perspective.
  3. Global — what platform capabilities for what target markets and in what countries backed up by what go-to-market plans and “feet on the street,” to include VARs and other types of distribution relationships? I’m particularly impressed (or not!) by how much of the heavy lifting of regulatory compliance the vendor has taken on for the covered geographies, something which many to most of the talent management vendors have avoided entirely by saying that their customers are ultimately responsible and their configuration capabilities are superb.
  4. Analytics — what types of actionable, embedded, and/or predictive analytics with what types of visualizations, e.g. network analyses is becoming quite prominent when organizations try to figure out what roles and individuals have the greatest business impact? And I should emphasize here that this is about getting real insight to decision-makers in a form they can use when they’re in the middle of making that decision rather than just having a wonderful report-writer or business intelligence solution with which they can figure out the questions and search for the answers.
  5. Embedded intelligence of all kinds — what is the vendor really doing to deliver, “out of the box,” the type of content, guidance, exogenous data, “best” practice processes and business rules, without with self service is really distributed data entry? If Amazon can tell me what I’ve been reading, what others who read what I read are also reading, and the status of every open order almost before I pose these questions, why can’t my TM software tell me which people to hire?
  6. Integrated HCM – this is the issue of core ERP/HRMS vendors building out TM like crazy while some TM vendors venture into core HRMS territory (absent payroll and benefits) and it’s on this list because I don’t believe that customers can afford to invest enough in talent management (and not just the technology) if their budgets/expertise/management attention/capacity for risk-taking/etc. is consumed with maintaining legacy core HRMS’ and trying to extend them with myriad add-ons nor can they easily replace those systems of record (SORs) unless there are excellent, lower cost, easily implemented and more comprehensive alternatives.
  7. Talent management integration — where this is about having deep process-based and event-triggered integration (so not just UI or reporting integration) across all of talent management with a clear story on what the vendor includes in TM, what they don’t include in TM, what they really have of what they include, and what their plans are via product development, partnering, agnostic integration, for what you don’t have.
  8. Integration tools – what capabilities are provided for the inevitable integration needed across disparate HRM enterprise software components, non-HRM but interconnected enterprise software components, various HRM outsourcing providers,etc., to include integration “in the cloud?”

What topics are on your list of general HRM software vendor product direction questions? I’d sure like to improve mine, so please share your thoughts.

This was originally published on Naomi Bloom’s technology blog, In Full Bloom. Reprinted with permission.

Naomi Bloom is the leading independent voice, business/platform strategy consultant and thought leader in the HR technology/HRO industry. She has acted as a change agent and HRM delivery systems strategist/coach for global corporate and Federal agency clients, an advisor on business strategy and product/service design to several generations of HRM software vendors and HR outsourcing providers, and a provider of competitive insight and due diligence for the investment community. You can read Naomi's blog In Full Bloom, and follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/infullbloomus.


3 Comments on “8 Topics Your HR Technology Vendor Needs to Have a Clear Strategy For

  1. I love this but I am always struck by the acronyms in our industry. As a Human Resources generalist, I never knew what any of this meant — and I was the user.

    As a pundit, I’m glad to have mentors, people who can whisper “HCM means human capital management” without making me feel like an ass, and a crash course in vendor acronyms.

  2. This is an excellent article. Bloom really helps frame the greater requirements that should be addressed by emerging HR software services. There’s a lot of platitudes about what should be done without specifics, but this article provides some very specific metrics that will, undoubtedly, lead to some fantastic new services.

  3. Commenting on several posts at once here. It’s not easy to see the future, and it’s not easy to tease patterns and actionable advice out of complex situations, so much respect for the good work here. But….some gaps remain. For example, what is a lifestyle company that is determined to have an open-ended lifespan? A grow/run/dominate company that gets bought anyway? An coding object model that gets wiped out by a platform developer or new web-standard or major browser change?

    All in all, these posts are good, smart and generally useful info, but you really lost me with “why can’t my TM software tell me which people to hire?” May as well ask why Match.com can’t tell you who to marry, or why E*Trade can’t only sell you stocks that go up, or for that matter, why you might only buy 1 out of 25 of Amazon’s book suggestions, or why Microsoft Outlook can’t tell you what to have for dinner.

    For complex, personal, high-value decisions, the technology is still a very, very long way from those capabilities.

    To your question about important topics when selecting/deploying HRM tools, I think an important one is this: whats involved with getting off this solution and onto another one? Dollar-wise, technology wise, relationship-wise, time-wise……You won’t know what something cost you until you shut it down for the last time…..

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