Current Trends in Human Capital Management (HCM) Applications

We have been working on a number of HCM evaluations and selections recently, and have noticed a few trends that we’d like to share.

Integrated Modules:

Having well integrated modules is a strong asset for any HCM application. Vendors like to state that their modules are integrated; however there are different levels of integration. A fully integrated application has modules that were designed together on the same code base, were written by the same company, share the same database backend, and use the same security infrastructure.

Knowing the history of those integrated modules is also important, as there has been significant vendor consolidation in the HCM world recently. A few questions to ask vendors might be:

• Were they originally developed by the vendor, or acquired through a purchase?
• Do they have the same look and feel as the other modules?
• Can I get support through the vendor (a “one stop shop”), or do I need to contact a 3rd party for help?
• Is the development and coding outsourced?
• How quickly is the vendor coming out with new functionality? Even if the modules were developed by the same vendor, sometimes compressed software development cycles can lead to problems.

Be honest about what modules are the most important for your organization, i.e. perhaps you really need HR and Payroll modules integrated, but Learning Management modules are not as important.

Cloud vs. On-Premises:

Traditionally, software was installed on company servers and managed on premises by local IT resources. Today, many enterprise applications are now available via the “cloud”. Understanding the differences between the two primary cloud delivery methodologies, Hosted and Multi-Tenant SaaS (Software as a Service), is critical. Hosting generally means that a vendor (either the software vendor or a third party provider) will install and run the application and infrastructure for you at their location, exactly as you would have done it previously on-premises. There is a one to one relationship between you, the customer, and your installation of the application. With multi-tenant SaaS, the vendor already has all of the infrastructure and even the software up and running. Only security segregates you and other customers within the application itself. There is a many to one relationship between you the customer, and the installation of the application, i.e. there are many customers on one installation. Here are some other factors to consider when evaluating cloud delivery methods:

• How long has the vendor been offering a cloud based delivery?
• In the case of multi-tenant SaaS, was the application originally designed as an on-premises solution, or has it been cloud based from inception?
• If the application is to be delivered via the cloud, where is the data center? HCM applications have sensitive, personal data, which may be protected by company policy as well as by statute (this is especially true in Canada or Europe).
• Pay particular attention to the vendor disaster recovery plans and ensure they are documented.
• What is the data repatriation policy, i.e. if we choose to end this relationship, how and in what format can a retrieve my data from the vendor?

User Interface Trends:

We’re seeing that mobile friendly interfaces are a big hot button selling HCM today. Some HCM vendors go as far as designing all of their functionality to work first on a handheld or tablet, and then “port” it to a desktop. While it is great that there is so much mobile capability available, remember that currently, most work is still done on a desktop PC or laptop. In some cases, optimizing an HCM application for mobile devices can lead to a busier and more click-intensive desktop that is less convenient for PC users. For many, approvals and PTO requests are primary uses for HCM mobile apps, so having limited functionality in mobile may not be a big liability.

Leave a Comment