Top HCM Systems for 2020

Written By: Eric Kimberling
Date: May 1, 2020

As we recently pointed out, HCM systems will be increasingly important because of the health pandemic of 2020. If anything, the health and economic crisis has placed unusual strains on HR departments across the world – while at the same time exposing opportunities to better manage talent.

As companies navigate a post-Covid-19 world, they will inevitably be paying even more attention to how they manage their human capital. Health and safety concerns, attrition, change management and remote work forces, and a variety of other factors have raised HR departments and HCM systems to front and center stage.

Overview of the top HCM systems

HCM systems can help navigate this new reality, but not all HR technology is created equally. With this in mind, we created an independent and objective comparison of the leading options for HR automation.

We based our comparison on a number of quantitative and qualitative factors. For example, we assessed the functionality in a number of areas such as:

  • Payroll
  • Benefits
  • Time and attendance
  • Onboarding
  • Talent management
  • The entire hire to retire process

We also considered non-functional factors such as average implementation time, cost, and risk, as well as technical maturity, market adoption, ease of use, and flexibility. Below are the highlights from our top HCM systems rankings, which you can also view in the video below:

YouTube player

5. Kronos Workforce Ready

Kronos Workforce Ready is a widely used HCM system, particularly in regulated environments such as government and compliance. This is a mature solution from a software vendor that has been around for 40 years, and that company recently merged with Ultimate Software (see our review of Ultimate’s UltiPro below).

The merger with Ultimate raises questions about the product’s vendor viability and it isn’t always a great fit for larger and more complex organizations, but it seems to be a good fit for many small- and mid-size organizations due to its relative cost and ease of use.

4. SAP SuccessFactors HXM Suite

Since SAP acquired it several years ago, SuccessFactors has become a common go-to for larger organizations – especially those embarking on SAP S/4HANA implementations. This product can be cumbersome and overly complex for some, but our larger clients find value in its ability to scale with complex hire-to-retire needs.

Some of the products strengths include workforce planning, workforce analytics, learning management, and predictive analytics. SAP’s acquisition of Qualtrics also provides additional employee engagement capabilities, while the product is supported by SAP’s broad ecosystem of partners.

3. Ultimate UltiPro

Larger companies that feel limited by the HCM modules of one of the top ERP systems may find Ultimate Software’s UltiPro solution to be a viable option. The company and product have been around for quite some time and, as mentioned above, Ultimate recently merged with Kronos.

UltiPro is particularly strong with employee engagement surveys and employee document management, which can be helpful in today’s human capital and HR landscape. Although it may not have the big-name appeal and large ecosystem of implementation partners as some of the other options in our ranking, it can still be a viable alternative.

2. Workday

As the youngest product in our ranking, Workday has burst onto the HCM and HR tech scene with a bang. In some ways, Workday is to HCM as to what Salesforce is to CRM – a native cloud solution that focus on one functional area. And also like Salesforce, Workday is building an ecosystem of third-party apps to extend the platform’s footprint into financials and other non-HCM capabilities. This makes the Workday vs. SuccessFactors comparison an interesting one.

Workday is commonly used by government, education, and healthcare organizations, along with other big companies. The biggest issue keeping Workday from the #1 spot? Its track record of implementation failures. The company has grown quickly in recent years, but its pool of qualified resources and successful rollouts has not kept up equally as well. Having said all of that, it is still a relatively good option in the market.

1. Oracle HCM Cloud

In addition to fielding one of the top ERP systems, Oracle also offers one of the strongest HCM platforms – either as a standalone HCM implementation or as part of a broader Oracle ERP Cloud implementation. The product does all the expected HCM and HR stuff, but with more flexibility, analytics, and reporting than other HCM options.

The product also benefits from the innovation and R&D of Oracle, along with the option to leverage other ERP capabilities from Oracle’s suite of cloud products. The downside of the product is that its flexibility can create implementation issues for its customers, while others clash with Oracle’s unique culture and pricing models. Even with those weaknesses, Oracle HCM still excels compared to others in the ranking.

Which HCM system is best for you?

Though this our ranking based on a variety of client needs and experiences, every organization is different. What may work best for one organization may not be a good fit for you. This is why it is important to define your needs and objectively select the best HR technology – a finding reinforced from our lessons from over 1,000 HCM implementations. (Also see our article regarding the new realities of HCM implementations).

Please contact me if you are looking for an objective opinion on which HCM system might be the best for your organization. I am happy to be a sounding board as you continue your HR technology and digital transformation journey!

Eric Kimberling
Eric is known globally as a thought leader in the ERP consulting space. He has helped hundreds of high-profile enterprises worldwide with their technology initiatives, including Nucor Steel, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, Kodak, Coors, Boeing, and Duke Energy. He has helped manage ERP implementations and reengineer global supply chains across the world.
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