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Annie Hayes

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Opinion: The changing landscape of HR technology

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The merger of Oracle and Peoplesoft has pushed open the door for vendors hoping to challenge the leadership landscape; Softscape’s Alexander Bartfeld explores the evolving market and finds out what it means for HR professionals.


There has been a flurry of market predictions about who will lead the pack ever since the consolidation of the enterprise resource planning (ERP) software market, brought about by the recent Oracle/PeopleSoft merger.

The past 15 years has witnessed a developing market, catering to the needs of HR professionals.

PeopleSoft led this drive toward efficiency with its Human Resource Management Solutions (HRMS), from which the company took the number two spot in the enterprise applications field, just behind that of SAP.

While PeopleSoft’s HRMS solutions developed as the business and market opportunity grew, the focus of the business also shifted toward that of an ERP vendor, making other business areas a priority:

  • Financial Management

  • Customer Relationship Management

  • Supply Chain Management

To name a few.

As PeopleSoft focused on building its ERP solution set, an opening was created for developers to provide deeper, more focused, integrated solutions designed to help businesses manage their most valuable assets: their staff.

These human capital management (HCM) solutions evolved beyond process and administrative functions associated with HR modules within ERP applications to leverage workforce skills and align employee goals, expertise and values with those of the business. This provided HR professionals with the tools to take on a more strategic role within organisations.

For example, using workforce planning technology, HR professionals can provide business leaders with greater insight into the employee resources and skill sets available across their organisation at any given time. This allows managers to effectively plan and budget resources needed for projects.

During the 18-month battle between Oracle and PeopleSoft, however, many customers were confused by the promises made by both companies and have had the opportunity to re-evaluate, realising the large enterprise application vendors were not necessarily meeting their advancing needs.

HR and business professionals are undoubtedly left with a number of questions about the best route to take: what’s next in the HCM technology market? What will the impact of the market consolidation be? How do I know which solution is right?

Deciding the best approach and next steps varies from business to business. There is speculation that some PeopleSoft customers will not make the move to Oracle, while others will continue with their current solutions and upgrade when the new company provides a viable solution.

For those HR professionals looking to make a switch, or those looking to invest in a different solution, it is essential that they evaluate both the current and future needs of the business and identify a solution or overall HCM platform that can meet these needs and grow with the business.

Taking an integrated, holistic approach to HCM can help businesses maximise overall workforce performance, rather than simply focusing on one or two areas, such as learning or compensation.

To deliver on the true promise of HCM, HR professionals should keep in mind which of the following applications their HCM solutions provide and focus on how well they integrate together to help achieve the business goals of the organisation:

  • Workforce planning: helps businesses effectively plan, schedule, budget, manage, and allocate employee resources to specific initiatives; allows project teams to identify and source the resources with accurate skill sets in real-time.

  • HR management: known also as core HRMS, this automates the day-to-day HR operations including scheduling performance reviews, tracking holiday time and managing queries. This frees up HR professionals to provide a more strategic role within the business.

  • Talent acquisition: identifying current and projected skills gaps within the organisation, helps identify appropriate candidates to fill vacancies from both within and outside the organisation.

  • Workforce analysis: essentially, the data goldmine – workforce analytics derive statistics from employee performance to paint an accurate picture of workforce productivity and skills throughout the organisation.

  • Enterprise compensation management: enables organisations to effectively plan, model, budget, and analyse compensation policies; also aligns employee goals with appropriate reward/compensation schemes.

  • Learning & development: manages all aspects of employee training and education; tailors employee learning programmes to align with personal and business development goals.

  • Workforce performance: aligns employee goals with business objectives and automates the entire employee review process.

  • Workforce collaboration:also known as employee self-service, workforce collaboration places the necessary tools for day-to-day interactions in the hands of all employees; it should provide managers and employees direct access to all their relevant data.

Finding a solution that includes these key functionalities does not necessarily require a cumbersome ERP implementation. In fact, vendors specialising in truly integrated HCM solutions tend to have a flexible approach better geared toward managing people than their ERP counterparts. With an increasing need for international reach and global implementations, these HCM-focused vendors may, in fact be the ones to capture the market share once dominated by the ERP players.

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Annie Hayes

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