The Human-Capital Factor

The many varieties of HCM software allow companies to manage the employee life cycle.

Virtually all forms of IT have been designed to boost employee or corporate performance in some way, but the category called workforce productivity (also known as workforce optimization or human-capital management) is especially fertile. Vendors abound in all its subcategories, and while there has been a noticeable movement toward consolidation, which companies will dominate the space is still an open question.

Many vendors cut across all the categories cited below, with product suites that address the entire “employee life cycle.” Note that we did not include vendors in every category in which they play, nor are the listings at the end of each segment comprehensive. ERP vendors, for example, address most or all of these categories, and BI vendors are beginning to embrace HCM as well.

Recruitment-Management Systems

Among the more active areas of human-resource software, says Josh Bersin of Bersin & Associates, is recruiting — or talent acquisition, as it’s called in strategic HR circles. “Every vendor seems to be offering recruiting systems,” he says. Think Monster, Resumix, and Jobster. Those are just three choices in the crowded recruiting-software market.

More than just a system that stores and searches résumés for keywords, recruiting software is touted as a way to save money by streamlining the hiring process and to work more effectively by better matching candidates to available jobs. The software is typically offered via an on-demand subscription service. The reason, says Bersin, is that a lot of the functionality that goes along with hiring and recruiting, such as creating job postings, and collecting and storing résumés, can be easily delivered via the Web. Add to that the cyclical nature of hiring, and it seems logical for organizations to go with a subscription-based service. Still, many vendors do offer recruiting software as a traditionally licensed product or module within a broader suite.

Recruiting systems aim to help organizations improve the processes of recruiting and hiring by quickly prescreening, sorting, and storing résumés, and then matching those résumés to available job openings. Some systems also include modules for various administrative tasks, such as background and reference checks, and skills assessments. Some vendors, including BrassRing LLC in Waltham, Massachusetts, offer so-called “talent life-cycle management” software that encompasses a range of processes spanning recruiting, training, and internal hiring.

Other companies vying for a piece of the recruiting action include Deploy Solutions, Peopleclick, and Webhire. In June, Authoria acquired Hire.com, and in July, Jobster acquired WorkZoo, two deals that signal the continuous merging of functionality that currently characterizes the HRMS market.

Learning-Management Systems

For organizations large and small, training is an essential component of developing a workforce. Learning-management software essentially delivers training to the desktop (often via a Web browser) and allows organizations to track and monitor which employees receive training, when they are trained, and how well they understand the training material. Such systems are particularly relevant in industries that are bound by regulation and compliance issues (such as finance and health care) or that require employee certification. Learning systems are also deployed to train employees on new products, either those they are using internally or those they are selling to customers. “Suppose your company has a new finance system; you can use this type of technology to verify attendance to classes and then centrally test their comprehension,” says Frank Russell, CEO of GeoLearning Inc., a vendor of managed-learning services.

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