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Cloud-based Workforce Management Software Threatens 'Back Office' Technology

May 15, 2012

Workforce management (WFM) software is maturing beyond time clocks to incorporate mobile access for improved labor productivity, a new study from Nucleus Research shows. The WFM technology shift is creating a class of cloud and mobility-based vendors as it threatens the outdated “back office” leaders.  All of the applications that the Nucleus study evaluated now have messaging features that allow users to respond quickly to conditions.

“The time clock is dead,” said Rebecca Wettemann, vice president of research at the Boston-based company and author of the Nucleus study wrote. “It’s now about mobile devices and kiosks and allowing managers to do sophisticated scheduling. Mobile device access is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s a checklist requirement for workforce management.”

To be included in Nucleus's Technology Value Matrix for WFM, vendors had to offer software for workforce scheduling, time, attendance and leave management. Nucleus looked at software usability factors including intuitiveness, availability of role-based interfaces and training, alongside functionality factors that include breadth and repeatability of core features, ease of integration and innovation.

WFM software vendors in the leaders quadrant invested the most in usability and functionality that is likely to deliver potential returns, according to the report. Ceridian led the group, followed in rough order by ADP, Kronos (News - Alert), Workforce Software, SumTotal and Infor Workbrain.

These days, mobile technology is benefitting from integration of Global Positioning System (GPS) and biometric technology, Wettemann noted in the report. For instance, payment cards lack convenience or free check cashing, which is innovative feature from WFM software vendors that is taking off. Making applications more dynamic, cloud computing is affecting workforce management by allowing employers and employees to access the software from anywhere.

According to the report, new “push” analytics in WFM software is allows managers to receive data alerts that warn of impending worker fatigue or labor pools that are on the verge of mandatory overtime. These analytics allow managers to act faster on data than they have ever been able to before.

Fatigue management, another feature of advanced WFM software highlighted in the report, is a risk management strategy as it helps to minimize injuries, wrote Wettemann. “If employees already worked a couple of double shifts, I don’t put them on forklift detail.”

As the poster child for these WFM changes, Ceridian is transforming itself from a traditional service bureau to a cloud human capital management (HCM) company. The company made new executive appointments, launching the self-service portal, and acquiring Dayforce.

Kronos continues its focus on automating back office functions of employers, including time and attendance, scheduling, absence management, human resources and payroll, hiring, and labor analytics. The company’s workforce acquisition software helped customers fill positions quickly, improve the quality of new hires and increase federal tax credits. Kronos also expanded its footprint by adding analytics and acquiring, a midmarket Software as a Service (SaaS (News - Alert)) WFM vendor.

The report also noted a rise in customers switching to other vendors and said the market could leave Kronos behind if it continues to focus on time-clock technology.

“Kronos has had a position of dominance in the market for some time,” Wettemann wrote. “Now customers are looking at these other options, especially if their next step for workforce management is a potentially disruptive upgrade of Kronos.”

WFM software’s support for regulatory compliance, fatigue management, activity-based costing and configurable screens helps it compete with large vendors. ADP retains its strength in business process outsourcing (BPO) but has recently added benefits administration and mobile access.

Which vendors showed the most movement in the past six months? The report shows that Ceridian has as it has made strides due to its executive changes and new features. Infor Workbrain and SumTotal moved into the leader’s quadrant because of usability enhancements and successful integration of technology.

Edited by Jamie Epstein

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