Escaping the Landmines: Maneuvering Around the Vendor Landscape

December 13, 2013

Landmine Search

Every time I go to a Human Capital Management (HCM) technology vendor exposition, whether it is at IHRIM, HRTech, or one of the many HR Associations, I am always amazed at the number of vendors, especially new vendors.  It has become an overwhelming job just knowing the changes and upgrade offerings of the major players in HCM, but dozens of new niche vendors offer new systems solutions each year.  How do you know what the right fit is?  Which will be reliable?  Who will treat your organization as special?  These are tough questions to answer in the fast changing world of HCM technology.

Before you begin to evaluate vendors, you must first have a battle plan.  Without this plan you will have a harder time in stepping around the landmines of the technology world.  To create a plan, first you need to understand your needs and create a strategy.  If you have already done an HCM Strategic Plan, take it off the shelf and review it.  Does it need changing?  If so, you will need to update the plan by conducting some type of requirements discovery.  These can be high level with key system stakeholders.  Once you have your updated requirements you can see where the old strategic plan needs to be updated.

Once you have a strategy, you need to know more specifics on where you want to go.  This is best discovered by talking with team members who are directly involved with the HR administration.  Oftentimes, we talk only to our management team members, but understanding how things are actually done by those on the front lines is also critical.  You should also conduct focus groups or individual discussions with key stakeholders.  Remember, many of your stakeholders are outside of HR.  Don’t forget to include them.

Now that you have all the discovery done, you can create a listing of your specific requirements.  Don’t forget to rank or prioritize each requirement.  I usually recommend a 1 to 3 scale: 1 – Nice to Have or Low; 2 – Need to Have or Medium; and 3 – Must Have or High.  Giving each requirement a priority will allow you to understand which elements of your current or new technology is critical to your success, regardless of what others may tell you to include.

Once you have all these steps completed, you are ready for battle with the vendors.  Look for a vendor who you feel will be a good partner and ally.  There are many vendors out there, many you may not even know.  How do you find the right one?  You may need outside help for this.  Consulting firms keep up on most all of the vendors.  There may be a few not on their radar, but a good consultant can help you through the myriad of vendors.  If you want to use the internet, I would suggest you go to an HR site such as IHRIM, SHRM or any professional HR association.  They are usually a good starting point.  Another way to isolate potential vendors is to network with like organizations to see what they are using and if it performs the way they had anticipated.

When looking at vendors, you must also consider their viability.  There are many new vendors coming into the HR space every year, but some are not able to get the necessary funding to remain active.  Others are purchased by other vendors and their product can either be integrated into the new vendor’s product or be eliminated altogether.  You need to do your due diligence.  Again, this is an area where a good consultant can help you.  They have the tools to help you understand your vendor of choice’s viability and financial strength.

With good discovery, prioritized requirements, and strong outside assistance, you can successfully get through the minefield and link up with the correct vendor to provide you with years of HCM technology.

John Hinojos

 John Hinojos
Vice President, Consulting Services

2011 HCM Industry Predictions from the Experts at HRchitect

December 30, 2010


HRchitect, the industry’s leader in HCM technology consulting firm, recently released its annual predictions during its “365 in 65” special edition of the HR technology WebMingle. While we certainly don’t have a crystal ball, we have been doing this long enough and feel we have the pulse on the HCM community to know what is really happening. With that, it brings an obligation to share our knowledge and thoughts with the community at large and we’d welcome the opportunity to speak with any of you, at any time, as to how we can help you with your HR technology related projects around HCM strategic planning, evaluation and selection, implementation, and post-implementation assistance.

Listen to the archive as members of HRchitect, including Rick Fletcher, President & Founder; Ron Hanscome, Senior HCM Consultant; John Hinojos, VP of Consulting Services; and Matt Lafata, VP of Sales, Marketing & Strategic Alliances as well as one of the industry’s leading Talent Management Systems Analysts, give their thoughts on a number of items facing us today. These include: 

  • Recap of merger, acquisition and funding activity that took place throughout 2011
  • Impact of social collaboration tools
  • ERP vs. Best of Breed
  • Changing Economy and Workforce
  • 2011 Predictions – which you can see below…


  • Market Consolidation Continues – The overall human capital management software market will continue to consolidate – driven by multiple vendor types (e.g., core HCM platform providers, ITM vendors, “aggregator” HCM firms, niche vendors) either seeking to expand their ITM coverage, or ceasing operations.    


  • Investment in Marketing and Product Development – Marketing and product development efforts around ITM suites will continue full force, as vendors seek to differentiate their functionality and approach to ITM.


  • Integrated Performance Management, Succession Planning and Learning – The linkage between Performance, Learning, and Succession is increasing in importance for ITM – the emergence of this process ‘cluster’ has some implications for the ITM market, as those vendors that began with learning capabilities and have expanded into performance and succession may have a longer-term advantage due to the depth of integrated functionality.


  • Integrated Performance Management and Compensation to Support Pay for Performance Programs – Executives at many leading organizations are implementing a variety of incentive programs to create a pay-for-performance culture that more effectively aligns the goals of managers and their employees with the goals of the company.  To effectively administer these new pay-for-performance programs, organizations are implementing a process ‘cluster’ that includes integrated performance and compensation applications.  ITM vendors that began with compensation capabilities and have expanded into performance currently provide a greater depth of functionality in this cluster. 


  • Convergence of the ITM Suite and HRMS- Over the next five years, HRchitect expects to see the ITM suite and core HRMS begin to converge into a single integrated Human Capital Management system.  The major ERP vendors such as Oracle, SAP and Lawson will continue to add more talent management features to their suite of products.  Workday has built and is continually improving on its new generation suite that includes both ITM and HRMS capabilities. ITM vendors are beginning to add more HRMS features to their integrated suites as well so that can be the core system of record for all employee related data.


  • Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) Continues to Gain Popularity – The SaaS delivery model for ITM applications is gaining popularity with organizations of all sizes. Mid market organizations with limited IT support for on-premise applications are moving to SaaS.  Large enterprises that have gained experience with SaaS through Recruiting applications are implementing the SaaS model for other ITM applications such as Performance Management as well.  HRchitect expects this trend to continue.   


  • Customers Will Not Upgrade Existing ERP Legacy Systems Without Investigating SaaS alternatives – Many organizations today use ERP systems that are outdated and changes needed to be made. In the past, the course was to simply upgrade. In 2011 and beyond, all alternatives will be explored first.


  • Niche and ITM suite Vendors Continue to Maintain a Feature/Function Lead –  ERPs (e.g., Oracle, SAP, Lawson) and core HRMS platforms (e.g., Ultimate Software, NuView, Spectrum-Epicor) will continue to invest in ITM, but have not closed the gap with the ITM niche providers or ITM suite vendors.


  • Commoditization of Core Features – As new market categories develop, software vendors differentiate their products by rapidly delivering a continuous stream of innovative new features.  A core set of features begins to emerge that industry analysts include in their research reports and after several release cycles, all of the vendors deliver this ‘commoditized’ feature set.  Mature ITM market categories such as Recruiting already have a commoditized feature set and if you haven’t noticed, the features in Performance Management products are beginning to look very similar in the major vendor’s products.  HRchitect expects the commoditization of core features in the products that make up the ITM suite to continue.  ITM software vendors will focus on the user experience, integrated content, interoperability, value-added services and customer support to differentiate their offerings. 


  • Integrated Content Differentiates Products – As the core features begin to commoditize, innovative ITM vendors are delivering pre-packaged content integrated into a personalized user experience to differentiate their offerings.  Examples include competency libraries, assessment tests, interview questions, goals, writing assistance, market compensation data, and learning content.   HRchitect expects this trend to continue as vendors create new content for vertical markets and forge strategic alliances with third party content providers. 


  • Competencies and Pre-Packaged Content – Competency-based talent management through the use of competency data as the ‘glue’ to link ITM processes will continue to grow.  Companies are using leadership competencies in the succession planning process to develop a leadership pipeline.  Some companies are also beginning to use functional competencies to support career and development planning for the broader employee population.  HRchitect is seeing an increased interest in off-the-shelf competency content. 


  • Mobile Will Play Bigger Role in HR technology in 2011- Many vendors started developing their products for Smartphones in 2010 and some released first-generation applications. We expect this trend to continue in earnest as predictions show Smartphones outselling laptop computers by 2013.


  • Web 2.0 Collaboration and Social Software Tools in the Workplace – Organizations are beginning to use Web 2.0 technologies including blogs, wikis, internal social networks and other online collaboration tools throughout the talent management lifecycle.  Social software tools are being used to recruit talent, facilitate knowledge transfer and to connect employees with experts and colleagues within the organization.  Social networking strategies used include company forums, communities of practice, enterprise social networking, and employee profile pages.  Users are generating their own content to include in their employee profiles to create searchable ‘expertise directories’.  Organizations are also using social networking to access latent talent pools, such as retirees and corporate alumni.  ITM vendors are designing Web 2.0 features into their applications and HRchitect expects this trend to accelerate during the next several years. 


  • Linkedin grow as a recruiting tool – More and more organizations and recruiters are using LinkedIn as the primary way to gather information on potential future employees


  • User Experience Differentiates Products and is Critical to Adoption – User adoption is critical to achieving the projected return on investment when implementing ITM applications.  The user experience will increasingly become a key differentiator as all of the ITM vendors deliver the core feature set in each market category over time.  The user interface for self-service applications must be intuitive and enable employees and managers to use the application without training.  One trend that HRchitect is seeing emerge is the presentation of information from the ITM system in the applications where employees live most.  Not all organizations are willing to allow employees to use consumer applications in the workplace, however, members of “Generation Y” entering the workforce will be asking for this flexibility. 


  • Increased Focus on Customer Service and Support as Key to Customer Satisfaction - Despite the marketing emphasis on feature/function, vendor service and support are key to long-term customer satisfaction – HRchitect believes that the vendor community would do well to up the ante in their customer-support functions and take the view that a satisfied customer base will ultimately increase profitability and viability over the long term.


  • Price Points Will Rise After the “dust settles” (vendor consolidation shortening list of stable and robust TAS and TMS suites…and ROI being further proven) – The economy is coming back and there are less choices available as we enter 2011. Price points on the license fees and implementation costs will start to rise.


  • ITM vendors with holistic solutions that drive business results will gain share versus technology-focused providers – The HCM market has suffered from decades of frustration with HCM technologies that did not deliver business value or return on investment. Prospective customers (particularly large, global, complex firms) are increasingly looking for providers that can deliver a combination of deep domain/process knowledge, measurement/analytic rigor, and enabling technologies to drive process change, actionable metrics, and business value to the enterprise. ITM vendors that can execute a solutions-driven approach  should see increased win rates and improved referenceability in the ITM marketplace.

January 21 HRchitect WebMingle Featured HRchitect’s State of the Industry; Next Up is Bond Talent

January 21, 2010


Our weekly WebMingle is designed to give you some insight into the puzzling world of HR technology, discuss news from around the world that we find interesting, talk about upcoming events in our industry, and provide insightful interviews with people of our industry – who they are, what they do and why you should care. The WebMingle has become the most popular live weekly Internet show in the HR technology industry! It has truly redefined how people get information about vendors, trends and really anything related to HR technology.

So what is a WebMingle? It is a meeting over the web where we do some business, socialize and yes, we mingle over the web. Thus, a WebMingle.

The 60-minute WebMingle on January 21st, our milestone 50th show in our WebMingle series, featured executives from HRchitect. With me were Rick Fletcher, President & Founder, John Hinojos, VP of Consulting Services, and Jacqueline Kuhn, one of our senior HCM consultants. We took a look back at some of the changes and interesting happenings in the world of HR and HR technology over the past year with some fantastic discussions around the following: 

  • The new economy, effects on HR in the areas of employee discipline, compliance, hiring practices, the changing workforce, and more
  • Mergers, acquisitions, and vendors raising money
  • The impact of Talent Management vendors adding HRMS functionality
  • SaaS – adoption, challenges, etc.
  • …and much more

About HRchitect

HRchitect is the leader in HR systems strategic consulting. As the premier Human Capital Management (HCM) and Talent Management systems consulting firm, our services include the selection, implementation, and integration of Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS), Talent Management Suites (TMS), Performance Management, Succession Management, Compensation Management, Learning Management, Competency Management, Talent Acquisition Systems, Workforce Planning Systems, and Time & Attendance software.

This special edition of the WebMingle was a prelude to the monthly “30 in 30” which will begin on February 25, 2010 and take place the last Thursday of each month. Topics that will be covered range from mergers & acquisitions activity, new vendors, new technologies, talent management, talent acquisition, industry events, and so much more. “30 in 30” will be a live, monthly discussion conducted by HRchitect experts who will tackle the previous 30 days, look ahead to the next 30 days, and give listeners an HR technology industry recap in 30 minutes.

If you missed this past week’s WebMingle, or any of our past WebMingles, please visit our web site or You will see a complete list of upcoming guests and will be able to listen to past shows.

Our next WebMingle will take place on January 28th with Tim Giehll, CEO of Bond Talent. We look forward to welcoming Tim to the HRchitect WebMingle next Thursday.

We hope to have you join us!

Matt Lafata, HRchitect

theHRshow 2009 Has a Great First Day of Vendor Panel Discussions

June 11, 2009


After many months of anticipation, theHRshow 2009 virtual event finally arrived today with five different vendor panel discussions.

The day got started with the Onboarding Systems vendor panel. Dan Katavola, EVP of Consulting Services with HRchitect was the moderator and the vendors included Emerald Software Group, KMS Software, SilkRoad Technology, and Verifications, Inc.

Then I moderated the Talent Management Systems vendor panel that included Authoria, HRsmart, Kenexa, Taleo, and Workscape.

John Hinojos, the HRchitect VP of Consulting Services then moderated the HR Systems Vendor Panel which included NuView, Patersons, and Spectrum HR. Two last minute cancellations made this the smallest panel of the day.

I was then up again as the moderator of the Learning Management Systems Vendor Panel which included Cornerstone OnDemand, GeoLearning, Plateau Systems, Saba and SumTotal Systems.

The final panel of the day was moderated by Rick Fletcher, President and Founder of HRchitect and was all about Recruiting Systems Vendors. This panel included HRsmart, iCIMS, Kenexa, nowHIRE, Peopleclick, and Taleo.

Day 2 will continue on Thursday with 10 great sessions throughout the day from leading experts in the HR industry.

Multiple tracks of sessions will take place on June 11 and June 12 around:

  • Talent Acquisition including Onboarding, Assessments, Background checking, and more
  • Talent Management including Compensation, Performance Management, Workforce Planning, and more
  • Emerging Trends and Technologies including Social Networking, Web 2.0, HCM portals, and more
  • HCM Strategy
  • Managing HR Systems
  • Professional Development

The show is completely free, thanks to the generosity of HRchitect and our sponsors. All you need to attend is access to a computer with an Internet connection!

HR professionals can visit and select “Agenda” on the right of the screen to see a complete list of sessions. Simply register online for as many sessions as you’d like.



Matt Lafata, HRchitect


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