December 23, 2003

Top HR Products of 2003

The editors of Human Resource Executive once again recognize 10 HR products that stand out from the pack

Top HR Products of 2003

In this issue, the editors of Human Resource Executive once again recognize 10 HR products that stand out from the pack. Not surprisingly, technology continues to dominate this year's list of winners. Indeed, only a handful of entries received don't sit on a server somewhere. Further, the selections address a wide array of HR issues--from pre-employment screening and workforce management to compensation planning and performance management. In most cases, the products are entirely new; in a few cases, they represent a major overhaul of an existing application. In each and every case, however, we believe they deliver real value to the marketplace. As always, if you decide to evaluate these products, we strongly recommend you conduct the necessary due diligence before making your selection.

PRODUCT: Hiring Gateway

SUPPLIER: Yahoo! Resumix, Sunnyvale, Calif.

DESCRIPTION: A Web-based recruiting and hiring process that takes companies from job requisition through the onboarding of new hires. The software creates a self-service environment that allows hiring managers to create requisitions, permits candidates to automatically upload and edit their resume information and allows recruiters to use its "Patented KnowledgeBase" to create qualifications that are weighted to each individual job as well as apply screening questions and keyword searches, among other filters. The system offers analytics that can be used for benchmarking and analysis. It also provides a recruiting overview, individual job tracking as well as approval routing abilities tied to e-mail to keep the process on track. It is designed to interface with HRMS systems. A typical installation will cost about $100,000.

COMMENTS: For more than two years, Yahoo! Resumix researchers analyzed the step-by-step behavior of a multitude of recruiters in a laboratory as they created job requisitions, searched for candidates and made job offers. That hard work has paid off in Hiring Gateway, an applicant tracking system so intuitively designed that an operating manual is unnecessary. The system is also designed around the knowledge (based on research) that if it takes more than three screens to complete a process, there is a 75 percent abandonment rate. That's why Hiring Gateway is completed in three easy steps--a fact that will pay off in increased usage of the system by hiring managers who, in the past, may have been offered other self-service systems but were turned off by the difficulty in doing so. In addition, the system offers sorely needed analytics, including hard data on where the best candidates are coming from and the performance levels of individuals and departments.

PRODUCT: Talent Hunter

SUPPLIER: PeopleCapital Inc., Pleasanton, Calif.

DESCRIPTION: Talent Hunter from PeopleCapital is a "proactive" recruiting product for the enterprise market. It integrates its resume database with contact management, organizational charting/management and requisition management. Using those Web-based tools, recruiting professionals can build pipelines of prequalified talent. Modeled after successful customer relationship management systems, Talent Hunter's integrated functions ensure a single-talent database to serve as a central information source for recruiting, sourcing, competitive research and alumni relations. Talent Hunter can be hosted behind a company firewall or at PeopleCapital's data center. The licensing fee for Talent Hunter ranges from $50,000 to $150,000, depending primarily on the size of the organizations. That fee does not include services beyond licensing.

COMMENTS: HR executives on the prowl to snag more talented people for their company ranks should take a serious look at Talent Hunter. Starting with its friendly graphical user interface, Talent Hunter is the type of application that makes more sense the more you see it in action. Using what the company calls a "conceptual search" capability, Talent Hunter allows an original resume (and all related documents) to be automatically processed, indexed, accessed and presented to the end user (presumably the recruiter or staffing team) with the truly useful information about the job candidates culled out. It's mainly e-mail driven (through something PeopleCapital calls its E-Mail Transaction technology), so there are no log-ins or cumbersome learning curves to overcome. Working with partners such as Engenium, Resume Mirror and BioSpace, PeopleCapital has put together an impressive weapon in the war for talent. Best of all, using it requires little training and really bridges the gap in previous applicant sourcing, tracking and talent-search technology tools. Even for the cursory user, you get a real sense of how well PeopleCapital "gets" the challenges recruiters and staffing professionals face in the trenches.

PRODUCT: Performance Impact Workplace

SUPPLIER: CCHKnowledgePoint, Petaluma, Calif.

DESCRIPTION: Aimed at small- and medium-sized enterprises, Performance Impact Workplace is a Windows-based program that guides managers through the review process. The program allows them to create and track the progress of goals and produce employee reviews. In addition, it automatically generates supporting text as the manager and employee rate competencies, and features a library of coaching ideas to assist in creating a development plan. The software contains 55 behavioral-based competencies, along with optional industry-specific competency modules. Site-license pricing starts at $2,790; cost for a non-network version is $299.

COMMENTS: There's much to like about CCHKnowledgePoint's latest performance-management offering, Performance Impact Workplace. Building on early products such as Performance Now and Performance Impact Enterprise (a Web-based solution), the supplier has done a fine job of addressing the needs of small- and medium-sized organizations. Like previous CCHKnowledgePont products, PIW is extremely intuitive and rich in features. It addresses just about every aspect of the process, including setting goals, pushing goals out to multiple employees, tracking their progress and copying them into actual performance reviews. Users can also take advantage of helpful tools such as an Intelli-text Designer, which moves managers past the dreaded "blank page" syndrome; a language checker, which audits inappropriate or illegal word use; and automatic alerts.

PRODUCT: Health Benefits Performance Suite

SUPPLIER: VitalSpring Technologies Inc., McLean, Va.

DESCRIPTION: This Web-based suite of applications has a single goal: to help large employers better manage and control the cost and quality of employee health benefits. With single-click ease, the suite provides real-time access to the drivers, patterns and trends related to the costs and financing of health-care benefits. In essence, it treats health-benefit decisions no differently than other critical business decisions. The product offers four key financial performance modules, including financial performance management, supply-chain analytics, supplier-performance management and beneficiary relationship management. It's HIPAA-compliant and also delivers modeling capabilities to help predict future health-benefit costs and their impact on the bottom line. The product is priced as a one-time annual fee ranging from $75,000 to $150,000, plus a monthly subscription fee based on the number of users. VitalSpring says it's compatible with existing ERP/HR systems, and since it's Web-based, can be implemented within 90 days.

COMMENTS: Taking a test drive with VitalSpring's Health Benefits Performance Suite is an impressive trip. The product is a timely tool if there ever was one. Each of the many tools in the arsenal provides one-click access with the added ability to "drill down" deep into the data. The four modules are all delivered through an easy-to-use application. Example: An HR executive can look at the employee pool with diabetes and identify a specific group that is likely to drive high costs a year into the future. On the supplier side, HR executives (and other HR end-users) can measure and manage both providers and benefit plans across a wide range of metrics. Again, this suite is really for large employers (McDonald's, Raytheon, MBNA and the University of Miami are all customers). Any human resource or benefits executive for a large organization who wants to get a better understanding of, and better control over, health-care costs should take a closer look at this product.

PRODUCT: Total Workforce Acquisition Solution

SUPPLIER: Unicru Inc., Beaverton, Ore.

DESCRIPTION: Primarily a creator of workforce selection and optimization applications for hiring hourly employees, Unicru now introduces a "talent management platform" that leverages advanced Web services technology. Unicru's Salaried Solution, which can be purchased separately or integrated with its hourly solution, uses a proprietary tool called SmartMatch that combines artificial intelligence with human intelligence to fit the job applicant to the company culture. The product features configurable workflows for managing all stages of the candidate relationship as well as streamlined requisition and offer-approval processes. It also integrates an advanced "selection science" into the recruiting process, including Unicru SmartMatch (a knowledge-based search-and-match engine) and Smart Assessments. Unicru's Salaried Solution costs between $2.50 to $3.50 per employee per month.

COMMENTS: The fact that Unicru has processed 18 million applicants for a number of employers (including six of the 40 largest ones) isn't enough to earn it an award on the salaried side of the fence. But seeing how it has taken that track record and applied it to the search for the best salaried candidates is impressive. Working with some of the leading staffing organizations for three years, Unicru finally decided the time was right to enter the salaried arena, and employers who take a look will see why. During a demonstration, the most striking aspect of Unicru's Salaried Solution is how easy HR executives, business unit executives, hiring managers and recruiters can get their hands on the kind of objective insight necessary for the right candidate match. It's a neat combination of selection science, hiring-manager decision support and workforce intelligence. And using the most familiar tech tools today, Web and e-mail (including Microsoft Outlook integration), there is practically no aspect of the hiring process that this company leaves to chance. Unicru clearly has succeeded in taking its history of helping employers find and hire the best hourly workers to another level. As a result, it offers one of the slickest, most effective salaried talent acquisition packages in an already crowded market segment.

PRODUCT: JobFlash Automated Voice Recruiting

SUPPLIER: JobFlash, Redwood City, Calif.

DESCRIPTION: Employers with large workforces and continual turnover--such as retail and hotel operations--are the target markets for this system, which allows hiring managers to post their job openings to job boards that can be accessed either by phone or the Web. Job seekers access the board through a toll-free number and create a personal account, then create and submit a resume. Hiring managers can also pose a series of basic "interview" questions, which the job seeker answers in a series of recorded messages. If a hiring manager likes what he or she sees and hears, a mouse click can select candidates to be called for interviews--automatically, by the JobFlash system. Job seekers call back to hear the status of their submissions, schedule interviews, update their resumes and hear any new job openings. Job seekers also receive phone calls with interview requests and new job alerts. There is a monthly subscription fee for the service, and pricing is determined by the volume of usage.

COMMENTS: The cost of turnover is a huge problem for some businesses, and Web solutions are not the answer for employers whose pool of potential employees may not own computers. Job Flash addresses the problem head-on, with a refreshingly low-tech solution that uses that old stand-by, the telephone. The user interface is easy-to-understand and has the added advantage of creating a standardized, consistent hiring process. The creators of the system seem to have thought of every contingency and the product should successfully simplify and clarify the hiring process, both for hiring managers and job seekers.

PRODUCT: Compensation Planner

SUPPLIER: Workscape, Framingham, Mass.

DESCRIPTION: Released in April, Workscape's Compensation Planner is a manager-oriented tool supporting the entire compensation planning process. Features of the solution include a plan administration module that enables comp managers to define and set budget parameters and alerts; the ability to support international currencies; decision-support calculators; and reporting and analytical tools. The software is able to accommodate an unlimited number of compensation plans, multiple compensation types within a plan and multiple forms of variable compensation. It can be licensed or hosted by Workscape's ASP. Pricing for the solution starts at $350,000 and varies depending on the size of the organization and the complexity of the implementation.

COMMENTS: Compensation Planner isn't the first compensation planning tool to hit the market; nor is it likely to be the last. But companies in search of a way to streamline this complex and frequently cumbersome process will want to be sure to include the software on its short list. The software features plenty of functionality, including the ability to handle an unlimited number of comp plans, multiple forms of variable comp and international comp practices. In particular, managers with broad responsibilities should appreciate its "apply guidelines" feature, which permits them to automatically distribute, with the push of a button, budget dollars based on an organization's prescribed pay guidelines. Nor will they be disappointed by the software's intuitive interface and the usefulness of features like calculators that help make the decision-making process as painless as possible.

PRODUCT: TruePerformance

SUPPLIER: Callidus Software, San Jose, Calif.

DESCRIPTION: Released in February, TruePerformance assists enterprises in planning and managing the compensation plan for every department of the organization. Among other things, the Web-based application enables companies to accurately model and forecast the impact of changes to the comp plan and budgets. Features of the application include MBO management, salary administration, modeling and reporting. The software allows companies to link global pay plans to corporate strategies, align pay to performance, forecast awards and payouts, define budgets and control costs. The program, which was developed in conjunction with Cezanne Software, also features tools for analyzing and measuring plan performance. Cost for a typical system is around $100,000.

COMMENTS: Callidus' decision last February to extend its reach beyond sales and into the broader organization wasn't unexpected. With 90 percent of enterprise companies using some form of incentive-based pay and experiencing a 5 percent to 10 percent error rate in pay, the move was clearly a no-brainer for the enterprise incentive management provider. But it was certainly a pleasant surprise to see the company release a tool as well-designed and as useful as this. With TruePerformance, Callidus has addressed the major pain points, incorporating features and capabilities that permit users to successfully align the comp plan to the business strategy. In particular, we were impressed by the software's intuitiveness, as well as its robust modeling and drill-down capabilities.

PRODUCT: RolloverMarket

SUPPLIER: RolloverSystems Inc., Charlotte, N.C.

DESCRIPTION: RolloverSystems provides a Web-enabled financial network that allows departing employees to automate the placement of their 401(k) assets into individual retirement accounts. Entering through a variety of e-HR resources such as Exult, HR Xcel or a direct-to-employer Web site at, employees exiting their retirement plans fill out a single online form to shop for IRA provider choices and affect the fund transfer. The system provides choices from several leading financial service providers, including Chase, Merrill Lynch, Harris Direct and TD Waterhouse. The service complies with the Economic Growth & Tax Relief Reconciliation Act (EGTRRA). Employer-sponsored membership costs range from a one-time initiation fee of $1,000 to $7,000, based on the size of the workforce. There is no cost to employee users. The service is also available through the online recruitment service

COMMENTS: Many of the new online employee benefits products are designed specifically to handle administrative functions or benefits enrollment for continuing employees; few provide services for exiting employees. However, in an era in which layoffs, furloughs and other reductions in force are still common, this product meets a clear need for both parties involved. The Web site is simple and intuitive, produces IRA options in less than 10 minutes and completes the transfer in 25 minutes or less. The service could use a few more financial service partners to provide choices, but even in its present form, it is a quick answer to the question, "What can I do with my retirement money?"

PRODUCT: e.Skills

SUPPLIER: Employment Technologies Corp., Winter Park, Fla.

DESCRIPTION: This interactive simulated pre-employment test in English or English and Spanish measures e-mail composition, data-entry skills and keyboarding speed and accuracy to help recruiters assess the abilities of job candidates for call centers and other customer-service organizations. Individual and summary reports offer HR a graphic look at how the candidates did in the three sections of the simulation as well as demonstrate the likelihood of success when performing such skills on the job. The initial licensing fee is $2,000 plus a per-test fee ranging from $5 to $10.

COMMENTS: Instead of the run-of-the-mill typing and customer-service tests, e.Skills is a unique simulation program that provides a more accurate reflection of on-the-job responsibilities. Eschewing the passive pick-the-best-answer tests, Employment Technologies created a test that forces job candidates to actively respond to simulated customer requests. The easy-to-use and easy-to-understand test requires that candidates demonstrate their ability to search for requested information, enter data and respond appropriately in an e-mail they write themselves. Many employers will also respond positively to the bilingual version of the e.Skills test. Most of the test is computer scored, but it takes about five minutes for managers to score the e-mail responses, based on a provided checklist and model response.

Feature Story - Top HR Products of 2003 BY ANNE FREEDMAN

Posted by Craig at December 23, 2003 02:26 PM