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SAP resets workforce vendors in Kronos Workforce Dimensions deal

SAP inks reseller agreement with Kronos, and now offers two third-party workforce management platforms. Analysts say that could be both good and bad for customers.

SAP is now reselling Kronos Workforce Dimensions, which may simplify contracting and ordering for users of the workforce management software.

With this reseller agreement, announced Tuesday, SAP will sell the Kronos platform as SAP Time Management by Kronos and make it available as part of its SAP SuccessFactors human capital management suite. This is something Kronos has wanted for years.

But the move also adjusts the workforce management software pecking order for SAP customers. In 2015, WorkForce Software LLC reached a similar reseller agreement. Tuesday's news about newly formed relationship with Kronos changes WorkForce Software's relationship with SAP.

"WorkForce Software is still a valued partner, but, as of today, SAP Time Management by Kronos is the solution extension we will be positioning to our customers who have advanced time and attendance requirements," said Paul Meredith, director of solution management at SAP SuccessFactors, in a written response to questions from TechTarget.

"We will continue to support customers using WorkForce Software as stipulated in their contracts, and customers can still purchase WorkForce Software through SAP," Meredith said.

SAP's guidance to customers

SAP customers will still have choices of workforce management platforms, which typically include time and attendance, scheduling and forecasting features. But Meredith said "our guidance to customers will be to go with SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central Time and Attendance. If they need additional capabilities for more complex needs, as part of our new agreement, we will be recommending SAP Time Management by Kronos. Customers always have a choice or choices."

We will continue to support customers using WorkForce Software as stipulated in their contracts, and customers can still purchase WorkForce Software though SAP.
Paul Meredithdirector of solution management, SAP SuccessFactors

The Kronos and SAP reseller agreement assures customers that the platforms work well together, and that SAP has validated the integration, said Holger Mueller, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research. "With that, risk is reduced," he said.

Aside from giving SAP and Kronos customers confidence, Mueller said the reseller agreement could lead to bigger pricing discounts. "It will now be interesting to see which of the two workforce management products will be more popular with SAP customers going forward," he said.

For SAP, the agreement is about satisfying those customers that are already using Kronos for things like payroll, said Trevor White, an analyst at Nucleus Research. "That's really why they put this partnership in." For Kronos, it's a way to expand their sales, he said.

A 'jumbled approach,' analyst says

But White expressed skepticism of the reseller agreement, saying the move may create unnecessary messiness for customers. "I think for customers, it's just going to make a jumbled approach," White said, of the choices now before SAP users. "By really focusing on Kronos as opposed to looking at a broader approach, it's moving things toward one specific vendor that we don't think has the usability" of WorkForce Software, he said. Kronos disagreed and said it was just an opinion by one analyst.

Donald Pagel, vice president of global strategic partnerships at KronosDonald Pagel

Kronos has over 1,000 customers globally on SAP platforms, said Donald Pagel, vice president of global strategic partnerships at Kronos. The agreement allows for a single point of contact and one contract for both platforms, he said.

Pagel said the agreement helps SAP expand in the North American market, and it helps Kronos in Europe and Asia. "It was a perfect marriage between the two of us," he said.

Kronos has had discussions going back a number of years with SAP about a reseller agreement, but it was with the release of Workforce Dimensions in late 2017 that "they felt like the time was right," Pagel said.

Kronos Workforce Dimensions is a cloud-based workforce management product for time and attendance, scheduling, absence management, leave management, coupled with analytics and some other functions. Upon its release, the firm described it as "brand new, built from the ground up" software.

Pagel said that Kronos already has a deep level of integration with the SAP platform. For instance, the system will take demand forecasts off SAP's manufacturing suite to populate the scheduling capabilities of Kronos, he said. The two companies plan "to look for other opportunities to strengthen the integrations" between the two products, he said.

Words from WorkForce

WorkForce Software CEO Mike Morini didn't mince his words when sounding off about the news. In a written response to TechTarget, he said the agreement "is about Kronos scrambling to grow its user base on Dimensions."

He claimed that Kronos has "yet to build a rules engine to address complex time, pay and scheduling challenges, and their existing customers have been slow to adopt their new SaaS platform. What has been proven, time and again, is that customers choose WorkForce Software over Kronos whether their core platform is Workday, Oracle, SAP or any other enterprise HR system."

He went on to add that "more than 200 global organizations have selected WorkForce Software over SAP's own workforce management offering since our partnership began three years ago."

Pagel, in response to Morini's comments, said the SAP agreement "is another proof point on the tremendous success we are having with Workforce Dimensions. Hundreds of customers from all around the globe have selected Workforce Dimensions, and volume has exceeded all of our expectations.

"This is further proof we have taken the world's best workforce management application, Kronos Workforce Central, and reimagined how to meet the needs of today's most complex organizations with an expanded rules engine and the latest technology available to deliver a truly innovative experience," he said in an email.

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