The need for organizations to automate their talent management processes increased dramatically in recent years, especially when the COVID-19 pandemic forced companies to implement work-from-home policies. The shift to a predominantly remote workforce made in-person, manual processes difficult, if not impossible.
Talent management software continues to be not just useful, but essential, even as workers return to the office. Besides helping to automate talent processes and provide self-service options to employees and managers, talent management software systems enable companies to stay engaged with current, potential and past employees, no matter where they live and work.
What is talent management?
Often driven by the HR department and supported by people managers, talent management spans an employee's entire lifecycle at a company. It includes all the processes, guidelines and systems used to attract, retain, develop and manage employees.
Talent management encompasses all of the tools and processes needed to meet the human capital needs of the enterprise, including hiring people with the right skill set, training workers on new technologies and tracking employee information.
What is talent management software?
Talent management software refers to all the systems and applications needed to manage the employee lifecycle in an organization. Multiple systems may be part of a company's landscape, with some offering specific functionality: for example, a core HR system that tracks basic employee data, another system for performance management and a third for learning management. But some products -- the comprehensive suites that are the focus of this roundup -- can provide most or all of the talent management functions in one system that has a consistent look and feel.
Key features of talent management software systems
Talent management software features are often categorized by modules, each of which handles a specific function. A compensation module, for example, is used specifically to manage pay raises and to plan strategies for rewarding employees. Though it's ideal to have a comprehensive package to manage talent, it's often not possible to implement the whole system at once. Also, depending on company culture, size, budget, industry and priorities, some of the functions available on the market may not be needed.
What follows is an explanation of the modules and some of their key features to consider when choosing talent management software systems. The standard functionality is often similar among vendors, so the focus here is on capabilities that may not be provided by every vendor.
- stores information about all employees in one database, regardless of location;
- provides employee and manager self-service options;
- enables moving HR data to other systems, as needed, by using interfaces; and
- furnishes comprehensive reports on all the data entered into the system.
- integrates easily with popular job boards and the company's core HR module;
- identifies existing candidates in the database who match the needs of new job postings; and
- customizes the talent acquisition workflow from candidate application to job offer approval and allows easy, on-the-fly changes when necessary.
- enables new hires to complete employment forms and digitally sign documents;
- permits new hires to access the onboarding functionality before and after their start date; and
- enables sharing of additional information about the company, such as an organizational chart or a welcome video for new hires.
- customizes the form that's used to gather information and provide feedback to employees regarding questions asked, ratings, workflow and so on;
- allows employees and managers to provide feedback concurrently without moving the form back and forth between them; and
- enables the data captured to be used in other functions, such as compensation management, and in succession planning.
- enables companies to incorporate performance management ratings;
- permits the use of multiple data points, like employee performance ratings and compa-ratios (comparison ratios, a common formula that compares an employee's salary to market rates) when recommending salary increases; and
- provides information used in salary increases, bonuses, stock options and stock grants.
Reporting and analytics
- combines data from different modules into one report if using an all-in-one system;
- comes with default dashboards that provide an overview of the talent in the company and creates custom dashboards as needed; and
- configures reports and dashboards that are sent regularly to specific people.
Learning and development
- enables a curriculum to be established when multiple courses are required, including online, in-person and other types of content, like documents;
- allows inclusion of content from third-party vendors; and
- enables adding content, such as articles and videos, to help increase engagement with the platform.
- helps identify employees who meet the skills and competencies for positions in the company;
- lets you incorporate performance-related data when identifying successors for key roles; and
- provides the necessary tools for employees to plan their careers in the company.
- allows permissions to be established to control which documents employees and managers can view;
- permits previews of documents before downloading; and
- enables sharing of company documents with all employees, such as policies and instructions on how to use the HR system.
Best all-in-one talent management software systems
There's a plethora of talent management software products to choose from. Consider the following key factors when selecting a talent management platform vendor:
- the vendor's ability to meet customer requirements;
- implementation and licensing costs; and
- the platform's ability to integrate with other applications.
When evaluating an all-in-one package, consider how the vendor enables its customers to use data across multiple modules. Skills data, for example, might be valuable in multiple situations, such as rating employees in performance management, looking for internal candidates to fill open positions and auto-assigning development training to employees.
Along these lines, we've narrowed the list to the five best talent management software packages that provide support for all or most of the employee lifecycle.
ADP Workforce Now
This software supports all aspects of talent management, including the payroll functions that ADP is known for. Candidates can apply through the applicant tracking module, complete all the new hire forms in the onboarding module, view and update personal information, and manage performance and compensation.
- Users can customize reports by selecting fields from the forms they use to capture data instead of wading through a long list of fields with little context.
- ADP DataCloud enables comparisons of company salaries to those of other anonymous ADP customers in real time and provides in-depth dashboards that can be customized.
- ADP Marketplace identifies ADP partners that offer niche modules.
Similar to Workforce Now, Dayforce supports the entire employee lifecycle, including payroll. Ceridian has spent years making an HR system that supports companies with employees in multiple countries with various currencies.
- Employees are paid from one module, regardless of currency, and it easily rolls up payroll costs into one currency for reporting.
- Refreshing the staging and test environment is easy and efficient.
- The HR system was built entirely by Ceridian, providing excellent integration between the modules and the UI used to maintain the overall system.
Developed for smaller organizations, BambooHR offers many features to support the employee lifecycle, with a UI that's intuitive to employees and the HR team. The system provides a comprehensive set of features and is easy to integrate with many niche vendors that have pre-built interfaces with BambooHR.
- Affordable HR package centralizes, tracks, stores, reports and analyzes data.
- Integration and maintenance are easy for HR system administrators.
- Technical support responds quickly.
One of the biggest vendors in the HR software market, Workday offers a comprehensive and configurable SaaS talent management package for domestic and international customers.
- UI is easy and intuitive for employees.
- Integrated platform enables HR system administrators to manage the whole system.
- Complementary modules are offered for finance, planning and analytics.
SAP SuccessFactors HXM Suite
Like Workday, SAP SuccessFactors offers all the functionality needed for talent management, but under the umbrella of human experience management (HXM). Targeted at large organizations, the suite is configurable and has a consistent look and feel across the platform.
- The system provides good integration between performance management and compensation.
- The package supports many currencies, locales and languages internationally.
- The system was built by acquiring many applications and integrating them into the talent management software package.
Automating the talent management lifecycle
Whether the choice is a single vendor providing an all-in-one package or multiple vendors offering niche applications, automating the entire talent management process is imperative for companies juggling remote and hybrid workforces, battling to attract and retain highly skilled talent, and continuing to compete at a high level.
Talent management software provides many advantages in the areas of recruitment, performance management, training and education, and compensation management. Companies can collect, centralize, track, store, report and analyze employee data, while receiving automated reminders and notifications. Prospective and current employees have access to self-service options to complete tasks when convenient, without depending on the HR team or their managers.