Human Capital Management Buying Guide: Kenexa, Workday and More

Drew Robb

Updated · Nov 08, 2012

In part one of this buying guide for human capital management (HCM) software, we covered the cloud-based offerings from Oracle (Taleo), SAP (SuccessFactors) and Salesforce ( ). This time we look at IBM Kenexa, Workday, Kronos and on-premise solutions from SAP and Oracle.

IBM Kenexa

Tim Collins, director of product marketing at Kenexa , which was acquired by IBM earlier this year for $1.3 billion, said software-as-a-service (SaaS) is clearly the go-to delivery model for HCM applications.

“The market is moving quickly away from on-premise HCM solutions and embracing SaaS at a tremendous rate,” he said. “Although Kenexa does have some on-premise products, Kenexa is focusing almost exclusively on SaaS HCM solutions.”

While most HCM products tend to focus primarily on automating processes, Collins said Kenexa's HCM suite comprises technology, content, services and expertise. Kenexa’s approach is to try to understand the best fit (in terms of role, culture and chemistry) for each person, and then provide the technology and content needed to maximize the performance and business results.

The multi-tenant SaaS suite, which supports workforces in about 200 countries, includes Recruiting and Onboarding, Performance Management, Learning Management, Compensation and Succession Planning.
One of the latest offerings comes out of Kenexa's acquisition of OutStart, which added a Learning Suite made up of a Social LMS (learning management solution), LCMS (learning content management), Hot Lava Mobile (mobile learning) and Participate (social learning/collaboration). In the area of recruiting, Kenexa added functionality to support the use of mobile devices for candidates and recruiters and created a module called RapidHire, which is focused on helping managers in high-volume hiring industries such as retail and hospitality.

Further, Kenexa has created Onboarding software that provides an improved experience for new hires. It does this by linking them into the organization’s social network and collaboration system, orienting them to the culture, tying into both formal and informal learning, linking them to surveys, and helping them find mentors and subject matter experts. The company also has a new Content Library and Assessment solution that is built into the Kenexa 2x Integrated Talent Management platform.

According to Collins, Kenexa has invested over $40 million in research and development this year and “will continue to invest significantly next year.” Next up is the launch of Compensation Managements, which will help managers make appropriate compensation recommendations that are in line with the organization’s overall compensation strategy and budget.

Collins offered some advice for those considering SaaS HCM.

“Customers will be making a huge investment in selecting a SaaS HCM solution provider and need to evaluate not only their technology, but their content, services, support and how they treat their clients,” he said. “Are they a partner who will keep the client’s needs at the forefront, or just a vendor collecting an annual fee? That question needs to be answered early in the selection process.”


Workday’s multi-tenant architecture is said to offer integration between HCM, payroll and financial management applications, along with analysis and reporting. Workday, which completed an IPO last month, makes a big deal of the fact that it the product was built from the ground up for the cloud.

Its product suite consists of several components, including an HR module to help organize, staff, and pay the workforce, and a Talent Management module to help employees achieve goals and objectives. Further modules deal with payroll and time tracking.

At its annual user conference this week Workday announced plans for new recruiting software that it says will integrate with its core HCM offering. Workday Recruiting will include collaboration features such as the ability for the entire hiring team to find, share, follow and provide feedback on internal and external candidates, as well as improved analytics such as headcount planning, job requisition and pipeline management.

Aneel Bhusri, Workday's chairman and co-CEO, said the aim of Workday Recruiting is to “provide our customers with a single view of internal and external candidate pools, enable collaboration and visibility amongst teams and connect the health of the pipeline with their future growth strategy.”

Also in the product pipeline is Workday Big Data Analytics, which the company says will include pre-packaged analytics that enable customers to combine Workday data with third-party data sources of any type, including Big Data, all delivered in the cloud. “We are combining Workday data and any type of third-party data into our unified platform to create the analytics and dashboards in the intuitive Workday user experience our customers have come to expect,” Bhusri said.

SAP ERP Human Capital Management

SAP ERP HCM offers regulatory support for 51 countries for HR, payroll, benefits, and time and attendance. According to SAP, 14,000 global companies use SAP HCM. The on-premise product has four major sets of functionality: core HR, including employee record keeping, organizational management, global benefits and payroll; time and attendance, including shift planning, time capture and wage calculation; talent management, including e-recruiting, compensation management, succession planning and learning management); and workforce analytics.

Earlier this year SAP released enhancement Package 6 (EhP6) for SAP ERP HCM. The primary goal was an improved user experience for employees and managers, and EhP6 also contained upgrades to existing talent management workforce planning and analytics processes.

“Two additional shipments have recently been made which extend the usability and look/feel enhancements in the HR administration and organizational management functions,” said David Ludlow, SAP Group Vice President, Line of Business Solutions – HR.

Ludlow added that the future direction of SAP ERP HCM is focused upon usability, workforce planning and analytics, mobility, and leveraging in-memory technology to enable insight, transparency and processing of workforce-related information. Further, the emergence of cloud-based HR applications like talent management will result in a hybrid of existing on-premise SAP HR with the cloud offerings from SuccessFactors.  

“Do not be driven by the solution source (on-premise or cloud),” Ludlow said. “Be driven by that which best solves your key business challenges and the current state of your HR technology platform.”  


While not as well known as the likes of SAP and Oracle, Kronos is one of the top five providers of HCM, according to Lisa Rowan, an analyst at International Data Corp. (IDC). She said that Kronos combines strong core HR functionality with workforce management , which spans workload planning, scheduling, time and attendance tracking, resource management, and rules and compliance management.

Key features include skills and certification tracking, shift/vacation bidding, workload planning, forecasting and scheduling, scheduling optimization, customer wait-time forecasts, coverage management, absence management, labor activity tracking, rationalization of revenue per full-time equivalent, cost of sales activities, and sales resource planning based on local and regional opportunities.

The latest from Kronos is a cloud HCM product that complements its on-premise suite. Known as Workforce Ready, it is aimed at small and midsize businesses. It includes time and attendance, HR and payroll.  


Oracle currently offers an interesting (some might say confusing) tangle of HCM products. On top of Oracle Taleo Cloud Service which we covered in part one of this guide, this includes Oracle Fusion HCM, Oracle’s E-Business Suite HCM, Oracle’s PeopleSoft HCM, Oracle’s JD Edwards EnterpriseOne HCM and Oracle’s JD Edwards World HCM.

Most of these are on-premise products, though SaaS capabilities are being introduced to some of them.

“Oracle has simplified its HCM toolset to enable HR to access it through multiple channels, including mobile devices. The idea is to integrate talent data with training information, and the complete HR application suite,” said Steve Miranda, senior vice president of Oracle Development.

Drew Robb is a freelance writer specializing in technology and engineering. Currently living in California, he is originally from Scotland, where he received a degree in geology and geography from the University of Strathclyde. He is the author of Server Disk Management in a Windows Environment (CRC Press).

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  • Drew Robb
    Drew Robb

    Drew Robb is a writer who has been writing about IT, engineering, and other topics. Originating from Scotland, he currently resides in Florida. Highly skilled in rapid prototyping innovative and reliable systems. He has been an editor and professional writer full-time for more than 20 years. He works as a freelancer at Enterprise Apps Today, CIO Insight and other IT publications. He is also an editor-in chief of an international engineering journal. He enjoys solving data problems and learning abstractions that will allow for better infrastructure.

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