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Reporting on Customer Experiences

HR organizations that can find vendors to act as business partners are most satisfied with their talent management solutions, compared to other vendors, according to recent research by Bersin & Associates. Leighanne Levansaler of Bersin also warned HR leaders to be wary of vendors who promise solutions based on standardized best practices for performance management. Such practices are highly dependent on individual corporate culture, she said.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009
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In its latest research, Leighanne Levensaler of Bersin and Associates highlighted the aggregated customer experiences of 490 organizations, involving more than 900 talent-management systems.

It's "groundbreaking" research because it's only now that customers have enough experience with talent-management systems, which are still in their "infancy," to be able to express an opinion of the immature market, said Levensaler, Bersin's director of talent management research.

Bottom line, she said, the companies that most satisfied their clients in terms of product quality, service, business partnership, implementation and overall satisfaction were Halogen (on every aspect), Salary.com (on all but product quality), SilkRoad (on all but product quality), SuccessFactors (on all but service) and Taleo (only on product quality).

But the data is "a little bit misleading," said Josh Bersin, principal of the research and advisory services company. The report data is broken down by size of implementation and aggregated, and these companies are generally involved in smaller implementations.

As Levensaler noted during her presentation, the smaller the implementation and the less complex, the higher the satisfaction -- and vice versa.

Overall, the study found that vendors who successfully become business partners to HR scored highest in customer satisfaction, Levensaler said.

She suggested HR leaders should be wary, however, of vendors who talk about standardized best practices for talent management solutions. "There is no one best practice," she said. Such practices are "highly dependent" on the organization's culture.

In looking for a talent-management solution, Levensaler advised prospective buyers to think about what they really want -- and chances are what they really want is reports and analytics. The technology, she said, is a means to an end -- and it should be geared to all end users, not just HR.

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She also noted that the demand for integrated talent-management suites has jumped considerably, from only 4 percent in 2007 to 19 percent in Bersin's latest survey in 2009.

At the same time, the majority of survey respondents (54 percent) said they have multiple disparate point solutions for their talent management activities, while 14 percent said they have no systems in place and 14 percent said they use their HRMS or ERP for talent management activities.

Among the take-aways Levensaler wanted HR leaders to take away from the session were the fact that the talent management market continues to grow despite the economic turmoil; that the integrated nature of talent management solutions present complex challenges; that the market is crowded by many providers offers what seems to be similar solutions and that customer experience is a key differentiator.

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