Microsoft leaps into lead for HR software trials


Big players still calling the shots in HR

In recent research for Computing Delta, respondents were questioned about their experience with and opinions of a number of popular HR/HCM/HRIS packages. While there was reasonable awareness of newer players such as TalentSoft and BambooHR, just a small number had any experience in using them.

Which of these vendor solutions have you trialled or evaluated (i.e. hands-on practical experience) or used operationally? Which did you take into production?

N= 255. ‘Other’ includes Epicor, Lumesse, Kronos, Dayforce, Ascensis HR, Cornerstone, Callidus Cloud, Gusto, IBM Talent Management, Lawson, TalentSoft, Zenefits, Bullhorn Staffing.

Microsoft and Sage were the vendors most frequently evaluated, although adoption was slightly higher for SAP and Workday. NGA HR (Northgate) and MHR (Midland) still enjoy widespread use within the UK public sector, although MHR received better reviews in our study. NGA HR has recently undergone a major restructuring as it seeks to modernise its offerings, splitting off its UK business into a new cloud-based concern called Zellis.

Gaining in importance or losing ground?

The power of Microsoft’s incumbency and its ability to bundle new applications in with existing offerings should never be underestimated, and with its recent move into HR via Dynamics Talent it’s no surprise to find it at the top of the list of vendors thought to be gaining in importance as well as being the most evaluated. Microsoft was followed by Sage in second place, whose 2017 acquisition of Fairsail – HR software built on the Salesforce Force.com platform – marked the company’s entrance into the multi-national business arena.

SAP is another company with a significant installed base in large organisations. SuccessFactors, which gives it a foothold with SMEs, put it third on the list, followed by Workday, the first of the new breed of providers based entirely in the cloud.

The smaller, newer vendors, even the hyped ones, did not make much of a showing. HR may be in the process of being ‘disrupted’ by new entrants, but their presence has so far barely been felt in the UK, an illustration that HR is still a slow-moving market and that a shift away from the big vendors has not really happened yet.

SAP may have featured high on the list of vendors considered to be gaining importance, but it was also second among vendors thought to be losing ground – although some way behind Oracle in the form of PeopleSoft. PeopleSoft is a presence in a huge number of enterprises but Oracle is no longer actively selling it; instead it is trying to move customers to its HCM Cloud suite. SAP is in a similar position with its on-premises solutions, holding on but at the same time looking to relocate customers to S4/HANA and cloud. Both Oracle and SAP were recently forced to announce an extension of support for their mostly on-premises HR suites until 2030.

Northgate also featured uncomfortably highly on the ‘losing ground’ list with many complaints of poor customer support and inflexible offerings. It seems the new Zellis venture, which should give its management more commercial freedom, couldn’t have happened soon enough. Sage’s venerable on-premises HMRS (formerly Abra) drew similar negative comments about levels of service and support.

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