One of the most important ongoing challenges in human capital management is to do master data management (MDM) of core human resources information more effectively. This challenge is often most complex for large organizations that have operations spread around the globe and HR management systems in each country or each operating division. To address this issue, SumTotal Systems recently announced the release of elixHR Platform at its TotalConnection user conference. This is the latest evolution of SumTotal’s core HR management system and is targeting this challenge of MDM for HR data. ElixHR system is one of SumTotal’s larger offering of human capital management products; others include talent management, workforce management and payroll management as well. SumTotal also has mobile and social products for HCM, which my colleague Mark Smith assessed on their release last October.
In elixHR Platform, SumTotal provides a conventional HR management system with added features that will enable customers create what the company calls a “virtual system of record.” The product includes a set of predeveloped batch or more timely connectors to the HRMSs of other large vendors Oracle, PeopleSoft, Salesforce, SAP and Workday. The connectors enable elixHR Platform to aggregate all employee records without requiring the customer to migrate from its other source HR systems. Thus it can provide customers a virtual centralized employee record within the existing software environment. As a result, SumTotal’s product provides a possible cost-effective approach to master data management of HR records spread across multiple systems.
Two-thirds (67%) of organizations in our benchmark research on information management said they have data spread across too many applications and systems. The capabilities of elixHR Platform can help them address this problem cost-effectively through use of a single product that does not disrupt their installed systems.
Along with features from its previous HRMS offering, SumTotal adds new core platform services in elixHR Platform. These include a Microsoft SharePoint portal interface through which to present all HR profile and related information; a competency model; a talent profile that can extend personal information on employees; a job profile framework; a development planning tool to map competency gaps and create development plans for employees; access to some information on mobile devices; a set of social tools with which employees can interact with co-workers; and embedded analytics that work with the IBM Cognos platform. Taken together with the core capabilities, the total offering makes SumTotal’s elixHR product a competitive HR management system for companies that need a way to manage multiple sources of HR records in one place. In much of our research, as in the larger market, analytics comes up as one of the most important applications for human resources information. This priority toward analytics shows up in our recent work on next-generation workforce management where three in five respondents (61%) said they are planning to improve their workforce analytics capabilities. And according to our benchmark research on workforce analytics, the number-one source that businesses use to generate workforce analytics is their HRMS; this is true most often for larger corporations.
While SumTotal’s approach can help businesses solve expensive problems of master data management across human resources information in multiple systems, it does not relieve some other costs, the primary one being managing systems and data integration between multiple HRMSs. In that regard, customers still have to maintain data integrity across all the systems that are connected to elixHR Platform, and as any of the downstream HRMSs get upgraded, they will have to check that the SumTotal connectors are still fully compatible. This risk is not unique to SumTotal’s product. As vendors introduce “cloud connectors” and similar data and process integration services, issues like this will accompany the benefits the products bring.
The elixHR release is part of SumTotal’s larger strategy. Recently the company has made efforts to reposition its human capital management suite to increase its exposure in the market and represent its products more effectively in evaluations. ElixHR should help to differentiate SumTotal’s HR management system to customers. SumTotal is a market leader in learning management products and has several other strong offerings; with these additional investments in marketing and sales efforts, they may be able to increase their presence in the HRMS market. As one of the few vendors that have a complete human capital management offering, it is worth evaluating.
VP & Research Director