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Management Software Turducken: What are the Different types of HR Software?

Harry Lees
August 22, 2021

Management Software Turducken: What are the Different types of HR Software?

TrustRadius has 33 HR software categories. There are some people who love reading through them all. For everyone else, there’s mastercard this piece.

If you’re looking for a specific type of HR management software, a unique set of software types, or a full suite, we’ve provided a roadmap of different types of “management” software that help HR professionals. This roadmap breaks down each category, including what other categories it’s most similar or interconnected with, and what some of the top products in the category are (with an emphasis on standalone products).

HR Management

HR Management software is often used as an umbrella term for many different types of software. However, “HR Management” also refers to a specific type of software, also known as “Core HR” or “HR Information Systems.” These products cover three areas central to any HR activities: Benefits administration, personnel tracking, and payroll. Some Core HR products also offer Asset Management and Leave/Attendance Management.

There is also a segment of products known as “Human Capital Management suites.” These suites have a Core HR foundation, but also include broader HR capabilities. Almost any type of software discussed in this roadmap could be found in an HR Management suite, but the specific feature list, or “modules,” vary by suite.

There are also specialized point solutions for each facet of Core HR. There is a small niche of payroll-specific solutions and a larger range of offerings tailored to Benefits Administration. Personnel tracking solutions most comfortably fit under Workforce Management. However, given the overlap between point solutions and suites, you will frequently see products in different “tiers” discussed side-by-side.

Talent Management

Talent management is an approach to HR management that focuses on developing and managing the “talent” aspect of personnel. It facilitates acquiring talent to fit the business’s needs and further developing employees once they’ve been hired. 

Talent Management has become a larger category in recent years as smaller sub-categories developing their own nuances. We will cover some of these below. 

Some companies have HR specialists to use these individual subsects. Others have HR generalists or simply coordinators who will want things in more general terms. For this reason, these will be broken up.

“Talent” is an intentionally broad term—it ranges from hard to soft skills, as well as developing employees for career growth within the organization. Components of talent management include:

Talent management intersects with many different types of HR software, and is also presented in suite form itself. 

The best talent management suites combien many of the features of the specialists into one software. This is desinged to take you from hiring to labor relations to terminations. They can handle contractors and consultants, part-time and full-time. They are also generally more expensive. 

Organizations with more resources who can afford it can save time with integration by exploring suits. Those who do not should look at their specific needs and make the best choices for their use case. 

Talent management can overlap most heavily with recruiting, Corporate Learning Management, and performance management software. Talent management-specific suites include Saba TalentSpace, PiiQ by Cornerstone, and SAP SuccessFactors Learning.

Employee Onboarding Management

As mentioned above, this subsect of talent management focuses on getting staff working as soon as possible, as effectively as possible. Employee performance can be hard to get up to speed, and the ability to implement resources and materials to a new employee can greatly improve this process. This is particularly useful for companies with a larger staff, busy HR departments, or high turnover. 

These tools are also fantastic at managing your company resources. Nearly every professional company now issues some level of tech to its staff. Onboarding software organizes this process. This ensures nobody ends up with too many or too few work laptops. This extends to software licenses, training, information, and orientation material.

This software is best suited to those who are finding their HR departments overwhelmed in the onboarding process. Perhaps you feel their energies would be best spent elsewhere, or simply want to improve the organization. Either way, these tools can be very useful. 

Compensation Management

No matter how loyal your staff, they’re there to get paid. Compensation management software allows you to do so much more than simply give the staff the monetary compensation they have earned. This type of software allows for budgeting, pay tracking, as well as flight risk management. 

Successful managers can use this tool to plan and execute a compensation strategy designed to balance salaries and employee satisfaction with the organization’s bottom line. In the hands of a skilled benefits specialist, this can reduce turnover and Costs. Larger organizations will find this software especially helpful. 

Performance Management

Performance management focuses on evaluating and roadmapping employee’s performance based on preset standards. These evaluations can come in the form of supervisor evaluations, peer review, self-evaluation, and skills evaluation, as well as career evaluation. Based on the results of these evaluations, performance management tools help employees improve and develop to meet current or future benchmarks. 

Performance management most frequently appears as a function of broader talent management software. However, there are some standalone products that focus on evaluations and employee surveying. Notable point solutions include Predictive Index Behavioral Assessment, Quantum Workplace Engagement Surveys and Pulses, and 15Five.

Corporate Learning Management

Corporate Learning Management Systems (Corporate LMS) are online systems used for training and development. They are designed for internal and external use(usually employees and clients, respectively). Businesses use this software to host 3rd party training material, or create their own, for continued education and development, as well as to track said development. Core Corporate LMS features include:

  • Content creation/authoring
  • Content library management
  • Certification management (especially for highly regulated industries like finance and healthcare)
  • Performance reporting

Corporate LMS can intersect with performance management or bundle with talent management suites, but there are also a variety of standalone offerings. Point solutions include Articulate Storyline, Brightspace, and Lessonly.

Workforce Management

Workforce management (WFM) is a collection of processes and tools used to schedule and track pools of employees. Workforce management is particularly relevant for shift-based industries, such as the service and manufacturing sectors. Workforce management products can range from generalist suites to products that focus on particular workforce types, such as call centers, project-based workforces, etc. Its capabilities include:

  • Time and attendance tracking
  • Labor scheduling
  • Compliance monitoring (relating to labor laws)
  • Staffing optimization
  • Payroll functionality (depending on the product)

Workforce management is a specialized set of products that most closely align with the “personnel tracking” capabilities found in Core HR products. There are also some standalone WFM offerings, such as HotSchedules (for restaurant management), Boomr, and TimeForce.

Freelance Management

Freelance management is what it says on the box. It provides the narrower services you need for managing a contract workforce. Its primary role is to help you locate and hire freelancers, like a freelancer-specific ATS platform. Freelance management often includes the ability to track and pay freelancers as well. Some more specific capabilities are:

  • Portfolio screening
  • Talent vetting
  • Job posting/a platform for job boards
  • Contract management
  • Job payment management
  • Invoicing and billing

Freelancer management software often overlaps with core HR capabilities because it specializes by demographics. Rather than offering additional features, the Core HR features are just narrowed and tailored to meet a unique workforce’s needs. Notable standalone software includes Upwork, Contently, and

Payroll (Management)

OK, no one really calls it “payroll management,” but I’m a sucker for continuity.

Payroll functionality is offered in point solutions that focus on calculating and processing employee pay, tax forms, and benefits administration. Payroll is offered in an extremely wide range of other product categories, so there is an equally diverse range of deployment options.

 Payroll capabilities can be found in point solutions or bundled with accounting software or HCM suites, can be managed in-house or outsourced or semi-outsourced, and can be deployed on-premise or in the cloud. While specific features vary as well, the standalone and core payroll features include:

  • Direct deposit processing
  • Calculating employee pay
  • Withholdings calculations
  • Tax form generation
  • Benefits plan administration
  • Payroll tracking and reporting

Payroll functionality will be found as part of a broader HR suite since it’s so integral to any HR process. However, if you’re picking and choosing services from different suites, or just want to replace the payroll function of the main suite you’re currently using, and want a standalone payroll solution, you can start by checking out Gusto, SurePayroll, and Intuit Payroll.

Eagle-eyed readers may wonder how this is different from compensation management. The latter tends to work more towards companies that are looking for help in deciding pay and managing it in a larger organization. Payroll management tends to function toward the more logistical minutia of the act of paying staff.

There is a significant overlap between the two. With that said, it would be a disservice to not include both. This should help clarify if you’re looking for a point solution, a full HCM suite, or something in between. Now you can spend less time figuring out what kind of software you need and more time picking the perfect solution to meet your needs! To that end, check out the Top Rated software in HR management, Talent management, Corporate Performance management, and Corporate Learning management to which products are rated most highly by other users.

About the Author

Harry Lees
I am a proud University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate, with a Comprehensive Honors degree in Political Science and Journalism. Go Badgers! A dual-citizen with the U.S and U.K, in my free time I support Liverpool Football Club, obsessively follow politics and do extremely nerdy things with my friends.

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