Managing Your Human Capital

Updated: April 30, 2009

There are literally thousands of companies offering tools and solutions to help manage what's currently being called your "human capital." Gone are the days of a single human-resources representative pushing papers and maintaining huge file cabinets brimming with records from past and present employees. Today's companies instead employ full-featured software, portals and databases to help HR departments manage a work force. This software can help manage applications, track and manage payroll , log benefits , help with recruitment, calculate taxes and assist with retirement — and the list goes on.

These software systems are known by several different names and acronyms, most commonly: HRIS (Human Resource Information Systems), HRMS (Human Rresource Management Systems) and HCRM (Human Capital Resource Management). But no matter what you call them, the most important thing to consider is which package will best fit your company's HR needs.

The client-server applications often require a fair amount of programming (often by a specialist or a consultant) and data entry to deploy. Your work force will also require some training to get used to using the system. But once you deploy a solution and educate your work force on how to use it, the end result will be a tool that provides robust support for your HR needs and should save you much time and money down the line.

While there are many one-size-fits-most HRIS outsourcing companies providing solutions, building and customizing your own system can be a better option if you have a growing business with specific needs. Below we list the features found in a few of the top, well-known products on the market so you can better make a decision.

Oracle E-Business Suite (Human Resources Management System Module)

For your multinational enterprise, Oracle Corp .'s Human Resources Management System 12 is a module of its larger Oracle E-Business Suite.

With tools for employees from "recruit to retire," the system is designed to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and productivity of your work force and give your business the ability to manage locally or globally, according to Oracle.

The system's toolset include benefits support and a benefits help desk, an online hub so employees can log in and track benefits, report generation, payroll, performance management, recruitment, training and reference materials, and a host of other functions to help you support and track your employees.

It also offers ways to help your global work force, including tools to help convert currency, transfer money between countries and manage your global headcount, as well as other features that help support and manage far-flung employees.

Oracle's consultants can help you deploy your software in more than 145 countries around the world. Oracle's Configuration Support Manager helps you diagnose and solve problems — in some cases even before they happen.

SAP ERP Human Capital Management

Like Oracle's product, SAP 's ERP is geared toward large companies with a global presence and work force. It offers tools for all areas of an employee life cycle — from recruiting to hiring to benefits to post-employment. ERP also provides best practices for firms doing business in any of 47 countries.

Its Duet software connects you with your data through Microsoft Office using the .NET and enterprise-services infrastructures. Using Microsoft Excel, Word and Outlook synchronization between Microsoft Exchange and SAP, users can perform self-service functions that include recruitment, time management, travel management and legal-contract authoring.

To help you deploy the software and train your work force, SAP also offers consulting services , custom development to adapt the software to your needs and training in just about every country — should your employees be scattered around the globe.

Sage Abra HR

Sage Software Inc .'s Abra software offers a cost-effective HR solution for companies with fewer than 1,000 employees in either the United States or Canada. Sage is a do-it-all kind of company with software solutions for fundraising, accounting, virtual terminal and many other areas.

With a full suite of software for your human-resource needs, Abra HRMS offers tools for payroll, benefits, attendance, training and recruiting. Plus, Sage Abra also provides self-service areas for employees to automate some of the busywork. To help with security, Sage provides audit trails so you know exactly who made changes to a record, as well as the date, time and the specific type of record that was modified.

Abra HR includes 100 standards reports, but if you find yourself needing to do more, the included copy of Crystal Reports provides 120 additional reports. Abra's Secure Query provides assistance crafting and creating reports and shouldn't require the help of your IT person.

The company provides a host of training options on the Web, by phone, in person, in the classroom or through prerecorded "Anytime Learning" sessions.

Ultimate Software UltiPro

Geared toward companies based in the United States, Ultimate Software Group Inc .'s UltiPro automatically tracks all HR-related information about your employees, including employment history; performance, job and salary information; 401(k) ; taxes; and health benefits. It also helps take some of the pain out of complying with COBRA, FLSA, HIPAA, OSHA and many other well-known government acronyms.

Its Business/Employee Portal is a self-service intranet providing employees and managers with a central place to get information about paychecks and benefits, download employee manuals and access other important information. The portal also provides tools for recruitment and retention of employees.

When it comes time to take deductions from paychecks, UltiPro will calculate premiums for both employer and employee and make the proper deduction from paychecks.

The company's free webcasts offer tips and best practices to help with recruiting, HR management and software services. Ultimate offers its solution as a license or a monthly, pay-as-you-go subscription.

Lawson Human Capital Management

With tools for just about every area of an employee life cycle — from recruiting to transfers to promotions and even the dreaded terminations — Lawson Software Inc .'s Human Capital Management tools help to automate many HR tasks. Lawson's solution is geared toward companies based in the United States.

HR professionals can administer benefits such as disability, health insurance, life insurance and flexible spending. Like many of the other packages, Lawson offers self-service tools so employees and managers can update records themselves rather than sticking the HR manager with the unenviable task.

Its reports can be run on user-defined groups of employees or nonemployees, and its recruiting tools help you to find and retain workers.

For companies with small IT departments or those looking for a simpler solution that requires less "human capital" to maintain, Human Capital Management on Demand provides all of the support you need, from licensing and implementation to support with full hosting. With this solution, Lawson maintains that it will answer tech- support requests within 30 minutes.

And Lawson's Business Consulting Services help you to ascertain total cost of ownership, align goals and implement your software.

Whether you're a large multinational corporation or a small domestic company, there is an HR solution to meet your needs. Who knows — one day you may even be able to ditch that file cabinet filled with HR records and paperwork.

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