Several months ago I began looking into "talent management" software. To be honest, I wasn't sure exactly what I was looking for--or at--but I learned quite a bit along the way. In this post I'll give you a glimpse into my learning experience.
I began my journey looking simply for something that would allow my organization to inventory our existing talent--for example, by allowing employees to describe their own competencies and work preferences. My interest was piqued by this article in Workforce Management, which does a very good job of describing some of the major players and their products (they had me at "baseball card-style interface").
The first thing I learned was that there isn't a clear definition of what talent management (or "TM") is in the first place. For argument's sake, let's define it as documentation, analysis, planning, and decision making regarding how competencies are brought into and used within an organization.
Now I know many of you out there are thinking, "you're JUST NOW looking at TM products?" Well, yes, and I'll blame the fact that I work in the public sector and we tend to be a bit tardy to the game. But I actually think that's a good thing in this case, because of where the product development is right now.
Turns out the "talent inventory" function is only a small part of TM product offerings and is usually included in the career management portion. But what I have come to believe is this is one of the less important features of this type of software. What may be much more important is the performance management component.
Now, I know this is a blog on recruitment and assessment, so you may raise an eyebrow when I mention performance management, but bear with me. If we think broadly about talent management (i.e., it includes everything from branding to employee exit), how we place individuals and assess their performance is not only key to organizational success, but is the ultimate indicator of how successful our recruitment and assessment methods are.
So what's out there? Quite a few offerings, actually (it's a rapidly growing field). I looked at several products with my primary criteria being usability--if supervisors aren't going to use it, it's worthless. And, it turns out many of them have similar functionality--even similar cost--so it really came down to picking something that looked attractive and useful.
So, after watching many demos, and talking to many sales reps, here in roughly descending order of usability, are the companies whose products I looked at:
This list is somewhat deceiving because all of these products tend to look the same and have similar abilities--except one. For me, only one of these products stands out in terms of design, and that's Sonar6. Why? White space, white space, white space. Simple but attractive graphics and GUI. Lack of 400 stemming text menus. I encourage you to check out the demo videos on all of their websites, but I think you will agree with me that their interface is simpler, more graphical, and more engaging.
Am I going to be purchasing one of these products? Hard to say at this point. But I will certainly keep you posted. So if you're interested in these products, take your time, ask a lot of questions, and think about how this will fit with your culture. And by the way, if you're as new to this field as I was, I strongly recommend the resources over at Bersin and Associates.