I had the pleasure recently—along with fellow Technology Evaluation Centers (TEC) research analyst Leslie Satenstein—to sit in on a product briefing and certification session with Steven Goldberg (VP, HCM practice leader for Ramco Systems Corporation). The product was a human capital management (HCM) solution which includes basic payroll, staffing, workforce planning, compensation management, and integrated talent management. Ramco HCM is part of a complete suite of products that falls under Ramco’s Enterprise Series 4.1.
I was greatly impressed with this product and I’d like to share my impressions with you.
But First … A Little Background About Ramco Systems Corporation
Ramco Systems Corporation (part of Ramco Group) was founded in 1989 and delivers enterprise software and services to over 450 customers in 35 countries. Its headquarters are located in Chennai (India).
In many countries, Ramco partners with local companies to promote its products. In other locations, the businesses are wholly owned by Ramco. HCM is only one of a family of products and services that Ramco offers. Services include business transformation, consulting, enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions, and software as a service (SaaS). Over the past year, Ramco has shown positive growth with recorded revenues of $50 million (USD).
Today’s HCM Landscape
Many of the human resource (HR) issues that businesses face today are common points of interest for HR (and related software) vendors. As such, software products are designed to address these issues by helping organizations to properly manage
- new talent recruitment;
- employee productivity tracking;
- workforce or succession planning and modeling; and
- baby boomer retirements.
While Ramco’s aim is similar, there’s an added feature that most HR solution providers are just beginning to get a handle on: analytics. Ramco’s HCM practice, while relatively new, tackles old challenges, including analytics, by focusing on strategic workforce management issues that to date have not been supported well with technology or analytics in the HCM space. For example, Ramco’s HCM solution provides unique technology and analytics platforms and predictive tools that help with employee retention and productivity
Together, these capabilities provide the ability for organizations to have the right data and tools at the right time.
In an e-mail exchange, Goldberg explained that
Ramco's Workforce Planning Toolkit (also known as HCM Interventions) is a brand-new HR solution concept involving predictive analytics and modeling in the context of very practical HR decision-support frameworks. These data technology solutions are aimed at managing game-changing workforce events and issues such as baby boomer exit planning and risk mitigation, HR mergers and acquisition (M&A) planning and decision support, top-grading, workforce consolidations and reduction, and other workforce restructurings.
A High-level look at Ramco HCM Solution Suite
Ramco understands the need to address important issues such as workforce and succession planning, and proactive talent management (HR, M&As, and baby boomer exits). As such, Ramco’s approach is an enterprise solution suite that is tailored to the needs of its clients, where users can install only the modules that they need, and leave out the ones they don’t need. Depending on the country, some of those modules are essential, while others are elective, such as payroll, workforce planning toolkit (HCM Interventions), informed compensation management, and integrated talent management suite.
By co-creating, adapting, or delivering existing solutions that are built for change and innovation, Ramco HCM addresses the entire employee life cycle. So, rather than redeploying an enterprise system as an organization reacts to regulatory changes, corporate initiatives, and market conditions, Ramco’s underlying platform can help businesses leverage their existing business process models to quickly compose new business models. And it quickly delivers these new capabilities with virtually no disruption to the IT infrastructure.
VirtualWorks: Key to Delivery
Some of the key differentiators of Ramco’s HCM and its innovative HCM practice is through its unique technology and analytics platforms which enable rapid co-creation and integration of highly targeted, strategic HCM solutions.
I’ll use the following analogy to give you a better idea how VirtualWorks works. When you want to use a microwave oven, you know that it will have a door, a timer, and some other common features. You do not have to assemble the microwave from parts; you just have to buy one and learn how to use it. You can upgrade your microwave to another model in a few years, and you would not have to relearn how to use it. The microwave is a module with known functionality.
This same concept extends to the careful design of programming modules; they are modules that you can plug into a base. In the case of Ramco HCM, that base is VirtualWorks. The module concept, known as service-oriented architecture (SOA), has a property in which the module is a building block, which you can include or not. The concept of applications using SOA modules is one that most ERP vendors today strive for. Ramco, with their VirtualWorks platform, has implemented SOA.
With the Ramco VirtualWorks platform, application code can be built or assembled from components very quickly. VirtualWorks has a repository of over 1,000 solution components and a code generation engine. What this combination translates to is that one can say yes or no to the inclusion of the module. The HCM application with selected modules is an easily built, flexible business process focused on delivering high-level analytics.
Ramco’s HCM practice is still relatively new, having been formally launched as a practice in the spring of 2008. Its co-creation/tailoring/"solutioning" model leverages its platform (which is built for rapid and constant change) and is radically different from an off-the-shelf solution. As such, potential problems could occur if you—as a customer—decided to move your data to another hosting platform. Would that platform provide the same reliable, rich functionality?
TEC Certifies Ramco’s HCM Product
For every enterprise software selection area that we deal with, TEC has created a request for information (RFI) questionnaire. Our HR RFI has been tailored to mirror the product capabilities of HCM. This particular RFI has been completed by many vendors of HCM products. For every RFI that a vendor responds to, we collect the information and load it into a database. This collection of data then serves as the population for statistical analysis.
Through the gathering of such data, we are able to see statistically when a functionality or criterion is generally industry-supported, supported through customization, supported via modification, or supported by a third-party provider or partner. This comparison data becomes a benchmark against which we can measure the responses of vendors compared to their competitors. In cases where the general industry response is different from that of the respondent (the vendor), TEC’s decision support system (DSS) flags the response.
Ramco returned its completed RFI for HCM, responding with almost total support against all criteria. As a TEC research analyst, I then compared the RFI against the combined responses of other vendors within the HR space (the benchmark).
Overall, the certification with Ramco went very well. There was not one aspect of HCM that they did not know about or demonstrate to us through their solution. Every item that was flagged that was noted as “supported” passed the certification test through the product demonstration.
During the certification, we validated over 200 criteria and functionalities. Here are some of the highlights—over and above what has been discussed previously in this article—that we felt made Ramco’s HCM solution shine:
Presentation and Look
- The menus were well organized, with common functionalities grouped together.
- Horizontal scrolling was used when an entry required more data than a line could contain.
Data columns could be relocated to the left or right, making for convenient groupings.
- The detail screens were uncluttered, making them easy to read.
- Data screens were user-friendly and easily searchable.
- The general layout and functionality was impeccable.
Capabilities and Functionality
- The entire user interface was browser-based and very easy to use.
- The product was very rich in functionality.
- The product also included a self-service portal, where applicants could create, review, and update their resumes online.
All in all, this product demonstration provided a great user experience, so much so that my colleague and I wanted to see more. Unfortunately, time did not permit.
In a Nutshell: How Does Ramco’s HCM Stack Up Against Some of Its Competitors?
According to Goldberg, some of Ramco’s main competitors include SAP, Oracle, Ultimate Software, Lawson, META4, and ADP.
Based on the information provided by the above vendors through their completed HR RFIs, Ramco matches Lawson in overall performance, follows a close second to Oracle, and comes out ahead of its other competitors, based on the same rating standards.
The comparison chart below is built by summing the points awarded for each vendor’s criteria response against a possible total of 100. The summary masks deeper details of product strengths and weaknesses. Thus, in a lower-level area that may not be important to you, a weakness can decrease the total points for the higher level. Each line represents the quantity of functionality and the level of support recorded within TEC’s HR knowledge base. That knowledge base includes personnel management, benefits, payroll, workforce management, training, and product technology.
While there are plenty of products on the market to address the needs of today’s changing HR landscape, Ramco’s HCM is breathing fresh air into this space with a solution that’s built for change.
All this to say that Ramco’s HCM is a product that we’ll be following very closely over the next few years.