Taking Stock of Infor’s HCM “Inventory Items” - Part 2

Part 1 of this blog series started by expressing the “New Infor” sentiments (backed up with concrete examples and rationale) following my recent attendance of Inforum 2012. Then the article provided some historical background and described the lineage of the products that currently form the Infor10 HCM portfolio.

The article also detailed some technical and organizational issues on both the former heritage Infor and Lawson Software’s human resource (HR) and talent management products’ side. In light of these issues, which were discussed in Part 1, it is small wonder that some market observers have wondered whether Infor can make sense out of this daunting inheritance of a portfolio.

Infor10 HCM—Some Clarity at Last

Infor seems to have finally laid out a plausible human capital management (HCM)/HR strategy, as illustrated on Figure 1 below. In addition to the Lawson HR Foundations (including some rewritten pieces of the flagship Lawson HR suite), Lawson Talent Management, and Infor WFM Workbrain pieces (that were described in Part 1), the final piece of Infor’s HCM platform going forward will be HR service delivery, which came from Lawson’s 2010 acquisition of Enwisen.

Figure 1

Research shows that enterprises struggle to provide the following HR services to its employees:

  • Consistency and accuracy in responses

  • Responding to a diverse and decentralized workforce worldwide

  • Response time and call resolution (preferably first time resolution)

Indeed, nowadays it is not simple to acclimate new-hires to drive Day One productivity and long-term retention, automate workflow for management and key stakeholders, and unify all relevant data and systems, while complying fully with policies, laws, and regulations.

Riding the Shared HR Services Wave

Research has also shown that centralizing benefits, payroll, and other HR functions can save money and improve customer service at large corporations. The consolidation and sharing of HR services by different units or locations typically helps to achieve economies of scale, enhance consistency across the entire organization, improve quality, leverage technology investments, manage labor costs, and provide greater value to business.

Shared HR services are driven by the concept that HR departments can operate more effectively when they are organized and managed according to their two primary responsibilities—transactional and strategic. In other words, doing more with less. Moreover, the move to shared services is not just tactical: most companies rather than cut staff now re-direct HR staff to talent management, organizational development, and other strategic endeavors that contribute to meeting business goals.

The Enwisen acquisition brought knowledge base (KB)–supported call center capabilities, internal or outsourced, for fielding queries and handling other tasks and cases by phone, e-mail, and chat. Typical employee inquiries are about general HR policies, payroll, benefits, and compensation.

Call centers can also process HR transactions such as employee data management, payroll transactions, training registration, tuition reimbursement, new hire onboarding/termination processing, benefits processing, and open enrollment. Finally, typical HR services include relocation services, expatriate services, employee feedback surveys, compensation administration, incentive program administration, general communication, and ad hoc HR reporting on various metrics.

Going Forward

Contrary to some rumors (and wishful thinking by some competitors), the sun will not be setting on the legacy Lawson HR offering any time soon. The proven solution will continue be sold in the healthcare and public sectors in the United States (US), whereas the recently released Infor10 HCM suite will be sold globally to multinationals. To that end, Infor plans to use the recently announced Infor Local.ly cloud-based localization platform.

A sunsetting Lawson HR is not likely, as it has a very large install base of very loyal customers and Infor gets a big and profitable revenue stream from supporting the solution. Lawson Systems Foundation (LSF), which is based on IBM’s WebSphere application server, will also continue to be supported. Given Infor CEO Charles Phillips’ apparent interest in open-source technologies, perhaps Apache or Jboss will eventually replace WebSphere, but that is just my guess.

As for workforce management (WFM), Workbrain will be the go-forward product (apparently, the quality issues are now a thing of the past), with the additions of nurse scheduling and acuity capabilities from Lawson’s 2008 acquisition of VasTech. The aforementioned disparate Infor10 HCM pieces will of course be linked via the Infor10 ION middleware (Lawson’s ProcessFlow Integrator might still be used for workflow management needs).

Infor claims that in order to obtain all of these capabilities one would have to buy solutions from Workday, SuccessFactors, and Kronos, and the prospective customer would still need Enwisen’s service delivery in some instances. Now, in addition to Lawson HRMS, there are still several legacy HR and/or payroll products, some of which are even on mainframe, such as:

  • Infinium HR—now Infor10 HCM Infinium, might still be occasionally sold to new customers that like IBM System i

  • Masterpiece/HR—stemming all the way back from Computer Associates (CA)

  • Smartstream (from the Geac Computer acquisition)—now Infor HCM Smartstream

  • Anael (also from Geac)—now Infor HCM Anael HR

These customers will be maintained and the products enhanced (depending on the install base size). Some of these customers seem very content, with no urge to migrate anywhere any time soon, especially IBM System i–based Infinium in casinos and hospitality. If these customers want to migrate to Infor10 HCM, more power to them, but Infor will not really push them. The idea is to cross-sell the HCM and WFM capabilities as well as some newer business intelligence (BI), corporate performance management (CPM), and financial management system (FMS) applications, such as Lawson S3 Financial Management or Infor FMS SunSystems to these customers via Infor10 ION Connect lightweight integration.

In summary, Infor’s outlined HCM strategy makes sense, is plausible, and has some potential for success. Still, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, i.e., whether Infor can deliver as promised and whether the customers will bite. Here are some thoughts from Yvette Cameron of Constellation Research.

Dear readers, what are your thoughts on, suggestions for, or individual experiences with global talent management in general, and Infor/Lawson in particular? Do you buy into the vendor’s espoused HCM strategy?
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