Today, human resources (HR) professionals are tasked with identifying, developing, managing, and retaining a talented workforce while also adhering to legal, regulatory, and compliance requirements. Human capital management (HCM) software can help HR professionals accomplish their objectives and improve HR processes across the entire business.\n\n"A human capital management system implies that you're able to engage workers more, deliver a better employee experience to them, and hopefully you have the predictive analytics to catch problems when they arise," says Betsy Summers, principal analyst, Forrester Research Inc.\n\nWhat is HCM software?\n\nHCM software is a suite of tools that helps organizations recruit, hire, develop, pay, manage, and retain skilled, high-performing workers in today's extremely competitive business climate.\n\nHCM software is the core system of record for employee information and generally is an organization's major HR transaction tool for such activities as new hires, transfers, promotions, etc., says Fran Maxwell, global lead of workforce and organizational transformation at consulting firm Protiviti Inc.\n\nAn HCM system can help organizations \u201cimprove diversity and inclusion as well as improve employee engagement\u2014i.e., [the] degree to which employees feel supported by their organizations," says Gartner analyst Helen Poitevin.\n\nHCM software provides the following key benefits:\n\nEnhancing HR operations. An HCM platform integrates all of an enterprise's HR or employee data into a single system and serves as the central repository for storing employee records, processing payroll, managing benefits, time\/attendance, compensation, performance reviews and depending on the application, could include more, Maxwell said. The HCM application allows an organization to keep its employee data organized, helps to ensure regulatory compliance, and also enables the HR function to operate more efficiently.\n\nEnabling data-driven decisions. HCM software lets organizations take the employee data they've collected and use analytics to gain greater visibility into their workforces to make more informed business decisions based on reliable, accurate, and timely information. This helps ensure that processes and policies that organizations have put in place are having the desired impact on the organization, says Gartner analyst Helen Poitevin.\n\nAttracting and retaining top talent. Talent acquisition and management tools help organizations meet today's needs for top talent. An HCM suite's talent acquisition tools enable an enterprise to comb through resumes and identify the best candidates for open jobs. The HCM talent management tools also enhance employee engagement by offering career planning and training to current employees.\n\nImproving diversity and inclusion. Today's organizations understand the need to hire individuals from all backgrounds as different people bring different skills, knowledge, and experience that can enhance the business. And employees who feel more engaged and supported at work tend to work smarter and harder and produce higher quality work.\n\nHCM software features\n\nAlthough HCM software suites offer a wide range of capabilities, organizations should look for the following key features:\n\nEmployee data protection. Companies need to ensure they protect employee to comply with global privacy laws. This puts pressure on the HR departments because they are the custodians of their employees' data, Storing HR information in one place enables organizations to always know what data that have about each of their employees.\n\n"At a minimum, the system should be able to store and report on an organization's employee data," Maxwell said. "What data can be stored can be tricky, depending on the global nature of your organization and the understanding that what is legally allowed to be stored by a company varies based on in-country laws and regulations."\n\nTalent acquisition. This module supports the hiring process, including employee onboarding, and also includes features for job requisitions and candidate screening and selection.\n\nTalent management. The talent acquisition module helps companies manage recruitment, employee engagement, compensation, performance, and leadership development.\n\nWorkforce management. The workforce management module helps organizations record, understand, and plan the size of their workforces. Companies that use external workers, such as freelancers and consultants, should look for HCM software that provides workforce management features that enable managers to record details regarding those external workers.\n\nPerformance management. HCM tools can help companies streamline and automate performance management by enabling managers and their employees to work together on shared performance records that are then stored in one system. This module supports setting goals and tracking progress.\n\nTraining and development. The best HCM software supports a company's learning and development strategy by allowing managers to match employees with learning opportunities based on the personal development plans of those workers as well as letting employees select their own training.\n\nEmployee self-service. Employees should also be able to use the HCM system to submit their expense reports and timesheets, as well as view and update their personal information.\n\nCompensation management. Organizations should be able to use their HCM tools to analyze and manipulate compensation information to ensure their compensation levels are fair and inclusive across the business. This can help companies plan future compensation.\n\nIntegrations. An HCM system should integrate with organizations' other business-critical systems, including third-party payroll providers and enterprise resource planning systems.\n\n10 top HCM systems\n\nThere are dozens of human capital management systems on the market, so to help you begin your research, here are some of the top products, listed alphabetically, based on independent research and discussions with analysts.\n\nCeridian Dayforce HCM: Ceridian Dayforce HCM is an all-in-one cloud-based HCM that offers core HR, talent acquisition, talent management, workforce management, employee self-service, payroll, time and attendance, and employee benefits management. Ceridian Dayforce is available hosted in a private cloud or in a public cloud managed by Ceridian or a third party. It is targeted to a wide range of industries. However, because of its native administrative HR, payroll, and workforce management capabilities, Ceridian Dayforce is suited for organizations with large numbers of blue-collar workers and\/or hourly paid workers. Pricing information is available on request.\n\nInfor Global Human Resources: This cloud-based, mobile-enabled platform allows an organization to create a single resource record for all its core HCM business processes. Infor Global Human Resources offers such functionality as organizational planning, benefits enrollment, absence management, occupational health and safety, onboarding, offboarding, talent acquisition, talent management, compensation, and employee and manager self-service. The software provides a personnel system of record for employees and non-employees. Infor offers packaged functionality geared to large organizations in specific industries, including hospitality, the public sector, healthcare, and manufacturing. Pricing information is available on request.\n\nOracle Fusion Cloud Human Capital Management: Offered as part of Oracle Fusion Cloud Applications suite, Oracle Fusion Cloud HCM enables companies to plan, manage, and enhance global people processes with one common data source, ensuring information is accurate and current. It offers modules for global HR, workforce management, recruiting, talent management, time tracking, payroll, learning, and work-life solutions. Oracle Fusion Cloud HCM is available on the Oracle Cloud Platform, which runs as a public cloud utility. The HCM Cloud mobile app gives users secure access to their Oracle HCM Cloud applications from anywhere. Oracle Fusion HCM Cloud is intended for midsize and large organizations worldwide. Pricing information is available on request.\n\nPaychex Flex: Paychex Flex is a modular, cloud-based HCM system that covers a number of areas, including core HR, payroll processing, benefits administration, time and attendance, performance management, new hire reporting, recruiting and screening, onboarding, employee self-service and compliance services. Geared to small to midsize businesses in a variety of industries, Paycheck Flex integrates with the general ledger and talent management analytics. The software allows HR administrators to customize dashboards and provides easy-to-understand analytics around hiring, benefits, labor costs, time and attendance, and changes in headcount. Paycheck Flex integrates with third-party systems for HR, finance, time and attendance, and benefits administration. The software is also available via the Paychex Flex Mobile App. Pricing information is available on request.\n\nPaycor HCM: Paycor HCM is a cloud-based unified HCM system that helps small and midsize organizations efficiently manage HR. It offers such functionality as core HR, onboarding and development, time tracking, payroll, recruitment, learning, employee self-service, HR reporting, workforce insights, talent development, and performance and goal setting. Users can access time and attendance, payroll, and HR features via Paycor's mobile app. Pricing information is available on request.\n\nRamco Human Capital Management \u2013 Cloud HCM Software: A cloud-based talent management system, Ramco Cloud HCM offers functionality for core HR, including performance management, recruitment, time and attendance, payroll, benefits administration, employee self-service, and workforce planning and analytics, among other features. The software enables midsize to large organizations to simplify their HR strategies through a unified end-to-end HR software system. Managers and employees can access Ramco Cloud HCM modules via self-service portals as well as via Ramco's mobile app. Pricing information is available on request.\n\nSAP SuccessFactors Human Experience Management (HXM) Suite: The next generation of SAP SuccessFactors HCM, the HXM suite of tools offers core HR, payroll, talent management, and analytics solutions. SAP HXM Suite helps organizations manage the end-to-end employee lifecycle from recruiting to onboarding, payroll, and performance management. The HXM suite supports 43 languages and more than 45 localizations. The software is deployed in the cloud and is available as software as a service. The HXM Suite is available on the SAP SuccessFactors Mobile app. Best for all-size companies in a variety of industries. Pricing information is available on request.\n\nUKG Pro: UKG Pro is a cloud-based HCM suite that combines HR, payroll, and talent management into one solution to streamline people management processes. Hosted in the public cloud, UKG Pro offers all the features of a modern, unified HCM solution, including HR management, onboarding new hires, payroll management, leave and attendance management, employee self-service, HR reporting, and performance management. It also integrates out of the box with UKG Dimensions for advanced workforce management. Employees can use the UKG Pro mobile app to access upcoming events, schedules, pay details, as well as other HR and company information. UKG Pro is suited for midsize to large organizations. In addition to the U.S. and Canada, UKG Pro has more than 100 country localizations to enable multinational companies to better manage a global workforce. Pricing information is available on request.\n\nUKG Ready: UKG Ready is a cloud-based, mobile-enabled human capital management and workforce management solution geared to small and midsize businesses. UKG Ready offers such features as HR management, HR reporting, recruiting, onboarding, payroll management, performance management, performance tracking, and employee self-service. Companies whose headquarters are in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K., France, the Netherlands, Belgium, New Zealand, and Australia can use UKG Ready to support their employees in more than 85 countries. UKG Ready is geared to small and midsize organizations. Pricing information is available on request.\n\nWorkday Human Capital Management: Workday HCM offers human resource management, employee experience, talent management, payroll and workforce management, help, knowledge, and case management, workforce planning, analytics and reporting, payroll, and workforce management. Workday\u2019s payroll functionality is localized only for the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and France, but the company has a network of global payroll partners. Workday HCM streamlines manual tasks, enabling HR to focus on developing strategy and other initiatives. Workday HCM is also available via a mobile app. Hosted in a public cloud, Workday HCM is suited for midsize and large organizations in a variety of industries with global workforces. Pricing information is available on request.\n\nGetting the most from HCM software\n\nThere are certain things organizations should be aware of that will prevent them from getting the most out of HCM software. These are:\n\nSetting expectations too high. Typically, organizations tend to think that HCM software will solve "all" their HR problems\/needs, Maxwell says. "But it's important to remember that the HCM application, at the core, is a data repository and a transaction engine. It's not a tool that organizations can [use to] 'push' communications to their managers and employees and it's not a place where employees and managers can search for HR-related information."\n\nAdditionally, an organization shouldn't expect its HCM system to fix its HR challenges overnight. There's typically a learning curve for HR administrators and employees and as such it will take some time to realize the benefits of the new system.\n\nBad data. An HCM system is only as good as the data that is loaded into and maintained in the system, although this isn't something that's unique to HCM applications, Maxwell says. "Should an organization want to harness the true power behind the [HCM] tool, data accuracy is paramount," he said.\n\nNot devising a good implementation strategy. Most of the well-known HCM solutions work and work well, Maxwell says. However, the implementation process and an organization's flexibility around adopting new processes and practices is really the determining factor in the long-term success of the HCM application within a company.\n\nNot involving employees. It's important for companies to consult their employees about major change in their HR systems before implementation. Some organizations move forward with the process without really informing employees about what's happening. And they also fail to ensure that the features of the new HCM system match the specific needs of the employees. Consequently, after the HCM systems are up and running, employees can become frustrated, thus slowing the user buy-in that's essential to ensure the system works as expected.