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Ceridian’s DayForce Payroll and HCM Software Solution: A Review


Ceridian Dayforce's Payroll and HR Software Product Assessment

Ceridian's Dayforce: An Independent Review of Software Capabilities

The brainchild of serial entrepreneur David Ossip (who founded the wildly successful offerings of both CyberShift and Workbrain), the now wholly-Ceridian-owned Dayforce is a study in workforce management innovation and what can happen when seemingly mundane business processes are truly reimagined. In much the same way that Kronos has pushed self-service innovation and Meta4 re-engineered architecture for organizational structuring, the multi-tenant Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offering Dayforce Human Capital Management is a single application for Payroll and Tax, Benefits, Human Resources, and Workforce Management (as well as Talent Management that the company intends on releasing in 2013) that is pushing the envelope in terms of how Payroll and HR technologies should function.

Almost singularly based on the tenet that human capital management can function better if built from the ground up as a single application (as opposed to "stitched" together), as Ossip frames it, "With Dayforce technology, human capital management is transformed from a collection of disparate systems reliant on fragile interfaces to a single, robust, real-time application". Why is this important? Because as Ossip goes on to remark, "The perception in the marketplace is that 'integrated' HCM solutions offered by most vendors work smoothly together, which is not the case". While that sentiment does paint other solutions on the market with a rather broad brush, the fact of the matter is that building interfaces between disparate products is a complex task that can easily create issues if not managed properly. Dayforce sidesteps these concerns by offering a solution without interfaces. Not only that, Dayforce also offers the choice of accessing the system online or having it installed on a customer's own server—a tangentially-related but nevertheless important aspect of the solution.

For the purposes of this review, included within Dayforce are capabilities for payroll, benefits, time/attendance, scheduling, task management, and manager/employee self-service; each of which will be discussed further shortly. However, prospective customers should also take note that aside from these distinctly workforce management functionalities that Dayforce provides, the solution also provide a number of additional capabilities that are equally as impressive. For instance, the visually-appealing graphics-based interface allows for a rather novel approach to optimizing labor spending; with "performance-based scheduling" that enables a simultaneous, insight-driven view of both worker schedules and efficiency triggers. This allows managers to see the best schedules for specific scenarios and even goes so far as to actually populate details about that schedule without manual intervention. Further, Dayforce comes pre-built with a workflow designer which enables managers to be able to design specific worker communication notifications and/or alerts that can be automatically generated—greatly speeding up what would normally be a manual process. Here are the system's main capabilities.


Dayforce's payroll capabilities revolve around the company's development of a new payroll engine that is pre-integrated with rest of the application's workforce management capabilities. As is the case for numerous other payroll software solutions, Ceridian allows for a comprehensive completion of payroll functions such as zero-to-gross functionality, earnings, deductions and taxes; as well as payment/submission options, paycards, wage garnishment, check printing, and compliance. What separates the Dayforce offering though is a host of additional capabilities such as rapid data entry (allowing adjustments to be made by simply tabbing from cell to cell); real-time payroll previewing that allows users to immediately see reflected changes; the ability to configure an unlimited number of custom audit reports; and a report builder that allows for both standard and ad-hoc reports to be run directly out of the payroll application itself. Further, Dayforce users can leverage additional configuration and/or "tailoring" aspects as well if unique scenarios require paying employees in a non-standard manner. Tangentially related to payroll (though often most associated with talent management), Dayforce also provides a solid (albeit basic) compensation management feature set; including capabilities for incentive/bonus calculations and built-in dynamic search querying.


Ceridian's Dayforce benefits functionalities capture what should be sufficient for most businesses within the middle market; including benefits enrollment capabilities, plan calculators, reporting tools, and a robust, flexible plan management tool that allows near limitless plans to be fairly easily configured and set up. Where Dayforce goes beyond other vendors that offer traditional benefits automation feature sets is in the additional tools that the system affords employees, managers, and benefits administrators. For instance, employees have the capability to leverage built-in self-service tools for enrollment and life event management like benefit decision support (with intuitive plan comparisons) and preview features to see benefit election results in real-time; along with what the impact those elections will have on their earnings statements. Managers on the other hand, can take advantage of the system's embedded analytics and communication tools, as well as greatly increased processing speed for audits and reviews (with certain studies highlighting these tasks can take 50% less time). As well, administrators are afforded some of the best business insight available in the industry with capabilities for: gaining visibility into benefits spending across carriers/plans and creating custom charts for distribution and demographics of their organizations' employee benefit plan portfolios; all on top of an eligibility calculator that doesn't require batch processing.

Task Management

One of the more interesting aspects of the Dayforce system is Task Management—a tool that matches employees' skills/availability with the requisite skills needed to accomplish specific tasks. Based off of a process-driven "launch pad", this feature has a main screen populated with a series of live checklists and reports (e.g. point-in-time, forecasting, KPIs, etc.) that offer a snapshot view of a manager's reporting units. As to be expected given the level of insight that an application like this provides, a sizeable amount of effort is needed on the front-end with regard to manager input in order to make this happen, but the pay-off with this feature set is worth it. After all, with the system's ability to automatically leverage location capacities; distribute necessary documentation; and provide activity-based budgeting and scheduling all with an automated feedback system (among countless other features); the amount of efficiency that could be gained with this tool is nothing short of spectacular.

Time & Attendance

Compliant with labor laws and policies, Dayforce's Time & Attendance capabilities highlight the immediate pay impact of any change made to an employee's timesheet—ensuring that pay results can be viewed and managed when and where needed, with gross pay automatically forwarded to the organization's Payroll Manager once changes are approved. Further, this Dayforce feature set gives employees the ability to: make comparisons between their scheduled and actual times worked; track errors and validate timesheets; and utilize built-in communication tools to discuss scheduling concerns or changes with managers. However, for managers the true benefits of having this dynamic functionality is that all employee information can be reviewed, edited, and closed from a single screen. Plus, because all timesheet modifications can be immediately audited, errors can be fixed and pay can be adjusted (even retroactively) in real-time.


As part of the core system, Dayforce's Scheduling capabilities aid in the optimization of company performance by providing a scheduling solution that makes Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) an integral part of the workforce management process—essentially allowing front-line managers to immediately understand the business implications of their scheduling decisions. This feature set is incredibly important to those organizations with workforces that commonly experience unexpected schedule changes. Largely this is because by building in capabilities for mid-week re-forecasts and operating unit-level adjustments, organizations can get a much better grasp and accuracy on their labor forecasting. Further, the forecasting methodology can be configured to each business's unique needs, without relying on costly and time-consuming customization.


At the heart of Ceridian's Dayforce are capabilities for self-service—a function that is rapidly becoming a competitive differentiator for software providers that fully embrace what these tools can do. Of course the Dayforce solution utilizes these functions for both managers and employees as a way of streamlining data entry and managing communication, but what sets this system apart is that it does so on top of a unified user experience. As such, as employees walk through guided processes for on-boarding; accessing pay-slip details via the web or their mobile device; or managing life event changes, they're greeted with the same intuitive interface. Likewise, managers leveraging these self-service capabilities can easily move between processes and approvals (drilling down with the system's embedded analytics where necessary) because it is, in fact, the same system.

The additional self-service managerial admin tools (e.g. flexible routing, approvals, etc.) are the place where Dayforce really shines though; especially given that one of the most common issues that occur for customers with regard to MSS applications is the need to alter seeded workflows to more closely match organizational requirements. Dayforce allows policy rules to be input to manage approvals and workflow routing automatically as well as notifications to be added along the actual approval route.

Still, Dayforce has developed a host of out-of-the-box workflows (particularly useful for those companies with heavy workforce management needs); and also provides a set of configurable workflows designed to mirror specific approval processes, as well as a Workflow Manager that allows users to audit the progress and approval status of any workflow. On top of these elements, Dayforce also takes the guess work out of a number of other issues related to HR and Payroll data with features such as: dynamic forms for capturing information; on-demand access to tax forms; and automatic jurisdiction updates.

Next - Additional Dayforce Capabilities >>

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