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Ceridian’s Payroll and HR Software Solution: A Review

3.5 stars Average rating: 3.5 (from 115 votes)

An Independent Ceridian Software Review and Analysis

It may be based in Minneapolis, MN but with over 9,500 employees worldwide, Ceridian is a truly global software provider comprising what often seem to be five separate businesses into one:

  • Ceridian US provides outsourced business services, specifically: HR, workforce management, benefits management and, of course, payroll; including processing, tax, and self-service options.
  • Ceridian Canada is based in Markham, Ontario and similar to its US counterpart, offers payroll and other HR solutions, including workforce management, recruitment, employee assistance programs and training.
  • Across the Atlantic, Ceridian UK is the Reading, Berkshire-based leading provider of payroll and HR services, as well as flexible benefits and employee assistance programs.
  • Ceridian Stored Value Solutions offers prepaid card-based programs for promotions, gift cards and consumer loyalty initiatives. As a market leader, Ceridian SVS manages $20B+ for over 500M card products in 40+ countries.
  • Comdata is a leading B2B (business-to-business) provider, issuer, and processor of electronic payment solutions, managing $23B’s worth of fleet card, credit card, paycard and virtual card transactions per year.

A Quick History – From a Back-Office Offering to a Global Powerhouse

A 1970's lawsuit effectively gave birth to Ceridian when the decision dictated the acquisition by the Control Data Corporation of a then-IBM company called the Service Bureau Corporation (SBC). This change of ownership gave the beneficiary SBC’s payroll, General Ledger (GL), and accounts payable business, laying the foundation for a breakaway company focussed solely on those business services. Following a corporate restructuring in 1992, the Ceridian Corporation emerged as provider of outsourced payroll and HR services with ambitions to become a global player in HR administration and management solutions. A brief look at the list of acquisitions and investments that ensued make clear Ceridian’s path to its current global proportions:

  • 1993 acquisition of Systems Tax Service (a payroll tax services firm);
  • 1995 acquisition of Centrefile (the UK’s largest payroll processing outsourcer);
  • 1995 purchase of Comdata (a transportation/gaming industry transaction processer);
  • 1998 buy-out of LifeWorks (the Employee Assistance Program subsidiary of Work/Family Directions);
  • 1998 buy-out of Toronto Dominion Bank's and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce's payroll outsourcing operations (thus creating Ceridian Canada);
  • 1999 acquisition of ABR Information Services (the U.S. largest third party benefits administration firm);
  • 2000 phased buy-out of Stored Value Systems (the U.S. largest provider of stored value cards);
  • 2002 acquisitions of GLS Benefits Services, HR Comply, and IBM's Commercial Employee Service Center;
  • 2004 acquisition of Recruiting Solutions International (a provider of online recruiting/workforce management offerings);
  • 2004 purchase of Information Technology Systems (an Ireland-based HR software company);
  • 2006 purchase of Leade Health (a health coaching firm that focuses on weight and stress management, as well as substance cessation and heart health);
  • 2011 acquisition of Versult (a leading workforce management consulting firm).

This pattern of growth has inevitably led to the company having a somewhat conglomerate nature and although Ceridian no longer publicly trades its stock (after being acquired by Thomas H. Lee Partners and Fidelity National Financial in late 2007) the organization remains relatively open with the details of its success. Company statistics for 2011 cite annual revenue of $1.52B, a fraction up on the previous year’s level $1.49B.

Accolades for Ceridian’s Payroll Solution

Given the strong emphasis on providing outsourced services, it may seem unusual that such a large, diverse and ‘elsewhere-focused’ organization also offers stellar payroll and HR software. However, analyst reports have not stinted in their praise for Ceridian’s solution. David O'Connell of Nucleus Research has stated, "Ceridian's solution goes beyond the basic benefits of process automation and improved payroll accuracy, which can be significant." And the much-touted Forrester Wave report highlights the integration capabilities of Ceridian’s software, stating: "Ceridian HR/Payroll Latitude is supplemented by well-integrated Ceridian payroll processing and outsourced benefits administration capabilities." However, industry awards continue to elude Ceridian’s offering while the company receives prizes for "Payroll Outsourcing Provider of the Year" and features on "Global Outsourcing 100" – it seems that the payroll and HR software sector itself still regards Ceridian as a payroll provider first and a payroll software vendor second.

Partnering Strategically in the Past

Ceridian’s past strength and success (both as outsourcer and vendor) has come in part from its strong strategic and working partnerships; most notably with Workday and SuccessFactors. However, now that Workday’s strategic plans (and products) overlap with Ceridian’s and SuccessFactors has been acquired by SAP, it remains to be seen how this will affect the company’s future performance.

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