Workforce Central HR Software Review
In much the same vein as other similarly-situated Payroll and HR software offerings, Kronos' software solutions cater to a host of different organizational sizes through the packaged suites of Workforce Central, Kronos Essentials, and Kronos iSeries Central—three separate options that represent the large enterprise, middle, and small business markets. Both Kronos Essentials and Kronos iSeries Central however are best situated for those companies that are either too small to benefit from, or have little use for, broad Payroll/HR functionality. As such, our primary review here is the Workforce Central Suite—a solution best leveraged by those SMB and large enterprises looking to utilize not only core Payroll and HR, but also newer and wider human capital management capabilities.
As mentioned before though, Kronos is primarily known within the Payroll/HR software industry as a provider of time and attendance solutions. As such, the company seems to be in a constant struggle to expand their feature sets to be seen more holistically. These expansions have taken shape through the company’s evolving deployment models (now available through on-premise, hosted, and single-tenant SaaS); payment options (subscription, rent-to-own, and perpetual licensing); and management (optioned now as vendor-maintained or self-service). Still, while customers are able to net a healthier amount of choices than previously seen through Kronos, the company has yet to find the sweet spot that will bring them as much attention as their workforce management solutions have. That said, what Kronos has created within the Workforce Central suite is a solid Payroll/HR offering. No, the user experience is not as polished as other HR applications. Likewise, advanced functionalities outside of time, attendance, and scheduling are scarce. However, by taking the lessons that the company has learned from decades of workforce management solution development, Kronos has been able to deliver a focused, well-defined option; especially well-suited to those organizations that are already familiar with the company’s products.
Kronos Workforce Central Software Suite
Kronos’ Workforce Central software consists of the modules of Workforce Payroll, Workforce HR, Workforce Talent Acquisition, Workforce Timekeeper, Workforce Absence Manager; Workforce Scheduler, Workforce Activities, Workforce Analytics, and Workforce Mobile. Given that this array of functionalities is more closely aligned with that of an integrated workforce management suite, our focus for this review will mostly be on those elements that typically make-up “core” Payroll and HR. As well, the next section will detail additional system elements that are often associated with this core.
Touted by nearly all Payroll/HR vendor solutions that are leveraged in-house, Kronos’ Workforce Payroll (one of the critical components of the Workforce Central suite) boasts the benefit of organizations retaining complete control over the scheduling of the payroll process. While not a new or novel concept however, the fact of the matter is that being unfettered and allowed to conduct payroll in the manner and arrangement needed by your organization is a tangible positive (which with the Kronos solution includes the capability to create special payroll runs; enter last-minute changes on an as-needed basis; and run on-demand checks with and without gross-up).
Of course the Kronos solution also references the advantage of rapid deployment (from reduced learning curves) due to the flexibility and user-friendliness of the system itself—a claim that, while difficult to assess in a review such as this, is somewhat substantiated by the wizard-driven processes that form the backbone of the payroll offering. Specifically, Workforce Payroll guides the end-user through a host of intuitive earnings/deductions processes; providing an easy-to-use system for managing elements such as automated gross-to-net calculations; unlimited trial payrolls; tax filing (including federal, state, and local tax support); comprehensive GL (general ledger) costing; payroll exception processing; garnishment processing (including support for garnishments and taxation reciprocity); standard, ad hoc, and custom reporting with effective dating and audit trails; and a ubiquitous but necessary paperless payroll process.
In addition, Workforce Payroll has the built-in functionalities of a configurable payroll calendar; override capabilities for deductions, earnings, and withholdings; customizable check formatting (and printing capabilities); payroll analytics; and standard interfacing with most GL systems. Further, as part of the core Workforce Central Suite, Workforce Payroll helps eliminate discrepancies and redundant data entry between human resources, payroll, scheduling, and time and attendance information. For example, HR benefit elections are immediately and automatically reflected in payroll deductions. Likewise, time and attendance data from Kronos’ Workforce Timekeeper can automatically feed into the Workforce Payroll solution. Still, as with similarly-situated solutions, one of the best benefits that organizations can net from deploying this module is through the system’s self-service capabilities. Specifically, Workforce Payroll offers self-service functionality that allows employees (via Workforce Employee) to access and manage their own payroll information; including pay stubs, changes to direct deposit elections, alterations to W-4s, and W-2 duplication printing. It also enables managers (via Workforce Manager) to quickly and easily retrieve information on their direct reports; including interactive views of direct reports’ payroll data and compensation reports with historical salary information. Aside from the inherent improvement and preservation of data accuracy that these self-service capabilities provide, the reduction in employee/manager queries, paperwork, and manual processes nets an equally impressive alleviation in the administrative burden on payroll staff.
Focused on the automation of the administrative processes of benefits (e.g. open enrollment, vendor invoicing, etc.); compensation (e.g. planning, budgeting, etc.); position (e.g. creating and modifying jobs/paygrades); performance (e.g. performance review workflows), and employee management (e.g. personal data, profiles, job information), the Workforce HR module is essentially designed to access the gamut of information needed for error reduction, policy enforcement, and business development. However, Workforce HR also serves as the initialization point for a host of other, more talent acquisition-based, functions such as applicant tracking (for creating requisitions, posting jobs, tracking and processing of job applicants, and loading new hire information into payroll); training (for tracking and maintaining up to date skills, licenses, and certifications); attendance (for performing basic attendance and accrual tracking); and self-service (for managing benefits selections, initiating performance reviews, responding to PTO requests, etc.).
As is the case for nearly every other top-tier Payroll/HR system on the market, a repository is needed for all payroll and HR data to be fed into; mainly because that is how processes and business insights can be derived for other system components. Workforce HR is that data repository for the Kronos solution - centralizing and synchronizing the data that’s necessary to allow other modules to function properly. While more technical than this section of our review typically goes into, one of the key differentiating factors of this data repository for Kronos is that both Workforce HR and Workforce Payroll share a single database with the rest of the Workforce Central applications - essentially meaning that data is stored in only one place and at only one time (kept up to date though of course).
While an integral part of the Workforce Central solution, the modules of Workforce Timekeeper, Workforce Absence Manager, Workforce Scheduler, and Workforce Activities fall under the broader heading of workforce management (and outside the scope of this review)—each granularly encapsulating in fine detail the solution’s functionalities for time-based events and scheduling. In all actuality, these modules are the lifeblood of the Workforce Central suite, and highlight the efforts and in-depth expertise that Kronos has leveraged in the time/attendance arena. For instance, included within these modules is a Configurable Rules Engine - a tool designed to handle not only complex work/pay rules, but also organizational communications and compliance - all capabilities that have resulted in the Payroll/HR software industry’s largest library of workforce management reports.
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