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Meta4 PeopleNet HCM Software Review


A Deeper Examination of Meta4's PeopleNet

Meta4's PeopleNet solution is designed as a build-on solution, starting with an Ad Hoc option (which allows the customer to opt in to whatever functionality is desired) and then increasing in capabilities through the packages of Core HR, Compensation & Benefits, Talent Management, and the full suite solution. What’s interesting about these Meta4 solution packages is that they suffer a similar problem that the Lawson Payroll/HR software system does: module placement that appears to be more driven by upselling than customer needs. For example, PeopleNet’s Core HR package does not come with capabilities for Benefits Administration, Compensation Management, or the solution’s analytics module Active Dashboard—distinct absences that will almost invariably require a system upgrade for most organizations. Add to that the fact that both Recruitment and Occupational Health/Safety are considered a part of Core HR and it’s clear that some rather illogical feature sets are being joined/split. In any case, our software review will focus on what most organizations consider to be “core” Payroll and HR, detailing the modules of Payroll, Benefits Administration, Organization Planning/Management; Personnel Administration/Management; and Compensation Management.

Organization Planning & Management

Serving as the backbone for Meta4's “people-centric” PeopleNet system, this module sets the tone for subsequent modules by defining rules, roles, and responsibilities. For instance, anyone engaged in a relationship with the organization is defined first as a “person” before applying any other system-generated identifier to them. The benefit to this approach is that it allows all system actions to be “relative to the person”—a particularly helpful model if (like many modern workforces are becoming) collaboration partnerships and team builds must evolve and devolve quickly. Equally as important to the value of this module though are the specific capabilities afforded to HR team members and managers. Specifically, HR can graphically create/manage work units, locations, jobs, and positions, but also have the capability of creating/updating the functional and physical structure of the organization as well—dynamically altering (via drag and drop) any and all applicable arrangements within the system in real-time. Managers on the other hand can benefit from this module by leveraging the system’s built-in budgeting tools to aid in expenditure analyses (against pre-defined forecast) as well as PeopleNet’s graphic displays for budget and real-cost evolution.

Personnel Administration and Management

Acting as a single data repository for both Payroll and HR management (as well as applicant and employee management), this module is responsible for housing globalized information adapted to local laws. As such, the Personnel Administration & Management module provides a high-level vision of HR data at any time and includes the functions of managing historical, contractual, and positional information; required documentation; multiple groups; and report procurement. As is the case for similarly-situated Payroll/HR systems, this module serves as the starting point from which all other modules extract their data from.


A comprehensive global payroll engine which provides support for local regulations and multi-currency support for multinational organizations, PeopleNet's Payroll software module is one of the most robust payroll options available on the market. Leveraging Meta4's unique rule-based component architecture, the system allows both country and company-specific rules to be applied without having to resort to coding—a definite advantage over system’s whose set-ups are less flexible. Flexibility is further extended by way of data entry and payroll updates, but the true benefits of the system lie in its role-based capabilities. For instance, payroll administrators can view, create, and modify payroll rules (using the Meta4 Payroll Editor); define, compile, and test calculation rules in real time; input and manage group and individual defined exceptions; and trace calculation results through the Meta4 Payroll Inspector. Further, PeopleNet Payroll also provides the capability to run calculations at once (employee-by-employee) either in batch mode or online.

  • Payroll Simulation and Budget Control
    More of a tool than an actual software system module, PeopleNet’s Payroll Simulation uses simulated payroll calculations to measure HR salary costs. The benefits of this type of feature are numerous, but most notably this simulator allows for: wide-open calculation intervals (e.g. monthly, quarterly, annually, variable, etc.); the creation of an environment with multiple scenarios; the creation of new, testable rules; and the capability to make real-time changes to affect the simulation itself—providing the opportunity to model prospective issues and initiatives. Ultimately tools such as these let organizations make like-to-like comparisons and create budgetary analyses for corporate changes.

Benefits Administration

Referred to within the system as PeopleNet’s Flexible Benefits, this module allows for the definition of benefits (including establishing types/categories, suppliers, applicable time frames, and coverage levels); the definition of eligibility rules (based on typical parameters such as seniority, level, merit, etc.); the definition of target employee groups; and the grouping of benefits and employee assignment by group or at an individual level. Adding to this functionality however, is the one of the system’s many integration points with ESS/MSS (Employee Self-Service/Manager Self-Service) which allows managers the ability to administer employee requests and access information of the benefits by supplier and type of benefit. Conversely, for employees this module allows for beneficiaries to access the flexible compensation list; simulate savings on a benefit selection basis (i.e. compare same benefit different provider); select combinations which better fit employee needs at each period; and access (and often self-manage) his/her individual benefit portfolio and final contribution costs.

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