Additional Ultimate Software HR and Payroll Capabilities
Additional system functionalities that are often included within a Payroll/HR software selection endeavor include:
- Compensation Management
Heavy on reporting, this module offers organizations that ability to have ready-to-go access to job and compensation information, as well as the functionality to establish matrices for merit pay compliance, variable pay rates/plans, and salary differentials that are geography-specific. Further, UltiPro's Salary Planning and Budgeting module (more of a subset of Compensation Management rather than an entirely separate system element) acts as a configurable projection tool; useful for P4P (pay-for-performance); individual/group salary allocations, and off-cycle pays. That said, the true benefits that can be realized with this planning tool will likely only be seen by those companies with well-established processes and procedures that are supported by organizational culture. For those businesses that do have well-linked compensation and performance processes though, the configuration capabilities of this module can provide easier-than-normal business rule tie-ins, as well as a one-click approval submission process.
- Workforce Analytics and Reporting
UltiPro's Workforce Analytics and Reporting module is a unified reporting and business intelligence tool. While strong though, more advanced capabilities such as data mining, warehousing, and modeling are currently not a part of this module’s feature set; nor are capabilities for predictive analytics. That said, organizations leveraging this aspect of the Ultipro solution can gain insight through real-time alerts and dashboards—tools that can aid in metric processes for everything from turnover to benefit cost analyses to salary studies and GL (General Ledger) reports. Still, perhaps the most positive aspect of this limited module comes from the system’s role-based access element—an intuitive facet that can be utilized to specify the parameters for queries without expert information technology knowledge.
- Mobile Technology
As Ultimate itself attests, the ability to conduct “anytime, anywhere” business is simply a must-have for many companies today. As such, to keep pace not only with the mobile Payroll/HR market but also customers’ needs, UltiPro has extended manager and employee portal access to the Apple iPhone through a downloadable “app”. On the plus side, this application has the capability of rapidly delivering workforce information by granting immediate access to managers’ UltiPro Inboxes—allowing approvals/denials of daily workforce transactions such as salary increases, job changes, and vacation/leave requests. For employees, the benefits are a bit more basic and simply entail using their respective iPhones to search company directories. What’s most telling about Ultipro mobile functionality is that it is form-factor specific; meaning users aren’t simply subjected to a weak browser-based version of the software. That said, customer reviews are mixed for this offering; and complaints (while few) have ranged from an unpleasant user experience (UX) down to log-in issues. As such, while promising it’s clear that the Ultipro mobile application needs a significant amount of retooling before widespread satisfaction is seen.
- Social Technology
Though not specific to its payroll offering, Ultimate’s social technologies for HR are increasing with each successive quarter. Specifically, one of the company’s greatest accomplishments to date has been the establishment of the Ultipro Ideas portal—a social community for Ultimate’s customers that centers on the idea of soliciting street-level thoughts on best practices and improving the Ultipro solution. Though far from Ultimate’s only strategic initiative, the Ultipro Ideas portal plays a significant role in the company’s product roadmap and has netted 2K+ customer ideas (200+ of which were deemed implementable); including performance review enhancements, reporting improvements for 401K-matching and Canadian payroll, and conditional workflow augmentation. On top of this portal, Ultimate also provides customers with an interactive blog as a means of disseminating company and product info.
Still, perhaps the most notable social technology news that has involved Ultimate of late is the March 2012 announcement of the company’s partnership plans with Yammer—one of the top providers of enterprise social networks. Sparing inconsequential details for this specific software review, in essence the real-time collaboration capabilities of Yammer will connect with Ultipro as a means of driving employee engagement and organic performance management data—a direction that the HR software industry is starting to turn towards. Those too soon to tell whether this collaborative arrangement will net sizeable results for Ultimate’s customers, the fact of the matter is that by remaining innovative Ultimate has positioned it’s Ultipro Enterprise solution to be a viable alternative to industry stalwarts Oracle, SAP, and Workday.
- International Support
Interestingly, though Ultimate Software prides itself on its global capabilities, few indications have been given that Ultimate is a credible solution for those companies that seek truly worldwide Payroll/HR functionality. For one, the company faces a serious dearth of internationally-situated outposts; a fact that not only affects the company’s reputation as a global provider but also its ability to deliver services and manage those customers that fall out of North America. Not only that, Ultipro’s language (only supporting English, Spanish, and French) and regionalization support further impacts the company’s ability to address the challenges that a multinational organization might have. That said, given the number of customer complaints that these deficiencies have elicited (and the fact that Ultimate puts forth an incredible effort to address customer concerns), these international issues may well be a thing of the past. In fact, though absent of details, Ultimate has indicated that further international functionalities will be forthcoming in future releases.
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