OK…this is getting ridiculous. So far, I have counted 13 vendors that have pronounced their “endorsement”, “lauding” and “praise” for earning top marks in a recent Bersin research report (the list includes Authoria, Saba, SumTotal, Learn.com, SuccessFactors, Taleo, Softscape, Plateau, StepStone, Cytiva, Cornerstone OnDemand, iCIMS, and Halogen).
This is not to criticize the research. Heck…I haven’t even read the report. Truth be known, Bersin & Associates has a strong reputation for quality research and Leighanne Levensaler is one of the brightest analysts in the industry. The problem is that we are looking and evaluating performance management all wrong. Without using the “C” word (“commoditized”), most of the performance management products are “me too” (hence why practically every vendor is ranked as “strong” in the report or at least the vendor press releases). They all have very comparable process functionality (Oracle and SAP included) and the only real differentiation occurs 1) in how they integrate with other suite components and 2) the user experience.
Performance management should not be about automating the performance review! I have recently come to the conclusion that companies looking to simply automate an appraisal will miss the real value with performance management. Nor is it about creating a better user experience to complete forms. Usability is so overrated in my opinion. We will never be able to cater a single browser page to every user. As I have learned through the development of the Center of Excellence and working with clients in difference industries, every user is different in they way they interact with systems. Some want a browser-based experience, some want to use email to transact, and some want to use RSS to have the information delivered in their own custom workspace. Manufacturing and healthcare verticals want “stupid simple” while retailers want process efficiency and innovation.
Now that I am off my soapbox, what we really need is more products like Sonar6. Performance management should be about making, supporting and visualizing decisions for all levels of management that drive corporate performance. It should cater to every talent stakeholder and answer the question that are important to them such as…
- Managers – How do I reward and penalize individuals and teams based on performance?
- Directors – How do I analyze and compare the performance of my team against other departments and divisions within my company?
- VPs – How can I model my group against other high-performing regions, geographies, roles and skills to drive my company’s performance?
To get performance management right, (and talent management for that matter) we must first start asking the right questions.