Top 10 HCM HRMS Suppliers for 2021


The WFA (Work from Anywhere) dynamic has challenged the traditional mission of HCM professionals. With these changes come new and unique ways that HCM and HRMS providers should be engaged and negotiated with. As you read through our top 10 providers, some strategic imperatives to keep in mind:

  • Innovation: Shifts to WFA models require rapid, nimble, innovation focused providers. Keep this in mind when researching your renewal and or new agreements. Ensure the agreement’s terms and conditions meet YOUR expectations and projected business requirements – not the providers sales and margin goals.
  • Return of the niche providers: HCM solutions were at the forefront of the shift to work from home. Where full platform providers were the choice of many as recently as two or three years ago, rapid enablement of remote workforces have signaled a pivot back to niche providers incorporating and utilizing advanced AI and bot technologies to better support the non-office-based worker.
  • Embracing change: Robust functionality can now be implemented quickly – workers embracing change can be the bigger issue and demographics of the workforce can affect this.
  • Getting it right the first time: Be very careful with that first contract as it will set the tone for the rest of your relationship. Invest the time to get the first one right. Similarly, be weary of suppliers offering “free trials” as they will recoup those costs later on if you don’t know the “post-free” terms before ever signing up.

With these in mind, let’s review our top 10:

Number One:

workday small

Category: Human Capital Management
Location: Pleasanton, CA

When human resource management system (HRMS) PeopleSoft was acquired by Oracle in 2004, David Duffield and Aneel Bhusri decided it was time for them to break the chains of physical servers and put their energies into a cloud-based future. The fruit of their collaboration is Workday, a powerhouse in subscription-based enterprise software. As of 2020, their platform has been adopted by industry giants such as HubSpot, Netflix, and Quicken Loans, and high customer satisfaction is driving their expansion even further.

Headquartered in the San Francisco suburb of Pleasanton, California, Workday’s platform unifies Human Capital and Financial Management systems into a modern interface, granting businesses greater control over their most valuable assets. Human resources and payroll are integrally intertwined, and Workday ensures that those systems work together to any company’s benefit. As enterprise resource planning (ERP) continues to be a driving factor in growth, the platform promotes efficiency and increases agility, allowing companies to constantly stay ahead of the pack.

Since its founding, Workday has become one of the largest publicly traded SaaS companies in the world and is currently growing toward an ARR of $1 billion per quarter. Co-founder and CEO Bhusri brought two decades of experience at the forefront of enterprise software and grew Workday with a commitment to ease the pains of moving infrastructures from legacy systems into the ever-expanding cloud. With Duffield’s recent resignation, Bhusri’s ascension to Chairman and his continuation, along with Chano Fernandes, in the role of co-CEO, Workday is well on its way to dominance in the HR software market.  

From a strategy perspective, Workday has radically transitioned from their strategy at their inception - which was one of a "Workday Ecosystem" that utilized a closely integrated network of third parties to provide features and functions they had not yet developed - to where they are now: the "Power of One" whereby those third parties are either being acquired and subsequently integrated or new Workday native functionality is being developed to keep all revenue (and platform control) within Workday.

Number Two:

cornerstone small

Category: Human Capital Management
Location: Santa Monica, CA

Headquartered in Santa Monica, CA with offices around the globe, Cornerstone is a people development company that believes people can achieve anything when they have the right development and growth opportunities. Cornerstone’s people development solutions include comprehensive recruiting software, a personalized learning platform, modern training content, development-driven performance management and holistic employee data management and insights. Approximately 6,300 organizations of all sizes use Cornerstone’s software, spanning more than 75 million users across over 180 countries and 50 languages.

In April 2020, Cornerstone acquired one if its largest competitors, Saba Software, and announced a new strategic vision and accelerated innovation plans to help organizations thrive through unprecedented change and transform into resilient unbound businesses. Cornerstone has made significant steps in this strategic direction with a renewed focus on product innovation that leverages people data to help organizations and their workforces realize their potential.

Along with Saba’s purchase, Cornerstone gained a new CEO, Phil Saunders, replacing founder Adam Miller who moved into a co-chairman role on the company’s board of directors.

Number Three:

icims small

Category: Talent Acquisition
Location: Holmdel, NJ

When it began in 2000, iCIMS was Colin Day’s vision for an all-in-one talent searching software. Twenty years later, the company is a leading HR cloud recruitment platform serving more than 4000 companies worldwide. In the global marketplace of labor, applicant tracking systems are more important than ever, and iCIMS is a leader in the emerging field of marketing to talent.

Even cloud-based businesses cannot function without humans, which is why iCIMS offers a complete recruitment marketing software suite, providing businesses with the right tools to attract the perfect team members. Career pages and application systems are easily customized, ensuring high-quality candidate experiences. Additionally, enhanced communication and engagement keep talent pools from draining completely. The platform also eases the pains associated with furloughing and rehiring staff, a common problem during the current economic downturn.

As the world becomes less reliant on in-person staffing, the company’s new CEO Steve Lucas is ready to guide iCIMS boldly forward. Lucas previously saw success leading Marketo as it grew before it was acquired by software giant Adobe. iCIMS shows similar potential, as it currently generates about $250 million in recurring revenue. Based in Holmdel, New Jersey, iCIMS also operates out of offices in Manhattan, UK, Washington, DC, and San Jose.

Number Four:

gusto small

Category: Human Resources
Location: San Francisco, CA

In the last nine years, Gusto has been a leader in human resource technologies for businesses large and small. The company provides cloud-based payroll services to over 100,000 clients across America, with software that tracks employee hours, manages benefits, and more all-inclusive HR management. Gusto is applauded for its software’s ease-of-use, making it the go-to for new business owners acting as their own HR department. Employees can even withdraw funds between pay periods with Gusto Cashout, bringing modern technology in to assist with the needs of today’s workers.

From the beginning of Gusto, which launched as ZenPayroll in 2012, CEO/Co-Founder Josh Reeves has kept the company focused on customer service. In addition to the platform’s usability, the company offers a free product called HR Basics which helps small businesses operate without the need for an entire human resources department. With over 500 employees between their San Francisco headquarters and offices in Denver and New York City, Gusto’s services are in high demand. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the company has been guiding its clients through the government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), enabling over $1 billion in approved loans to small businesses and providing COVID-related features.

After nine rounds of fundraising, the company has amassed a valuation of $3.8 billion, counting Fidelity Management and Research Company, and Generation Investment Management as their newest investors. Previous investments have come from firms such as Google Capital and Kleiner Perkins, as well as tech titans like Max Levchin and Kevin Systrom.

Number Five:

avature small

Category: Human Capital Management
Location: New York, NY

Founded in New York City in 2005, Avature is a leading Human Capital Management software company whose award-winning SaaS is used by corporations and enterprises alike. Attracting top-tier talent is essential, and Avature makes tracking prime candidates easier than ever with its market-leading Candidate Relationship Management system. With a platform built with both parties in mind, it ensures better matches between employers and job seekers. Diverse marketing tools are available for multiple brands and career options, allowing companies to concisely guide attracted candidates toward their best-fit opportunities. Avature Onboard makes new hire enrollment stress-free, and the Performance Management function fosters stronger employee engagement.

In 2019, Avature’s all-in-one Applicant Tracking System (ATS) received an “Excellence In Technology” award from Brandon Hall Group, an accolade that points to a bright future in the HCM industry. Founder and CEO Dimitri Boylan rose to fame as the head of online job search innovator, a forerunner of modern employee recruitment engines. Over the last fifteen years, Boylan’s company has evolved from a recruitment service provider to a business management software innovator. Their CRM systems and talent management software are used by some of Fortune 500’s top companies, including conglomerates such as Cisco Systems and ViacomCBS.

Number Six:

payscale small

Category: Compensation and Data Software
Location: Seattle, WA

No matter the state of the job market, PayScale provides the essential service of tracking and comparing compensation across a multitude of industries and careers. Since 2002, the Seattle, Washington based company has provided instant compensation information to both individuals and businesses alike. Not only can individuals gauge their professional value, but businesses can also thoroughly assess their own compensation practices.

PayScale utilizes both crowdsourced and company-sourced information to create a database of over 54 million salary profiles, making it easy to make compensation changes even during times of economic hardship. The company’s new CEO Scott Torrey looks to massively grow PayScale, which has already surpassed the $100 million mark in ARR. After a fresh majority investment by Francisco Partners, PayScale received a valuation of $325 million. Current customers include such large companies as T-Mobile, Dish Network, UnitedHealthcare and Time Warner.

Number Seven:

bamboo small

Category: Human Resources
Location: Lindon, UT

BambooHR provides companies with an intuitive dashboard through which customers can utilize an applicant tracking system for prospective employees, and an employee benefits tracker for existing workers. In 2019, PC Magazine noted that the company provided a “solid feature set and user-friendly interface,” adding that these were enough reasons to “push it to the top of our list” of top HR software options.

Recently, BambooHR teamed up with TazWorks, a background screening technology platform. The partnership with allow BambooHR users to tap into a massive network of background screening agencies to simplify the hiring process and allow employers to pre-screen applicants before interviews even begin.

BambooHR has also gained a reputation as a great company to work for, with the majority of their employees being salaried, and strongly discouraged from putting in more than 40 hours a week. They even developed a one-of-a-kind “paid vacation” policy to combat burnout, where employees can actually get reimbursed for part of their vacation expenses.

Number Eight:

schoologoy small

Category: Learning Management – K-12 schools and higher education
Location: New York, NY

In the midst of a global health crisis, online learning has become a new normal for students and teachers, making learning management systems (LMS) more important than ever. Founded in New York in 2009, Schoology is a cloud-based platform built for learning, classroom coordination, and social networking, uniting educators, students, and families. With Schoology, online education is made easier for everyone involved, allowing for a collaborative environment geared toward ensuring students get as much of a chance to succeed as they would have in a physical classroom.

Schoology offers a variety of tools for creating engaging learning materials, designing lessons and implementing lesson plans, and student assessment, all in one modern interface. The platform integrates with other essential applications like Google Drive, Blackboard, Dropbox, and YouTube, and many more, creating an educational ecosystem that fosters collaboration between educators, administrators, and students, as well as educational publishers.

In 2019, Schoology was acquired by PowerSchool, the market leader in K-12 education technologies boasting over 45 million students and counting. Together, they are providing tools for educators and students around the world, while generating revenue approaching $500 million. Schoology, fueled in partnership with PowerSchool, looks very much like the classroom of the future and was one of the “stars” of the rapid move of education to pandemic required distance learning models.

While not currently in their roadmap, Schoology should be watched for potential extensions or acquisitions that move its solution from schools to the commercial sector.

Number Nine:

justworks small

Category: Human Resources
Location: New York, NY

Justworks’ HR software tools allow organizations to manage payroll, benefits, compliance, and employee details. For instance, it can manage payroll and vacation, benefits enrollment, and save and track important employee documents. There are multiple transparently priced tiered plans to choose from for managing back-end processes, and their customer service agents are available and responsive, and can be contacted via phone, email, or chatbot.

Earlier this year, the U.S.’s fastest-growing HR tech company closed a Series E funding round to the tune of $50 million. Union Square Investors and FirstMark Capital led the round, with Index Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Bain Capital Ventures, Spark Capital, and Thrive Capital also participating. To date, Justworks has brought in $143 million in funding.

Founded in 2012, the company now employs over 600 workers, and has gone from focusing on small businesses to helping clients as large as United Healthcare and Kaiser Permanente. They have now logged more than 86,000 employees for their various clients.

Number Ten:

namely small

Category: Human Resources
Location: New York, NY

New York’s Namely is a renowned HR solutions provider for mid-sized companies across America. Their platform is an all-in-one human resource department, providing services benefiting both employers and their workforce, like payroll and benefits administration. An intuitive interface provides ease-of-use, encouraging employee engagement and productivity, as well as giving businesses the tools to properly manage their talent. With Namely’s software, everything from onboarding, time management, and compliance is covered, saving businesses time and offering more opportunities for executives to focus on keeping their employees happy.

Since 2019, Namely has been helmed by CEO Larry Dunivan, who remains committed to keeping both customers and employees satisfied with their workplace and prepared for long-term success. Over 500 Namely staff members support their client base of nearly 1300 companies across the globe.


One to Watch: UKG (formerly Ultimate Software and Kronos)

UKG Group

As their website proclaims, Gartner named UKG "A 2021 Peer Insights Customers' Choice for Cloud HCM Suites for 1,000+ employees."   While the marketplace seems to like the direction the platform is taking, they may have some catch up to do in areas like product support and full range of business requirements.  However, they get very high marks for their development direction and feature additions which could set them apart very quickly as a leader.

We will continue to review UKG over the next twelve to eighteen months as they could easily climb into our top 10 if successfully execute their 2021 business plans.

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