3 Takeaways from WorkForce Software’s Vision 2016

Vision 2016, the annual WorkForce Software event, was held in Chicago this week. Although there were a number of topics discussed, three main subjects stood out to me from my time there:

  • WorkForce Software’s acquisition of Workplace
  • The amount of open sharing that was being done by the customers in attendance
  • The surprising lack of discussion around the new time and wage laws put into effect by the recent FLSA update. Here are some expanded thoughts.

WorkForce Software’s Acquisition of Workplace Seems Destined for Success

Much of the talk (and focus of many of the presentations) was on WorkForce Software’s recent acquisition of Workplace. This move gives WorkForce Software a coveted greater global footprint, but also gives it immediate entry into the retail market, which was Workplace’s main space. One fact that bodes well for the acquisition is that the two companies only had one shared customer. The lack of disruption among both companies’ existing customer base should allow both organizations to focus on combining the strengths of both. For WorkForce Software that is a customer-centric focus, strategic sales approach, and broad product vision; for Workplace it is a hyper-modern UI/UX, agile development, and retail-focused scheduling solutions. This seems like an acquisition that should work.

Companies Are Easily Showing the ROI of WFM Automation

Other than the acquisition news, the main highlights for me were the customer stories, particularly one presented by Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, which shared some of the direct financial rewards of moving to a fully automated scheduling and leave management system. In 2015 when Brandon Hall Group first published the findings of our workforce management automation study, many of the groups I presented to were surprised or even sceptical of the percentage of companies that still relied on manual processes for wage and labour law compliance.

Which process best describes your organization’s compliance reporting capabilities?


Source: 2015 Brandon Hall Group Workforce Management Technology Study

Often the data was challenged, with the argument being that it was probably a lot of small companies that still relied on manual processes for tracking things such as time and attendance. Yet when I pulled out the smaller companies the percentages did not change drastically: 38% of companies with 1,000 employees or more reported having only partially automated systems for wage and hour reporting (only a 3% change from the overall sample population).

MLSE shared that for one-quarter of their hourly employees, they were still manually inputting pay. For a company of over 1,600 employees and $700M in equity, that is a lot of risk, but also a lot of opportunity to introduce efficiency, cost savings, and improve employee engagement. In fact, MLSE was able to show the ROI of their migration to a fully automated system, and also spoke about some of the ancillary benefits, such as simplified remote access for scheduling (due to its now cloud-based technology). This is important for their employees, the vast majority of whom work on an as-needed basis.

The FLSA Changes Should Not be Ignored

The last thing I noticed was the relative lack of concern about the recent FLSA update from May. The turmoil from that change just does not seem as great as expected, as many of the organizations (in this group at least) were already well above the threshold for the new exempt minimum. However, there were repeated warnings not to rely too much on vendors to maintain compliance for companies, as nearly every organization has some process, rule, classification, or job type that could cause them to err on the side of non-compliance, but that couldn’t be caught by the fields or alerts in any WFM software.

For the most part, organizations have done their due diligence in seeking out knowledge, research, and analysis on compliance topics so many of the changes were expected, although the specifics were not known until the final announcement. Certain realities have been made clear over the last two years, though: there is a greater amount of data that could be considered “compliance data,” and there is increased need for transparency (which de facto includes objective, automated collection and storage).

A final note on the topic of transparency: WorkForce Software should be commended for the amount of transparency it has shown during the acquisition of Workplace. In terms of executive access, analyst communications, and (extremely) early demos of upcoming projects, they have led the way in creating an open and honest atmosphere which hopefully is indicative of HR technology as a whole in the coming years.

Cliff Stevenson, Principal Analyst, Workforce Management, Brandon Hall Group



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Mike Cooke

Chief Executive Officer of Brandon Hall Group Mike Cooke Prior to joining Brandon Hall Group, Mike Cooke was the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of AC Growth. Mike held leadership and executive positions for the majority of his career, at which he was responsible for steering sales and marketing teams to drive results and profitability. His background includes more than 15 years of experience in sales, marketing, management, and operations in the research, consulting, software and technology industries. Mike has extensive experience in sales, marketing and management having worked for several early high-growth emerging businesses and has implemented technology systems to support various critical sales, finance, marketing and client service functions. He is especially skilled in organizing the sales and service strategy to fully support a company’s growth strategy. The concept of growth was an absolute to Mike and a motivator in starting AC Growth, in order to help organizations achieve research driven results. Most recently, Mike was the VP and General Manager of Field Operations at Bersin & Associates, a global analyst and consulting services firm focused on all areas of enterprise learning, talent management and talent acquisition. Tasked with leading the company’s global expansion, Mike led all sales operations worldwide. During Mike’s tenure, the company has grown into a multi-national firm, conducting business in over 45 countries with over 4,500 multi-national organizations. Mike started his career at MicroVideo Learning Systems in 1992, eventually holding a senior management position and leading all corporate sales before founding Dynamic Minds. Mike was CEO and Co-Founder of Dynamic Minds, a custom developer of software programs, working with clients like Goldman Sachs, Prentice Hall, McGraw Hill and Merrill Lynch. Also, Mike worked for Oddcast, a leading provider of customer experience and marketing solutions, where he held a senior management position leading the company into new markets across various industries. Mike also serves on the Advisory Board for Carbon Solutions America, an independent sustainability consulting and carbon management firm that specializes in the design and implementation of greenhouse reduction and sustainability plans as well as managing the generation of carbon and renewal energy and energy efficiency credits. Mike attended University of Phoenix, studying Business Administration and Finance. He has also completed executive training at the Chicago Graduate School of Business in Chicago, IL.