Report from the Road: Ceridian Analyst Day

It’s the beginning of conference season for me, which means I’ll be traveling frequently to various solution provider and user events. Along the way, I will bring you dispatches from the front, sharing what I learn. This week I had the opportunity to take a deeper dive into Ceridian, the Minneapolis-based payroll, benefits management, and cloud-based human capital management technology provider, at its annual analyst event in San Francisco. While outsourced payroll, benefits administration, tax and EAP/wellness solutions make up a large portion of its customer base and revenue, the main focus of the analyst day event was their Dayforce product.

Dayforce HCM is a SaaS offering that is being built out to be a single solution for HR, payroll, workforce management and talent management. As mentioned in my previous coverage of Ceridian, its design philosophy is to have one single solution, not interfaced solutions, that uses a single code base and a single employee record to deliver a seamless user experience. While this single solution approach has not changed, its new brand mantra is Ceridian “makes work life better.” This philosophy is influencing everything from its new user interface, to the types of products it builds to its acquisition strategy.

The new user interface on the Dayforce product is indeed cleaner and more modern looking than previous versions. It is designed to be device responsive, and capitalize on gestures used in mobile devices. It still packs a lot of information into every screen, and there’s further opportunity to use visual cues such as color to help users sort through data and functionality, but clearly a lot of attention has been paid to this latest iteration.

Ceridian’s focus on enhancing work life is reflected in the announcement of its acquisition of RelatedMatters, a lightweight assessment-based tool designed to support team building, compatibility, and interaction by looking at individual compatibility. The acquisition is still new, and it remains to be seen exactly how it will integrate with the rest of the solution, but CEO David Ossip says he sees it integrating with hiring, onboarding and performance management to name just a few. It is a situational assessment, and I have not seen the validity studies behind it yet, so it remains to be seen exactly how it can be used at particular points in the employee lifecycle, but it does seem to indicate a new focus on the “softer side” of HCM.

Workforce management, Dayforce’s foundation, remains a strong point, with increasingly sophisticated compliance management components. There was much debate in the room about the relative “sexiness” of compliance, but there is no question that the cost of non-compliance for organizations is significant. Compliance takes many forms, from adherence to time and labor laws to tax issues to the management of certifications and licenses. For companies in the US, there’s also the challenge of managing Affordable Care Act regulations, which become extremely complex in an hourly work environment. While the minutia of managing compliance may not seem like the most interesting work, I have frequently asserted that compliance done right lays the foundation for the more complex and “sexy” aspects of HCM, like sophisticated analytics and reporting. Analytics requires a solid basis of data, and strong compliance ensures that the data an organization uses is clean and validated.

Ceridian is also reaching down market with its Dayforce Go solution, aimed at organizations with 100-500 employees, picking up on the growing need the SMB marketplace has for more sophisticated workforce and talent management solutions. This product is the exact same code base and solution as the enterprise product, but with different templates and menus reflecting the needs of smaller organizations, and a streamlined out-of-the-box implementation process.

Ossip also shared some thoughts on future plans for the organization, which include:

  • Further expansion outside of the US, Canada and the UK with Dayforce HCM and workforce management
  • Continuing to build-out the talent management side of the product with compensation coming later this year, followed by career-pathing and succession next year
  • Continued focus on the international payroll marketplace.

Ceridian has a lot of interesting capabilities going for it. The Dayforce product has significant capability, but one of the greatest challenges will be helping organizations make the transition from their manual processes, or multiple point solutions, to Ceridian’s single source view of the world.

Mollie Lombardi, VP and Principal Analyst,
Workforce Management, Brandon Hall Group

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