SuccessFactors Aims for Small Business With New HR App

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On-demand human resources software vendor SuccessFactors on Monday announced SuccessFactors Express, an application aimed at companies with fewer than 50 employees.

The San Mateo, California, vendor has garnered recent headlines for its global deals with major corporations like Siemens. However, customer feedback suggested a simplified application with a more intuitive user interface and no need for professional implementation services might help it make greater inroads with emerging companies, said Paul Albright, chief marketing officer.

Express' main function is to track employee goals and create performance reviews.

Users receive a personalized view depending on their job. For example, managers have a dashboard that contains their own measures, as well as all workers who directly report to them. Rank-and-file employees use the system to log progress on their goals and write self-reviews.

The application uses the same codebase as SuccessFactors' upmarket products and includes tools for quickly generating reviews and scanning the copy for legally dubious language.

Managers can also use a "notes" section for keeping a running tally on employee performance between official reviews.

While it is possible for customers to import historical data, some formatting would be involved to match the fields in SuccessFactors Express. But the vendor expects most users, especially those with a messy, ad-hoc approach to performance reviews, will simply start from scratch.

Pricing starts at US$895 per year for a five-user pack. It is available worldwide but only in English; international versions will be released in September.

SuccessFactors, which also sells fuller-featured products for midmarket companies and enterprises, competes with on-demand HR vendors like Taleo and Workday, as well as platform vendors such as Oracle and SAP.

It remains to be seen how its new application fares among small businesses who may be holding the line on IT spending amid the dismal economy, said 451 Group senior analyst China Martens.

"There's been lots of success in SaaS HR higher up the market, but in the current downturn, what's the compelling reason for a smaller business to pay out for an HR system when they're getting by with Excel and not hiring anyone?" Martens said.

For enterprise customers, HR vendors talk "about having a single source of truth and the ability to really know at any time how many staff are employed where and doing what, and drawing comparisons around the world," Martens added.

Such systems are also meant to help companies track the equipment employees have to ensure it is recovered once they leave, she said. "But none of those arguments meshes with the small business case."

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