When Software Companies Put People First


Ultimate Software had its user conference this week in Las Vegas—attended by 1200 users representing various areas of HR and payroll management.  Ultimate Software, best known for its SaaS solution Ultipro, delivers HR, payroll, and talent management solutions that are all organically built for seamless integration. Founded in 1990, the company is headquartered in Weston, Florida and has more than 1,400 employees. Its products are delivered primarily to organizations based in the United States and Canada and designed to deliver the functionality businesses need to manage the complete employment life cycle from recruitment to retirement (It provides U.S. and Canadian payroll).

In conversation with Ultimate’s CEO, Scott Scherr, we discussed his view of the company’s position and value proposition.  Unlike many CEOs with aspirations to intergalactic dominance, Scott offers a view of a business plan that relies on hiring and retaining the best people, delivering product excellence, and serving customers well.

Ultimate supports HR/payroll/ talent management for both smaller and upper mid-market companies; its UltiPro Workplace provides HR, payroll, and talent management Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution for businesses with 200-999 employees; UltiPro Enterprise provides the same functions for global businesses with 1,000 or more employees. (Ultimate’s customers range up to 100,000 employees.) More specifically, the Ultipro suites support talent acquisition and onboarding, HR management and compliance, benefits management and online enrollment, payroll, performance management, salary planning and budgeting for compensation management, succession management, reporting and analytical decision-making tools, time and attendance, and role-based self-service capabilities for executives, managers, administrators, and employees whether they are in or out of the office.

Today, Ultimate announced a partnership with Yammer that will allow incorporation of Yammer’s social feedback and recognition product with UltiPro HCM. UltiPro serves as the employee system of record, incorporating employee information derived from recruiting through career development, job history, compensation, payroll, and performance. By connecting the HR system of record with Yammer’s collaboration product, the two companies aspire to achieve quantifiable improvements in employee engagement and capture 360-like employee performance data that can be used for performance reviews.

Product Integration Plan

The first phase of UltiPro and Yammer integration will be available in UltiPro’s Spring 2012 release. Key points of integration on the 2012 plan include:

•  Recognition from Yammer published within the UltiPro talent profile—Managers and HR staff will see the comprehensive, continuous picture of employee performance in one central place, as UltiPro captures praise from Yammer into the performance management record.
•  Team collaboration view—Managers will be able to view a filtered stream of their team members’ collaboration from Yammer as part of the UltiPro Talent Gateway, facilitating review of both performance information and real-time activity in one place.
•  Single sign-on from UltiPro to Yammer—This feature will provide a seamless, secure, login experience.
•  Work milestones—These will enable people to tag accomplishments relative to a company, team, or individual goal within Yammer and have these milestones captured in UltiPro’s goal management capability.
•  Cross posting and messaging—Jobs posted in UltiPro will automatically post to Yammer, and administrative alerts or actions can be part of an individual’s activity stream.

The HR information that UltiPro manages includes employment history, performance, job and salary information, career development, and health and wellness programs. It facilitates the recording and tracking of key information for government compliance and reporting, including under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA), regulations implemented by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), workers’ compensation regulations, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws.

UltiPro enables compliance with HIPPAA confidentiality requirements for protecting sensitive data such as employee social security numbers (some of the company’s largest customers are hospital chains.)  UltiPro also allows customers to track HR information of employees working outside the U.S. and Canada, providing a global view of their workforces and enabling consolidation of global HR/employee information into one central system for HR reporting and analytics by individual country or the entire company as a whole.

The “people first” principle seems to be working for Ultimate Software:  it has never had less than 95% retention rates for its employees, and maintains a stable customer base.

Christa Degnan Manning

Christa Degnan Manning leads Bersin by Deloitte’s Technology & Tools research. In this role, she collaborates with Bersin and Deloitte colleagues across practices to identify and analyze software and service providers that support and sustain success in human resources, workforce enablement, and organizational effectiveness. Christa’s research and advisory work helps businesses align their workforce support strategies with the right third-party software and service partners and governance models to deliver functional capabilities and employee experiences that support productivity, engagement, and workforce efficiency. She also helps solution providers map their capabilities and go-to-market activities with solution buyers’ and users’ critical needs. Christa draws on more than two decades of business-to-business market research, operational leadership, and global workforce experience. She holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Massachusetts, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Barnard College, Columbia University, including studies at University College, University of London. Christa also has completed on-going executive education coursework in business metrics at Wharton, University of Pennsylvania.

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