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Grow Your Business Technology

BambooHR Review: Best Standalone Performance Management System

BambooHR Review: Best Standalone Performance Management System
Credit: BambooHR

After reviewing dozens of performance management systems, we recommend BambooHR as the best standalone performance management system in 2017. We chose BambooHR after analyzing a list of vendors in the space. To understand how we chose BambooHR, see our methodology on our best picks page.

Generally, performance management software is used in conjunction with other human capital management (HCM) software, such as succession planning or career development systems. But sometimes a company might just want the performance management module on its own – whether you've already got an HCM solution that works for you or if you're just looking for a standalone performance review, we recommend BambooHR for its simplicity, effectiveness, and its flexibility to integrate with other systems and third-party applications. While it's always important to ensure integration is possible with your current system and applications before purchasing, BambooHR boasts an open API that makes it even more versatile if necessary.

Beyond flexibility, BambooHR's performance management module is a solid system that features one of the most user-friendly interfaces we came across in our research. Under just a handful of tabs, BambooHR neatly organizes all the necessary information required by managers and HR professionals. For the performance management module, this includes ongoing feedback from multiple sources (employee, managers, executives, etc.), review reminders, and a built-in employee development program. We also like BambooHR's intent to bring more objective information into the process, supplementing a manager's more subjective perspective with fact-based information surrounding performance.

Editor's note: Looking for a performance management solution for your business? If you're looking for information to help you choose the one that's right for you, use the questionnaire below to be contacted by vendors with additional information:

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Already prepared to choose a performance management solution? Here’s a breakdown of the rest of our coverage:

BambooHR's performance management module is sleek and easy to use. For the price, BambooHR covers the major bases when it comes to performance features. Appraisals are ongoing and open to multiple raters, creating a 360-degree feedback process that allows the employee the opportunity for input and self-reflection. BambooHR accelerates at consolidating data about employees into one easily viewed profile. Each profile features several tabs, including one for performance, which allows managers to easily review historical reviews and update new performance appraisals.

As is the case with most systems, BambooHR's performance management module is made even more powerful by a career development component that allows managers to recommend and track training and skills development for each employee. Much like goal management, these development recommendations will appear on an employee profile with an overview of how much progress has been made towards each development pathway.

It is worthwhile to note that for those looking for a standalone performance management module, BambooHR will certainly meet expectations. However, performance management is often supplemented with information from succession planning, compensation management, and goal management modules as well. To get the most mileage out of your system, even if it might represent an additional expense at first, it is worth considering implementing these additional software solutions as well. Again, though, choosing to go with BambooHR's performance management module alone still leaves you with an effective solution for automating the performance review process.

One of the most impressive aspects of BambooHR is its versatility. BambooHR integrates with a number of popular third-party applications, as well as other HCM software suites. However, what really sets it apart is the open API, which allows developers to tweak the system to enable communication with additional software even if it was developed in-house. This flexibility was important when selecting a standalone performance management module, because the implication of buying the performance management software alone is that it will inevitably need to be integrated with another application. Getting the most flexible piece of software, then, becomes important when considering a standalone of "best-of-breed" HCM solution.

It is important to note, though, that the industry appears to be moving away from these "best-of-breed" solutions. That is something to consider when purchasing a standalone module, because future consolidation in the HCM space, or changes to how software is rolled out and implemented, might impact you down the line if you choose to only implement performance management. Moreover, many systems benefit from the implementation of multiple modules; performance management, for instance, particularly benefits from sharing information with succession planning and career development applications. Performance management is certainly still effective without these additions, but it's worth considering whether you'd like to purchase a standalone solution or you'd prefer a talent management suite.

One of the most striking aspects of BambooHR is how easy it is to learn and navigate. The interface is anything but cluttered, with several neatly organized tabs that guide the user through the entire HCM system at a glance. The simple layout presents the information in a clean, uncluttered interface. This simplicity scored BambooHR big points in our reviews.

For just the performance management module, users have the option of viewing an organizational overview or a specific employee's performance history. Clicking through each of the displays, whether its past performance reviews, pending reviews, or goal management settings, is straightforward.

Finally, users can access BambooHR on virtually any device with an internet connection, meaning you're always just a wi-fi password away from engaging with your employees.

Our customer service experience with BambooHR was excellent. Our calls were promptly answered and representatives were consistently knowledgeable, friendly, and never had to transfer us. All of our questions about software features and implementation process were answered promptly and completely, and we came away from the experience feeling respected and well-informed.

For a hypothetical small business with just a handful of employees, we were quoted at a package of $99 per month. Pricing is all based on an SaaS subscription model, which keeps upfront costs manageable. However, it's important to note that price fluctuates with the size of your company and the scope of the solutions you want implemented – more modules and larger companies typically mean more money. To get your own custom quote, visit BambooHR's website and fill out the short questionnaire.

The biggest limitation we encountered with BambooHR is that it lacks the customizable options that some other HR software features. While this isn't a major hindrance, it is nice to have a higher degree of control over, for example, performance appraisal templates. If you're looking for a solution that lends you total control over workflow and forms, BambooHR is not that solution. However, the templates that do exist are thorough and complete, meaning you won't want for much in the performance review process; overall, BambooHR still offers an extremely effective performance management module, especially for small and mid-sized businesses.

Editor's note: Looking for performance management solution for your business? If you're looking for information to help you choose the one that's right for you, use the questionnaire below to be contacted by vendors with additional information:

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Adam C. Uzialko

Adam received his Bachelor's degree in Political Science and Journalism & Media Studies at Rutgers University. He worked for a local newspaper and freelanced for several publications after graduating college. He can be reached by email, or follow him on Twitter.