By Adam Uzialko, Business News Daily Writer | Updated Sep 21, 2017
After reviewing dozens of performance management systems, we recommend Ultimate Software's UltiPro as the best solution for midsize and enterprise businesses in 2019. We chose UltiPro after analyzing a list of vendors in the space. To understand how we chose UltiPro, see our methodology on our best picks page.
For larger companies, it's important that a performance management solution is either part of a larger, effective human capital management (HCM) software suite, or that it can integrate with other HR software that the organization might already be running. Ultimate Software maintains a full suite of powerful HCM solutions to accompany its performance management software, but if you're not looking for a completely new system, the odds are good that UltiPro will integrate with your current HR software solutions as well.
UltiPro's performance management software stands out on its own, as well. UltiPro's performance module creates an ongoing feedback environment, meaning managers and employees won't have to wait for quarterly or annual reviews to discuss strengths and weaknesses. Because UltiPro is available across different platforms and devices, anyone – supervisors, manager, employee – can access the system at any time to offer additional feedback. This sort of robust 360 multi-rater review process was essential to our consideration. Like many other HCM software suites, UltiPro's performance management module works together with career development and succession planning modules, so it's wise to at least consider including those solutions as well.
Performance Management Features
UltiPro's performance management module boasts useful features that set it apart from the other candidates we reviewed for midsize and enterprise businesses. In the module, you'll have access to pre-existing review templates, which can be customized to suit your organization's needs. Customization is key, because every company's workforce is different, as is every company culture. Customization allows users to prioritize aspects of the performance appraisal that are important to organizational leaders and scrap the aspects that are not particularly useful.
Users are also able to create, assign, and track progress toward goals, whether goals are assigned to a specific employee or to an entire team. While this function is relatively standard in the performance management space, UltiPro's software makes it easy to sort and track goals with a smart-search system employing drop down menus for criteria selection. For example, users can easily pull up a display of those goals that are still active, removing completed or unassigned goals from the list; it only takes a couple of intuitive clicks.
UltiPro's performance management module also includes a competencies tab, so users can quickly pull up employees' or teams' skill sets to find where there are strengths and weaknesses within the organization. Not only does this help when it comes to resource allocation, but users can also determine where there are skills gaps, aiding with talent acquisition or internal education and development.
Other useful features include those that are essentially par for the course in the performance management space, such as automated review reminders and a talent dashboard that displays employee profiles and short bios. Overall, UltiPro maintains easy-to-use tools that make the performance management process much easier and, in a way, a bit fun.
Succession Planning and Career Development
While they're technically separate modules from performance management, succession planning and career development are part and parcel of the talent management process. If you want to get the most out of your performance management software, it's worth considering purchasing these two complementary software solutions as well. We took a brief look at what UltiPro had to offer with these two modules and considered how they supplemented UltiPro's performance management module.
Succession planning: This module helps managers determine who is ripe for promotion, who needs more development, and who might need to be terminated. By analyzing other information in the system (including information gleaned from performance appraisals) UltiPro comes up with a grid to compare candidates for promotion. The software determines whether an employee is "critical" to the company, what their future potential is, examines their current level of performance, estimates the risk that the employee will be leaving the company, and offers a "promotability" recommendation. A color-coded system makes reviewing and comparing employees a cinch for managers, and if that wasn't easy enough, the software will also flag a leading candidate for a position. UltiPro also includes "predictive analytics" to help supervisors manage retention risk – for example, if a top performer might consider leaving another job, UltiPro helps alert managers so they can take measures to retain that employee, or not. Succession planning enhances the effectiveness of performance management by providing an additional layer that helps prepare managers and executives for the future of the organization.
Career development: If succession planning is about preparing for the future, career development is an essential piece of the puzzle. Employees don't want to feel stagnant, and managers want their employees' skill sets to grow. Career and skills development helps on both fronts. Employees and managers alike will be able to use the career development tool to identify opportunities for growth and then monitor progress toward achieving specific educational goals. Users can also create personalized development plans for an employee based on the trajectory they have indicated is desirable for their own career. Coupled with performance management and succession planning, career development is an essential bridge in getting from yesterday's performance to tomorrow's organizational structure. Career development opportunities also often help improve employee engagement and fulfillment by providing a sense of growth and progress.
Our customer service experience was satisfactory, if not stellar. We had to wait a bit to get connected with a representative, but once we were connected we were treated with respect and had our questions answered to our satisfaction. Our representatives knew the essential information about the software, as well as the implementation process, and never had to transfer us or put us on hold. Overall, UltiPro's customer service was adequate.
Pricing was a bit difficult to determine on the website, and so a quote from a representative was required. Ultimately, pricing fluctuates depending on the size of your company and your specific needs, as well as which modules you intend to include in your implementation, so it's understandable that a flat rate couldn't be provided prior to contacting customer service. For a quote given your specific circumstances and needs, visit UltiPro's website and fill out the questionnaire for a full product tour.
Ultimately, the major drawback we found with UltiPro was the user interface. While it isn't too difficult to become accustomed to, it can feel overwhelming at first to navigate the sea of tabs. This was a minor hindrance though, and once we warmed up to the system, the business of the interface did little to impinge upon our use of the software.
UltiPro's integrations with third-party applications are also somewhat lacking. For example, the software cannot connect with Salesforce, which many companies employ for their customer relationship management. This might be a problem worth considering if your company employs a lot of third-party apps that you wanted to connect to your HCM system – however, UltiPro achieves its core functionality quite well without integrating. It's a matter of your business's needs; if you require a variety of integrations, examine closely which applications UltiPro is compatible with before choosing to buy.
Ready to choose a performance management solution? Here's a breakdown of the rest of our coverage: