Payroll giant ADP unveils major HR play in the cloud

ADP unites a host of HR-oriented apps onto a single cloud platform dubbed Vantage HCM

ADP is arguably the first cloud service provider: The company has presented hosted payroll services for a big chunk of the business world since 1957. Over the years, the company has also steadily expanded its HR offerings beyond payroll, and it has extended its reach through acquisitions like Employease in 2006 as well as through homegrown offerings including GlobalViewSM in 2000.

Today, with the announcement of Vantage HCM (human capital management), a single-platform, end-to-end, cloud-based employee-lifecycle management system, ADP aims to strengthen its position as the go-to HRIS provider for the enterprise.

Vantage HCM is a browser-based cloud offering designed to cover the entire human-capital lifecycle, from applicant prescreening to employee on-boarding to managing performance, timesheets, and employee education to post-employment administration. ADP is offering the solution on a modular basis, meaning customers might just opt for payroll processing and time-management functionality while forgoing, say, the module for tracking and managing employee skills or training.

Vantage ACM's cloud-based architecture is designed to provide companies with a more convenient alternative to stitching together siloed applications and services, often from more than one vendor. Although ADP is not planning to phase out its existing array of offerings, the company does intend to make Vantage its flagship product.

On paper, Vantage HCM looks impressive, and ADP has an admirable reputation in its space. The challenge is similar to that faced by other cloud vendors out there: convincing customers it can provide continuous uptime while keeping all that sensitive employee information secure (for which the company does boast Tier IV data centers). ADP has bet $700 million and 18 months' worth of sweat and elbow grease that customers will embrace one-stop HR in the cloud.

According to ADP, Vantage's single-platform architecture enables modules to seamlessly integrate and communicate with one another, so users don't have to contend with redundantly entering information into different applications. IT folks, meanwhile, don't have to worry about ensuring that different types of HR apps communicate with one another. Additionally, it simplifies the process of adding a module to an organization's mix of HR systems.

ADP has also designed a single consistent UI for Vantage, sparing users the confusion of learning how to use different tools for different tasks.

What's more, Vantage is designed to use intelligently suggested additional steps a user might take when performing particular tasks, based on under-the-hood algorithms. For example, when adding a new employee into the system with a manager title, the system might suggest such steps as assigning that employee manager rights within the system, notifying facilities and IT to prepare an office and equipment for the new hire, alerting security to prepare a badge, and informing the employees in the new manager's department of his or her pending arrival.

ADP also offers support for remote and mobile workers to perform certain tasks via mobile devices, such as clocking in and out and checking their hours. The company currently offers a native version of the application for iOS; certified browser-based versions for Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, and Android devices are also available.

ADP is also offering open APIs so companies can connect Vantage with, for example, corporate ERP systems.

The move certainly helps ADP stand out among rival organizations. What remains to be seen is how quickly and successfully the company can convince cloud skeptics to sign on.

This story, "Payroll giant ADP unveils major HR play in the cloud," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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