Talent management software (or TMS) is an essential part of any organization’s HR toolkit today.
In the past, extensive talent management systems and platforms required heavy upfront investments and were really feasible only for large organizations and businesses. With the rise of the internet and web-based tools, enterprise-level software isn’t the only option! It’s easier than ever for smaller organizations to get started with talent management software that can address all of their needs or provide support around a specific task.
We often write about HR consulting topics and the importance of developing concrete compensation strategies for your organization. Talent management software is an increasingly effective way to begin putting those strategies into action.
However, for smaller organizations looking for a TMS platform, the number of choices on the market can be overwhelming without an idea of where to begin looking. Let’s walk through the basics of talent management software, the types of features to look for, and a few top providers that specialize in particular areas:
Use the links above to jump ahead, or follow along with us from the top. As with any new service or tool that your organization invests in, it’s crucial to do your research first. We hope this quick guide can give your team a helpful starting point.
1. What is Talent Management Software?
Talent management software is any tool or set of tools designed to support, automate, or aid a core area (or multiple areas) of human resources responsibilities in an organization.
These core areas of HR responsibilities typically include compensation, recruitment, performance management, and employee development. Talent management software solutions can typically be grouped into two general categories:
- Comprehensive platforms. These tools can support a wide range of HR activities and are often modular, meaning you can pick and choose the specific features that you’ll need. They’re extremely useful for centralizing and streamlining your organization’s day-to-day HR activities.
- Specific tools. Usually web-based services, specific talent management tools will address a single talent management or HR need. Payroll automation and support is a common example.
Organizations adopt one or more talent management software solutions for a number of reasons.
The most common is to fill gaps in their existing human resources structures. For many smaller organizations, building out a complete HR department is a major challenge and often can’t be prioritized right away.
Depending on your exact needs and long-term goals, either type of solution can significantly alleviate the logistical challenges of getting up and running with HR as a small business or nonprofit organization.
2. What are the essential features of talent management software?
Talent management software can support a wide variety of your internal human resources needs. Their features can be broken down into a few key categories:
- Performance Management
- Employee Engagement
We’ll walk through specific features within each category, plus some additional considerations to keep in mind before investing in a solution. Whether you’re looking for a comprehensive solution or a single service, use this list to help guide your research.
For your business, talent management essentially encompasses any and all tasks related to supervising employee work, defining responsibilities, providing feedback, and managing the overall structure of the organization.
Hr and management software can support your talent management needs with a number of key features like:
- Performance review management. Save your team time by taking your performance reviews online. Having a centralized location to host notes, scoring processes, and job descriptions can streamline the whole process for managers and their reports.
- Job descriptions editor. Allow authorized staff to make and update job descriptions as needed, and create templates to simplify the process as your team grows. Look for additional features that let you save role-specific documentation with the description and explore Fair Labor Standards Act implications within the software.
- Organizational chart creation. Along with job descriptions, look for tools that enable you to create and update organizational charts. Giving employees a centralized overview of your organization and its reporting relationships can also be extremely helpful as you grow. It also gives your HR team a high-level view of staffing needs.
- Exit interview questionnaires and analysis. Create customized interviews, track employee responses, and sort by department or manager as needed. Some tools can even provide third-party data for benchmarking in your sector or for the size of your business. Then, use the data to make changes that reduce unwanted turnover and enhance organizational success.
Compensation is a critical piece of talent management and human resources for any organization. Many businesses will work with a compensation consultant to build out a long-term strategy that aligns with their goals, but how do you implement and support that strategy over time?
Talent management software can support one or more aspects of how your organization handles, tracks, and manages employee compensation. Look for these features:
- Compensation administration. Having a centralized location for your team to estimate and model payroll expenses over the long-term can be invaluable. This is especially true when it’s integrated with your other talent management features to account for overtime, temp positions, and more.
- Job evaluation and pay grading. Concrete pay grades are an essential part of an effective compensation strategy, so your software should let you create custom job evaluation systems and grade structures. This will enable you to accurately and fairly adjust compensation rates as your business grows.
- Incentive and commission tracking. Along with compensation administration tools, look for specific features that allow you to automatically determine incentive payouts and commissions as needed based on organizational and individual employee performance metrics.
- Pay for performance tools. Easily determine merit-based compensation increases based on the budgets, performance reviews, and pay grades already in your system. This simplifies the whole process and gives your team a concrete starting point to build from.
- Total Reward Statements. Look for tools that can quickly pull from your central database of compensation data to generate personalized Total Rewards Statements for employees. These give employees a thorough overview of each element of their compensation package in real time, updated on a customizable schedule.
As another key area of talent management, your HR department likely heads up your organization’s recruiting and onboarding processes. Using standalone recruiting tools or services can certainly be helpful. However, more comprehensive solutions can draw from the rest of your talent management tools, like job descriptions and pay grade structures.
The essential recruiting-related features to look for include:
- Applicant tracking. Look for web-integrated tools that can gather uploaded resumes and analyze questionnaire responses to quickly identify top candidates. Then, track and manage each applicant’s profile through the hiring process.
- Streamlined onboarding. By centralizing your essential HR tasks in a modular talent management system, your new hires will have easier access and visibility into all of their necessary tasks. Software that can accept e-signatures is a must.
Finally, you might look for talent management software to help support your internal employee engagement efforts. Give your HR team structured support with these key features:
- Staff advancement modules. Make more effective promotion decisions with modules for tracking competencies and areas for growth for employees. Easily identify viable candidates for open positions, find those who are ready to advance to a new position, and generate reports for your HR team to efficiently direct staff engagement programs.
- Gamification features. These tools provide simple ways to engage employees with points, badges, and trophies, assigned to particular activities. Gamification processes can take a number of forms, but handling it with talent management software makes the most sense when you’re already using digital tools to manage other human resources tasks.
In addition to the features and capabilities described above, there are a few technical considerations to keep in mind if you’re looking for a more comprehensive platform for your organization. Today’s talent management software should include these features:
- Complete customization. If your talent management software includes a web-based portal for staff to access, make sure you’re able to completely brand it to your business.
- Modular structures. Top talent management platforms should allow you to pick and choose the most important features that you need to support your HR team in particular areas.
- Easy integration and support. Make sure the platform can be easily built into your existing toolkit, including your website. The provider should offer customized and complete support to get your team up and running quickly.
- Cloud-based format. An online talent management platform offers easier access for your employees and significantly reduces technical and logistical challenges on your end.
- Security and permissions. Not every user should be able to access every part of your talent management software, especially when it comes to compensation. Make sure you’re able to completely customize your platform’s permissions and that it offers robust security features.
- Signatures support. Various talent management tasks often require employee signatures, like during the onboarding process. Your software should be able to accept, process, and store e-signatures.
3. What are some of the best talent management software solutions?
All of the features listed above are available in comprehensive talent management platforms, or you might choose to support them with more standalone solutions on an as-needed basis. The main idea is that whatever talent management software you choose to invest in, it should be properly scaled to fit your needs and then grow with you, not to overwhelm your team right off the bat.
Let’s highlight a few top providers that cater to particular sectors or provide high-quality support in one key area:
Best Full-Service Talent Management Solution for Growing Organizations – Flare®
Flare® is a leading talent management platform for smaller businesses and nonprofit organizations for a number of reasons.
Most importantly, it’s a comprehensive but highly customizable solution, meaning it’s a more scalable option than the expensive, enterprise-level platforms available. Plus, it’s entirely web-based, giving your team more flexible, on-the-go access.
With a modular structure that covers a wide range of talent management and HR features throughout the employee lifecycle, Flare® is a smart, flexible choice for growing organizations that can’t commit to an overwhelming or overpriced platform.
Best Talent Management Software for Microlearning – Trivie
Microlearning, or training and reinforcement activities delivered in short bursts, is a new trend in the talent management landscape.
Often a form of gamification, effective microlearning tools are often only available to organizations through large-scale learning management systems (LMS).
With Trivie, your business can get a fully self-service microlearning platform that’s highly customizable, easy to set up, and completely scalable to your team. It stands out as an affordable solution that does a great job in one specific area of talent management and employee engagement.
Best Talent Management Software for Mentoring Programs – LifeMoxie
LifeMoxie is a leading talent management software designed specifically to help businesses build more collaborative communities and mentorship relationships.
Their leadership development platform, MentorLead, is a fully customizable, cloud-based solution to help foster stronger mentor relationships and keep engagement more organized.
If your organization has a dedicated mentorship program in place for growing new leaders, dedicated tools designed for those particular needs could be a smart investment.
Best Talent Management Platform for the Healthcare Sector – HealthStream
The healthcare sector has a very specific, diverse, and unique set of needs when it comes to talent management. Learning, competencies, and certifications are among the most important of those needs.
As a talent management software platform designed just for hospitals and clinics, HealthStream is a top choice for organizations that need an all-in-one solution.
With an emphasis on effective learning tools plus a full suite of engagement, leadership development, and compensation administration features, it’s an effective platform that can be customized and expanded as needed.
Best Talent Management Software for the Service Industry – Snag
As a unique combination of talent management tools and staffing service, Snag is an effective platform for service-sector businesses looking for a flexible way to fill their staffing gaps.
As your business posts its available shifts, Snag matches it with one background-checked recruit, often filling the opening in just a few minutes.
Then, the platform handles insurance and compensation, streamlining the whole process for your internal HR team.
Of course, if your business is growing quickly and is completely new to talent management, you’ll probably need more customized support than a standalone tool or set of tools that you’re not sure how to best utilize.
Since HR and talent management is such a broad category of activities and responsibilities, an HR consultant will likely be your best bet. An expert will be able to orient your growing business and help you both identify and prioritize the solutions you need. Learn more about HR consulting for small business and review some top providers with our complete guide here.
For growing organizations, talent management software can take your operations to the next level. Human resources and talent management is often one of the last major areas of operations that small businesses are able to invest in developing, yet it’s essential for ensuring sustainable, long-term growth. Any tools or platforms you can adopt to automate or streamline your HR processes can be a smart investment.
As with any tech investment, take your time researching your options, deciding carefully whether more comprehensive consulting, a complete talent management platform, or a standalone HR service will be your best move.
Be sure to continue your research with a few additional resources, as well:
- Top 7 Compensation Consulting Firms for Any Sector. Compensation strategy and administration is one of the most important aspects of talent management. Start off on the right foot with expert strategy development from a consultant.
- Nonprofit Employee Compensation: Understanding the Essentials. Nonprofits and small businesses both experience tight budgets. Explore how these organizations approach compensation in flexible ways to maximize employee engagement.
- Hiring a Compensation Consultant: 7 Steps for Success. Learn how to find the perfect partner to help your organization develop a sustainable, long-term strategy for compensation package design and administration.