In today's economic climate, companies must manage their employees efficiently and properly, wasting no resources that could be put to other use. Looking to capitalize further on that crucial need, Chelmsford, Mass.–based workforce management (WFM) provider Kronos has unveiled version 6.1 of its Workforce Central suite.
"We're definitely inspired by our existing customers," stresses Peter George, Kronos' senior vice president of products and technology. "We give our existing [clientele] direct feedback opportunities and allow them to vote on enhancements or features they want -- and we do a diligent job of addressing the top requests. We also are looking at the market's trends and competitive pressures in order to respond appropriately."
The update, George says, reflects 18 months of development -- time that Kronos spent ensuring its suite could match its global expansion plans. George adds that, with version 6.1, Workforce Central now has the ability to automate local business practices, and supports a larger number of local languages and cultural practices. In addition, the software can now operate with multiple currencies, he says -- a significant factor for multinational corporations. As for languages that remain unsupported by the new release, George says, Kronos offers "a toolkit so the customer can do it themselves or contract it out."
Other advances in the application are designed to lower users' total cost of ownership, George says. New tools for integration and device management enable customers to eliminate dedicated servers, and a bolstered communications protocol allows Kronos data collection devices to securely connect to the Internet without a dedicated virtual private network. "We've reduced the amount of hardware required to run the offering," he says. "This benefits new customers because it's a lower entry point in purchasing our solution. For existing [users], it's an opportunity to take some servers and redeploy them elsewhere."
In the vein of economic savings, release 6.1 also includes several enhancements for managers looking to automate business processes:
- Workforce Alerts — Managers are notified when workers are about to violate a work rule or accrue overtime.
- Workforce Worksheets — Developed in conjunction with Microsoft, this feature allows users to bring data from Kronos as well as from third-party sources into the Microsoft Excel environment to analyze, chart, format, and summarize labor information.
James Holincheck, Gartner's managing vice president of finance, human capital management, and procurement, believes the totality of Kronos' new release is particularly noteworthy. "It's more than what you typically see in a point release," he says. "There's a lot of new functionality across many areas, and the company also simplified the technological environment."
Holincheck applauds the company's attempts to go global with the new release. "The multinational opportunity for [Kronos] is a significant one because the vast majority of its revenue still comes from the U.S. market," he says. "Kronos continues to expand capabilities in other geographies for its U.S.-based customers, but also going into some other major countries throughout the world will be helpful."
Kronos' George says he sees this release as part of the company's ongoing effort to remove as much manual work from managers' shoulders as possible. "Our focus is going in there and building in business rules, tools, and capabilities," he says. "We want to do that for customers worldwide in various industries."
Despite what he calls a strong competitive position, Holincheck says that Kronos may have underplayed the specific vertical focus built into Workforce Central 6.1. "The company positioned [the release's] cross-industry capabilities," he says, "but needs to continue to push into the vertical markets." Holincheck suggests that Kronos "leverage some of the general capabilities -- like workforce analytics -- more specifically into applying [those functions] to specific vertical problems." While the company may already be making that push, he adds, the need for highlighting that ability hasn't diminished.
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