Product Promotion Network

The Best Performance Management Software of 2017

What Is Performance Management Software?

Attracting top talent to your organization is job number one for human resources (HR) professionals, but retaining that talent, managing it, and helping it grow is not only as important, it’s potentially harder. This is because it requires more time and commitment from both sides, employer and employee. To help, companies are investing billions in human resources[1] software.

According to recent research[2] from MarketsandMarkets, the HR software market will grow to £17.49 billion by 2019 at a 9.8 percent Compound Annual Growth Rate[3] (CAGR) which, interestingly, is a trend attributed to both enterprises and small to midsize businesses (SMBs). These HR tool suites vary in their coverage, but most include all or part of the following: applicant tracking[4] (AT), attendance and time off, benefits administration, payroll[5], performance management (PM), shift scheduling, and training. While all of these tasks are core to maintaining a healthy workforce, PM is likely the most important when it comes to retaining and growing talent within your organization.

While there are dedicated PM software platforms and services, for SMBs in particular, incorporating this tool set as part of an integrated HR tool suite makes more sense. Not just from a cost perspective, but also so SMBs can more easily track how an employee’s performance is reflected elsewhere on the HR scale (especially payroll for bonuses and compensation, and training for certification and skills advancement).

Comparing PM Software

While we have two Editors’ Choice winners in the features table above, it’s important to note that BambooHR[6] is a holdover from our recent review of all-up HR software and management systems. However, its Editors’ Choice award also stands in this PM category.

BambooHR did an exceptional job of integrating a thorough PM feature set into a well-rounded, intuitive HR platform that’s easily accessible by SMB operators. A new Editors’ Choice award solely for the PM category goes to SuccessFactors Perform and Reward[7], a platform that started out dedicated to PM but is quickly evolving into an all-around HR management tool suite. While SuccessFactors Perform and Reward didn’t win an Editors’ Choice as an all-around HR solution, it’s by far the best of the tools we reviewed when it comes to PM and easily earns the award in this category.

When comparing these solutions yourself, it’s good to understand what kinds of features and capabilities are available under the PM umbrella. As a rule, basic PM should cover some or all of the following three tasks: 1.

Goals, feedback, and coaching: The tool should have some way for managers and employees to set long- and short-term goals, track those goals, provide and record manager feedback, and document any coaching provided as well as how the employee responded. There are many mechanisms a software architect can employ to achieve these capabilities, so it’s critical to have this work-chain demoed to you to make sure it works within your organization’s culture before purchasing. For example, a casual culture might be satisfied by a joint journaling feature that lets both manager and employee keep a free-form log of ongoing coaching and growth.

On the other hand, a more formal process (one dictated by stringent compliance regulations, for example), might require a more structured process involving specific documents and forms, multiple levels of approval, and numeric scoring. 2. Performance review process: Some organizations might be happy with one or two evaluation forms filled out by employee and manager, and then stored for future analysis.

Other organizations might refer to this data much more often, necessitating a dashboard-style view of an employee’s performance with up-to-the-minute data on job quality, skills assessment, positive and negative feedback, and more. All of them should at least chime in at the start of the review process, and most can automate that process either through email or document routing. 3.

Compensation: This is optional and depends on how directly your company links compensation to performance metrics. Some companies, especially SMBs, compensate employees on a more static basis, with performance scores affecting compensation only at extreme ends of the scale (basically, more reward for the very good or sanctions for the exceptionally bad). Other companies use performance scores to calculate overall compensation at varying grades even for the same job, including salary, stock options, and even benefit tiers.

This is where HR tool suites including both PM and payroll capabilities provide adjustable formulas and calculators designed specifically to crunch those numbers. While this does generally present more work, it can pay dividends not only in motivating employees to do better, but also in maximizing your investment in each individual.

Tying It All Together

For many years, most of us have grown accustomed to PM being an annual chore conducted primarily by an immediate supervisor and an HR professional many of us never even meet. Goals are designed to be achieved on at least a semi-annual basis and are reviewed only once every six or 12 months.

While that has some benefit, most of the tools we reviewed espouse a more agile PM discipline for today’s business managers. By automating the performance process through email, document routing, or dedicated workflow capabilities, many of these tools make PM part of everyday employee management simply by providing a way to track and document employee/manager communication. This isn’t meant to turn an employee’s work life into a police state.

Rather, it’s designed to let performance tracking become more agile and responsive. After all, the job goals and requirements that really matter can change on a daily basis, not a semi-annual basis. By providing tools and dashboards letting managers track how an employee is doing on such a cadence, HR gets a much clearer and granular understanding of the employee’s performance, skills, and needs.

The trick is delivering these capabilities in such a way that they don’t become a burden to how managers and employees do their day-to-day jobs. That’s why HR software vendors are putting more emphasis than ever on usability, rather than just acting as buckets for annual metrics. Many provide advanced reporting and analytical capabilities, including new ways to build custom reports and features letting managers and HR professionals view employee data visually.

Another example is mobile access, which seems like a superfluous feature until you view it under this new HR-all-the-time lens. In a culture where PM is part and parcel of daily employee management, offering mobile access to dashboards and communications capabilities is critical to long-term success. The bottom line is, if you’re in the market for HR and PM software today, then take a moment to re-evaluate how your company can use these disciplines to more effectively manage your workers.

The software vendors presented in this PM review roundup have worked hard to not only deliver basic HR capabilities, but to give you new ways to benefit from HR, maximize your employee investment, and retain top talent.


  1. ^ human resources (
  2. ^ recent research (
  3. ^ Compound Annual Growth Rate (
  4. ^ applicant tracking (
  5. ^ payroll (
  6. ^ BambooHR (
  7. ^ SuccessFactors Perform and Reward (

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