Targeting Employee Management

ERM software from Workbrain and Siebel allows companies to automate their internal business processes and manage employees, but some say such offerings don't do much more than current HR software.

Startup Workbrain Inc. on Monday will introduce Workbrain 3.0, which brings together employee relationship management applications it developed for its initial customers into a packaged offering.

ERM software allows companies to automate their internal business processes and manage relationships with their employees

Workbrain 3.0 includes workforce management applications such as Holiday Management, Rate Calculations and Labor/Production Metrics as well as employee development and training applications. There are also optional modules for Overtime Equalization, Attendance Management and Incentive Pay Calculators.

The Workbrain upgrade also includes tools for managing employee communications and has tools for reporting, workflow management, security, localization and XML integration.

Workbrain, of Alpharetta, Ga., is not alone in the ERM space. CRM (customer relationship management) market leader Siebel Systems Inc., of San Mateo, Calif., earlier this week announced partnerships with 11 developers of software thats complementary to its Siebel ERM applications.

Participating Siebel partners include Authoria Inc. and ProAct Technologies Corp. for human resources and benefits plan management; Atomica Corp. for knowledge management; Alerts Inc. for enterprise alerts; Documentum Inc. and Interwoven Inc. for content management; the LexisNexis division of Reed Elsevier Inc. for information services; Oblix Inc. for identity management and single sign-on capabilities; Primedia Inc. for e-learning; Seurat Co. for "employee capital" services; and Inc. for problem resolution.

The second generation of Siebel ERM is a key part of Siebels recently announced Siebel 7 suite, which is expected to be available next month.

Other CRM vendors are expected to add similar internal-focused function to their applications in the coming months. An official at SAP AG promised "solutions on a number of fronts" were on their way. But companies like SAP, PeopleSoft Inc. and Oracle Corp., already offer some ERM function in their human resources management applications, according to Monica Barron, senior analyst at AMR Research Inc. in Boston.

The fledgling space is in fact already starting to look as fragmented and confusing as the CRM space, Barron said.

"Every vendor that uses the term ERM has a different definition of what it is," said Barron. "Siebel has tried to define it, but they really havent."

Barron said ERM was largely a "marketing thing" and not something at the top of too many companies to-do lists.

"A lot of companies already have systems in place that can do this stuff, its just a matter of a process change," she said. "As wonderful as a lot of this stuff sounds, its going to be difficult for a lot of companies to make a case for it when they still have supply chain management or CRM implementations to do, things that theres more of a business imperative to do.

"The vendors have come up with this stuff and tried to create a need for it, but I dont see users responding the way they want them to."