A decade ago TempWorks went up against Peoplesoft in a battle for the business of some bigger staffing companies.  We almost always lost.

I have some pet albeit self-serving reasons for that not the least of which was that the people doing the deciding had their own self-interest at heart.  If they chose TempWorks, they’d have TempWorks on their resume.  If they chose Peoplesoft, well they’d have Peoplesoft on their resume, and their prospects for a much higher paying gig outside of staffing were greatly increased.

That’s human nature.  I’m not complaining about it.  Each vendor has the right to come to the table with its best hand, and Peoplesoft consultancies had a great wiifm (what’s-in-it-for-me) sales hand to play.

Unfortunately for the owners of the organizations that set up those internal selection committees, they have had to deal with the long-term consequences.  Many of them now have market caps or have been sold off at a fraction of the price that they paid for their Peoplesoft install.

I’ve written about this before and have felt like a lone wolf, but recently malaise over Peoplesoft is becoming a widely discussed topic.  Take for instance this essay by Ahmed Limam in which he deconstructs the myth that Oracle who now owns Peoplesoft can offer its acquired clients a convenient upgrade path.

Over on Linked-In, the discussion on Ahmed’s essay continued (group membership required).    I chimed in:

"I come from the staffing industry angle here where most (all?) Peoplesoft instances are in essence custom developments with Peoplesoft Tools (a thing on a thing), and the notion that those sites could replace what they have with anything off the shelf is quaint at best.

HP is doing their own thing because they need that kind of control. I'd argue many others are in the same boat. They have the choice between going at it on their own or finding a vendor that will give you essentially an open-source environment on top of a robust HRMS/payroll solution."

Also, I enjoyed the perspective of Mark Birch, an investor and technologist:

"I am not sure if some of the choices you lay out are real choices for enterprise PeopleSoft customers. I do not mean to bust the PeopleSoft love fest here, but it really was not that great of a product. It did its job for HR system of record duties and was a more user friendly product, but then you are comparing that with SAP, Oracle or home grown legacy. Frankly it was the best of a not so great lot. In the massive upgrades that I observed, PSFT techs noted that the applications were 99% custom. For the uninitiated, this basically means the "upgrade" is little more than shifting over the underlying executable and praying that the entire house of cards does not topple. Invariably, it gets very messy.

As for switching vendors, I can tell you that the idea of leaving for another solution is not on the table except as a bargaining chip. Even HP may be all hot air (note that there are no enterprise level workforce planning tools on the market to date). Applications in large enterprises have as much sway as infrastructure decisions, so no large organization is really considering switching out vendors, even if they do have SAP somewhere in the mix. HR business users will not allow it and the costs are prohibitive. So they simply plug the holes with niche products. The TM vendors especially are lapping it up and Oracle is still collecting its fees.

All that being said, the mid-market actually has more flexibility and I can see SaaS making significant inroads as an option for HRIS. This is the population that Oracle needs to be scared of. If they wake up and jump ship, it could be crippling for Oracle's business model."

All this to say that organizations should look at the motivations of their selection committees.  They do not and can not operate from a neutral point of view.  No one can, including me and TempWorks.

Our perspective nonetheless is that when it comes to staffing, outsourcing is better option than software.  If you can rid yourself of all the non-revenue generating overhead, why not do it?

Tags: TempWorks, Business, Staffing Software, Peoplesoft