An Independent HR Software Review and Analysis
Founded by MIT-alumnus, Mark S. Ain back in 1977, Kronos’ initial focus was firmly in the time and attendance arena. It introduced the first microprocessor-based time-clock in 1979 and followed this up with the company's first PC-based time and attendance product just six years later. But after decades of intense growth and acquisition, Kronos’ software offering goes far beyond time and attendance and the company is seen as second only to Microsoft in terms of its record of growth and profitability as a public company in the software industry history.
This Chelmsford, MA-based vendor has carried out a dedicated program of acquisition over the years, focusing on industry-specific software solutions (more than 60 so far). Two notable acquisitions that clearly indicate that Kronos were looking to expand beyond time clocks were Cost Systems Group and Unicru, companies whose focus were on analytics and talent management respectively. Kronos' Clay Ritchey sums it up, "We've really broadened our footprint and solutions beyond time and attendance," and goes on to add that for Kronos, the future is about products that enable, "a just-in-time workforce perfectly aligned with demand for products or services;" and that includes the payroll side of managing that workforce.
This expansion and diversification strategy has resulted in a portfolio of applications ranging from payroll to core HR, scheduling, analytics and even in-depth talent management functionality. Regardless of revenues or strategic direction however, Kronos remains primarily known within the payroll and HR industry as a provider of hardware and software solutions for enterprises with large concentrations of hourly employees. In other words, Kronos is a well-known marketplace for robust workforce management applications. Given this, it's understandable perhaps that Kronos is yet to be seen as the obvious choice for payroll or integrated core HR solutions. However, some analysts would suggest that this would be overlooking a viable contender. Aberdeen's Jayson Saba says, "With its complete automation and integration with other workforce management functions, the capabilities afforded by solutions such as Kronos' HR and payroll solutions enable managers to make informed operational decisions that improve the bottom line." Indeed, customers from all over the Human Capital Management (HCM) landscape are increasingly anxious to nail down the "system of record" and move onto more strategic HR software offerings—a fact that plays well to Kronos' strengths as an offering and as a company.
Kronos Evolution from Private to Public and Back Again
Kronos made the move to being a public corporation with an Initial Public Offering (IPO) in 1992. However, the company returned to privately-held status after being acquired by private equity firm Hellman & Friedman in March 2007 for just short of $1.8B. As with many once-public organizations, Kronos remains relatively open about its successes in the market – naming revenues for the 2011 fiscal year of $800M (although it’s worth noting that Gartner estimates cite a much lower figure).
Judged By the Company You Keep
A further strengthening of Kronos' position comes from the numerous strategic partnerships it maintains to enhance both performance and innovation. Some of the more noteworthy technology partners that help drive Kronos' solutions are:
- Cisco (for time capture and mobile functionality);
- Fiserv (for financial services performance management);
- M2SYS (for biometrics);
- Passport (for mobile workforce management);
- VMware (for infrastructure virtualization);
- Vortex (for mobile communications).
With 35 years of operation and expansion under its belt, it is no surprise that Kronos is a global ‘name’ in the payroll and HR software industry, spanning more than 60 countries with over 3,000 employees. Indeed, the boast is that 30 million people use at least one of Kronos' products every day. Although the company still sometimes struggles to shake that time and attendance label – despite its impressive growth – Kronos has much to offer the payroll solution buyer. As IDC's Lisa Rowan says, "Increasingly, organizations are looking for simpler vendor management and lowered complexity in technology. The Kronos HR and payroll solution is easy to use and [helps] guide users to appropriate resolutions."
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