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Oracle Taleo: A robust talent management suite for advanced users

Talent management system Taleo enables global companies to simplify HR processes. But it may be too complex for small HR teams.

The history of human capital management (HCM) technology is built on a shaky infrastructure of paperwork, scanners and old DOS operating systems. As a human resources professional, the bulk of my career was spent organizing manila file folders, creating pivot tables in Excel and eventually learning how to master an old product called PeopleSoft.

When I came home from my lousy HR job at night, I didn't sink into my comfortable bed and dream of magical worlds of celebrities or romance. I had nightmarish visions of entering data into a green screen and watching the data I just entered disappear.

My nightmares were not far from reality.

But when Oracle Corp. acquired its rival PeopleSoft Inc. in 2004 after a lengthy battle with both PeopleSoft and the federal government over antitrust fighting allegations, the HR community was promised efficiency synergy and innovation. We were promised software that would remove the administrative burden from HR. We were told that supervisors could now manage their requisitions, track employee performance and link individual contributions to the organization's mission, vision and values.

That dream, although not fully realized, is still alive with Oracle, probably the biggest dreamer in the world of HCM technology. The vendor owns a cadre of software and hardware systems that cater to the needs of every aspect of an organization, and it is the second largest software maker after Microsoft.

Oracle acquired another product, Taleo, a talent management software and services company, for $1.9 billion in February 2012. Oracle Taleo advertises itself as the largest HCM software provider with customers in over 140 countries, including eight of the top 10 Fortune 500 companies. Its competitors include SAP SuccessFactors, Workday and IBM Kenexa.

At its core, Oracle Taleo takes the PeopleSoft dream one step further and offers two cloud-based talent management platforms: Oracle Taleo Enterprise Cloud Service, for large companies, and Oracle Taleo Business Edition Cloud Service, which is built for midsized organizations.

Both products collect information throughout the employee's entire lifecycle, which Oracle calls "talent intelligence." This data helps executives, managers and HR professionals understand individual performance and compare personnel-related results to business outcomes.

Oracle Taleo enables organizations to perform complex talent-related processes in a simpler, more streamlined way. HR professionals can identify relevant skills for specific job descriptions, recruit top performers and passive candidates, align employees to appropriate goals and monitor performance while simultaneously developing learning plans and compensating them appropriately.

CEOs and CFOs dream of an integrated HR system that removes the administrative burden from HR departments and communicates with financial, manufacturing and IT software. The most recent software release of Oracle Taleo, part of Oracle HCM Cloud 8, has been praised by experts for further enhancing the ability of recruiters and HR business partners to build talent pipelines, identify competencies that shore up the strengths of the workforce and tie performance results to business analytics.

Additionally, Oracle Taleo's design helps link disparate HR activities into one central database. The dashboard and reporting feature aligns recruiting, social sourcing, onboarding, performance management, goal management, succession planning, development planning, compensation and learning management systems in a singular fashion. With Taleo, HR professionals have the freedom to focus on big-picture issues such as talent mobility and a pay-for-performance culture without being encumbered by the chaos and confusion of multiple software systems and databases.

Unfortunately, when presented with robust software such as Oracle Taleo, many HR departments lack the institutional knowledge and budget to capitalize on a comprehensive HR platform. While more specialized talent management tools such as social sourcing and recruiting management should be in theory included within or linked to a comprehensive talent management suite, many HR professionals would be happier with a simpler -- and cheaper -- platform.

To that end, Oracle Taleo would not be a good fit for small businesses under 500 employees and lean HR teams where a few generalists assume the role of administrator, user and client. With so much complexity powering this system, Oracle Taleo could feel convoluted, monotonous and frustrating to the HR business partner who needs a simple, nimble and agile system.

But not every piece of software can be everything to everyone, and Taleo is an attractive choice for global organizations requiring a best-of-breed product. Oracle Taleo goes above and beyond the saturated marketplace with a comprehensive solution for sophisticated HR teams that have the staff, training and budget to leverage powerful algorithms to their competitive advantage.

About the author:
Laurie Ruettimann is an influential speaker, writer and social media expert focused on HR, careers and the human capital management industry. She created Punk Rock HR, which was recognized by Forbes as one of the Top 100 blogs for women. Laurie is listed as one of the Top 5 career advisers by CareerBuilder and CNN. You can find her on the Web at laurieruettimann.com and on Twitter @lruettimann.

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