Managing performance at an affordable price

Cloud-based talent management solution is aimed at small- and medium-sized businesses

Denis Coleman: “Organisations have been cutting costs for years now. There are not much more costs left to cut but they still need to create better value.”

Denis Coleman: “Organisations have been cutting costs for years now. There are not much more costs left to cut but they still need to create better value.”

 

Software company Cognito HRM was born out of Cork entrepreneur Denis Coleman’s frustration with the lack of affordable performance management tools for small- and medium-sized enterprises.

He found the majority of talent management systems on the market cost hundreds of thousands of euro, and the companies that specialised in these systems were being snapped up.

Coleman says this can be seen in the case of SAP, which bought talent management specialist SuccessFactors in 2011 for $3.4 billion, and Oracle which last year announced the a $1.9 billion acquisition of another talent management specialist, Taleo.

“As the specialist talent management providers get gobbled up by the big players, they are too busy cross-selling into enterprise accounts to maintain their focus on the SME market.”

As a result, Coleman developed a cloud-based talent management solution aimed at small- and medium-sized businesses, with up to 700 staff.

“I spent years researching this space and testing out various forms of performance management software at various companies I was working in.”

The company, which launched in 2012, already counts Marriott, Xerox, Simply Dynamics, Altran and Flextronics among its customers.

Coleman realised the importance of talent management while working at electronics manufacturing services company Flextronics in the US, but it wasn’t until he came back to Ireland to work for Cork-based start-up Webprint Concepts that he discovered the lack of affordable management systems for SMEs.

“I could find no affordable systems for managing performance. There were lots for financial management,” he says.

“I discovered loads of people also had the same problem and was stunned no one had tried to fix it for SMEs.”

He says people management tools help companies improve organisation efficiency, an important factor in the current climate when most companies have done all the cost cutting that they possible can.

“Organisations have been cutting costs for years now. There are not much more costs left to cut but they still need to create better value.

“As a result people management solutions are attracting more attention as organisations seek the next big area to improve organisational efficiency and effectiveness in slow growth economies.

“As much as 70 per cent of what employees do at work doesn’t advance the company’s goals. Cognito HRM helps companies address this.”

Research by the National Centre for Part- nership and Performance in the US found that organisations which actively manage performance report a 12.4 per cent to 14.8 per cent increase in productivity on average, worth €44,399 per employee.

The company launched a beta version of its tools in February of this year and 20 businesses signed up.

“The companies that used it in beta said they didn’t need any training to use it. That is a massive advantage Cognito has over other alternatives. We wanted to keep the software as simple as possible.”

The software is subscription based and companies can sign up for a free 30 day trial. After that the price is $8 per user per month, with discounts for users who sign up for 12 months.

“Setting up takes less than a minute. Nothing needs to be installed or maintained locally. Everything is on the cloud.”

He says there has also been a great reaction to the software from employees. “They get quality feedback on a regular basis and they like hearing when they are doing good.”

While the company is based in Cork, the US is Coleman’s main target market.

“The US is ahead of Ireland when it comes to monitoring and managing employee performance. Organisations there have been doing it for years but it is either written or done in Excel.”

“The beta that we opened in the US was a great way to break into the US market.”

Coleman has also signed his first partner in the US, business consulting firm Business Value Group International, which based in California.

The company is also taking part in the sales acceleration programmer Selr8r, which is run by Sean O’Sullivan’s investment firm SOS Ventures.

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