Vendor Overviews


LOW HIGH Brand Power Message Focus Competitive Strength Competitive Potential

Overview: Based on its dominance in small business and the lower midmarket, ADP is the Power Brand in SMB-focused HCM. A dominant brand with dominant market share — what’s not to love? Plenty. First, even though ADP has more capability to deliver HCM solutions for the sub-1,000-employee market, this segment is becoming very crowded with hungry competitors that are proving to be far more agile. Case in point — its public war with Zenefits over data scraping. At TSCIU, we feel like ADP was correct in its reaction. Many ADP competitors manage to compete aggressively with Big Red with proper APIs because employee data isn’t something you want to play fast and loose with. Many, if not most, in the HR technology industry were at least sympathetic to ADP’s side, if not outright on their side. However, outside the industry, ADP lost the PR war badly — like “fire your PR agency” badly. In this public saga exists all of ADP’s brand challenges. It doesn’t communicate its HCM capabilities to the market. Instead, ADP communicates payroll because, as a sales-led company, it sells what it knows — even though it has some very good HCM technology. As a result, ADP is suffering from a growing functional association gap with the rest of the market. In the short term, the gap is merely troublesome. In the longer term, the gap is straight-up trouble. The little dogs nipping at their heels are turning into wolves.

Customer Notes: ADP is the safe choice. Boring, but bulletproof.


LOW HIGH Brand Power Message Focus Competitive Strength Competitive Potential

Overview: After Silicon Valley, Silicon Alley, and Boston, the Salt Lake City area can lay a pretty credible claim for being one of the biggest HR technology hotbeds, with brands such as HireVue, Instructure/Bridge, Kforce, Qualtrics, and others calling the area home. Count BambooHR in the mix. With solutions designed for small and lower-midmarket business looking to centralize employee data on an open-API platform that makes it easy integrate third-party providers (or even homegrown systems) and even deliver homegrown capabilities. We see a lot of potential ahead for this brand, but have a concern that the green/zen/fresh look of the brand isn’t differentiated enough to distinguish it from other brands inside (and outside) the category.

Customer Notes: BambooHR has taken a core HR system with benefits administration, reporting, and an open API, and has integrated solutions spanning payroll, benefits administration, recruiting, talent management, performance management, and document management. It’s ideal for SMBs looking to centralize employee data on a solid platform but also integrate best-of-breed or homegrown solutions on a rock-solid platform.


LOW HIGH Brand Power Message Focus Competitive Strength Competitive Potential

Overview: With its focus on the Dayforce platform, Ceridian left behind the issues most legacy HR technology platforms face. Vendors like ADP, SAP, and Oracle have had to put heavy resource against “unifying” their platforms now made up of myriad acquired solutions and those developed organically. The difficulty these Dayforce competitors experience integrating data within and outside of their platform is a non-issue with the Dayforce platform. Dayforce’s ability to provide a seamless customer experience across the employee life cycle has allowed it to further extend the platform and focus on exceptional customer experience. It has developed an army of customer advocates at the ready as a result. These advocates will be key since Ceridian needs the broad market to pick up on this story and not have it be just something the analysts and influencers get.

Customer Notes: With Dayforce at the front of its offering, this isn’t the Ceridian you used to know. It brings the HR and service expertise that you need in a vendor, helping you deal with the complexity of HR in your business, balanced with a technology offering that’s flexible and intuitive. Ceridian is fast leaving the “payroll vendor” stigma behind with the Dayforce platform leading the way.

cfactor Works/Vibe HCM

LOW HIGH Brand Power Message Focus Competitive Strength Competitive Potential

Overview: cfactor Works is a Canadian company located in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, which is probably about as far off your radar as the fact that they offer a complete HCM solution, short of payroll. Emerging from an HR consulting firm that addressed the strategic issues HR was facing and leveraged technology in their solutions, the Vibe HCM platform represents a shift in HR technology, focusing on a system of engagement. Vibe has taken every touch point that HR has in the employee life cycle and first attempted to make it a better employee experience, and then made it a measurable transaction along the road to achieving employee engagement. It fares well in product-to-product comparisons, but changing the conversation to engagement can sometimes confuse a buyer focused on a core HR issue. Its message limits it to talent management, but its platform offers more core HR. And right now, broader awareness is the only thing holding it back.

Customer Notes: If culture and engagement are top of mind in your C-suite and you’re comfortable integrating payroll into other key functions of HR, this is an emerging vendor worth putting more squarely on your radar.


LOW HIGH Brand Power Message Focus Competitive Strength Competitive Potential

Overview: Built on the platform, Fairsail has quickly built one of the most intriguing HR technology brands. Fairsail comes out of the U.K. and sits squarely in the midmarket segment. Because of its platform choice, Fairsail is an easier sale to any organization already running Salesforce. In the European market, Fairsail has been competing quite successfully against Workday, regularly beating them out on deals because of far lower costs and much faster implementation times. The next hurdle for Fairsail is a bit higher — the North American market. Although it has a differentiated message and position, its brand needs to take a step up in class to match its opportunity. This is definitely a brand to watch in 2016.

Customer Notes: Because of its market share and massive ecosystems of solutions, is an emerging HR technology platform. For organizations with a significant investment in Salesforce already, FinancialForce — along with Fairsail — is definitely worth a look. For international companies, Fairsail is definitely worth considering.


LOW HIGH Brand Power Message Focus Competitive Strength Competitive Potential

Overview: The Starr Conspiracy Intelligence Unit is bullish on as an HR technology platform because of its broad existing ecosystem and growing HR technology ecosystem that includes Cornerstone OnDemand and Lumesse, among others. FinancialForce is at the forefront for organizations looking to align CRM and ERP on the same platform. Even thought it’s headquartered in San Francisco, FinancialForce actually draws on European roots — just like its competitor Fairsail — as a subsidiary of the European ERP vendor Unit4. Fueled by a $110 million round in May 2015, FinancialForce will be a force (no pun intended) to be reckoned with — especially as it begins spending aggressively on brand advertising. Good move.

Customer Notes: Because of its market share and massive ecosystems of solutions, is an emerging HR technology platform. For organizations with a significant investment in Salesforce already, Fairsail — along with FinancialForce — is definitely worth a look. In the North America market, FinancialForce is the known quantity.

Gusto (formerly ZenPayroll)

LOW HIGH Brand Power Message Focus Competitive Strength Competitive Potential

Overview: Which Zen came first? Was it Zendesk, Zenefits, or ZenPayroll? Not a rhetorical question — it was Zendesk, dating back to 2007. Communicating zen-like simplicity is a solid concept for any enterprise software company; however, too many zens (just like too many pays) delivers brand confusion. Couple this with the limitations of a descriptive name for a company looking to expand beyond payroll and into benefits (and no doubt other HCM areas in short order), and you have all the ingredients you need for a rebrand. So — no surprise — ZenPayroll became Gusto in September 2015, and with it, will take a bit of brand hit as the market learns the new name. Although a technically competent rebrand, Gusto (and any brand moving to a synthetic or evocative name) would be better served to go with a name that is more defensible from an SEO perspective.

Customer Notes: It looks to us like Gusto is going to take a run at the highly competitive small-business market (and is squarely setting its sights on Zenefits). Gusto is going to great pains to play well with accountants — a good move for small businesses, where the accountant is the de facto CFO. Another good move: free payroll for life if you refer five clients a year. It’s a compelling offer.


LOW HIGH Brand Power Message Focus Competitive Strength Competitive Potential

Overview: Having built its presence in HCM primarily via acquisition since 2007, Infor continues to build brand awareness. With its strongest presence in the large middle and “small enterprise” markets, Infor is known as more of an ERP instead of an HCM specialist. Market pressure will increase on the Infor brand as established legacy vendors in the enterprise segment and emerging vendors moving “upstream” from the SMB are more focused on their message to the HCM buyer.

Customer Notes: Growing through acquisition is a sound business strategy. However, employers considering Infor should pay close attention to integration points within and outside of the Infor suite of products. This integration is commonly the long pole in the tent for brands having grown via acquisition.


LOW HIGH Brand Power Message Focus Competitive Strength Competitive Potential

Overview: Kronos continues to work to be viewed as more than just a time-and-attendance solution provider. We’ve seen its message focus ratings inch forward accordingly. With thought leadership initiatives like its Workforce Institute and product naming conventions and PR headlines centered squarely around “workforce,” it appears to be navigating through workforce management on its way to finding HCM. It’s difficult to drive a strategic shift to HCM from something seemingly as tactical as time and attendance. This shift may be perceived as a directional change for the customers who brought you to $1 billion in revenue when you were focused on time and attendance. Workforce management is a comfortable middle ground.

Customer Notes: Customers with a focus on workforce management, especially those with a significant need for time-and-attendance solutions, should look at Kronos.


LOW HIGH Brand Power Message Focus Competitive Strength Competitive Potential

Overview: Hot on the heels of Namely’s success rocketing out of New York’s Silicon Alley, Justworks is joining the fray for the SMB HCM buyer. With a $13 million round in May 2015 based on 1,500 percent revenue growth (translation: we had no revenue to start) and 800 percent growth in its user base (translation: you get the idea), Justworks jumps into a very crowded category with Zenefits and Namely. Even though it boasts Tumblr’s former chief architect as its head of engineering, we anticipate some of the same growing pains that Zenefits went through — unless you hire industry experience, you don’t know what you don’t know. Even though Justworks does have a clean, sleek brand, there is growing messaging and positioning clutter growing in this space. What’s the difference between Justworks, Namely, Zenefits, Gusto, and others when they all say, “We take care of that boring HR stuff so you can focus on your business”? The difference (and differentiation) is brand, which puts Zenefits and Namely squarely in the lead for now, with Gusto coming on strong. Even if these companies weren’t playing in ADP’s backyard, this would be a tough category. Advice to Justworks: Learn a few things from Zenefits and Namely. They’ve done it best in this category over the past two years.

Customer Notes: If you’re looking at Namely, Zenefits, and Gusto, it’s worth adding Justworks into the mix. However, we see a difference in the level of experience between Justworks and the three brands we just mentioned. With payroll and benefits, experience matters. Expect growing pains.


LOW HIGH Brand Power Message Focus Competitive Strength Competitive Potential

Overview: Namely has been one of the biggest brand success stories in HR technology in the past year. If it weren’t for a little company called Zenefits, it would be the hands-down winner in any HR technology category. Why the success? From a product perspective, Namely brought in expertise from former Ultimate Software employees at the start. It’s built its company based on experience. From a brand perspective, Namely CEO Matt Straz may be the best brand marketer in HR technology right now. In an industry where the word “disruptive” is thrown around and misused frequently, Straz has been truly disruptive as a brand marketer, going aggressively into outdoor display at a growth period when any other CEO would be pounding away with demand generation. Straz gets it. Brand is the air cover that softens the ground for demand generation.

Customer Notes: Namely should be at the top of the brands to consider for any small business looking for an HCM solution. Solid product, great brand, good company.


LOW HIGH Brand Power Message Focus Competitive Strength Competitive Potential

Overview: Oracle continues to reap the benefits of being a big brand in the space while moving its HCM products to a more agile, unified cloud-based platform. This takes time, and though the Oracle brand holds strong, it’s a brand that buyers typically associate with the enterprise, not the SMB. Oracle is doing a much better job of communicating to buyers in the midmarket, especially its advantages for fast-growth companies. However, its approach is very talent management-heavy in a market that is taking a much broader view. In our opinion, Oracle needs to communicate a bigger vision for the midmarket, especially around its partner strategy for filling holes in its HCM portfolio.

Customer Notes: Oracle will be a competitive choice for the midmarket — especially because the cloud extends into CRM, ERP, Java, and the Oracle database. However, customers looking for an agile vendor to deliver quickly against market trends might focus on evaluating Oracle’s ability to deliver on “time to value.”


LOW HIGH Brand Power Message Focus Competitive Strength Competitive Potential

Overview: In the SMB market, Paychex is a category leader and a powerhouse brand. Taking the payroll angle into HCM, Paychex has become far more than just payroll, with HCM solutions available at all employee sizes. Paychex does have a brand challenge — a highly descriptive name with a ton of brand equity that no longer describes what the company does. It’s hard to imagine Paychex ever changing its name unless competitors are able to limit its growth by pigeonholing the company as “just payroll.” Although it seems unlikely, even ADP suffers from this type of FUD. A rebrand would be a great way for Paychex to send a message to the market that something is different. As competition heats up, it’s something the company should keep in mind.

Customer Notes: Paychex is a rare bird in this market — a truly viable choice for companies of all sizes in the SMB. It’s a stable, solid company that’s been around since 1971 and boasts an impressive track record of innovation with core HR, benefits, recruiting, onboarding, and HRMS in recent years. It’s very much one of the brands that sets the tempo in the SMB.


LOW HIGH Brand Power Message Focus Competitive Strength Competitive Potential

Overview: All the three “Pays” not called Paychex — Paycor, Paycom, and Paylocity — run into the same problems — a descriptive name that doesn’t really describe what they do and a lack of differentiation at both the name and message levels. Overall, it’s not a bad brand, with a green that stands out in an ocean of blues in the space. However, it really needs to find a more differentiated message and consider a new name to stand out from the pack.

Customer Notes: Paycom is an Oklahoma City-based company that was founded in 1998 and is publicly traded on the NYSE. Buyers should expect an end-to-end HCM suite that includes payroll, benefits, HR management, time and labor, and a full talent management suite.


LOW HIGH Brand Power Message Focus Competitive Strength Competitive Potential

Overview: Of all the three “Pays” not called Paychex — Paycor, Paycom, and Paylocity — Paycor has the strongest brand of the bunch. It does a better job than most of messaging to the many different audiences it needs to address: entrepreneurs, HR, executives, brokers, etc. All three “Pays” run into the same problems — a descriptive name that doesn’t really describe what it does and a lack of differentiation at both the name and message levels. Of the three “Pays,” Paycor is in the best position to fix the problem without renaming. It can probably communicate differentiation within the existing brand with stronger messaging.

Customer Notes: Paycor is a strong company with HCM solutions for all sizes of SMB companies. The Cincinnati-based company was founded in 1990 and raised $100 million in 2014 through a private stock offering to high-net-worth individuals. Buyers should expect a solid, stable partner that delivers Stevie® Award-winning customer service.


LOW HIGH Brand Power Message Focus Competitive Strength Competitive Potential

Overview: Of all the three “Pays” not called Paychex — Paycor, Paycom, and Paylocity — Paylocity has the weakest brand of the bunch. All three “Pays” run into the same problems — a descriptive name that doesn’t really describe what it does and a lack of differentiation at both the name and message levels. The brand really is below par for the industry and needs an overhaul, and along the way, a new name to stand out from the pack.

Customer Notes: Paylocity is based in Arlington Heights, Ill., and is publicly traded on the NASDAQ after a 2014 IPO that raised $120 million. Buyers should expect a platform that includes core HR functionality — payroll, benefits, and time and labor — but no HRIS or talent functions beyond recruiting and performance.


LOW HIGH Brand Power Message Focus Competitive Strength Competitive Potential

Overview: Sage is a large global vendor with most of its revenue coming from outside the Americas. Its focus is on startup, small, and medium-size businesses, with some verticalized solutions for industries like construction or manufacturing. You may not see it as a big brand in the U.S. yet, but it continues to grow its customer base in the SMB segment while continuing to transition to the cloud.

Customer Notes: Sage’s HCM solutions target small to medium-size businesses, specifically employers with up to 500 FTEs. The offerings include core HR, payroll, benefits administration, time and attendance, recruiting, talent management, and reporting. It’s worth a look for any small to medium-size business.


LOW HIGH Brand Power Message Focus Competitive Strength Competitive Potential

Overview: SAP has moved very aggressively into brand awareness advertising over the past year. Even though it’s primarily thought of as an enterprise solution, SAP has a strong midmarket presence in HCM thanks to the SuccessFactors acquisition in 2012. For this reason, even four years after its acquisition, SuccessFactors is still the straw that stirs the drink in HCM for SAP in the midmarket. This segment is also the one part of the HCM market where SAP outperforms Workday at a brand level because of the power of the SuccessFactors brand. The elephant in the room: Will SAP ever fully digest the SuccessFactors brand? At some point, probably. But it shouldn’t be soon and not before SAP demonstrates more solid midmarket growth outside of its install base.

Customer Notes: SAP is an ideal fit for SMBs with complex business needs and global requirements. SAP has also demonstrated its ability to be nimble delivering against HCM and workforce trends in the cloud through acquisition and organic development.

TribeHR (NetSuite)

LOW HIGH Brand Power Message Focus Competitive Strength Competitive Potential

Overview: NetSuite is viewed as a cloud-computing platform for the SMB primarily in North America. TribeHR was growing quickly and emerging as a competitive force in the core HR market before the NetSuite acquisition. TribeHR could have been characterized as “quietly emerging.” Post-acquisition, the context for TribeHR has changed, but not much else. The acquisition may have helped the view of TribeHR in the NetSuite install base, but has done little to help how the brand is viewed outside of it. Its message focus was trending negative. More than 12 months after the acquisition, there is no clear message reflecting the value to HR customers of having TribeHR connected to NetSuite.

Customer Notes: NetSuite is viewed as an innovator in cloud computing for small to medium-size businesses. It’s often compared with Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP when looking at ERP for midsize firms. As the brand data reflects, there are many questions regarding the direction of NetSuite and TribeHR. For midmarket customers, especially those already using NetSuite in some part of their business, TribeHR is a brand worth considering.


LOW HIGH Brand Power Message Focus Competitive Strength Competitive Potential

Overview: Is TriNet an HCM company? Isn’t it a PEO? TriNet probably articulates the conundrum and opportunity in HCM better than any other brand. For small, fast-growth, primarily knowledge-worker-focused small (less than 100 employee) companies, TriNet is a turnkey HR solution that makes lots of problems go away. Traditional HCM? No. An essential HR solution? You bet. From a sheer performance perspective — stock returns and company revenue growth — Burton Goldfield is the No. 1 CEO in HR technology (and has the most awesome name). It’s also done a great job from a brand perspective with a campaign designed to elicit an emotional connection with the entrepreneurs it targets — fun, whimsical, and aspirational.

Customer Notes: For any sub-100-employee company in an industry with a competitive talent market, TriNet is a must to evaluate alongside ADP. It’s the Cadillac of PEOs. If you want Cadillac HCM, they are your company.

Ultimate Software

LOW HIGH Brand Power Message Focus Competitive Strength Competitive Potential

Overview: Ultimate Software might be the ideal midmarket HCM company — big enough to offer consistent product innovation, yet small enough where a customer feels like a name, not a number. It’s also one of the rare SaaS vendors to venture into the realm of profitability, which makes it a stable choice for any buyer. It’s also managed brand strategically — going aggressively into outdoor and broadcast awareness advertising to amplify its “people first” message. Although the message itself isn’t the most differentiated, Ultimate’s commitment to consistency over time and its alignment with its culture have allowed the company to overcome any limitations in message. That’s the power of brand. When you commit to it over time, good things happen. Ultimate gets it, and we expect great things for it in the years to come because of its authentic, approachable brand.

Customer Notes: Ultimate’s UltiPro HCM product offers a full suite of solutions for midmarket companies — core HR, payroll, benefits administration, recruiting, talent management, analytics, and time-and-attendance functionality. Ultimate is a good fit for customers looking for a strong service relationship with their vendor. It’s a company that a midmarket player can easily grow into and know that their needs will be met.


LOW HIGH Brand Power Message Focus Competitive Strength Competitive Potential

Overview: There’s a lot to say about Workday as an enterprise brand. What is there to say about it as an SMB brand? Obviously not a small-business brand for the most part, it’s a brand that aims to compete in the upper midmarket, which can be tough sledding. As a result, Workday suffers from a bit of a functional association problem in this end of the market. Workday is an expensive solution with a longer implementation timeline than most solutions. The SMB is also probably the clearest example of Workday’s “frenemy” problem. It will partner with Lumesse and Cornerstone OnDemand — at least until they decide to build their own talent acquisition and learning management solutions. As corollary, they will tolerate implementation partners like OneSource Virtual and CPSG (among others) that get high marks from Workday customers. Tolerate them at least until it’s clear the margins are too lucrative or Workday feels it can support taking over the business itself. It’s a dysfunctional symbiotic relationship, and not one that is conducive to building a functional ecosystem in the long run.

Customer Notes: They’re Workday. If you are a 1,000- to 2,500-employee company that can tolerate a $2 million price tag and a minimum one-year implementation timeline, add them to your RFP.


LOW HIGH Brand Power Message Focus Competitive Strength Competitive Potential

Overview: Workterra is still mostly under the radar. Because of its low profile, it’s easy to underestimate this 100 percent bootstrapped Pleasanton, Calif., company. Dave Rhodes, the CEO, was an early employee at WebMD, and as a software engineer himself, he has an extensive track record of building benefits enrollment solutions. As a result, he’s approached HCM from the benefits angle rather than through HRMS, with Workterra adding exchange, wellness, recruiting, and onboarding to its 100 percent organic platform. The killer differentiation for Workterra is the flexibility of the platform. It’s easy for account people to make configuration changes in minutes and roll them out in real time — changes that would require a help ticket and days or even weeks of waiting on other platforms. Even though Workterra’s sweet spot is the midmarket, it has clients that fit squarely in the large enterprise. Growth has been explosive for Workterra, and branding and marketing moves have been modest but smart so far. This is a brand that is currently nascent but incredibly high potential.

Customer Notes: Workterra is an ideal fit for midmarket companies looking for benefits and exchange solutions that also have significant hiring and onboarding needs, especially hospitality, service, and retail companies, but also healthcare and local government.


LOW HIGH Brand Power Message Focus Competitive Strength Competitive Potential

Overview: Zenefits is the highest-potential brand in the SMB HCM space for two reasons: (1) a $500 million round led by Andreessen Horowitz partner Lars Dalgaard and (2) an emphasis on brand building in the space. So, what could go wrong? The fact that the ADP saga, followed closely by calling out specific benefits brokers by name in a very aggressive campaign, have resulted in next-to-zero positive feelings within the HR technology community. Hacking its way to explosive growth, coupled with aggressive tactics with regulatory entities and competitors is a very Uber-like, B2C growth tactic. However, if any category in HR technology is more relationship-driven than benefits, we are hard-pressed to think of it. As Zenefits moves into midmarket and consultants become an impossible-to-avoid part of the mix, its rough-and-tumble tactics may come back to bite it. The story to watch for Zenefits in 2016 is this: Will the lack of relationship building in the industry erode the power of its brand?

Customer Notes: The business model is simple — give away the technology and make money on the brokerage fees. Any buyer should be aware that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. The Zenefits team has taken some strides in product in 2015, but the trade-off with free technology will be in quality. Competitors’ technology in most cases is better. Also, there are still enough concerns about customer churn (1 percent a month according to the company, about double the acceptable SaaS-model churn rate) that any prospective customer should proceed with caution.

Other Companies to Consider

Ascentis: San Francisco-based Ascentis Corporation is backed by Palm Ventures and Catalyst Investors and boasts some impressive Bay Area clients on its roster, more than 1,500 in various industries. The company checks a lot of boxes with its solutions, but needs to take a step up in brand image and awareness to keep up in a competitive market and have more than just regional appeal.

BDB Payroll: Based in Brooklyn, BDB Payroll is under new ownership as of the end of 2014. BDB offers a comprehensive set of HCM solutions focused on the SMB, and recently launched a refreshed brand with aims of breaking out of its position as a regional player. We’ll be paying attention to see if it can deliver.

Benepay Technologies: This Grand Rapids, Mich.-based company is the result of a merger between Lyceum, an HCM tech solution for the SMB and BenePay, a payroll service company that worked with companies of all sizes. Benepay represents HCM vendors that are providing technology and services to a smaller slice of the SMB market. Benepay views platform adoption as the future for that segment.

CheckPoint HR: This New Jersey-based company is taking the benefits/payroll angle into HCM but has a functional association problem by looking less like a technology solution and more like a benefits or HR consultancy.

Compass HRM: This Tampa-based HCM technology firm got its start solving business problems outside of the HR technology market ecosystem. Compass HRM includes core HR, payroll, time and attendance, benefits administration, talent management, and more for the SMB. Like Kin HR, Compass HRM represents what today looks like a local or regional supplier, but with some funding, it could become a dark-horse entry in the brandscape.

iSolved: This HCM technology is the product of Charlotte-based Infinisource and is primarily aimed at the SMB market in the U.S. Although it started off in the service business doing COBRA administration, iSolved was rolled out to consolidate traditional HRIS, payroll, benefits administration, and time-and-attendance software. Like many in this category, iSolved wins business by flipping organizations from traditional or manual-based HR and payroll processes that are still common in small to medium-size organizations to their cloud-based solution.

Kin HR: This Chicago-based HR technology startup focuses on delivering core HR technology to the SMB primarily in North America. Kin HR is representative of a vast number of local and regional vendors that solve a business problem in HR administration for their customers through software with a simple, consumerized interface. Kin HR was spun off from a successful IT consulting firm that saw success in providing this solution to its customers. Unlike the Silicon Valley startups we see so much of, companies like Kin HR are not “built to flip” with venture capital investment as a part of their business plan. Kin HR represents a large number of firms globally appearing in our brandscapes that may or may not take funding, but will compete with vendors operating in the geographies where they exist.

OrangeHRM: The most interesting thing about OrangeHRM is its model. The company originally entered the market as an open-source HR software solution. Its open-source platform now looks more like a freemium offer as Orange has extended to selling product. Extending capabilities via modules and targeting more segments via service levels, it’s an on-premise mindset in an on-demand world. SMB customers with the patience and resources to implement a product requiring a lot of configuration and/or customization may be happy with an open-source offering. It’s a “clean slate” of core capabilities that requires a lot of customer effort in implementation in a market where user experience and ease of implementation are high on the list of customer requirements. OrangeHRM will need to move quickly on product and with its brand to gain substantial traction in an increasingly crowded segment.

PeopleStrategy: This Atlanta-based company has spent years focusing on its product and customers. The result is a full-featured cloud-based HCM platform that offers the configurability and flexibility seen in most enterprise systems, but with ease of use and design that make the product well suited for its target customer: small and medium-size businesses. Its offering covers core HR, talent acquisition, payroll, workforce management, benefits administration, and talent management. Not strictly a regional player, PeopleStrategy has offices across the country, including operations in Boston and development in Salt Lake City. It’s one of many vendors growing in a controlled manner, focused on a profit-based strategy. Investing more aggressively in a market-share strategy or bringing in funding to do so could put the company in a high-potential position on the brandscape.

PowWowHR: This Atlanta-based startup has put together a solid-looking platform and an attractive brand with very little investment capital. If you can set aside the politically incorrect name (which we have more than a little trouble with), it’s got the ingredients to be a credible player. However, without more investment, it isn’t likely to be more than a niche player.

SyncHR: Oakland-based SyncHR is an HR system that provides HR, payroll, and benefits administration. Though SyncHR started by focusing on HROs, PEOs, and other HR service providers, it expanded to facilitate direct engagement with SMBs, focusing on what it calls “event-based HR.” It has invested in the product significantly, which matches up well to other providers, but still lacks name recognition in a crowded SMB market.

Zuman: Based in Pleasanton, Calif., and led by the founding executive team from TriNet, Zuman targets companies with more than 50 employees. Its platform bundles payroll, benefits, and talent management; features a slick mobile-friendly UI; and includes concierge-style service. Zuman calls it “people operations,” which should play well with fast-growth companies that need to bring effective HR services online quickly and without hassle. Needless to say, Zuman is positioning itself as a premium solution. Because of the experience of this team, it could quickly give Zenefits and PEOs a run for their money in the near term.