The “un-ERP”: Interview with Donna Ronayne, VP of Marketing at Halogen Software
Donna Ronayne, Vice President of Marketing at Halogen Software, explained Halogen’s focus on the talent management functionality most important to the mid-market, and why they’ve avoided enterprise bells and whistles and complex customizations. Ronayne said Halogen strives to be the “un-ERP,” prioritizing easy configuration and usability. Ronayne also described the new style of conducting employee performance reviews, which will be increasingly important as the workforce becomes younger and the talent pool becomes more competitive. Rather than functioning as a system of assessment, the next generation of performance review is about employee engagement and development—a shift supported by the Halogen platform. According to user reviews on TrustRadius, Halogen is Top Rated talent management software for mid-sized companies, with an overall trScore of 7.6/10 and a trScore of 8.0/10 in the mid-sized segment.
Introduction to Halogen
Give us a brief introduction to Halogen.
We are one of the leading talent management vendors. We focus on mid-market companies as opposed to the Fortune 100 companies, and our philosophy is to be the “un-ERP.” Because we work with the mid-market, which we define as 100 to 10,000 employees, we knew it was necessary for us to make a solution that was very easy to configure and easy to use.
We have been around since 2001; we started with performance as our foundation, and we built our complete talent management suite from the ground up on top of it. Because of our heritage, we have a lot of unique features that leverage the connection between performance and the various areas of talent management. We have built a seamless experience with a competency layer that flows through the whole system, and we offer a consistent user experience on both the back- and front-end.
From the beginning, we didn’t try to go after the big Goliaths that have very complex requirements and might want to try to drive our solutions in a certain direction that doesn’t serve the market well. Sometimes it was about identifying the bells and whistles to leave out, in order to maintain a good, usable solution that serves the mid-market well.
We are focused on helping organizations build world-class workforces. This is our vision and everyone we partner with and everything that we build into our solutions is about driving that vision.
Halogen Use Cases & Customer Base
Can you give us some example use cases for companies that use Halogen?
Take the solution we launched with DDI last year, a company known for its comprehensive behavior-based competency library. We took DDI’s competencies and leadership development content into our system and automated them, making them more consumable. It’s one way we can support mid-market organizations in accelerating their leadership and employee development programs.
Our philosophy is about keeping it simple, and we don’t do anything without talking to our customers. We have customer advisory boards, and we get a lot of feedback surfaced there that feeds into product development.
We’re not a pushy, in-your-face vendor; we like to partner with our customers. We work to understand what outcomes are required for them.
Our solution started as on-premise, but the vast majority of our clients are now in the cloud. Customers can easily configure our software themselves, but we very seldom customize our solutions for a particular customer. Any customization would have to serve our entire market.
Who is your primary buyer?
CEOs have been involved, and sometimes they’re pushing HR to get a system in. For the most part we work with the head of HR. But it’s never just HR, it usually involves IT, and Finance as well. Our system touches everybody. It’s a complete corporate solution.
In addition to mid-market, who is your target customer?
We serve several verticals. Healthcare is one of our largest, but we also serve professional services, financial services, hospitality, education, and manufacturing.
We have solutions tailored to meet the specific needs of those vertical markets, and so some of the functionality is different, depending on the vertical.
Most of our competitors did not start in verticals. We think that’s a differentiator. It helps drive more confidence when you focus on their specific concerns.
Market Positioning & Market Perspective
Why are you focusing exclusively on talent management?
HR/payroll, ERP and many other vendors are now dabbling in the talent management market, but we believe talent management is way too important to be just an add-on to another system. Talent management is a lot more strategic; and organizations need vendors that focus in this area. It’s not about automating a review or compensation; it’s about helping our customers drive strong talent programs. Tons of research has shown that companies with mature and well integrated talent management programs outperform their peers.
If you see talent management as just a transaction, any software product will do. We prefer to work with organizations that are looking at talent management as a strategic path to help them advance. We also see performance as the core of any talent strategy and we’re focused on driving the next generation of performance management.
What is the next generation of performance management?
Some people say, “performance reviews are dead;” it’s not that reviews are dead, it’s the way they were done in the past that’s dead. It’s no longer ‘one and done’; rather managers and employees should be having an ongoing discussion about performance, and nothing in the ‘performance review’ at the end of the year should be a surprise. It should serve as a summary of your discussions –highlighting an employee’s accomplishments and progress with professional growth – and provide guidance on areas to focus on in the future.
When performance management is an ongoing process where managers and employees participate in regular feedback and coaching conversations, it helps organizations to align, engage and inspire their people to achieve the results that matter to their business.
It’s a move away from performance management as a system of assessment to instead, one of employee engagement and development. It’s about putting the right tools, processes and practices in front of your managers and employees in order to inspire and enable high performance. This approach keeps everyone talking about what's important to the business and it helps build and support stronger manager-employee relationships.
We’ve built our solutions to help organizations drive this shift and really create a link between performance management and business success.
What are the key trends in HR?
There’s a big focus on talent acquisition right now because of the talent war. With baby boomers retiring, and the economy heating up, there’s a talent shortage in many areas. We also know that this focus will eventually shift back around to performance. Success is not just about getting the right people in the door, it’s about maximizing employee development and performance—getting your people productive and engaged, and contributing to organizational success.
Megan champions research at TrustRadius. Her mission is to ensure we gather the highest quality data from authenticated reviewers, and provide useful curated reports for prospective software buyers. Prior to joining TrustRadius, Megan was Director of Sales and Marketing at a media company. She holds MA degrees in Journalism and Latin American Studies from the University of Texas.