The Best Talent Management Software buyers guide by Inspector Jones

We reviewed over 40 Talent Management systems, for attracting, recruiting, developing and retaining the best staff - performance management, development planning, pay-for-performance, learning and more. This is a hotly contested area, with lots of great vendors. And the winner is…

The Best Enterprise-Grade Talent Management Suite

Successfactors by SAP

Our independent review for talent management software selected Successfactors as the best option, because of its leading functionality across-the-board, strong track record globally, and strong investment in R&D. Successfactors has excellent security and support behind the application.

Successfactors also has a broader talent management offering than most vendors, with an additional focus on business execution and enterprise social and employee profile functionality.

The Talent Management Suite Runner-Up

Cornerstone OnDemand

Our independent review for talent management suites selected Cornerstone OnDemand as the runner-up, because of its comprehensive leading functionality (now including their recruitment cloud). Cornerstone is widely used globally, and includes high quality options for companies large and small.

The Talent Management Suite Shortlist

We’ve reviewed the dozens and dozens of different talent management solutions on the market, for medium and large enterprises. This shortlist is the best-of-the-best - enterprise-grade solutions that are proven, well-maintained, and being actively developed. If these vendors don’t fit your specific niche, or are too pricey, I recommend you look at our slightly longer shortlist of talent management vendors or the full list of talent management vendors…

What To Look For

I recommend that you review talent management software in two stages. First, a feature review to make sure the software does what you need it to. Secondly, a review of how the software will integrate with your people, processes and technology.


I've found that most of the top talent management suites offer very similar features. What's different is how comprehensively they are implemented, and how easy-to-use they are. I recommend you look for:
  • Recruitment functionality, including posting to job boards, a branded careers website, employee referrals and social sourcing, prospective employee screening and assessment, great search functionality, and onboarding
  • Performance and goals management which includes performance appraisals, 360 degree feedback, a journal or record of performance, and alignment with organisational goals
  • Career and development planning, including competency management and Job description management
  • Compensation or Pay for performance
  • Succession planning, including identifying and managing internal talent pools
  • Learning management
  • Workforce planning and analytics
  • Mobile support
  • Reporting, Analytics

Fits your people, process and technology

Expect that the organisational fit will probably be the deciding factor for your talent management software selection. I recommend that you review the following checklist:
  • Does it fit your existing workflow?
  • Can be made to match your corporate brand (especially any public-facing functionality)?
  • Will it integrate with your existing HR systems, to keep data synchronised over time?
  • Will it integrate with enterprise social software and employee surveys?
  • How easy is it to use? Usability is crucial. Make sure you review the application from a manager's point of view, and an employee's point of view.
  • Is it compliant with your legal and regulatory needs?
  • Does it offer relevant reporting that meets your needs?

The Slightly-Longer Shortlist

Sometimes the best-of-the-best shortlist is too short - perhaps none of the vendors fit your niche or price bracket. If that’s the case, we’ve extended the shortlist of the best talent management software to cover solutions which have slightly simpler functionality, or with a slightly narrower focus. All of these are still enterprise-grade solutions that are proven, well-maintained, and being actively developed. Also, see the full list of talent management vendors…

Focus on Recruitment

When implementing full talent management suites, you may want to start with only recruitment functionality, and expanding to other modules later. Make sure you review our Recruitment Software run down, so you know what to look for.

My top two picks for talent management suites with a strong focus on recruitment are:

Kenexa a very strong recruitment and assessment solution for medium and large organisations. Now a part of IBM, Kenexa is being better integrated as a comprehensive talent management suite.

Oracle Talent Suite (Taleo) is the market leader for recruitment, and integrated with Oracle’s other Human Capital Management functionality. While Taleo has a strong recruitment presence, many customers use only the recruitment functionality and not other modules.

I recommend the following Talent Management Suites, as the best for your shortlist, with good recruitment functionality:

Focus on Performance

If you are focusing just on managing employee performance, all of the talent management vendors on the shortlist are suitable. I also recommend adding a few other talent management vendors to your shortlist. (formerly known as Rypple) is owned by, and provides a niche performance management solution. has tools for reward and recognition, social feedback, and coaching.

HRsmart provides strong performance management and recruitment functionality. I recommend this for mid-sized organisations.

Haufe.umantis provides good performance management and recruitment functionality, with a strong presence in the EU. I recommend this for mid-sized organisations.

Technomedia also provides good performance management and recruitment functionality.

Integrated with HR Administration

There is a real appeal to having one integrated system that includes both human resources management and talent management. However, be aware that this does limit your choice of talent management system - and neither of our top 2 talent management systems include great HR management functionality.

If you are considering a full HR suite that includes both HR management and talent management, I recommend you consider:

All Talent Management