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REPORT: Critical Capabilities for Talent Management Suites |Gartner Research

vari22A talent management suite is an integrated set of applications that support an organization’s need to plan, attract, develop, reward, engage and retain its workforce. Such applications include (but are not limited to) workforce planning, talent acquisition, onboarding, performance appraisal/assessment, goal management, learning management, competency management, career development, succession management and compensation management.

Providers of talent management suites are aggressively adding new features to keep up with demand for workforce effectiveness in the digital workplace, but offerings still vary significantly. HR leaders should focus on a product’s critical capabilities when evaluating the evolving vendor landscape.

Key Findings

  • Over the last year, competition has accelerated the pace of innovation and improvement among talent management suite products.
  • Vendors rated as Leaders in the companion Magic Quadrant are not always rated highest in specific use cases. The Magic Quadrant evaluates vendor vision and execution as well as product, while this Critical Capabilities report is purely a product-focused evaluation.
  • Application features and functionalities disproportionately drive the buying habits of most customers, even though underlying product capabilities (including usability) and vendor-customer relationship criteria have equal or greater impact on the decision to stay with a vendor’s solutions in the long term.


  • Examine the four highlighted use cases against the critical capabilities to identify which use case(s) most closely fits your organization’s potential use of talent management technology during the next three to five years.
  • Consider the top vendors (four to seven maximum) for your prioritized use case(s) as strong candidates for further review as part of a comprehensive evaluation and selection process.
  • Consider product functions as just one factor in your purchase decision, along with product roadmap, customer references, vendor viability, ability to integrate with other systems and global support.
  • Use this research along with the companion Magic Quadrant to see how each vendor compares.
  • Validate the findings of this and related Magic Quadrant research via structured conversations with vendor-supplied references, supplemented by a review of feedback mined from the project team’s professional network.

Organizations evaluating talent management suites should begin with an understanding and prioritization of their key uses cases. In this research, Gartner has identified four common use cases composed of various critical capabilities and their relative priorities across each use case. Customers may want to select a different combination of capabilities and weightings to build their own use cases.

The four use cases defined in this research are:

  • Attract and Retain Talent
  • Develop the Workforce
  • Pay for Performance
  • High-Volume Talent Management

Once the top use cases have been identified, organizations should define their requirements, including a review of the vendor’s product roadmap, technology, ease of integration to other applications, and customer references.

Gartner recommends taking a pace-layered approach to defining these requirements (see “Best Practices for Developing Pace Layering for Human Capital Management” ). In addition, organizations should evaluate the robustness of the “talent profile” (the repository of an individual’s attributes, including education, experience, aspirations, skills and capabilities, performance data, training and certifications, compensation history, succession pool participation, and more) to understand how the talent management suite (often shortened to TMS) enables a deeper understanding of the workforce, and how this data is accessed via reporting and analytics.

Gartner recommends developing a set of requirements that focus initially on the most critical capabilities of the use case. However, as suite capabilities are typically deployed in phases rather than all at once, developing a two- to three-year roadmap for all requirements will help ensure that the buying decision considers longer-term functional requirements. In this research, these critical capabilities (at a high level) are the major modules of the talent management suite coupled with reporting and analytics, as well as overall customer satisfaction with the products and the vendor-client relationship. Most of these critical capabilities have different weightings assigned to them based upon their relative importance to the primary business use case. Some of the capability weightings are applied evenly to all use cases.

The critical capabilities with importance weightings that vary by use case are:

  • Recruiting
  • Onboarding
  • Performance and Goals
  • Learning Management
  • Career and Succession Planning
  • Compensation Planning

The critical capabilities that are weighted equally across all use cases are:

  • Reporting and Analytics Tools
  • Overall Product Satisfaction
  • Vendor-Customer Relationship Satisfaction


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