Laser-Focused on the Customer, Kronos Is Winning the SaaS HCM Battle

December 2, 2019
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Introduction to the event

Recently I had the opportunity to attend my first KronosWorks in Las Vegas. I can tell you that it was an action packed 3 days with so much news that I am afraid that I won’t be able to cover it all in this article but I will attempt to provide you with the main points and will provide links for a deeper dive.

First, the event must have been a sell-out as there were over 3,000 attendees (which I believe is a record) who in my opinion were excited to be there to learn. Many had made the move to the cloud for both Workforce Management AND HCM or were eagerly anticipating the move. That’s right, HCM, although Kronos is traditionally known as a leader in workforce management solutions, they are now fully focused on providing their mid-market customers with an end to end solution for Human Capital Management and from what I can see, their customers are embracing it. According to Kronos President Chris Todd, Kronos, the fastest growing part of their business is HCM which is up 600%! They are fully focused on this part of the business and plan to invest $100M in Research and Development in this product in the coming year! I will cover more on this further down in the report.

You can view the replay of the entire opening keynote here.

CEO address from Aron Ain


If you have ever had the opportunity to meet Aron you know that he is a true leader who is humble and very thankful to his customers and his employees. He has been leading the charge for a number of years to offer a high-performing workplace to attract and retain the best employees and has actually written a best-selling book on the subject, WorkInspired: How to Build an Organization Where Everyone Loves to Work. This is important not only for Kronos but for their customers for a few reasons. First, a truly passionate employee delivers an unmatched customer experience. Secondly, an inspired workforce will always deliver an exceptional product offering that will be consistently innovated on. And finally, because Kronos already knows how to keep a highly engaged workforce, they are in a position to leverage their know-how to help their customers achieve the same result.

As the event kicked off on November 11 (Veterans Day) Aron kicked off with an acknowledgement and thank you to of all of the Veterans in the room and their families which was a really nice touch!

He went on to speak about their record financial results where Kronos revenue for the year was $1.433 billion.  Ain was quoted in their press release “Kronos set a new mark with the best quarter in the best year in company history. Our performance across all aspects of the business driven by the energy, passion, and compassion for how Kronites support our customers continues to energize me every day,” As he does, he humbly thanked their customers for this success and attributed much of their success to the incredible culture at Kronos. He quoted some very interesting statistics (see below) and one that stood out for me was that 89% of Kronos employees are engaged making them 100% committed to the customer.


The below image demonstrates the level of satisfaction from their customers on a number of elements.


Aron then spoke about how they have grown so significantly:

  • First was the wide adoption of Workforce Dimensions (a new product that’s less than two years old). Workforce Dimensions has officially become the fastest-adopted solution in their history with already 620 customers live, 25% are net new customers, 20% have attached HCM (ie talent acquisition and onboarding, talent and performance management, benefits, core HR, and/or payroll) to the platform, 18% are outside of the USA and the average employee size is 5,000 – now that is big in just 24 months!  In addition, Kronos’ partnership with SAP has added Workforce Dimensions as a solution extension to SAP SuccessFactors and already, they have both seen some very exciting results, especially outside the U.S.
  • Second, was their passion for HCM. Their exceptional growth in HCM led by Workforce Ready continues to drive new cloud opportunities worldwide and they will continue to invest heavily ($100M in the next 12 months) to continue to refine their offering in both Workforce Ready and Workforce Dimensions. Kronos added more than 800 brand new Workforce Ready customers in the last year. HCM revenue, which includes Workforce Ready and Workforce Dimensions HCM, is up 30%. The single-suite HCM approach absolutely resonates with buyers, especially in the mid-market where they absolutely need robust workforce management but don’t yield the same value from individual best-of-breed modules across HR that a large enterprise may.  
  • Speaking of large enterprises, there are approximately 8,000 companies on Workforce Central.K Kronos is still supporting Workforce Central with 2 new releases this year and significant investments in engineering and support. The bottom line is they will continue to support all of their customers with innovative products so that they don’t feel like they have to move until they are ready. However, the company is also going to great lengths to show Workforce Central customers that they have a direct path to migrate to Workforce Dimensions or Workforce Ready. While 3/4th of Workforce Dimensions customers are Workforce Central migrations, Kronos is also seeing mid-market Workforce Central customers migrate to Workforce Ready, again consolidating multiple HR systems into the single-suite.

Aron was quoted “Workforce Dimensions has officially become the fastest-adopted solution in our history, while our exceptional growth in HCM led by Workforce Ready continues to drive new cloud opportunities worldwide. It took Kronos 30 years to cross $500 million in recurring revenue – yet in less than a decade, annual recurring revenue crossed $1 billion and is the fastest-growing part of our business. And even with our aggressive investments across the company, profitability remains ahead of plan – simply incredible.”

Kronos is winning in the HCM Market

Kronos has a relentless focus on full-suite innovation by building out a full HCM suite in both Workforce Ready and Workforce Dimensions. They are doing something quite unique in the industry; they are putting world-class workforce management at the heart of a human capital management (HCM) strategy which is designed to provide unique perspectives on your workforce not offered by other vendors. Organizations are rapidly adopting Kronos to leverage full-suite, proactive, and personalized HCM solutions that emphasize the everyday moments that matter for an exceptional employee experience for the entire modern workforce, including hourly and frontline, gig, and salary workers.

They have included innovative enhancements, including Advanced People Analytics, apply AIMEE, the artificial intelligence engine for managers and employees, across the full suite to utilize real-time HR, workforce management, and payroll data to make proactive, people-centric decisions.

Kronos HCM solutions are mobile-first and fully responsive, empowering employees and managers to complete the actions most important to them, such as enrolling in benefits, requesting time off, or reviewing advanced analytics, from anywhere on any device. (It should be noted Workforce Dimensions is also mobile-first, a really smart decision made way back in 2014 at the start of development that reflects Kronos’ deep understanding of where the workforce is going.)

In addition to aggressively investing in new innovations across all areas of HCM, including talent acquisition and onboarding, core HR, talent and performance management, benefits administration, workforce management, and payroll, Kronos recently formed two new teams:

  • The Kronos HCM Strategic Advisory group consists of distinguished HR practitioners and HCM experts with a combined 80 years of experience helping organizations both large and small align to optimize their people, processes, and technology strategies.
  • The Kronos HR Advisor and Broker Relations group collaborates closely with HR and benefits brokerages around the U.S. to help small and midsize businesses learn about the value of Kronos HCM to engage employees to drive business success.
  • The global adoption of Kronos HCM solutions, Workforce Ready and Workforce Dimensions HCM have surged in the last year as more than 26,000 organizations now use Kronos to manage their workforces from pre-hire to retire, including Goodwill of Central and Coastal Virginia, Jasper Group, Kalamazoo Anesthesiology, Les Ambassadeurs Club, Servicon Systems, Spinx, and Sprint Mart.Workforce Ready experienced its best year ever by virtually every metric in 2019, from surging new customer and international adoption, including record-setting growth in Australia and Europe, to scaling to meet the needs of large organizations. This is anchored by great feature/function, but Kronos has wrapped that in an innovative user experience. They’re taking a proactive and personalized approach, whether it’s AI engine AIMEE providing insights in context, or the live in-context support chat, staffed by real people, resolving 73% of cases through chat within a few minutes.
  • Workforce Dimensions HCM continues to gain significant traction, leveraging next-generation workforce management capabilities unified with Kronos HR and cloud payroll to deliver industry-specific HCM to organizations with up to 25,000 employees. Between Workforce Ready and Workforce Dimensions HCM, Kronos is positioning itself as the HCM solution provider for organizations with high populations of hourly workers.
  • Nearly 9 out of every 10 new Kronos HCM customers in the fourth quarter of Fiscal 2019 chose to attach Kronos Payroll Services to their HCM selection, reflecting the tremendous value of coupling time and pay together in a single cloud-native suite.  It should be noted that Workforce Ready payroll also provides a continuous calculation engine.

Kronos HCM solutions continue to earn coveted industry accolades, including Employee Perspectives winning “Best New Talent Management Solution”; Kronos making the Constellation ShortListTM for Payroll for North American small and midsize businesses; and G2 Crowd, HRO Today, Software Advice (a Gartner company), and TrustRadius lauding Kronos HCM capabilities.

Bob DelPonte, vice president and general manager, HCM practice group, Kronos said “At Kronos, we never stop innovating. From award-winning product features, to our passion for reimagining what customer success looks like, organizations of all sizes and across all industries are selecting Kronos HCM solutions at record rates because they recognize the value of having a partner who knows their industry, understands their workforce challenges, and can place workforce management at the heart of a personalized employee experience to drive business success.”

Other Product Innovation

Workforce Dimensions Industry-driven Enhancements

During the conference Kronos announced a fresh wave of global capabilities, enhancements, and product integrations added to Workforce Dimensions. These intelligent, mobile-first enhancements provide unprecedented levels of usability, flexibility, and labor insights that unburden managers and empower employees with new features tailored for industry-specific needs.

The product comes with intelligent tools for frontline workers: Workforce Dimensions is designed to solve industry-specific challenges through a singular, unified user experience. Below are industry specific solutions:

  • Healthcare institutions match labor supply with demand for care: With workload-based forecasting, scheduling, and reporting, managers optimize schedules based on historic workload, fill open shifts based on intelligent recommendations, rapidly address changes to patient volume, and analyze productivity metrics to inform future staffing decisions.
  • Manufacturers and public sector organizations drive productivity by managing time and work activities: An engaging mobile user experience simplifies tracking and managing hourly, project-based, and grant-based work, while the combined power of workforce management and payroll reduces complexity in managing overtime, shift bidding, and union rules.
  • Public safety and field worker schedules optimized as communication is streamlined: Workforce TeleStaff, an intelligent, automated scheduler for public safety and field service workers, integrates with Workforce Dimensions to empower real-time, reliable staffing decisions based on a holistic view of workforce insights, accruals, overtime entitlements, union rules, labor laws, and employee skills, certifications, and contact information.
  • Retail, hospitality, and food service organizations create the most repeatably accurate labor volume forecasts: Intelligent forecasting leverages the power of AIMEE – named the “best AI-based solution for workforce management” – to analyze daily trends, predict volume and scheduling needs, and fine-tune labor forecasts over time to deliver stable and predictable schedules that automatically match associate skills to customer volume and seasonal demand, all within budget target limits.

Below is a list of the functionality, solution flexibility, and ease of use that will be delivered with this upgrade:

  • Empower the workforce with flexible scheduling: Employees can set availability and shift preferences, request coverage to fill shifts, and easily pick up open shifts with AI-based recommendations, while managers are alerted to potential compliance or policy violations.
  • Prompt mobile users with actionable push notifications: Users can complete one-click tasks – such as accepting a coverage request or approving a time-off or shift-swap request – directly from the lock or home screen of their mobile device.
  • Visualize labor patterns to anticipate future trends: Trend data is embedded in user dashboards to reveal opportunities and areas of potential concern, empowering managers to set business targets and track progress based on time-based performance metrics.
  • Manage timecards and global pay rules more efficiently: Auto-resolve features help employees fix mistakes in their timecards – minimizing administrative work for managers and payroll teams – while currency conversions make it easier for multinational organizations to pay employees and for regional managers to view and analyze reports in their preferred currency.
  • Attract, develop, and retain an engaged workforce: Deliver a best-in-class employee experience with a unified, full-suite human capital management (HCM) application by integrating human resources (HR), payroll, and talent in Workforce Dimensions.
  • Extend the value of Workforce Dimensions: Custom applications, extensions, and integrations developed leveraging the Kronos D5 platform are available in the Kronos Marketplace, which features solutions from 100+ Workforce Dimensions Technology Partners built to transform the employee experience.

Time Clock of the Future: Kronos InTouch DX


Kronos InTouch DX provides the ease of use and personalization while simultaneously harnessing built-in intelligence to identify the most important issues and present relevant actions to users. InTouch DX works seamlessly with Workforce Dimensions and features a future-ready foundation for facial recognition and other emerging technologies.

Developed in partnership with a customer advisory board comprising organizations across all industries, InTouch DX appears sleek and stylish but is equipped with an industrial-strength enclosure that provides the extreme durability and reliability allowing it to operate virtually anywhere.

Dana Landrum, applications manager, GATE said “Kronos InTouch DX is fast, sleek, intuitive to navigate, and incredibly easy to configure with Workforce Dimensions. By surfacing the most important information to employees as soon as they engage with InTouch DX, they’re able to see critical updates first and then quickly take care of their own priorities, like requesting time off, checking their accruals, attesting to breaks, or resolving timecard exceptions. We’re excited to deliver a modern digital experience that meets our modern workforce needs.”

Kronos InTouch DX will be available with Workforce Central and Workforce Ready in 2020.

The reimagined digital experience of InTouch DX begins at check-in with SmartLanding, a one-of a-kind personal welcome screen alerting users to unread messages, time-off approvals or requests, shift-swap and schedule updates, and other critical notifications requiring attention.

With notifications resolved, Individual Mode showcases personalized tiles curated by each user to provide one-click access to their most frequent self-service tasks, such as viewing their schedule, checking their accruals bank, or transferring job codes.

The My Time feature combines the timecard and weekly schedule to provide employees with a quick, at-a-glance view to accurately compare punches to scheduled hours to verify timecard accuracy and minimize exceptions, which mitigates compliance risk, saves managers time, and ensures a perfect paycheck for the employee.

Multi-language support fosters a diverse, global, and engaged workforce by allowing the user to pick their preferred language for a personalized experience, while a 7-inch, full-color, responsive LCD capacitive touchscreen provides a crystal-clear viewing experience.

InTouch DX builds on the security and convenience provided by optional biometric authentication pioneered in the original Kronos InTouch, eliminating the need to carry a badge or enter a PIN.

Being Present: A Practical Guide for Transforming the Employee Experience of Your Frontline Workforce

If you thought that Kronos only created software you would be mistaken. I really love the fact that they invested time and money to help you run your business with a new book, “Being Present: A Practical Guide for Transforming the Employee Experience of Your Frontline Workforce,” a rich anthology of guiding ideas, advice, and best practices focused on improving people’s work lives, specifically those present workers. It’s actually the fourth anthology it has published through its think tank, The Workforce Institute at Kronos.

The problem they are helping you address is frontline employees – those individuals who must be physically present to do their jobs – make up the majority of the global workforce, yet these workers are often left out of discussions around flexibility, career growth, employee experience, and impactful benefits that ultimately drive work-life balance.

 “Being Present” challenges readers to consider the differences in the employee experience between laptop-toting office workers and the frontline workforce, with the goal of inspiring leaders to strategically and creatively build frontline workplace capability, development, productivity,flexibility, empowerment, and trust.

The anthology is broken into three sections: Work Your Way, where authors explore what it means to have more control over when and – if possible – where one works; Work Smarter, in which the impact of data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and other advanced technologies on the workplace are examined; and Work Inspired, where attention is paid to the critical importance of a healthy culture, centered on values that matter most to employees.

Each of the 16 chapters in the book can be read individually or chronologically and challenges yesterday’s mindset while strategically examining the future of work with insights and real-life examples of the positive outcomes for employers who invest in their workers’ experiences. Each chapter concludes with five key takeaways called “Focus on the Frontline,” offering readers practical applications to apply the knowledge learned in the chapter.


I always love when customers speak at a conference, you get to see their excitement and hear from their point of view how a solution is helping them achieve their goals.

The first customer to take the stage  flew all the way from Brisbane Australia to discuss their implementation of Workforce Dimensions, Ben Nau from City Beach, a retail chain which sells Australian youth fashion. They have been in business for 30 years, have 69 retail locations, an online store and a distribution center and have 4,500 employees.

Before using Workforce Dimensions they had an old legacy system that Ben says was released about the same time as Pac-man if you can think back that far. They were going full modernization and launched Workforce Dimensions with HCM, a new ERP system, a new point of sale system and a new payroll system.

Ben spoke about the positive experiences they have seen so far:

The system has had an immediate impact on employee experience which is critical in a retail environment. Listed are the areas that have influenced the employee experience:

  • Shift Swapping: Believe it or not, before they had this system they were using a private Facebook group to try to trade shifts.  The employees really like the fact that they can see what they can earn if they take the shift.
  • Leave Requests: They like that the request can be done from home and approved immediately without forcing them to come in the next day to speak with their manager.
  • Shift Bidding Functionality: They expect to see managers on the floor serving customers as opposed to spending time in the back on the phone to schedule workers for people who wanted to swap shifts.
  • Push notifications: With this feature, the employees don’t even need to log into the system to accept shifts which makes this very easy.
  • Rostering: Ben gave an example of one of their stores that has 100 employees. Before Workforce Dimensions, it would take 2 days to create a roster and now it takes 35 minutes. Time is money and the time saving on this freed up the managers to spend more quality time with customers.
  • Staying Compliant: Ben shared that City Beachrecently experienced ~$2,500 in penalties due to managers breaching minimum 12 hour break between shift rules. With dashboard views from senior management down to the store manager, they were able to resolve these issues with Workforce Dimensions going forward resulting in large potential savings.
  • Cost Savings: This is huge and I am burying the lead a little bit by focusing on the employee experience first, but Ben also found that through Workforce Dimensions they came in under budget for payroll in the first quarter and extrapolated that into $1.6M in savings in 12 months.

What’s next for them is they are beginning to implement HCM and an innovative integration with Workforce Dimensions and PayActiv, the same day pay provider (and one of 100+ Workforce Dimensions Technology partners, including all the major players in the on-demand pay space) in the next quarter .

Servicon Systems  is an industrial custodial provider based in California. Tom Schurman, Chief Technology Officer for Servicon took to the stage to discuss their HCM experience. Tom was brought in to help them find a new payroll system and he envisioned a full WFM and HCM suite. The first thing he mentioned was when they engaged they liked the fact that Kronos understood their industry.  That made an instant connection between Servicon and Kronos, while other competitors were too busy trying to understand their business. They wanted to partner with someone who understood their business and shared the same values and they felt Kronos was well positioned ( as an industry expert who has a great company culture) in this regard. (This isn’t unique to Servicon’s industry – Kronos is aligned vertically, especially sales and professional services, so healthcare customers always work with healthcare experts, retail customers with retail experts, etc.)

One of the standouts for them was the mobile application. As their employees are in the field, this was a key requirement. One anecdotal story was about one of their employees, a grandmother who was continually being asked by her grandkids to get a mobile phone so they could text but she never had one. With the mobile app implemented, they helped her get a mobile device, now they can’t get her to stop texting her kids. So they are happy that with this, her life has been completely changed and enhanced.

Another great improvement was payroll where they went from an Epay/ADP solution that was very difficult to synch resulting in payroll being a 3 day process. That with Workforce Dimensions has been totally automated which was a large stress reducer for their payroll team.

What’s next for them is to have Kronos help them with data analytics and deeper integrations with HCM.

My Take

There are a lot of reasons why Kronos is successful – innovation and culture are chief among them. However, feature/function doesn’t mean anything these days unless it is supported by a tremendous customer experience. As Kronos has shifted from an on-premise software seller to a true SaaS leader (and anyone who tries to paint Kronos as anything but a SaaS leader is being disingenuous), everything it does is now inspired by customer success. From its thriving Kronos Community, to its customer-first philosophy model, to live in-context chat support (staffed by real people, not bots!) for Workforce Ready, Kronos is looking to innovate the entire customer experience in the same ways they have innovated in their products for the last 42 years. That is great news for current and future customers and sure to push the entire industry forward.

Laser-Focused on the Customer, Kronos Is Winning the SaaS HCM Battle
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