How We Chose the Best Performance Management Software
In a competitive modern marketplace, it’s critical for companies to clearly understand the performance and productivity of their workforce. Performance management software provides the data that can inform many aspects of human resource management, making it possible to track and analyze workers, evaluate their output and identify pending issues and ensure goals are met. There are plenty of companies competing in this space, promising a wide range of features and services. We evaluated the best of them on the most important core qualities of a performance management system.
The more variety of features a performance management system offers, the more flexible it is for meeting the needs of businesses in a wide variety of industries. Some of the key assessment features include custom rating scales, peer appraisals, skill assessments, and weighted performance measures.
The ability to integrate with third-party applications and platforms can significantly augment the power and usefulness of a performance management suite. It’s ideal when software comes with these kinds of integrations pre-built, tying in with the kinds of tools most often associated with performance management tasks.
Quality reports that are easy to read and customize to a company’s needs make it easier to get the most out of performance management data. Detailed reporting helps the user in measuring and improving their staff’s performance.
The 15 Best Performance Management Software Options of 2021
Founded in 2011, 15Five focuses its features on the goal of transparent and regular communication, asking introspective questions and the setting and accurate monitoring of goals and objectives for the workforce. Notable for its ease of use and morale-boosting weekly check-in feature for employees, its objective tracking feature is a particular selling point for its utility in keeping employees on track. It also focuses on fostering a personal touch through one-on-one meeting features with built-in action items and employee feedback. 15Five’s Best-Self Management is a positive psychology-based approach to employee development that works to provide a full view of skills, needs and best approaches to coaching, training, and development. 15Five’s reporting tracks the use of various features of the software across a user’s company, has a built-in messaging and feedback feature, provides a simple way to drill into the provided data to work out needed changes, and prevents an overall picture of the company’s goals and progress.
|Free for limited features|
Performance: Custom pricing
|14 days free trial||>Reporting tracks objective process, employee feedback, company usage of software features
>Focus on individual development through Best-Self Management tools
>More features at 15Five
Pros & Cons of 15Five Performance Management Software
|>User-friendly and intuitive|
>Powerful objective tracking and reporting tools
|>Third-party Integrations are limited
>Free version provides a small feature set for teams no larger than 20
Arcoro HR Management System
This HR platform advertises itself as an all-in-one suite that provides tools for the full expanse of the employee life cycle. The modular components of this platform include recruiting and onboarding tools, benefits and performance management, custom employee review forms, applicant tracking, goal monitoring, and the promise of one-click access for managers to data concerning things like tasks, goals, and competency evaluations. Its learning management model tracks employees’ completed certifications and training and comes with customizable blended learning plans and built-in OSHA-compliant courses. Performance management incorporates time and attendance tracking, offers multiple forms of peer-to-peer and outside-organization feedback, and advertises easy goal monitoring tools. Created for customers who have remote workforces and high compliance needs, Arcoro is used in many industries but was originally focused on Construction, engineering, manufacturing, and landscaping firms.
|Quote-based plan||Demo||>Individual development and certification tracking through a learning management module
>Supports peer, outside-organization, and project-based appraisal
>More features at Arcoro HR Management System
Pros & Cons of Arcoro HR Management System Software
|>Modular platform capable of support almost any needed feature|
>Offers powerful compliance-focused tools
|>Does not offer a free trial|
AssessTEAM is cloud-based performance management software sporting companion apps for iPhone and Android. At all levels of service, it provides features like automated performance evaluations, “360 degree” evaluations, and an online dashboard for managing self and team evaluations. It provides an extensive pre-built library of job goals, goal-setting tools for employees and their teams, and integrations with existing HRMS systems. At its higher service tiers, it provides project-based time investment analysis and performance evaluations, and it has its fullest functionality at the Enterprise account level, which offers detailed productivity reporting among its added features. AssessTEAM’s appraisal system supports both scheduled evaluations and continuous real-time feedback. Its goal setting and performance review tools offer the possibility of extensive customization, and the system supports employee-created and employee-managed goals as well, with auto-scheduled evaluations and progress reporting included.
|Free Trial||>Customizable goal setting and performance review tools
>Supports individual development through employee-created goal-setting
>Detailed productivity reporting at Enterprise tier
>More features at AssessTEAM
Pros & Cons of AssessTEAM Performance Management Software
>Reach features list with plenty of customization potential
|>Length of the free trial not specified|
BambooHR was founded in 2008 and has been a Consistent leader in the HR software market ever since. Its current product provides employee data tracking in a single database it advertises as offering powerful reporting tools and editing capabilities. Its applicant tracking tools streamline the hiring process, and its onboarding tools are designed to personalize the onboarding process while capably tracking compliance and certification. Its compensation tools handle payroll and benefit tracking, and a culture suite deals with performance tracking, gauges workforce satisfaction, and supports long-term planning. BambooHR is known for its extensive list of more than two dozen pre-built third-party integrations — including GreenHouse, OneLogin, Okta, PayScale, and NimbleSchedule — and for powerful API customization of reports, fields, and time off management, along with an easy-to-survey employee calendar that tracks time off and important company events. BambooHR works with companies in a wide variety of industries and is particularly popular with small to medium-sized businesses.
|Quote-based plan||7-day free trial||>25 pre-built third-party integrations
>Unified employee database with built-in reporting tools
>More features at BambooHR
Pros & Cons of BambooHR Performance Management Software
|>Impressive feature list for covering the fundamentals of HR|
>Remarkable array of over 25 third-party integrations
|>Light on specifically performance management-related features|
ClearCompany advertises itself as a full-service cloud-based HR management solution, focused on best practice-driven goal alignment, hiring and onboarding, and performance management. Its performance management system carries a comprehensive list of features including peer appraisal and a wide variety of performance review formats, cycle management and completion tracking, customizable tools, reporting and processes, real-time feedback, and a mobile app. It provides real-time updates across the platform for remote users, offers a clean and intuitive interface, an easy-to-grasp approach to performance evaluation processes and similar tasks, and has built-in texting functionality to facilitate contact with employees, applicants, and customers. ClearCompany HRM offers a strong focus on EEO and OFCCP compliance and maintains a carefully updated library of standardized forms, and the company has a reputation for strong and proactive product support and customer service run by dedicated relationship managers for each client.
|Quote-based plan||Demo||>Customizable processes, reporting and rating scales
>A wide variety of performance review formats that include peer appraisal
>More features at ClearCompany HRM
Pros & Cons of ClearCompany HRM Performance Management Software
|>Rich performance management features set|
>Deep customization options
|>Pricing isn’t listed online
>No free trial
The cloud-based performance management suite created by Cornerstone OnDemand integrates with a full suite of HR tools designed by the same company, including a learning management system for which Cornerstone is particularly well-known. It provides a full range of core performance management features, including the tracking and measurement of employees skills, visualization-based reporting, and inbuilt compliance management to ensure that a company’s performance processes are audit-ready at all times. Ongoing talent reviews can be used to increase employee engagement, and performance tasks can be custom-created to best meet a variety of goals and objectives. A focus on “agile” performance management has meant empowering employees to update progress against their goals and receive regular feedback throughout the year. It provides built-in third-party integrations for Broadbean, LinkedIn, and GoToMeeting and APIs to build further integrations as needed.
|Performance Plan: $6/user/month|
Performance + Learning Plans: $11/user/month
|14 days free trial||>Customized goal-based performance tasks
>Measurement and tracking for employee skills
>More features at Cornerstone OnDemand
Pros & Cons of Cornerstone OnDemand Performance Management Software
|>Automates a range of performance review tasks|
>API tools for custom integrations
|>No standardized pricing, but likely to get expensive|
Kronos Workforce Ready
Created by a long-time HR tech vendor, Kronos Workforce Ready is HR management software that aims to be suitable for use between small and mid-sized businesses, offering a Considerable range of features at an affordable price point. Kronos has largely specialized in creating cloud-based solutions for large enterprises and describes SMB firms as having at least 100 to 2,500 employees (what some other companies would call enterprise clients). KWR includes analytics, a full suite of performance management features, and added HR management functionality, including benefits management and payroll time tracking, and it supports a slightly more limited range of functions through its Android and iOS mobile apps. Its performance reviews tools include 360-degree, peer reviews and self reviews and allows for custom created evaluation forms, and the performance management process can be informed by its goal tracking capabilities. KWR counts Google G Suite among its major third-party integrations.
|Starts at $6/month/employee||Offers demo||>Comprehensive performance review tools with customizable evaluation form
>Sophisticated analytics and reporting>Third-party integration for Google G Suite
>More features at Kronos Workforce Ready
Pros & Cons of Kronos Workforce Ready Performance Management Software
|>Affordable pricing starts at a $6 monthly rate per user|
>Rich array of features and customization possibilities
|>No free trial|
Lattice calls its product “people management software,” with the stated goal of improving the waking hours that employees and managers spend at work. It aims to provide an end-to-end performance management suite that makes the performance process easy for employees to interact with, transparent across companies, and adaptable to companies’ specific needs. It provides “people management” in two major ways: first, employee-facing, like 1-on-1 meeting managers and agenda planners, personalized task lists, goal tracking, real-time feedback and a record of current and past reviews, and update tracking. For management or “people managers,” it provides a suite of admin tools including direct reports with feedback on employees, tools for celebrating individual and team wins, team reviews, and a customizable team dashboard. More advanced admin tools include control over modular products and extensively customizable reports.
Performance & Engagement: $12/person/month
Enterprise: Custom pricing
|Demo||>Supports a wide range of performance review types and tools
>Sophisticated analytics and reporting
>More features at Lattice
Pros & Cons of Lattice Performance Management Software
|>Powerful performance analytics track multiple factors including sometimes-neglected things like diversity and inclusion|
>Customization is simple and easy without overwhelming new years
|>Lacks skill assessment and individual development features
>No free trial
Built for small to medium business users seeking a cloud-based and user-friendly HR suite, Namely’s performance review features are a particularly standout part of the overall HR tools that it provides. Extremely customizable, Namely gives users extensive control over how they want the software to look and work, enabling them to fully customize the number and types of access levels to the platform. It offers numerous features that specifically appeal to SMBs, including a company calendar, a directory and org charts, a news feed, goal setup and general performance management features as well as task and time-off management. The software integrates with a multitude of third-party vendors including Replicon, iiPay, Radius, Jawbone’s UP for Groups, and Sherpaa. Namely offers high-functioning mobile apps for both Android and iOS.
|Quote-based plan||Demo||>Sophisticated performance review tools
>More than 25 third-party integrations
>More features at Namely
Pros & Cons of Namely Performance Management Software
|>Extensively configurable for the needs of almost any business model|
>High-quality performance review and reporting tools
|>Does not support weighted performance measures or custom rating scales|
Reflektive is a performance management platform whose focus is a theory of continuous improvement — based on Constructive, scalable, and ongoing conversations that are meant to increase workforce engagement and productivity — designed to accelerate growth. Providing streamlined and easy-to-parse data for one-on-one performance reviews and transparent company-wide communication and updates, it sports an elegant and easy-to-use interface that requires little more training than a two-minute quickstart along with a strong selection of third-party integrations including Slack, Gmail, MS Office and Teams, Workday, ADP, Okta, and BambooHR. Reflektive provides extensive configuration for its interface and supports mobile apps. Excelling at the management of goal-setting, progress check-ins, and one-on-ones between employees and management, its strong focus on facilitating conversation means it doesn’t cover the same range of features as a more general-purpose performance management suite.
|Quote-based plan||Demo||>Wide range of third-party integrations
>Conversation management that includes goal-setting, progress check-ins and reporting
>More features at Reflektive
Pros & Cons of Reflektive Performance Management Software
|>Intuitive and self-explanatory UX/UI|
|>No free trial|
This company was founded in 2007 and advertises an integrated talent management suite that includes compensation management, learning management, and performance review tools via a web-based 360-degree review system. All elements in the Reviewsnap suite are sold as a package rather than users needing to access separate modules, and it offers a personalized dashboard where employees can access a full picture of their compensation, rewards, and achievements from a single screen. Users can customize the review process by choosing from a library of review templates or customizing review criteria using a template builder. Reviewsnap identifies its target market as mid-sized companies and advertises an easy set up process that allows companies to get their solutions up and running in no more than 48 hours. It also includes goal-alignment functionality, employee engagement tools, and both built-in visual and ad hoc customizable reporting and automated email notifications.
|Pricing starts at $3,040/year||10-day free trial||>Performance reviews can be customized or based on built-in templates
>Built-in visual reports and customizable reporting
>More features at Reviewsnap
Pros & Cons of Reviewsnap Performance Management Software
|>User-friendly and intuitive UI|
>Strong reporting features with configurable ad hoc reporting
|>Shortage of built-in third-party integrations|
RUN Powered by ADP
RUN Powered by ADP is cloud-based HR software chiefly focused on payroll management and delivery. At certain tiers of service, however, it also offers performance management features, in particular employee tracking, skill assessment and robust reporting functionality, time and attendance tracking, and automated reminders and updates. Accessing its performance management functions is naturally at the more expensive end of RUN’s service spectrum, but the breadth of those offerings is surprisingly broad, especially when augmented by tying in with ADP’s SnapEval software, which enables continuous feedback “snapshots,” the collaborative development of performance appraisal content, employee self-appraisals, and customizable push notifications. SnapEval also enables a continuous feedback model that allows for timely and goal-oriented employee feedback or to get positive feedback immediately to the recipient. This total package is backed by the rock-solid reputation of ADP, a venerable provider, advocate, and innovator in the human resources space.
|Quote-based plan||Demo||>Flexible and powerful performance appraisal tools
>Includes robust reporting tools
>More features at RUN Powered by ADP
Pros & Cons of RUN Powered by ADP Performance Management Software
|>Tied in with SnapEval and at a specific service tier, provides strong performance management features and reporting|
>Continuous feedback features and performance appraisal tools are especially powerful
|>No free trial|
SAP normally specializes as an industry leader in enterprise resource planning software, but SuccessFactors is an exception to that specialty. The little sibling to SAP’s enterprise HR software, and built using the same code, it’s a cloud-based HR software package geared toward small- to medium-sized businesses or SMBs. This feature-rich package starts at a price of $8 monthly per-user (or at $85 annually per user), scaling upward as quote-based plans dictate. SuccessFactors has been a part of the HR software market for almost two decades and has been described by some media outlets as “the Cadillac of performance management,” built for businesses with five to 500 employees and sporting companion Android and iOS apps. Offering video tutorials from its opening screen, its features include deep goal-setting and performance tracking functionality, fast and flexible reporting, dynamic organization charts, and a persistent dashboard that handles employee check-ins.
|Quote-based plan||Offers demo||>Integration with MS Outlook and SAP's ERP software
>Flexible, filtrable reporting
>More features at SAP SuccessFactors
Pros & Cons of SAP SuccessFactors Performance Management Software
|>Excellent performance management features for SMBs|
>User-friendly setup wizard and tutorials
|>No free trial version|
An award-winning employee appraisal solution, Trakstar is billed as user-friendly. customizable evaluation software developed for end-to-end management of the performance appraisal process — from reviews and ratings to feedback, goal management and planning. Web-based and accessible with any internet-connected device, it offers 360-degree multi-rater feedback in real time, a peer-to-peer appraisal system that can be customized to specific review schedules, automated email updates, and year-round feedback documentation. Its goal-setting interface enables SMART goals aligned with performance and strategic objectives, and Trakstar provides a suite of analytics and reporting tools designed to get the most out of the data it collects, including a workforce planning matrix that can identify at-risk positions and opportunities for growth. The software comes with a comprehensive knowledge base of guide articles, tutorial videos, webinars, and other resources.
|Pricing starting at $4,370/year||Demo||>Reporting and workforce planning tools
>360-degree feedback and peer appraisal
>More features at Trakstar
Pros & Cons of Trakstar Performance Management Software
|>User-friendly and intuitive for performance reviewers|
>Useful persistent reminders and notifications
|>Does not offer a free trial
>Relatively costly, with a high starting price point
Founded in 2013, Zenefits is an HR package for small to medium-sized businesses whose main focus is benefits management. To use it for performance management, users will need to purchase the Growth or higher tier of services, which provides access to a performance management add-on. Zenefits’ performance management tool costs an extra $4 monthly per user and provides both templates and from-scratch creation tools for performance reviews. Users can set goals for employees and provide them with feedback; the review templates can be used to solicit numerical ratings and text feedback from employees. The Zenefits platform also offers award-winning benefits and payroll management and a multitude of third-party integrations with tools including Xero, Intuit Quickbooks, Abacus, Lyft and Lessonly.
|14 days free trial||>Custom review templates and rating scales>Robust array of third-party integrations>More features at Zenefits|
Pros & Cons of Zenefits Performance Management Software
|> Good for company-wide goal setting|
>Great solution for companies who want to add performance management to use of the Zenefits suite
|>Features are relatively limited|
What Is Performance Management Software?
Making it possible to track employee and company performance and maximize growth from the resulting data is the basic purpose of performance management. To get more specific than the assessment features, integrations, and reports that form our three main criteria, there are other specific things that most performance management suites do that will be evident in the summaries above. These include:
- 360-degree feedback: A system of providing confidential and anonymous feedback to employees from those who work around them.
- Real-time feedback: Systems that can be used to solicit immediate feedback after major events, or presentations, or to run regular check-ins, are providing real-time feedback. There are differences of philosophy about whether real-time feedback is a good HR idea, but at least software with this utility provides the option.
- Peer appraisal: In the appraisal process, the assessment of an employee based on anonymous colleague feedback. Different from 360-degree feedback in that this feedback includes peers only (not superiors or juniors) and is provided to management, not the employee directly.
- Weighted performance measures: Assigning different levels of priority, or “weights,” to different performance indicators in performance reviews to reflect a company’s goals and objectives.
- Custom rating scales: Rating scales are used to evaluate qualitative responses on an issue or product, providing richer information than simply “yes” or “no” questions. Customized rating scale questions can be a powerful tool for gathering performance data.
Benefits of Performance Management Software
The primary benefit of performance management software is that support it provides in setting objectives, tracking progress toward those objectives, and evaluating how a small business can best improve that progress.
- Setting goals and objectives: Many small businesses struggle with setting and distinguishing clear short-term goals and long-term strategic objectives — and even more so with measuring how their employees’ efforts are contributing to their progress. Employees, meanwhile, who aren’t clear about what their own goals and objectives should be and about how these fit into the bigger picture are less productive.
- Tracking progress: It’s important to be able to assess quickly, at any given time, your small business’ progress toward its goals and as a part of this to be able to get a snapshot of employees’ personal progress in everything from training and certification to onboarding to on-the-job tasks.
- Evaluating how to improve: Capturing valuable employee data for appraisal and progress tracking process also involves being able to use that data to figure out how and where things can improve. Good software should support user efforts to create employee performance improvement plans.
Must-Have Features of Performance Management Software
A modern performance management suite should provide the following basics:
- Customizable performance appraisals and templates: Being able to customize performance appraisals, or customize templates for carrying them out, is a critical part of the basics of performance management.
- Easy set-up and agenda creation for 1-on-1 meetings: One-on-one meetings are an important method of delivering direct and private feedback to employees, and it’s important for performance management software to recognize and support this tool.
- Goal management tools for companies: The best performance management suites provide effective goal management tools for your small business.
- Goal setting for employees: A performance management suite is most useful when it allows you to set up individual employee goals (or allows employees to set their own, if you have the kind of company culture that supports this).
- Progress tracking: Employees and companies should be able to monitor their progress over an extended period of time and measure their levels of engagement and satisfaction.
- Detailed reporting: Sophisticated reporting makes it possible to synthesize gathered data into informative reports that provide a bigger picture of company health.
The Cost of Performance Management Software
It’s hard to say for sure what “standard” price performance management software should involve. There are many configurations it can come in, with widely different feature sets at different service tiers, and some are standalone apps or modules while others come as add-ons to other HR software packages. Some companies offer this software strictly by customized quote. There are several general things to keep in mind:
- Pay attention to the fine print:Companies sometimes offer introductory per-user pricing that isn’t the same as their regular pricing or applies to very specific group sizes or circumstances. Starting price points are often the tip of the proverbial iceberg in regards to what a software package ultimately winds up costing, and more than one business has been burned by seeing their software’s costs suddenly escalate after what had seemed an affordable initial purchase.
- Make sure your personalized plan or service tier provides the specific tools you need: Very often, the lowest tiers of service for software aren’t really functional for carrying out all the basics of performance management. Whether you’re looking at an individualized plan or a standardized service tier for an existing software package, make sure it’s clear that it covers the essentials above.
- Make sure that you’re getting value for money: In general, $1 to $3 monthly pricing per user makes sense for a basic project management package, whereas advanced packages can cost $6 to $8 monthly per user or more. A package that costs anything like $12 monthly per user (or the equivalent) or more had best be providing extraordinary features and quality of execution.