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Ultimate Software Unveils Web Services Architecture

Human resources services and payroll processing have always been ripe candidates for outsourcing. Now, with the advent of Web-based application services, those tasks are even more natural choices to move off-site.

Ultimate Software , a Weston, Fla.-based independent software vendor (ISV) that specializes in workforce management, has been changing with the times since it began business in 1990. It started with a DOS-based product, eventually moved its Windows product to the ASP model and today took the next logical step with the release of UltiPro 6.0.

The newest version of the Web-based payroll and workforce management service includes, among other features, a Web-services based architecture. According to Ultimate Software, its Distributed Process Management platform implements technologies such as XML, Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) and Web Services Definition Language (WSDL) to create a framework designed to let customers scale as they grow and take advantage of additional Web Services as needed — and as they become available.

"We believe that Ultimate Software is the first to leverage XML Web services capabilities to manage Internet payroll and other workforce management functions in the industry," said Ted Malley, vice president of technology strategy. "With our new architecture, we are now able to host UltiPro for companies ourselves at a price that simply was not viable before."

Ultimate Software targets companies with between 500 and 10,000 employees in the hospitality, manufacturing and financial industries, according to Linda Miller, vice president of marketing. The company also reaches businesses with 500 or fewer employees by partnering with business service providers (BSPs) to offer a co-branded solution through the Powered by UltiPro program, Miller said.

According to the company, new features of UltiPro 6.0 include the following:

  • A simplified process to allow employees to update their benefits choices and other personal details that result from "life event" changes such as getting married, having a baby, becoming a new employee or moving to a new residence.
  • Expanded "work events" for managers and administrators to manage staff activities on the Web.
  • More than 100 automated approval processes related to life and work events. The workflow tools also include features such as the capability to delegate responsibility and a workflow administrator dashboard to view the status of all requests and redirect them when appropriate.
  • Features to initiate Internet payroll processing, view Gross-to-Net results on the Web and make changes online before generating final paychecks. It also offers the capability to recalculate payroll online as often as necessary.
  • eStandard Reporting for authorized managers or HR/payroll staff in remote offices to run their own standard reports on the Web. On demand, authorized users can run commonly used staff-related reports such as headcount reports, average salary amounts, government compliance reports and more.
  • Workforce business intelligence package that includes a data source library, more than 450 pre-formatted workforce-related reports, analytics with a set of workforce trends and Web query for quick, real-time access to database facts.

To date, Ultimate Software has hosted its application at IBM data centers. However, the company has signed an agreement to host new customers with BellSouth, according to Jim Alu, Ultimate Software's executive vice president and chief operating officer. Subscription fees for service are $5 per employee, per month, Alu said, after an initial setup fee. The company's service level agreement (SLA) guarantees 97 percent uptime, Alu told ASPnews.

"IDC is seeing a growing trend towards managing workforce and payroll-related functions over the Internet and packaging them as a service to companies that want to minimize the investment in internal IT infrastructure," said Marc Pramuk, research director of HR Services for IDC.

Ultimate Software clients include the Arizona Diamondbacks and Phoenix Suns, Benihana Restaurants, Elizabeth Arden and Omni Hotels.


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