by Michele Nachum
Published on 12 January 2012
Going through the BambooHR website was an experience to behold. Never before had I considered Human Resources software (which in this case is online and being delivered via the cloud) inspirational. But the team behind BambooHR is comprised of happy, passionate professionals who desire nothing more than to help other human resources (HR) professionals manage the mountain of paperwork and procedures most HR departments are forced to endure. On their website the folks at BambooHR not only expound inspirational words, they eloquently explain why they chose the name "BambooHR."
"BambooHR is almost magical. This remarkable plant has many characteristics that match our business and philosophy as we've built our software. It's flexible, beautiful, and strong. It's also highly efficient and extremely versatile. It's essential to our world."
So, after reading this review, take a gander at the BambooHR website. Sit down, have a nice warm cup of tea or coffee in hand and read it through - you might be surprised what you learn.
What Does it Look Like?
BambooHR is not human ressources software where time sheets are the crux of the solution as it is with some cloud-based HR software for smaller businesses. Rather the software provides all the tools and tabs that one needs to adequately track employee information, benefits and trainings, vacation and other time-off policies and much more. BambooHR is designed to automate the HR process for small to mid-sized companies (SMBs) and rid the tired tradition of storing all kinds of information on Excel spreadsheets such as salaries, performance reviews and much more.
That said, if you have all of your employees and other pertinent HR documents stored on Excel, you can import all of that information into the software. Once that information is in the BambooHR system, BambooHR will store it safely on servers so you don't have to (which is why cloud-based solutions are so wonderful). Your IT department will applaud you for not racking up precious server space and the best part is you can access your information from anywhere at anytime as long as you have an internet connection.
BambooHR focuses on the whole HR experience with a fairly intuitive ribbon that allows HR pros to customize the solution to meet their business needs. The idea is that once all the company information and policies are in the system, adding new employees, printing reports, sending out notifications, asking employees to fill out vacation requests are automatic and easy.
Like many cloud-based HR programs, BambooHR allows all employees to have access to the software - but at different permission levels. For example, an employee may have access to his or her "page" with salary, benefit and training information, not to mention forms for time off, etc. A manager might have access to their own page as well as their teams' information and higher level management as well as HR personnel may have access to a greater number of employee data. BambooHR lets you customize your views and users permissions and will help you set up your dashboards in a way that makes you feel the most comfortable.
In terms of pricing, BambooHR charges a monthly subscription fee based on usage and storage size, as well as has a one-time implementation fee. They promise there is no extra charge for additional administrators, enhanced features, customizations, updates, or support. I have to admit I was fairly impressed that support is part of the cost. An example of pricing might be $349 per month with $1299 implementation fee for a company with 200 employees. Businesses are encouraged to fill out the online form to get a "custom" quote.
BambooHR will work with your HR team to set up any custom data tracking needs, such as licenses, training, skills tracking, or education, as well as accruals, vacation and paid-time-off policies, and much more. You can also work with BambooHR to ensure the look and feel of dashboards and other aspects are consistent with your company brand. Fast and easy customization to track data specific to your needs, without additional cost, is a key selling point.
From the HR POV, the Dashboard is where you can track a number of activities such as any new employees you have added, new trainings that are available, forms and other aspects that need attention. This area is also handy in terms of tracking employee birthdays and other pertinent milestones (after all, lifting employee morale cannot be underestimated). Employees will also have a dashboard where they can view their recent information such as trainings, salary hikes, days off, and more.
Employee Records and Centralized Reporting:
The heart of BambooHR is in the filling out of the employee record. In the HR view, your Dashboard has an Add Employee button and from there you have a number of tabs to go through to add in employee benefit, contact, salary and other important information - including photos and even such aspects specific to your company needs such as shirt size. secondary language, additional contact information, and more. What's nice about BambooHR, while the software offers you plenty of ways to input information, you can also customize your employee records to fit your company needs. All of this can be done during the implementation phase as well as at any other time.
In addition, this information that you input will help you to ensure that all your employee records (even the terminated ones) are centrally located on BambooHR and if you have to access records or even a report (like all recent new hires), BambooHR makes it very easy. Once the information is in the system, BambooHR has reports and other areas to track and pull information as needed.
BambooHR's open API makes it easy for tech-savvy companies to push and pull data from its system. The API has also facilitated a number of key partnerships with outside companies to allow payroll and benefits integration points so you can obtain key information without having to learn multiple passwords. For example, BambooHR integrates with with TRAXpayroll so that an HR professional or even an employee can view time-off and pay stubs easily and don't have to worry about logging into different solutions. In addition, BambooHR integrates with BeneTrac so that you can input the necessary benefits information once - and not have to do so in multiple places and information is stored centrally and is easily obtained. BambooHR also boats integrations with multiple applicant tracking systems.
HR professionals can set up email alerts to help them stay on top of various processes. Reminders for benefit eligibility, birthdays, and trainings are setup with a few clicks, as well as custom alerts for specific needs. For example, if there is an important license renewal or performance review due date, you can set up that email alert and use it to remind the relevant people in your company.
I am not an HR professional, but I have spent enough time in corporate jobs to know how much HR folks and the management they report into (as well as state and regional government agencies) love reports. Therefore, BambooHR has a Report Library that will help you compile reports for job and salary history, age and gender data, time off used, turnover rate, years of service and more. The Report Library is designed to provide you with fast and easy reporting so such tasks as creating an EEO-1 takes a few minutes versus hours. The drag-and-drop ability to create custom, ad-hoc reports will likely be one of HR's favorite features.
Is it for You?
BambooHR is probably best for SMBs that require a robust and affordable HR software. Given the emphasis on employee benefits, trainings, reports, and other features, BambooHR is probably recommended for companies with at least 20 or more employees (my guess is that around 100 employees and more is the sweet spot). That said, the software is flexible and scalable, and it has a passionate team behind the scenes who are eager to create a solution that will work well for your company.
BambooHR is not one of those $18 per month cloud systems that service smaller companies (e.g.: five to 20 employees). That said, the solution is affordable and does take into account that the companies needing human resources software may not have huge budgets for HR management. So where you may be paying several hundred dollars per month, the emphasis on customization and unlimited support does give BambooHR a leg up in this space - not to mention, your company will have a system that is comparable to other more heavy-weight and pricey enterprise-level products.
If you are considering cloud-based HR software, BambooHR does have the bases covered and offers enterprise-level features to manage all of your important HR functions. So now you can recycle all of those spreadsheets…ye gads people, time to rise up to the cloud already!
Ratings: ease of use 5/5, features 5/5, value 5/5 and ease of deployment 4/5