Authoria: Needs Some Polish

By Baselinemag  |  Posted 2006-04-06 Email Print this article Print

Authoria has rounded out its talent-management suite, but customers say the offerings have some rough edges.

Authoria's original gig was selling portals to let employees check benefits info. Now it says it has a full talent-management suite after buying, in the last two years, Advanced Information Management (AIM), a compensation and performance management software vendor, and, a provider of hosted recruiting software.

But Authoria needs to put some finishing touches on its offerings, customers say.

Health-care provider Kaiser Permanente began using Authoria's compensation, performance and succession management applications for about 500 of its senior managers in early 2005. "We were very happy with the robustness and scalability of the applications," says Kevin Hastings, senior business consulting manager. Also key: Authoria deployed the hosted applications in three months, which let Kaiser Permanente start its compensation planning cycle on time.

The downside? For Hastings, it's that Authoria doesn't let customers modify applications directly. Instead, he has to contact an Authoria developer to make changes—for example, to add the ability for indirect managers to provide input on employee reviews. Authoria, for its part, says each customer has a dedicated service representative who ensures changes "get done quickly."

Meanwhile, car-parts retailer Advance Auto Parts pulled the plug on Authoria's succession planning system last spring. "We were not happy with the application," says Doug Bryant, vice president of organizational development and training. He says the application was slow and hard to use: It took managers up to two hours to complete one review. The company reverted to e-mailing spreadsheets for reviews; now each takes five minutes, Bryant says. Nina McIntyre, Authoria's senior vice president of marketing, says Advance Auto was using an older version of the succession management tool; the latest version has "dramatically" improved performance and ease of use, she says.

Authoria now sells only hosted service offerings, and expects customers who run the software themselves to move to a hosted service by the end of 2008. Some are leery of the change. "We're hesitant to give that up to Authoria," says Renee Bianchi, senior director of HR at Carlson Cos., which runs Employee Advisor internally. "I don't think they could turn around changes [to the system] as quickly as we could." Says Authoria's McIntyre: "If a customer chooses not to convert to on-demand, we will work with them to ensure that they are satisfied."

Talent Management

300 Fifth Ave.
Waltham, MA 02451
(781) 530-2000
TICKER: Privately held

Tod Loofbourrow
President & CEO
Before founding Authoria in 1997, he was president and CEO of Foundation Technologies, an information-technology consulting firm.

Paul Baier
Senior VP, Products
Responsible for overall product and technology strategy. Previously, he was founder and CEO of Excara, a now-defunct e-commerce software company. Prior to that, he ran Open Market's business-to-business e-commerce software division.

Compensation Advisor provides salary planning and related features; Performance Advisor includes performance management, goal setting and succession planning; Hire Advisor handles online recruiting; Employee Advisor provides a portal for HR information.
Reference Checks

Kaiser Permanente
Kevin Hastings
Senior Business Consulting Manager
Project: Health-care provider rolled out Compensation Advisor and Performance Advisor to evaluate 500 senior managers in three months at the end of 2004.

Carlson Cos.
Renee Bianchi
Senior Dir., HR
Project: Travel and hospitality company, whose brands include TGI Friday's, allows 35,000 employees to access information on 325 HR topics, such as health benefits, with Employee Advisor.

Layne Buckley
Senior Manager, HR
Project: Phone headset maker with 6,000 employees uses Hire Advisor to advertise job openings and track applicants.
Advance Auto Parts
Doug Bryant
VP, Organizational Development and Training
Project: Car-parts retailer deployed Authoria's succession planning system in 2004 for 6,500 managers but stopped using the system a year ago.

Alliant Techsystems
Brenda Byron
Dir., HR Shared Services
Project: Weapons and space systems manufacturer in Edina, Minn., uses Employee Advisor to provide HR information to 15,000 employees.

Royal Caribbean Cruises
Jay Rombach
Dir., HR, Celebrity Cruises unit
Project: Cruise-line operator, a customer of since 2001, has 309,000 individuals registered in its recruiting system.

Executives listed here are all users of Authoria's products. Their willingness to talk has been confirmed by Baseline.

Revenue, 2005: $50M
Revenue growth: 62% from '04 to '05
Total funding to date: $84M in five rounds
Investors: Capital Z Financial Services Partners, CIBC Capital Partners, Dain Rauscher Wessels, Fidelity Ventures, HLM Venture Partners, Menlo Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, Pequot Ventures, Towers Perrin, Van Wagoner Capital Management, UnumProvident, Aflac, Adams Street Partners, Austin Ventures
No. of customers reported: 300

Financial services: MetLife, Wachovia
Food service: Darden Restaurants, McDonald's
Manufacturing: Caterpillar, PepsiAmericas, Raytheon, SABMiller
Retail: CVS, Retail Ventures, Safeway
Transportation: FedEx

Waltham, Mass. (headquarters); Santa Barbara, Calif. (former AIM headquarters); Austin, Texas (former headquarters)


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