The winds of change are blowing through enterprise HR. Stasis and stability have long characterised the HR (or HRIS, or HCM) space, with systems commonly in place for 20 years or more. Many of the main providers have been around for a long time, too: payroll solutions provider ADP dates back to 1949, while in the UK NGA HR (formerly Northgate) was established in the 1960s. However, recently a number of new vendors have joined the established players. Predominantly cloud-native and specialising in specific areas, such as recruitment or onboarding, these new competitors are able to move quickly into niches where more traditional vendors struggle. The main example, at least for large enterprises, is Workday, but there are other vendors focused further down the size scale, or within certain sectors or functional specialisations. Workday vs Oracle and SAP, and other vendors, is now a real choice that IT leaders must face.

In response to Workday’s entry to the HR market, traditional enterprise HCM vendors like Oracle and SAP have been moving to the cloud and trying to persuade their customers to follow suit, but this has not gone as quickly as they’d hoped. Both vendors have been forced to extend support of their main on-premises platforms until 2030. However, the depth and breadth of their experience, combined with their enterprise reach, means it would be a mistake to write off the incumbents any time soon. So how do you choose between the HR heavyweights: Workday vs Oracle vs SAP?

The following article contains a sneak peek into some of the findings from Computing Delta’s market research analysis of the HR technology space which was conducted with more than 200 senior IT leaders in the UK and Europe. These IT leaders have purchased, implemented and have deep insight into the workings of these tools. To see the complete findings, please click here to get an online demo of the service.

Important factors in HCM selection

Factors in HR system selection

‘Low’ = 1, 2 and 3 out of 7; ‘Med’ = 4 or 5; ‘High’ = 6 or 7

Workday vs Oracle vs SAP – pricing

Oracle HCM Cloud and SAP SuccessFactors see the two enterprise giants moving down the scale in terms of customer size, aiming to tap into the midsized enterprise market through the use of cloud.

Oracle HCM Cloud is a modular system. Among the latest modules are third-party tie-ins for LinkedIn Talent Solutions and My Brand tools. Each module has a separate pricing plan.

There is also an HCM for Midsize bundle for companies with 500 – 1,000 employees. HCM Cloud modules are priced per employee, per month, and a subscription to HCM Cloud for Midsize is required to access the other modules. Oracle is infamous for renaming and rebundling its software, and true to form it recently changed how it publishes its pricing. However, the following figures from earlier in 2019 should still be indicative: HCM Midsize starts at £5.80 per user per month, while the enterprise version starts at £9.80.

Oracle’s pricing is highly granular, with each additional item on top of the core system priced separately – often with threshold terms attached.

A systems analyst in the media sector said the licensing model means that it is very difficult to know exactly what the baseline for any negotiations with Oracle might be. “It’s so complex sometimes to do the licensing models, and then they’ll change: ‘Oh, sorry, it’s processing-based now’.”

SAP does not publish pricing for SuccessFactors on its website, but users should expect to pay something in the region of £100 to £150 per employee per module per year, plus integration and implementation fees. The cost per employee decreases on a sliding scale according to company size; the minimum size is 100 employees.

Workday pricing is generally considered to be ‘premium’ (read: high) compared to competitors. Commentary on the web suggests a figure of around US$50 per user per month.

Among Delta’s respondents in the Workday vs Oracle vs SAP area, SAP and Oracle scored highest on clear benefit / ROI, while Workday trailing in this area. However, Workday was ahead in terms of (the absence of) hidden costs and cost of ownership, with Oracle trailing in both.

Workday vs Oracle vs SAP - pricing

Workday vs Oracle vs SAP – technical support

For SuccessFactors, the first line of support is the SAP Support Portal knowledge base. The SAP ONE Support Launchpad provides customisable access to task-driven support resources. SAP is also experimenting with predictive support via its Next-Generation Support service.

Oracle’s support is offered through the Cloud Customer Connect community, via resellers and partners, and through online help guides. The company’s SLAs cover performance, availability, manageability of services and offer Oracle Service Credits (typically 10 per cent to 25 per cent of monthly fees) if breached.

Workday offers phone and online support, and access to the knowledgebase. Workday Support is a SaaS delivery model available 24/7/365, and the company claims to have “a manager on duty at all times”. The Workday Customer Center is an online case management system that Named Support Contacts can access to report customer issues. There is also an online community portal for self-service problem solving

In the view of our respondents, Oracle and Workday offered good levels of support, while SAP’s ratings were lower, but still positive.

Workday vs Oracle vs SAP - support

Workday vs Oracle vs SAP – local and sectoral focus

Compared with on-premises software, cloud offers the advantage of regular updates, scalability and uniformity at the expense of configurability. In the lead up to GDPR, cloud vendors worked to ensure that compliance would be as close to ticking a box as possible, and we encountered few complaints in this regard from any of these vendors’ customers.

However, many organisations will require customisations. SAP and Oracle both have an extensive network of partners, although customisations will come at a price. However, many aspects of day to-day aspects will be configurable even by non-technical staff.

Oracle Cloud is generally available in North America, EMEA, APAC and Japan. South America and US Gov regions are pending. In an effort to take a more significant share of the cloud computing market, Oracle has said it plans to quadruple the number of its largest data centres.

Germany-headquartered SAP also offers global coverage, with European data centres in Amsterdam, Biere (Switzerland), St Leon-Rot (Germany) and Moscow.

Workday has a smaller data centre footprint. In Europe, it operates data centres in Dublin and Amsterdam. In Canada it also runs on AWS and there are plans to extend this capability to Europe.

In the area of local focus, Oracle was the winner of the Workday vs Oracle vs SAP battle, followed by SAP – although Workday was not too far behind either. Workday is very much an all-encompassing, big-business-oriented solution. What it lacks in flexibility it makes up for in features and the rapid release of new functionality – but it’s not suitable for everyone.

“There is basically one product and you can’t do much around that. I think for most businesses that product would work, but we have very specific requirements,” said a CIO in a NGO.

Workday vs Oracle vs SAP - local focus


For one CIO, Workday is very much the future of enterprise HCM. “For me, the leader is Workday. There’s one main reason: they are a cloud-based solution. They have been built in the cloud, for the cloud, on the cloud,” the IT leader said.

However, others said that Workday is very much a large enterprise solution and may not be the best fit for smaller organisations. Surprisingly, perhaps, traditional enterprise vendors SAP and Oracle scored a little better for their cloud offerings among mid-sized companies. Their support received better ratings too.

However, Oracle and SAP are still dogged by suspicions around hidden costs, and their HCM products are mixture of old and new. This may not matter of course, but SAP’s UI in particular was described as clunky and overcomplex. Nevertheless, for those already invested in Oracle and SAP, or those keen to make the most of the sectoral knowhow embedded in their products, their HCM solutions may fit the bill.

More information, including the capability to compare satisfaction ratings with those of other vendors, is available in the HR report. Click here to see a video of Delta in action.

Compare the key vendors on this link – see the full research table of contents

Further reading


The changing face of HR systems




Why AI is starting to play a bigger role in recruitment and HR




Microsoft leaps into lead for HR software trials


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