Three Recent Innovations in 360° Feedback Software

A few key steps forward in our industry are examined

Articles » Three Recent Innovations in 360° Feedback Software
360-degree feedback has come a long way since its beginnings in 1950s industrial America. What was originally a laborious, error-prone, pen-and-paper process of gathering employee feedback has now become completely automated thanks to the Internet. Now, many high-quality vendors in this space are producing fifth- and sixth-generation tools with incredible capabilities. In this article, we examine three key innovations in 360-degree feedback over the last few years.

Integrated Development Planning Tools

An employee's final report traditionally signified the culmination of the 360-degree feedback process. However, gaining insight from and acting upon the information it contained was often left to an individual employee or a coach or consultant. Nowadays, some tools allow employees to take their feedback a step further and build dynamic action plans based on their feedback reports.

In the past, some were critical that 360-feedback is only received once or twice a year and often times present surprising results for employees. In some cases, employees and managers struggled to use their 360-feedback results to find areas for improvement. Making matters even more challenging, managers and employees lacked the tools to properly track and manage an employee's development tasks. To streamline the process, we have integrated a Development Planning module into our 360-feedback tool.

EchoSpan's Development Planning Module helps to close the loop on your 360-degree feedback process by enabling employees to create and manage professional development plans based on their review results. Plans can be created by employees and/or their managers and can be accessed throughout the year. Historical plans remain accessible indefinitely for comparison reporting.

Development areas are automatically aligned with the employee's most recent 360-degree feedback review, ensuring that they focus development efforts on areas that are important to the company's goals. A coach or observer can be selected for each development objective on an employee's plan. Administrators get real-time information on where their employees are focusing their development plans, which employees are participating, and which plans are leading to developmental improvement. Employees and Managers can also export their plans into Excel or PDF reports for sit-down meetings or further analysis.

Automated Project Management

The most common challenge for many HR professionals is the time it takes to manage their 360-feedback process. First generation feedback tools were good at speeding up the process of taking surveys, but administration was still very laborious for HR professionals administering the survey. Entry of review information, such as participant names, questions and rating scales was usually only handled by vendor project managers, or, at best, by manual-entry in an administrative portal. Additionally, Administrators had to manually send reminder messages and print final reports for distribution.

Today, the entire 360-feedback process can be administered via online software. To increase efficiency even further, EchoSpan designed a "Project Autopilot" feature. This tool can be used to manage your entire 360-feedback process by automating events on a schedule defined by the Administrator. The Autopilot will suggest dates or you can enter the dates for which you would like each of your events to occur. The Project Autopilot can automatically start/stop the feedback process, send email invitations and reminders, and generate and distribute feedback reports. Once the Autopilot is configured, some Administrators can go completely hands-free, which greatly increases their efficiency.

Some clients have reported a 90% reduction of effort by utilizing the Project Autopilot feature. Furthermore, one Administrator can easily manage many projects simultaneously with the Autopilot instead of multiple Administrators on different projects.

Multi-Language Functionality

With all of the manual processes that were commonly involved, many companies only used 360-feedback within small groups of executives. Now, with the rapid growth of HR software online, companies are using the same employee feedback processes across their global organizations and consultants and coaches are able to reach clients all over the world. In order to do this, easy multi-language capabilities became an absolute necessity. Since 2010, we have seen a 200% increase in the amount of companies using our 360-feedback tool internationally.

With our international client base and an increasing demand for a 360-feedback tool that can accommodate many languages, EchoSpan developed multi-language functionality that remains unmatched in the industry. The EchoSpan 360-feedback tool provides users access to respond to reviews in over 100 languages with one simple click. Additionally, Administrators can add custom translations of screen interface elements, such as buttons and menu options with the Enterprise Edition of EchoSpan. There is no other 360-feedback tool currently on the market that can match EchoSpan's multi- language capabilities.

For companies and consultants that have international users, the multi-language feature allows them to use a single 360 feedback vendor and content for all of their reviews. Administrators simply enter their translated content or choose the suggested translation generated by the tool. Then, users select their preferred language from a drop-down menu when they login. Reports can also be fully translated by using a custom report template that is linked to your translated content in the tool.

The employee review process has evolved greatly since the early 2000's and there are a number of online tools available to help manage talent in your organization. We encourage you choose a 360-feedback tool that is well established and consistently releasing updated features to stay ahead of the game. We welcome your questions and feedback about our tool at

Last updated: Friday, September 23, 2016
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