Do you need CRM to implement Employee Interaction Centre?
In short, no you don’t, but to understand why it helps to have a quick look at the history behind SAP Employee Interaction Centre (EIC).
EIC was born from customer interaction centre (CIC) back in 2002 on CRM 3.0. I was at a city council towards the end of large HR / Payroll implementation. They were looking to interface their Siebel call centre to SAP HR so they could use it in their new HR shared service centre. Then someone suggested SAP CRM interaction centre. I’m not claiming to have invented EIC! We contacted SAP and found they were already doing a number of similar customer specials.
A year or two later we were doing EIC on CRM3.1 and then again on CRM4 with the new browser based (BSP) web interaction centre front end.
So it’s definitely a CRM application then?
In early 2006 SAP launched EIC for ERP2005. A much simplified version of the CRM web interaction centre was ported to ERP and integrated to PA / OM and case management. The new version was completely HR shared service centre focussed and stripped of much of the original CRM functionality. Too far simplified in-fact! SAP spent the next few months working on an enhanced version (known as value pack or VP) which had much important new functionality mainly to replace that lost from CRM.
So it’s definitely an ERP application then?
EIC VP was a functional, stable application by EHP2 and has been further improved as of EHP4 now featuring:
- Integration to HCM process and forms
- Integration to standard portal roles
- Multi-channel communications, including an ESS EIC request form
- Integration to external telephony, email and chat
- Employee search and authentication, including ESS authentication questions/answers
- External contact search, authentication and storage (using address services)
- Flexible 4 level activity categorisation
- Knowledge search, using the EIC case management based knowledge repository, or integrating to a customer repository using SAF
- Multi-function inbox – activities, email, web forms, workflow
- Service level agreements – working hours, priority and/or category based
- SLA based and personal reminders and alerts
- Rule modeller – automatic handling/routing of incoming email, web forms and activities without workflow development
- EIC feedback survey – survey questionnaires automatically emailed to employees or external contacts, using the HCM appraisal, evaluation and survey tool (AES)
- Standard BI contact for EIC analytics and KPI reporting (BI 7.x)
- Authorisations – based on categorisation and status
So ERP EIC is a great HR SSC solution for HCM and that’s the end of the story?
It is a good HR shared service centre solution, integrated to SAP HCM and finally (EHP4) able to provide the features customers have been asking for, and we have implemented it successfully for some happy HCM customers. But that isn’t the end of the story, because SAP has continued to develop a parallel EIC offering on CRM7 causing some confusion to prospective customers.
After the round improvements provided with EHP4 SAP published note 1256691, which states that “The functions provided in Enhancement Package 4 for SAP ERP 6.0 for the Employee Interaction Center component (PA-EIC) constitute the final range of functions. We do not plan to provide any additional enhancements to the functions in this solution”. Having said this, the HCM product is now fully developed and makes a good solution for a customer who is looking for an HR shared service centre application. SAP continues to recommend its use for ERP/HCM customers who simply do not need the overhead of implementing CRM.
Customers with existing CRM systems and licenses, or who are looking at a broader programme to implement multiple shared service centres (IT or accounting for example) would be better advised to investigate SAP’s new shared services framework (SSF) delivered with Business Suite 2010 (EHP5).
So what was the answer to the original question?
That EIC for ERP can be implemented to support HR shared service centres. It can be implemented relatively quickly and simply to provide rich integrated and HCM focussed interaction centre functionality, capitalising on a customer’s investment in ERP. There is no need for the additional cost and complexity of implementing CRM7/SSF unless a customer is embarking on a broader shared service centre programme.