Skip to Content

SAP and SuccessFactors – Five Key topics I Want to Hear About at SAPPHIRE

Ever since SAP announced they were acquiring SuccessFactors there has been a lot of interest in the marketplace on the impacts to customers, partners and consultants. It appears that due to the timing of the merger SAP will use the upcoming SAPPHIRE/ASUG event in Orlando to provide the bulk of their updates. This makes it a must attend event for SAP HCM and SuccessFactors professionals and there are five important topics I want to get more clarity on and plan to report back after the event with my findings.

1. Integration – SAP Co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe mentioned while back that integration would be “out-of-the-box” and “easier, better and cheaper” and although there is a 14% overlap in the SAP/SuccessFactors customer base there was previously no integration between the companies. SAP has been working for the last several months with 15 joint SAP/SuccessFactors customers to build the initial integration offering. It is my understanding that this will include some core SAP HCM data going into SuccessFactors with Compensation related data needed for Payroll coming back into SAP with the specific details being announced at Sapphire. In talking with both SAP and customers this is the #1 priority and here are some of my questions:

  • What specifically is included in the delivered initial integration?
  • What is the integration roadmap and timeline?
  • What is the delivery method (i.e. API’s)
  • What tools will SAP provide customers who want to extend the delivered integration offering?
  • What is the cost of the offering?
  • What versions of R/3 will the delivered integration support?
  • Will there be a Rapid Deployment Solution (RDS) around integration?

2. Customers SAP has been pretty clear in their all their communication that SuccessFactors solutions are the “go-forward solutions” and will be where customers can expect most of the future innovation. You can get a sense of some of the confusion customers are going to face by reading between the lines in my recent The Future of SAP HCM Consulting and SuccessFactors. I have been vocal with SAP and SuccessFactors on creating a detailed product comparison so that customers have the information to choose the right software that meets their business requirements but so far it hasn’t got much traction which I think is a big mistake. There are many questions including:

  • How will customers know which deployment options best meets their business requirements?
  • How does SuccessFactors engage with customers for their product enhancements?
  • What should On-Premise customers expect to get for their maintenance dollars?
  • What is the plan for customers where On-Premise is the right fit (i.e. Learning in FDA Regulated Environment)?
  • What is the plan for customers that recently made a large investment in an SAP HCM On-Premise offering?
  • What is the business case to justify paying additional SuccessFactors licensing for performance and compensation management when they are included in the base SAP On-Premise license?
  • Will there be a migration path for existing customers looking to move to SuccessFactors?
  • Will there be two sales teams (On-Premise HCM and SuccessFactors) that will compete and potentially confuse customers?

3. Detailed Roadmap – SAP provided their high level roadmap about 6 weeks ago which I provided my initial thought in the SAP and SuccessFactors Roadmap Analysis article but it is important that we start to get some insight at a lot lower level. There are many questions including:

  • Detailed SAP OnPremise Roadmap
  • Detailed SuccessFactors Roadmap
  • Detailed Employee Central Roadmap
  • Strategy around StreamWork and Jam
  • Details on how Career OnDemand IP is going to be incorporated into SuccessFactors
  • Who has final decision if there is a disagreement between SAP HCM OnPremise and SuccessFactors?
  • SucessFactors or HCM Mobility strategy
  • SuccessFactors and  HANA
  • Overall Analytics and Reporting
  • Overall Cloud strategy

4. SuccessFactors Product Offering – It is great to see that there will be 31 SuccessFactors Sessions at SapphireNow. Given the largely SAP customer audience I would expect that many will be seeing the SuccessFactors offering for the first time. Some things that I will be looking to get some clarity on:

  • Product features and highlights including countries and language supported
  • Core functionality difference between SAP and SuccessFactors
  • What features are “configurable” in SuccessFactors?
  • Core functionality difference between SAP and SuccessFactors
  • Depth of functionality that currently exists in Employee Central
  • Social capabilities in each of the SuccessFactors products
  • Mobility offering in each of SuccessFactors products
  • Who are SuccessFactors major competitors and why
  • How many customers & which customers are using this product
  • Will SuccessFactors products be able to leverage the robust OnPremise security


5. Mobility – SuccessFactors delivers their mobile applications for free and in discussions have heard they see it as just another way to access their platform. I have been critical in the past asking Is SAP Using the Right Mobility Strategy even though the SAP HCM Mobility and Roadmap looks promising although we may have some clarity on this prior to SAPPHIRE as Sybase is being rolled up under Sanjay Poonen team and there is a major press conference/event planned for April 10. Some of my questions:

  • Will SuccessFactors change their existing “free” mobile strategy?
  • Plans by SuccessFactors to enhance their current mobility offering
  • Will the Sybase products be used at SuccessFactors?
  • Will SAP change their strategy around HCM mobility to stay competitive?

I will be arriving in Orlando on May 12 as well as speaking at the ASUG Preconference Event on May 13. If you see me walking around in my SAP Mentor shirt #126 or recognize me please stop to say hello although I apologize in advance that it may be a short conversation as with all the sessions, mentor events and blogger events it is going to be a busy 4 days for me. There is no doubt this will be an important event as SAP and SuccessFactors must outline many crucial decisions that have long term ramifications for customers, partners and consultants. If you want to stay current on all the major developments as they unfold I would recommend joining the SAP and SuccessFactors Linkedin group as well as following me on Twitter at SAP_Jarret. Let me know in the comment section the questions you have and I will be sure to ask.

You must be Logged on to comment or reply to a post.
  • Great blog post, Jarret! Good questions.

    Referring to Integration scope, David Ludlow mentioned in HR2012 presentation that:

    SAP HCM->SuccessFactors: Employee Master Data, Organizational Data.

    SuccessFactors->SAP HCM: Compensation, Recruiting, HR Data (for payroll).

    How many customers & which customers are using this product.

    Some overall information in this slide:

    My question:

    Will SAP and SuccessFactors Partners Programs remain completely independent of each other?

    • Thanks for the kind words Vasiliy and additional insight on the integration as that is more than I heard on an earlier briefing with him. I am wondering if what David mentioned at HR2012 is the longer term goal or what will be in place by Sapphire as I understood it to be less from SuccessFactors back to SAP but hopefully I will be pleasantly surprised.

      I will try to get some more clarity on your questions and from what I have seen in the past week it appears to be yes and many smaller niche HCM providers have announced a SuccessFactors Services Partnership.

  • Nice! You pretty much nailed my top 5 as well…..but let’s be realistic…..I doubt we get maybe 2 of those answered and not even to the extent/detail you are looking for within each.

    Along with your “integration” key topic….I would add that it would be nice to know how SAP plans to “merge” this into existing rollout and product lifecyle plans that are already “on the books”. For example, how will this fit into the next big version/rollout/release of the core system?

    • Hey Chris great to see you back blogging again and not many people know but it was you that got me started on contributing to SAP SCN many moons ago.

      It will be interesting to see how many answers we get and I plan to follow up with a blog after and stay on this until there are answers to most of them as it is important for SAP customers to have a clear understanding and having that will ultimately be good for SAP and SuccessFactors as confused customers often will sit on their hands and not buy new software.

      Thanks for the question and are you planning to come to Sapphire as I wouldnt be surprised if there are a few SAP Mentor sessions with SuccessFactors and you can ask it yourself 🙂   That said from what I understand the Business Suite will be supported to 2020 so it may be a ways off to worry about.

      • Whoa! Don’t go spreading rumors that it was me that opened Pandora’s Box. hahaha

        Yeh….we shall see on these things, I suppose. As for Sapphire, can’t make it…neck deep in a new project. Saving up time for TechEd!!! 🙂

    • Hey Chris,

      my experience under the R/2 to R/3 great migration was that R/3 development and releases took priority and R/2 came second, sometimes by weeks, sometimes by months. I don’t doubt that the number of customers on each platform (cloud/on-premise) and market share / growth, regulations will influence that timing and priority…. but if cloud is the strategic future….


    • Thanks John and I sent this to SAP yesterday as well so hopefully if they know the questions I am going to have they have a “few” more answers ready 🙂

      Great job on the Simon B Interview although you may want to double check formatting as I think some spaces got lost.

      • Thanks for spotting the issue on the interview – seems some glitch in the platform as was all looking fine earlier today, but fixed by adding extra lines. Will report it in the bugs area.

  • Hi Jarret,

    I’m sure I’ve seen a similar format to this somewhere recently 😉 .

    This is a great blog and I think you’ve covered the areas that are unanswered or need more information. I really hope that you/we get some answers to most of these at SAPPHIRE or soon afterwards.

    Best regards,


    • Thanks for the comment Luke and I can say that with a 100% certainty that I got the idea from a well known Nakisa guru but dont want to name names 🙂

      It will be interesting to see how many answers I get as I was proactive and sent this off to my contacts at SAP so they can know what to expect.  The bottom line is that SAP has to execute flawlessly to keep up the positive momentum they have and I hope they are able to.

  • Hi Jarret, great summary as usual.  You are always wanting more!

    I am hoping that many of the questions asked will start to be answered over time, especially those in relation to the ‘how” and in most cases I would hope that partners who are reselling the software and delivering the services will have those answers provided as part of their enablement!

    There are also some great questions under the heading ‘Customers’ – again I feel that these are the kinds of questions that SI partners need to be able to assist customers to answer, as I would expect there will be ‘horses for courses’ within some general guidelines.. especially those who are SAP install customers and who are using some HR functionality currently. 

    Customers have always had to develop business cases in this area – SAP vs other solutions such as Taleo, Learning Seat, etc., etc. – so that is likely to continue.. the challenge for SAP now, and for us as SI partners is to polish the fruit to ensure that the business case comes up with the SAP answer in the majority of cases – otherwise the strategy has not worked.

    Will be watching carefully while you are in Orlando!

    • Thanks for the comments and kind words.  It is very interesting to see many of the SAP HCM niche service providers all announce SuccessFactors Service partnerships over the past few week with a few claiming to have deep expertise to help customer which at this stage is a REAL stretch.

      Great points and I full agree that SAP will have to engage its services partners in order to fully get the message to the customers as they are on the ground.  The big thing I will be watching will be see if customers get good advice from their services partner who have a real bias to recommend SAP OnPremise as they have the expertise/experience and projects are more lucrative.  It will be a real period where customers will have to do some outside research to ensure they are get the best advice for their business.  On the flip side of that SAP will be strongly pushing SuccessFactors offering which may not always be the right fit depending on the customers requirements either.

      I plan on attending both Sapphire and SuccessConnect (in June) so hopefully between the two and the combination of the general sessions, mentor sessions and blogger sessions I can get a lot more clarity.

      I plan on attending both Sapphire and SuccessConnect (in June) so hopefully between the two and the combination of the general sessions, mentor sessions and blogger sessions I can get a lot more clarity.

    • Thanks for the comment Ravi and hope you are setting in back in the homeland.

      I passed this on internally to my contacts at SAP so they know the questions I will be asking though it will be interesting to see how many answers they have and or are willing to share publicly. I plan on attending both Sapphire and SuccessConnect (in June) so hopefully between the two and the combination of the general sessions, mentor sessions and blogger sessions I can get a lot more clarity. There is a 50% chance the follow up blog will be one SAP is not happy to read as you and I both know customers are looking for clarity 🙂

  • Hi Jarret – Your stuff is awesome whether its on Twitter or here.  The one thing I’m interested in as a member of the Customer Central team is – will there be any joint SAP/SuccessFactors customers telling their “story” and discussing their strategy moving forward.  As for SuccesFactors competitors, it would be great to get some insight into how they win against Oracle/Workday et at.  Cheers,


    • Thanks for the comment Michael and kind words. I havent heard anything official but will be pretty disappointed if we dont see a joint customer on stage during one of the keynotes.  I know behind the scenes SAP is working with 10-12 joint customer using co-innovation on the integration between the two products details of which to be announced in a few weeks.

      Wouldnt be surprised if our paths cross at Sapphire as it can be such a small world out there.

  • Good blog … even I am shy I reading your blog and most of the times it rings me a bell

    Question Summary : Following SAPPHIRE any news on your request to have a detailed product comparison.

    Some detailed observation :

    First of all let me say I am not a HCM / HR process/solution expert .. I am working more on the overall SAP solutions/architecture for some customers.

    For the first time I have attended a remote session on SuccessFactor last week (one way demo , no capabilities to ask question).

    Let’s forget a little bit all the “buzz” word on “Cloud”,”SaaS” (which is more an IT item) and so on and focus on the “business” case.

    Yes the User Experience seems to be nicer (but that’s not easy to build a case based on that) … for me it has not been obvious to see the key difference -process wise- between SAP offering and SuccessFactor (even I can see some difference on the technology side).

    Frankly it becomes urgent for SAP-SuccessFactor to articulate better the difference from a business stand point between the 2 solutions (in a joined effort).
    I am using a “joined effort” … I had a feeling (wrong ?) that’s the presentation was highlighting HR HCM defficiency.

    Coming back on the User Experience now I can blame SAP. SuccessFactor user experience seems to be better than HCM user experience. If SuccessFactor can do it why SAP can not do it !!! I would hope in the near future some consistency between SuccessFactor and SAP HCM User Experience.

    • Thanks for the comment Patrick and I fully agree that a detailed product comparison would be extremely helpful for customers to determine if SAP HCM or SuccessFactors is the right fit for their business requirements. That said I have mentioned this repeatedly to folks within both companies and there does not appear to be any desire to do so which I believe is a mistake.

      SAP/SuccessFactors were pretty clear there were no plans to have a consist UI across the products but SAP is starting to make a step forward to update their UI/UX which I recently outlined in this article.

      New SAP HCM Functionality – HR Renewal 1.0

      Here is my recap from SuccessConnect last week as well as it answers several of the questions in this initial article.

      SAP and SuccessFactors – Mobility, Innovation, Payroll and Charity