In EhP4 when SAP introduced the revamped Talent Management and Talent Development module they bought in a new Development Plan. Confusion has reigned ever since about what value this development plan offers, since its concept differs from the “traditional” development plan found in Performance Management. In this blog, I will attempt to provide some insight and answers into the concept of this “new” development plan.
What is the Development Plan?
The Development Plan allows Talent Management Specialists and managers to create development plans and track long-term development for those employees who are important to the operation of the business, potential leaders of the future and/or are successors to key positions. It is created by a Talent Management Specialist and then used by both Talent Management Specialists and managers of the employees for which it was created.
How does it differ from the Development Plan in Performance Management?
The Development Plan in Performance Management sets the yearly objectives for employees, while the Development Plan in Talent Management sets long-term development objectives for either a defined or undefined period and allows tracking, measuring and monitoring of development steps, and the actions that have been defined to complete the development steps.
You might wonder why a separate plan is really needed. If you consider that developing leadership competencies or grooming a potential successor for a key position is a long-term process then it becomes obvious that a yearly development plan simply doesn’t afford the kind of functionality required to track or manage ongoing objectives that might take upwards of 3 years to complete. Since some potential successors might need a 3 or 5-year period to develop the skills and competencies that are required for them to be suitable to move into a planned role, it wouldn’t be possible to facilitate this with the Development Plan that is part of the Performance Management cycle.
The two development plans are not alternatives or are interchangeable – they are actually buddies that work hand-in-hand. The Development Plan in Talent Management defines a number of actions that are required to complete the development steps defined for the employee (= talent in SAP-speak), such as a mentoring role or a training course. The yearly Development Plan in Performance Management can be used to support the completion of these actions. In this way, development is being done in bit-size chunks year-on-year and contributing to the employee’s long-term development.
Let’s take a simple example. A Talent Management Specialist creates a development step for a specific employee to “Improve strategy execution” and this has several actions, such as “Take an executive coaching course” and “Increase business partner awareness of strategic initiatives”. The employee’s manager is preparing the yearly objectives for the employee and reviews their Development Plan. The manager decides that the employee’s yearly development plan should contain “Take an executive coaching course” and “Arrange quarterly meetings with the regional Business Partner to discuss the department’s ongoing strategy”. The manager contacts the Talent Management Specialist responsible for their area and discusses the development plan suggestions. The Talent Management Specialist agrees and these can now form part of the yearly development plan. The following year, other actions of the development step can be incorporated into the yearly development plan.
By performing this type of development planning essentially means that organizations are performing planned long-term development instead of undergoing short-term, uncorrelated and sometimes spontaneous and unprepared development activities that don’t necessarily support the progression of an individual’s competencies or align with the strategic goals of the organization. In order for the organization’s long-term goals to be met, development must be planned long-term and must align with those goals. This simply cannot be achieved solely with the Development Plan in Performance Management – a long-term view is needed to ensure that talent is developed in line with the long-term needs and goals of the organization.
Why can’t the employee access the Development Plan?
Since Talent Management activities can often be sensitive and there is a high risk of jeopardizing the long-term development of a successor or leader, it is not common for some or all of this information to be disclosed to candidates for succession or leadership positions. Some development actions will be made known in the yearly Development Plan in Performance Management and it is up to the Talent Management Specialist and Manager to decide how much information they provide to the individual about the long-term development plan. This kind of strategy will vary from organization to organization, but generally there is a gradual increase in divulging this type of information to the employee. For the employee, it is important that they concentrate on achieving their short-term development plan objectives, as well continue to perform within their current role. It is best not to derail an employee by informing them too early that they are a candidate for other, more senior positions.
What are the features of the Development Plan in SAP HCM Talent Management?
The Development Plan is a fairly simple application and makes setting up a Development Plan quick and easy. Technically, the Development Plan is an assessment form document and is configured as an open-ended document (e.g. with an end date of 31.12.9999) that can be closed once completed.
The Talent Management Specialist creates a Development Plan in the Talent Information application and this automatically makes it available to the Manager via the Talent Profile for Managers and Talent Management Specialists (read-only) and in the Talent Assessment application in MSS. Both parties can freely update the document once it is created. When creating the Development Plan, the Talent Management Specialist can define a number of Development Steps freely or based on a qualification from the qualification catalog. For each Development Step the Talent Management Specialist can define a number of Actions that the employee needs to complete in order to complete the overall Development Step. Progress of each Development Step and Action can be tracked and updated as required by either the Manager or Talent Management Specialist.
Actions defined in Development Steps cannot be transferred to the Development Plan in Performance Management. It is up to the business to discuss which actions are needed on the Development Plan in Performance Management and how they are approached both on the plan and when discussed with the employee. Some actions may be altered slightly when added to the Development Plan in Performance Management to reflect the short-term life of this development plan.
The Development Plan in SAP HCM Talent Management is a valuable tool for creating, tracking and managing the long-term development of key talents within the organization. Alongsidethe Development Plan in Performance Management, the Development Plan can facilitate the management and execution of the long-term development of an employee in an organized and forward-thinking fashion. Instead of thinking short-term, this enables the organization to think long-term about development of the most important assets in their businesses and ensure that development is aligned with the goals of the organization.