After his obituary was mistakenly published, Mark Twain sent a cable from London stating “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” To parody that, I would say the Death of core SAP HCM On-Premise has been Greatly Exaggerated – Long Live On-Premise! I was at a meeting of some prominent SAP HCM customers recently, where there were a number of SuccessFactors related presentations. Even though, I was there showing these customers the new core SAP HCM user-experience for HR Professionals in Personnel Administration, Organization Management, and HCM Processes and Forms, there was some concern expressed regarding whether they would be pushed onto the cloud. It was not the first time I heard this – often cited in this context is a SAP management quote that SAP HCM on-premise would be supported until 2020.
This is where I caution on writing SAP HCM’s obituary prematurely. What is missing from the 2020 quote are the words “at least”. This quote that came out was always meant to give comfort to our loyal customers that have made very significant investments in our SAP HCM on-premise solutions. The 2020 date stems from SAP’s standard maintenance strategy. It was meant to be a minimum guarantee and not an “end-of-life” indication by SAP. It is true that for some topics, namely talent management, SAP has named the SF cloud solution as the “go-forward” solution that would get the lion’s share of investment. It is normal that SAP, and others, have investment cycles whereby they invest more in some areas than others. SAP HCM on-premise talent management just went through a heavy innovation cycle. Our Ehp6 version has lots of improvements! So, it should be no surprise that the immediate Roadmap in that area shows less investment.
At the same time, however, SAP management has said that we will continue to invest in “core” HCM on-premise. As evidence, we point to our HR Renewal releases. HR Renewal 1.0, went to ramp-up in June 2012 and was generally available (GA) on August 30, 2012. HR Renewal is a new kind of program, whereby, we plan to release new innovations on a quarterly basis as so-called “In Advance Shipments”- a kind of Support Package modeled as an add-on.
It seems like most customers feel more comfortable applying add-ons like this. If there is any catch, it is that Ehp6 is a prerequisite. That said, I have also heard from customers that Enhancement Package upgrades like 4 to 5 or 5 to 6 are becoming much, much easier “…barely a blip on the radar..”. I can tell you from my experience as an SAP HCM developer; this is resulting from a process that SAP put into effect many years ago. I remember management’s message was that customers were demanding more stability and easier upgrades. I can testify from the Developers perspective, that SAP took this message to heart and set to work putting processes and tools in place to facilitate and enforce actions and rules to make life easier on our customers. First, I remember that we were limited on how far back we could retrofit a note. Then we were limited on what kinds of objects and database changes we could make in a Support Package. We implemented the core and extension concepts. Then we added the Enhancement Package concept. All of this in the name of stability and easy upgrades. Additionally, we responded to your calls to fill functional gaps, limiting the amount of custom code on your part.
It has taken a while for our customers to see the fruits of this but I believe that we are at the point where you can reap these benefits and the benefits of upgrading to newer Enhancement Packages, like Ehp6, in order to take advantage of new innovations — like the one close to my heart, new user-experience for HR Professional users available with HR Renewal. Because of your increasing confidence in upgrades, you are now in a position to take advantage of the even quicker, quarterly cycles, with HR Renewal. From my perspective, all of the above is just evidence of SAP listening to its customers and the market – I believe that SAP’s acquisition of SuccessFactors only supports that notion. Clearly, there is a growing segment of the market and SAP’s customer base that is interested in implementing SaaS based HCM solutions and SAP has a great solution for the SaaS market too! Or choose a hybrid model, backed by two great names – SAP and SuccessFactors. For a long time now, you have known SAP HCM on-premise for it robust functionality, legal support, and global reach – with HR Renewal, my colleagues and I hope you get to know the delightful user-experience soon and keep on enjoying for as long as it fits your needs. Me personally, I say long live SAP HCM on-premise!