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Author's profile photo Luke Marson

Preparing for an SAP HCM Talent Management Implementation

Failing to plan is planning to fail. Preparing correctly for your SAP HCM Talent Management implementation is imperative to it being a successful implementation, both technically and for the business. Most of these can be applied to other projects, so a substantial portion of this blog should be familiar with most readers.

Security and Authorizations

An early starting point of a project is to understand how the authorizations concept works. Since authorizations vary from organization to organization and some security design can be complex, it is essential to examine all of the rules and authorizations that would restrict a Manager, Talent Management Specialist or business stakeholder from getting access to the right data they need to carry out their talent processes. There are various reasons this would be done, such as examining:

  • The potential for performance problems by highly-complex authorizations
  • How the authorizations may interfere with the Area of Responsibility concept
  • If managers have access to the right qualification, pay, development, learning, or succession data they need
  • If any customer-specific or standard SAP roles conflict with the appropriate SAP HCM Talent Management role
  • If there are specific rules around HR or senior stakeholder staff not having access to peer data
  • That the individuals performing setup and customizing in each environment have the appropriate access and, in specific cases, apply for the appropriate security with proper lead-time

Enhancement Packages

Depending on which Talent Management modules are implemented will depend on which Enhancement Package is a minimum requirement. EhP4 is really the minimum Enhancement Package level that you should use in a new implementation, although personally I would always recommend going to the latest Enhancement Package (EhP6) to get the maximal functionality and features that are available. If you are on EhP4 or EhP5 then the business case to upgrade is not so high, although there are significant enhancements for the ESS and MSS user interfaces available in HR Renewal 1.0. You can get a high-level overview of the new Talent Management functionality in EhP5 and some detail on the functionality EhP6 in my blog What’s new in EhP6 for SAP HCM Talent Management. One word of caution is that EhP6 does seem to contain a lot of bugs for functionality that worked correctly in EhP5.

Support Packages

Like with Enhancement Packages it is advisable to upgrade to the latest support package levels for HR (EA-HRGXX), Cross-Application Components (SAP_ABA), SAP Basis (SAP_BASIS) & SAP Business Suite Foundation (SAP_BS_FND). However, if this is not possible then I recommend at least the following levels as minimum requirements:

EhP / NW versions





EhP4: 604 / 701





EhP5: 605 / 702





EhP6: 606 / 731





TREX should be at revision 47 or higher. The latest release of SAP Talent Visualization by Nakisa (STVN) should always be used.

Customer data model and SAP customizations

SAP HCM Talent Management has a variety of objects (see SAP HCM Talent Management Terminology for a list of some of the objects used), relationships and usage cases for standard and new OM objects. The change of focus of a person from the PERNR/Person (P) object to the Central Person (CP) object, the use of Job (C) and the use of Competencies (Q) are a significant change in Talent Management and changes or enhancements to how the standard SAP system works can interfere with how Talent Management is intended to work. A Qualification Catalog is extremely important in Talent Management, so customers need to be aware that significant effort could be required – a project in its own right – to prepare and create a catalog of qualifications, competencies, skills and behaviors.

I have come across many organizations where customizations or processes introduced in an earlier project have caused a real hindrance to realizing the technical aspects of a Talent Management implementation. Such things as bad Hiring Action practices, creating custom data elements in tables instead of using the standard data elements or misusing standard OM objects are just some of the things that can create a headache at a later. I’m surprised at how many PA/OM consultants don’t have familiarity with other modules that rely on PA or OM as their foundation. Also, the extent at which some consultants will bludgeon SAP in order to meet obscure processes or save time in creating a proper solution should not be underestimated.

Change Management

Change Management is crucial to the success of a Talent Management project. Sure, it is crucial for many large implementations, but Talent Management processes can bring in additional work for managers, HR and business stakeholders that don’t provide any immediate tangible benefits for these individuals. It is important to set out the long-term strategy for Talent Management, find champions within the business and ensure the engagement and buy-in of those users that are going to be key users of the new processes. The organization’s culture and maturity will determine how extensive this process is and how much lead-time is required to make sure that the change campaign has the required impact.

Sometimes this area is overlooked my some companies in order to make a “competitive” priced bid for a project. Don’t be fooled into thinking that a cheaper bid is better – the investment in a sound change management strategy will reap great rewards as the project approaches roll-out and enters into productive use.

Hardware & Infrastructure

Part of achieving business acceptance is having stable and well performing applications. Adequate hardware for E-Recruiting, TREX, the Enterprise Portal and, if applicable, SAP Talent Visualization by Nakisa (STVN) will provide the right platform for users to perform their new processes without spending more time watching the waiting icon than doing the work.

Implementation Partner

It is very important to find the right partner to implement you a solution that can support your business processes. Just hiring someone who can implement SAP HCM Talent Management technically but doesn’t have the right Talent Management business process experience will not add any value to your implementation – in some instances this will lead to you lose value or efficiency in your existing processes or remain with processes that need some re-engineering as part of the implementation.

If you are implementing SAP Talent Visualization by Nakisa (STVN) then it is recommended to ensure that your implementation partner has the correct skillset for implementing the solution. Depending on the project, you may need a consultant who has experience of both SAP HCM Talent Management and STVN or just customization experience of STVN. It is always recommended to challenge your implementation partner to ensure they genuinely have the right resources and, if in doubt, reach out to Nakisa or other organizations that have implemented STVN to get a reference or recommendation of someone that can work with you and/or your implementation partner. Don’t necessarily believe that someone who has implemented STVN is necessarily the right partner if they have only setup the out of the box solution once or twice.

As mentioned above, a serious implementation partner will understand a number of things that I have mentioned above and should include these in their proposal. Ensure to check CVs and find out if the organization’s consultants spend more time asking for help on SAP Community Network than adding value to your business processes.

The Final Outcome

What are the measures of success for the project and what defines success of the long-term talent objectives? Usually going live is not a definitive marker for success – it is the starting point of measuring success. The weeks and months after go live will prove whether the project was successful, but it might be some years until you can measure if the strategy you have is successful. These KPIs for success should be defined at the project kick-off or as part of your overall talent strategy. It is important to know what you really want to get out of your Talent Management implementation and, in the long-term, your Talent Management program.


Implementing Talent Management is not as easy as setting up a few IMG tables and writing a business blueprint – it is an implementation of business processes and the technology to support them. SAP HCM Talent Management can be complex, particularly when multiple modules are installed. It has some different data models and usage cases and requires specialist knowledge to get it up and running as required. It is essential to be well prepared for an implementation before you even kick-off and a well-defined talent strategy should be defined well before you plan for your implementation. Change Management can be the be-all and end-all of an implementation and any partner worth their salt will have this as a solid basis for project success.

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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Hi Luke - thanks for the article! I'm glad you mentioned the point about having to deal, at times, with a hacked up PA/OM implementation. I see that too often too, and it is a shame because it's the foundation for much of SAP HCM.

      Also, I like that you mentioned measurement at the end. I like to measure key processes before and after the project so hat everyone can see the impact. That pre-project measurement is important so that we can know the actual impact, but it is often overlooked.

      Author's profile photo Luke Marson
      Luke Marson
      Blog Post Author

      Hi Steve,

      Thanks for your comments. I think one of the benefits of cloud/SaaS will be that customers/implementation partners cannot hack SAP to bits. This will certainly make extending the system easier and more robust. I can understand that the SAP HCM system needs to be enhanced, but sometimes I wonder what governance is in place to protect these enhancements from being done badly. I've seen some horrific changes before that don't follow best practice or re-use standard components. I think we could go on and on about this for some time!

      All too often I see organizations saying that the project is successful if it goes into production. This is only project success! And a business should be looking way past the go live for real success. It think a lot of organizations don't define success properly and then end up with getting live on-time and within budget, but actually not reaping the full benefits of their solution.

      Best regards,


      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Luke, thanks for this article.  Authorizations is an often overlooked -- and critical aspect of the implementation.  And this aligns closely with the PA/OM implementation a particular company has done.  I have known large companies that have had to start from scratch with OM on a well-established SAP HCM implementation because they didn't see the value in OM ten years ago.  We have used OM from the onset of our implementation on 4.6c and have found is a core requirement for delivering MSS, LSO and talent management.  It also helps us breeze through security audits and ensures support of safe harbor.  A lot of customers may have seen Talent Visualization as a panacea to their issues - but if the OM structure itself is insufficient, no technology will help.  You have to go back to business processes first - be willing to make the change in how you manage people, positions and authorizations. 

      And the right consultant is key.  Here we can tend to see very large consulting firms engaged and promising to find the right resources for the solution.  A better approach is to find the expert first instead of the firm.

      I appreciate the ongoing education provide by you, Steve, Jarret, Jeremey et al.  The only thing being communicated by SAP seems to be SFSF.  It is refreshing to know on-premise lives!

      Author's profile photo Luke Marson
      Luke Marson
      Blog Post Author

      Hi Sherry,

      Thanks for your comments and excellent insight. SAP have told me how increasingly consultants don't look at authorizations - and then find out the client's requirements can be met without an overhaul of their years-old authorization concept.

      Many people overlook the foundation that OM lays for so many other processes, particularly the post-EhP4 Talent Management functionality that relies on OM far more heavily than PA. Bad design or neglect can easily create problems later on and bad data can easily mean that the business is making bad decisions.

      People should look to experts like Danielle Larocca who regularly holds sessions at the big SAP HCM events about building org structures. Many organizations don't take it seriously or let petty business rules or bad processes overule good design.

      The biggest problem with the big firms is that at least one or two of your staff will be juniors, which is not so bad if this is fully disclosed. When it's not, you can end up letting someone without the right experience or knowledge make design decisions that can have a lasting and costly effect on your SAP HCM system. You make a great point about finding the experts and there are some good consultants out there that can deliver large projects on their own, or with a little support. You don't need a big firm to implement Talent Management modules and you can get a single module implemented in 3 months or so with just one or two resources.

      On a latter note, Steve Bogner is the king of pointing out these type of tips and saying what really should be obvious for most consultants, but sadly isn't. His insight is among the best of them. That's not to take away from experts like Jarret Pazahanick and Jeremy Masters who also provide excellent insights.

      Best regards,