SAPPHIRENOW/ASUG is in the books for 2013. Having finally digested all of the pudding cups, fruit, and fluorescent margaritas, I think I’m now ready to make sense of the torrent of information I saw. There will be plenty of analysis discussing SAP as a whole, so for the most part my remarks will be limited to the HCM space. However I do want to comment that I came away with the sense that the morale of the SAP employees and partners I talked to was very strong. Much like team members all enjoying being part of a team that is on a winning streak. This is a marked contrast to 3-4 years ago when SAP seemed stuck in a rut living off its past glory. No more.
Due to the amount of information, I have decided to break the content into 2 blogs. Today, we’ll cover OnPremise HCM and I’ll post the Cloud (i.e., SuccessFactors) in the next few days.
On to the HR space…
- Major initiatives are underway in SAP HCM on-premise. The SAP team has 150 developers hard at work making quarterly updates and the progress shows. As a side note, SAP acknowledged that one of the key drivers behind investing in the refresh of its core HCM UI was that it did not compare favorably when core HCM applications were integrated in portal environments with the talent management applications from SuccessFactors. Ironic that it took the acquisition of a cloud company to make SAP step up its game, but the massive install base for core HCMwill be a happy with the results whatever the impetus.
- From an HCM Renewal standpoint, the “swim lane” landing page for HR Administrators that has wowed customers is in the process of being updated so that it can be used for ESS and MSS as well. The end-goal here is that this UI can be used regardless of what role you play in the organization and that users will be able to populate the lanes with whatever content they desire, including some social content. The new ESS/MSS content will be delivered in July in a quarterly feature pack. An under-reported benefit of the swim lane page is that it can render on smartforms/tablets, which means that SAP is delivering mobile-capable UI. However, given the size of the page, “mobile-capable” probably refers more to tablets than smartphones. Also of note is that customers will be able too build out their own additional swim lanes using Eclipse.
- We learned that SAP is also developing full ESS/MSS mobile portals, with the prototype name of “Work Deck”. There was no official timeframe for these. No word on if additional licensing costs are involved, but I suspect if they are following the same model of just creating mobile-enabled web pages as opposed to developing applications for specific devices, then the answer is probably ‘no’. Of course, in order to access the mobile portal customers would need to decide how to either expose the web page to the internet or install VPN on devices.
- In a big and somewhat surprising development, a new HTML5 org chart visualization is being created to replace the Nakisa-developed flash version currently in use in MSS for the HR Renewal home page. This will be delivered in July. The likely rationale behind the switch is that the flash UI does not render on mobile devices. The new org chart will be available within the swim lane UI and as a standalone application.
- For the first time that I can recall we have interesting SAP Payroll user interface news! A new web-based payroll manager workbench is in the planning stages. It is being built to help payroll managers manage the entire payroll process from a web front end, with reports and alerts.
- Also on the payroll front, one of the key areas that SAP is planning to use HANA for in HCM is payroll reconciliation. To do this, the payroll data is being “de-clustered” during post-processing to enable HANA to work its in-memory magic. The reconciliation processing time will be reduced from a few hours to a few minutes–making it more likely that your payroll administrators will make it home in time for dinner. The “de-clustering” is being rolled out country-by-country in order to ensure that the process is working properly. One side note: the core employee calculation process is not going to be altered to optimize for HANA as this presented too many risks.
That’s it for now. To hear more, feel free to follow me on twitter @brandontoombs.