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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…

Core HCM

  • 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.

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11 Comments

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  1. Luke Marson

    Hi Brandon,

    Good write-up and you nailed the key points. It is interesting how Nakisa will fare now that SAP are developing their own orgchart and are releasing their own org modelling (via SuccessFactors).  They have already essentially replaced STVN with SuccessFactors Succession & Development.

    In the aftermath of the UX announcements of Fiori there is a great comment by Sam Yen (via Jon Reed) on the positioning of HR Renewal, SuccessFactors and Fiori here.

    Looking forward to part 2.

    Best regards,

    Luke

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    1. Former Member Post author

      Thanks Luke

      I think it’s important for Nakisa to step out and affirmatively make the case as to how they fit in the SAP plans.  For their part SAP was clear that Nakisa is still the only method to do org modeling with “write back” to SAP, although this is a much smaller endorsement that it was in recent years when Nakisa was SAP’s go-forward strategy in Org Modeling, Org Visualization, and Succession Planning. 

      I realize that my wrap-up did not include Fiori content.  There’s a good reason for that.  In the HCM sessions I attended there was precious little mention of it. I believe that the core HCM team is focused on providing mobile responsive designs to customers without added cost, which does create some “tension” with Fiori, at least in the short term until the distinctions are more clearly defined.

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      1. Vardaraj AV

        Hi Brandon,

        SAP Org chart visualization is created on HTML5 and embedded in the MSS lanes,which is a part of feature pack 4 release.  This is not a replacement to our partner solution Nakisa.  Customer’s still have the choice.

        Regards,

        Vardaraj AV

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  2. Stephen Burr

    Brandon,

    Thanks for the concise and informative summary. 

    SAP’s investment in the UI is long overdue but the past is the past now.  One statement I haven’t heard is when (i.e. what EhP) each of these UI improvements will be standard in (and available in the portal).  Maybe I’ve just missed that info – do you (or anyone) know that?  While it is great to have new functionality available ahead of a EhP release the constant stream of Add Ons / Feature packs can confuse.  I think the message that “oh you can get a better UI but you need a special feature pack, and it only works in NWBC right now” is helpful if you want the detail, but the key message should be something like “HR renewal will be fully functional across all HR portal applications as part of EhP? due for release in ??? 201?”.

    I believe Nakisa have always wanted to provide all their applications on HTML5 … but if they needed any encouragement to do that sooner rather than later then they now have it!  Their newest application, OrgHub for Mobile (iPad), is HTML5 based for example.

    And thanks again for your Tweeting (with photos ๐Ÿ™‚ ) during the conference.

    Regards,

    Stephen

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    1. Former Member Post author

      Stephen-

      Thanks for the reply.  Twitter has really transformed the conference experience for me.  It’s fun to break down those barriers between attendees and non-attendees.  This week I’m on the receiving end with all of the great information coming out of SuccessConnect in Australia. 

      The pre-requisite for all of the upcoming enhancements I discussed is HCM Renewal is EHP6.  As to Portal vs. NWBC, I believe that SAP still hasn’t embedded the swim lanes in a portal role yet (although customers can easily do so themselves), so “officially” the swim lane views are only through NWBC.  Seems pretty clear to me that in HCM at least SAP is thinking NWBC first with portal more of an afterthought.  For customers who are only using SAP Portal as a front-end for ESS/MSS, it will be interesting to see if they decide to start moving away from the portal to NWBC or SharePoint in the next couple of years.

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    2. Robert Moeller

      Hi Stephen,

      First, ESS/MSS parts of HR Renewal have always been available on the portal as well as NWBC.  The landing page part for the HR Professional was the part that was not available on the NW Portal at the same time it was available for NWBC albeit we had intended them to be released together.  I won’t elaborate here but in short, there was an issue with rendering the landing page in the portal that caused to delay releasing that part.

      You seem to imply that HR Renewal as an add-on is a negative but I think a lot of customers are quite happy to take as an add-on.  What I hear is that customers make Enhancement Pack upgrade decisions in cooperation with the other lines of business way in advance (e.g., 1 year is probably not uncommon) so being able to apply this an add-on is a good thing and is also perceived as lower risk.  Even still, the Ehp6 prerequisite has held some of them back from adopting this faster.

      To answer your question though, HR Renewal is an “in advance shipment”, like, in advance of Eph7, which will include the same functionality.  However, before Ehp7 becomes available, the HR Professional, lanes page is planned to be available on the NW portal with Feature Pack 4 this July.  I am not able to advertise Ehp7 dates here but the information is becoming more known and there should be some announcements coming soon.  It is just a fact of life these days that all companies have to be more careful about making future looking statements. 

      Best Regards,

      Robert Moeller

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  3. Former Member

    Hi Brandon,

    Thanks very much for the informative and very helpful summary.

    With all the new developments in SAP HCM space, does it mean new customers have complete choice? i.e. NWBC vs EP?

    Can NWBC replace Portal completely? Taking into consideration of all requirements for HCM, SuccessFactors and ERP requirements including SRM, Procurement etc.. We have a websphere portal and will have SharePoint in the near future. It seems that all of the functions available can now be delivered by NWBC 4.0 and NWBC Lite for HTML.

    Is SSO a challenge for NWBC? I understand it is easier technically with EP.

    SAP have confirmed that EP will support a unified view of SAP HCM and SF. This was demonstrated at Success Connect (Sydney). We have asked whether this is possible within NWBC and the answer we received was theoretically yes but as yet untested by SAP. Would you know if anything has changed in the last couple of months?

    One of the ways to deploy NWBC is via web browser (NWBC Lite For HTML) but there is also the full client option which replaces the old GUI but have an impact on Network, Standard Operating Environment, are there any other complications you are aware of? Is NWBC full client a recommended approach? Apart from the benefit of being able to customise color, graphics and dashboards in the full version, are there other added advantages that NWBC Lite is unable to deliver?

    Thank you in advance for your expertise =))

    Vera

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  4. Former Member

    Thanks Brandon

    I am following the HR Renewal from SAP TechEd- 2012 b’lore. and trying to understand that How we can put infront of the customer who are bit thoughtful about the ESS/MSS in terms of cost. specially SME or new organization.

    This is good information and useful for me.

    Thanks a Lot

    Ankit Vasavada

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