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successfactors consulting partners – past & present

a recent discussion got me thinking. who are the legacy sfsf consulting partners and who are the newbies. why does this matter? customers need as much information as possible to make smart choices.

to achieve this i went to the wayback machine and pulled a sfsf consulting partner list from 2 december 2011 (prior to sap purchase) and a list from today. back then there were a total of 29 partners (5 strategic). today there are 90 partners (9 strategic). in comparing the lists, only one legacy partner is not on the new list. some other legacy partners (learn2perform; knowledgeinfusion) have been purchased and are part of other orgs.

the legacy partners are: accenture; capgemini; ibm; mckinney rogers; pwc; 3dresults; aasonn; arago consulting; drivensystems; droste group; effective people; elkiem; hentity; hrizons; ihouse; inforonics; integrity data; jigsaw-is; knowledge infusion; learn2perform; lockheed martin; northrop grumman; pentos; report designers; satyam; serco; skillpartners; surrex project solutions

some basic observations. unlike the workday market (aggressor bought by deloitte; omnipoint bought by aoh-hewitt), i do not see any legacy sf partners been purchased in the samw way. which brings the following question. how have the 61 newbies managed to become partners (since my understanding is that there must be x consultants with y projects in a specific sfsf product). by headhunting? other?

another observation. since some partners are only partners in specific sfsf products, a customer may need more than one partner to implement sfsf. also, if integrating to sap hcm, a legacy sap hcm consulting company is needed

to have a successful partner experience, customers may have to hire more than one consulting company depending on what is to be implemented

the burning question – to success, quite a few of these partners are going to have to merge or build strategic relationships. this is valid for both legacy and newbie sfsf consulting partners


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  • Hi Howard,

    Great blog and some excellent talking points. First, becoming a partner with SuccessFactors doesn't really have any criteria. Most territories limit the number of partners they have and selection seems to be based on size and reach in market. I know some very experienced thought-leaders who have not been able to get partnership because they are often only a few people, which is very discouraging.

    You are right that some partners are specializing in certain domains, such as just Talent - or even more granular in one particular area such as Learning. This can mean customers have to mix-and-match their partners in some areas. However, even these firms are branching out... or are happy to take on a solution (e.g. Employee Central) even if they haven't done it before. By and large, most customers can find a consultancy that are qualified to implement an end-to-end suite (and by implement I don't talk about quality... that's a different issue altogether), but to find real domain expertise across a suite with expertise in SuccessFactors as a product is difficult. Even the bigger partners have to ramp up resources on the SuccessFactors product side, but having domain expertise is a big starting point for this transition.

    There will be casualties in the market - this is inevitable. Many partners are taking on areas they wouldn't have done for on-premise and whether they can deliver value in these "new" areas - despite their expertise in other areas - is yet to be seen. Some partners don't get the Cloud and will simply fade away. Other have their head in the sand. And others will just take on any work with any means possible (including talking about numbers of customers that doesn't reflect reality). To be honest, it's a real Wild West and without blowing my own trumpet I saw this coming:

    SuccessFactors and SAP HCM consulting: The Wild West of 2013

    One thing that has surprised me as much as you is the lack of takeovers of legacy partners. I would've expected some movement by now, but there has been a lot of headhunting going on and some folks have doubled their salaries to go and sit on the bench somewhere else. Not a bad life, eh?

    Some of the SAP HCM consultancies have leveraged their expertise in HR technology (i.e. SAP HCM) to offer SuccessFactors services, but these are few and far between. EPI-USE has made the transition - largely due to their global presence and expertise in Payroll and localizations - while some of the "bigger" firms like Accenture, Deloitte, IBM etc (interestingly some already partners with SuccessFactors) were always going to get a share of deals because they naturally attract big names. I've heard of movement with other SAP HCM consultancies, but I also hear of the reality behind the publicity.

    Will there be mergers? I think so. Will there be strategic partnerships? There already are. Will there be firms going under? Yes.

    There is a huge transition going on and some will make it while some will not. The consultancy market will be quite different in some years and it will be interesting to see it in 5 years from now.

    Best regards,


    • Worth stating that in some cases everyone is at a level footing here, where SuccessFactors functionality is brand new, there isn't a huge advantage to those who have more experience in legacy SuccessFactors solutions. The use of the MDF for example is something that will be new to most, as will configuring the on-boarding solution. As always, beware of someone who claims to know everything, it's likely they know nothing.

      • Another great comment! Particularly:

        As always, beware of someone who claims to know everything, it's likely they know nothing.

        I don't know of anyone other than Dmitri Krakovsky that knows the entire SuccessFactors product range deeply. Even people who have a great overview of the suite, market, company, technology, etc may only know about 2 or 3 products in-depth.

        I committed hundreds (maybe thousands - I wish I had kept track!) of hours to writing a SAPexperts special report (which was proofed by SuccessFactors and parts by SAP) and to the SAP PRESS book on SuccessFactors (parts of which were proofed by SAP and SuccessFactors) and still it is impossible for me to know more than a few modules in any depth.

        But also there is interest. Are there truly any folks that have an interest in knowing every HCM module other than for marketing/sales purposes? There are few SAP HCM folks that know everything in the on-premise suite - and I don't expect that to be any different in the SuccessFactors world.

  • since my understanding is that there must be x consultants with y projects in a specific sfsf product

    Fortunately, that's not correct. A company may partner with SuccessFactors at any time they can get through the hurdles(not inconsiderable) of doing so. Next they must train and certify some consultants in the modules that they want to implement (this can be done by head-hunting or internal training). Once the company has some trained consultants they are allowed to participate in SuccessFactors implementations (although these are overseen/QA's by SuccessFactors).

    As previously mentioned, many existing SAP HCM partners are going down this path, they will likely have the SAP HCM integration knowledge.

    So whilst it would certainly make sense for some companies to merge with /acquire existing SuccessFactors partners for many the model will be to slowly build up their capability. It will be to the client to ensure that they know the skill levels of the consulting firms they use.

    Given that it is not possible to get training in SuccessFactors unless you are a partner, it would be a very chicken/egg scenario if you couldn't be a partner without having trained consultants.

    • Good points Chris and I think the consultancies that can't get partnership will struggle in the long run. Hopefully the model will change, but SuccessFactors need to scale in order to handle so many more partners and I hear that it has been a challenging couple of years 🙂 .

      I think the problem with acquisitions are that a consultancy needs a pipeline before they can justify the expenditure and many don't have that pipeline. So, more chicken and egg...

    • Hi Chris,

      I agree when you write "A company may partner with SuccessFactors at any time they can get through the hurdles(not inconsiderable) of doing so."

      I tried many times to contact them to ask about partnership. Once someone called back and I gave all the details for him to contact the "Alliance manager" at my company. This took place beginning of Q4 last year. Since then, nothing... Eventhough I tried contacting again.



      • Hi Philippe,

        As I mentioned in my first comment on this blog, SuccessFactors are only taking on a limited number of partners in each territory and they don't even entertain the idea of anyone else. It's a real frustration for consultancies like you because it restricts you for - often - no good reason.

        Good luck with trying to get partnership.

        Best regards,


        • Hi Luke,

          Thanks for answering. 🙂 I read your comment and if I understand their move, like you wrote (and others) it is frustrating especially when you're contacted for a possible project... 🙂

          But I'm not giving up !

          Congrats on the book coming out early September. I'm waiting...



  • Hi Howard,

    You are right in that very few partners have the depth in their consulting team to implement everything that SuccessFactors enables their partners to implement/configure.  I'll take the opportunity to plug my firm.  Aasonn can implement all of SuccessFactors solutions from EC to Talent - to Learning - to Workforce Planning/Analytics. Partners will need to invest in the talent, get smaller projects, and stay the course. This takes time and there is not shortcut to that.

    Howard,  you are right, new partners with limited depth will amost definitely have to partner to make a full suite project work.  This will present the customer with the traditional delimma - how do they get a "Single Throat to Choke"?  Many times this is a difficult hurdle to overcome for a new partner to get a full-suite engagement with a customer.

    Regarding the topic of acquisition of legacy SF partners by larger firms - I can tell  you that most of the potential acquirers believe that they can use their reputation to get around the need for experience. It clearly isn't working very well but they will keep trying - stay tuned.

    Something to think about Howard is the potential for a new type of SI. I believe that we're in a period of transformation of SI's and a new type of Cloud SI is becoming the new reality.  Very soon here, you'll begin to hear about the names of the new SI's that no one had heard about just a few years ago.  The new SI's will be Cloud Transformation Experts that can talk to not just an application but the Cloud architecture that companies need to build to support a secure Cloud environment complete with not just SaaS applications but also Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS). Another topic for sure, maybe for another discussion.

    Okay, I said another discussion but I'll continue for just one more paragraph, BYOD and ITConsumerization is bringing a whole new range of challenges for companies that goes beyond the technology and software to how they will attract top talent. The Millennial generation is pushing the Cloud transformation and they have certain expectations that can only be supported by Cloud software that is not only mobile but also has device independence.  Attracting and retaining top talent will be front and center in the reasons companies chose to move to the Cloud. You can read more on our recent Blog post at

    Best Regards,