It has been another very eventful year in the SAP HCM and SuccessFactors world, since a group of my friends and I collaborated to write The Future of SAP HCM Consulting and SuccessFactors – 2013, and a lot of people continue to reach out to me trying to understand what lies ahead. From an HR perspective I have no doubt we are we are in the early innings of the multi year shift from client server OnPremise software (i.e. SAP HCM, Oracle EBS, PeopleSoft) to the next generation cloud based offerings (i.e. SuccessFactors, Workday, Oracle Fusion) and I recently provided some deeper insights in a fun radio interview I did for DriveThruHR. It should come as no surprise that SAP is now leading with their full SuccessFactors HCM Suite, which is the new brand name for what many know as Employee Central and BizX, in most deals. They are even replacing SAP HCM internally with the SuccessFactors HCM Suite and are in the midst of an implementation as we speak.

There has always been a delicate balance within the SAP HCM Consulting market and this shift to the cloud has started to have a huge impact on the traditional SAP HCM consulting market. I am seeing a lot less opportunity and some billable rate compression in the SAP HCM space as well as some disruption with several of the traditional consulting companies.  On the flip side virtually every consulting company is looking to add experienced SuccessFactors resources as well as re-train their existing consultants on the new technology, but customers need to beware some have likened the current environment to the Wild West. While there will continue to be some small pockets of strength in the SAP HCM market in various regions and modules, the combination of the product roadmap being squarely focused on SuccessFactors, SAP sales teams leading with the Cloud (for HR), continued off-shoring, faster implementations (RDS) and serious competitive threats from Workday and others make it very likely the OnPremise SAP HCM consulting market is headed for a real slow down.

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I decided to reach out to a diverse group of individuals that I personally know and trust would give an honest and no BS option in their respective areas to get their thoughts. They include SAP HCM and SuccessFactors Industry Experts, SAP Mentors, SAP Press Authors, HR Expert authors, well known conference speakers and all around top-notch people I have a lot of respect for and their opinions. Enclosed were their thoughts on where things currently sit for each of major areas of SAP HCM and SuccessFactors:

Employee Central and SAP Core HCM

I reached out to Jyoti Sharma who is VP Consulting & Services | Cloud HCM at HRIZONS and a co-author on a recent best selling SAP Press book called SuccessFactors with SAP ERP HCM and she told me:

SuccessFactors Employee Central has made long strides over the past year. The product management team has done an excellent job listening to the customers and that has accelerated Employee Central in the direction of becoming a true global HRIS. There have been advancements in key functional areas of the product such as Position Management, Global Assignments, Time Off functionality, and Extensibility. As promised the Metadata Framework has been further enhanced providing customers with more configurable options to cater to their unique business requirements through the Rules Engine. New Hire, Employment Change, and Termination workflows are now available on mobile devices further enhancing the accessibility and productivity factor of Employee Central for customers who don’t want a heavy investment in SAP Mobile infrastructure. A key area of interest for me has been the pace at which Employee Central has come to deliver the solution for 58 countries in 37 languages. This has seen a distinct upward trend in the solution being adopted by global customers, particularly with customers who are replacing SAP ERP HCM and PeopleSoft with Employee Central.

Employee Central Payroll continues to be a viable option for Employee Central customers who are not currently using payroll or need to upgrade from a legacy solution and further country versions has taken the total to 25 countries, with UI mash-ups available for 15 of those countries. Further integration between Employee Central Payroll from both a UI perspective (configuration and monitoring options are now available in SuccessFactors OneAdmin UI) and a data perspective mean that overall value is growing. There are still no signs of a genuine SaaS payroll solution from SAP/SuccessFactors and still no real business case to replace SAP ERP Payroll with Employee Central Payroll.

The market has been particularly lively as the year progresses and there was a great deal of interest in the two Employee Central expert’s panels at SuccessConnect in the fall. This coming year promises to see continued upwards interest in Employee Central and a downward trend in investment in new implementations of SAP ERP HCM. Although customers will continue to use and invest in SAP ERP HCM, SAP are unlikely to focus much of their innovation budget in this area with such a high investment being made to Employee Central. With a strong and detailed roadmap for 2014, the continued expansion of the Metadata Framework, and the introduction of an Employee Central extensibility package for SAP HANA Cloud Platform Employee Central is becoming a more and more viable option for customers looking to take their core HRIS into the 21st century.

I reached out to Steve Bogner who is Managing Partner at Insight Consulting Partners, a fellow SAP Mentor and he told me:

“As with 2013, SAP continues to invest in its on-premise core HCM offering with HR Renewal and HANA. There have been, and I would expect to continue seeing incremental improvements in the software. As always, consultants and customers need stay up to date with those changes by reading the SCN forums, SAP notes and release notes. SAP Payroll consultants can still benefit from getting involved in SAP’s Cloud Payroll product, and on-premise consultants in general can benefit from learning more about SuccessFactors Employee Central. The momentum for Employee Central is increasing, but there will remain many customers needing help with on-premise SAP HCM for years to come. On-premise SAP HCM core consultants will see an increasingly hybrid landscape in the coming years, so it will pay to get involved and leverage your existing skills to deliver value to clients in that environment.”

SAP Performance Management and SuccessFactors Performance and Goal Management

I spoke with Chris McNarney who is the owner of McNarney Consulting and who I profiled last year in How to Transition from a SAP HCM to SuccessFactors, and he told me:

“First we look at SAP on-premise Performance Management (PM).  If you know a project just getting started implementing SAP on-premise PM then you should probably see if you can also sell them all of your old MC Hammer CDs (don’t act like you don’t own any!).  There are likely a handful of support consulting opportunities out there for already implemented projects, but you could shake a tree these days and find an HR customer with an on-premise ERP HR PM solution who is tired of living under IT’s thumb and is “looking into” a SaaS solution to replace it.  Bottom line here – and probably not an earthshattering revelation to any consultant – is that the end of the line is probably upon us for consulting in SAP on-premise PM.

Much like the rest of the SAP HR talent world, we’ll turn our attention to SuccessFactors.  I’ll avoid the dreaded “flipping switches” term this year to keep the pitchforks at bay, but I expect the same things that happened in 2013 to persist in 2014.  Continuing from last year it seems clear to me that SuccessFactors is intent on removing a client’s dependence on Provisioning and instead allowing those changes within a customer’s own instance.  For instance, each release you can see more and more PM configuration coming out of XML and arriving in the advanced configuration settings of an instance.  Additionally, the Metadata Framework (MDF) will continue to make its way into the PM and related modules as they have already with things like Competencies, Job Profiles, Job Families, and  Roles.  Lastly on this point, you can see that each release the Upgrade Center becomes a more commonly used vehicle for SuccessFactors to push out new functionality.  In many cases, the Upgrade Center will automatically make provisioning switch changes on a customer’s behalf if they elect to utilize the new functionality.

Another concept that I maintain is an eventuality of SaaS solutions is the equivalent of BAdIs in SAP  (disclaimer – this is purely my own opinion).  HANA Cloud Platform (HCP) is probably the major step towards that.  Currently though HCP offers extension of applications and doesn’t currently affect the core logic of an application like PM/GM, etc.  In the future I see this option as an opportunity for a good consultant & customer to be creative in handling unique business requirements in a module such as PM/GM.  Right now there are plenty of ‘configurable options’, but the reality of being on the ground in any implementation is that however many configurations exist right now in the product, it’s not as many as the customer really wants.

From a pure consulting perspective as well as purely my own opinion, I see 2014 continuing a trend of vendors trying to ramp up capable SuccessFactors staff.  This will keep overall project bids low with super slim SOWs that all too often don’t reflect the reality of the actual implementation.  I have mentioned this point previously and I don’t think the reasons fit into this thread, but suffice to say that I currently see a bit of a disconnect between available functionality options, client requirements and client expectations, however I don’t see this issue going away during 2014.  Going further, I don’t see the SuccessFactors certification being particularly useful to a consultant but I definitely see them being useful to the vendor who employs/contracts with that consultant in order to secure projects that of course indirectly makes the certification important to a consultant.  In my own experiences I also see a burgeoning post implementation support market coming with clients who don’t rely on IT, or have one person to support the entire product for configuration won’t always be able to keep up with a myriad of CSV imports, quarterly changes and support requests.  Generally speaking – I’d say this means to not end on a bad note with your clients at the end of an implementation.  A good move in general, but especially true in this case.”

SuccessFactors Succession and Development/SAP Talent Management/Nakisa

I spoke with Luke Marson who is the Director of Cloud HCM & Technology Solutions at HRIZONS, fellow SAP Mentor and co-author on a recent best selling SAP Press book called SuccessFactors with SAP ERP HCM and he told me:

“It’s not been a great 12 months for Nakisa, although the decline actually started before the acquisition of SuccessFactors and has been compounded since then. Nakisa have not always been the best business partner and as a result a number of partners have changed their focus to SuccessFactors. Without a solid ecosystem backing them Nakisa have lost a vital source of customer exposure and coupled with low end-user innovation and SAP’s strategic direction then you can see why Nakisa are not doing so well. Their latest Performance Management solution and their mobile application are not SAP-certified so they now have a situation where they are licensing direct with customers and this takes away one of the benefits they had as an SAP-supported solution.

In terms of the rest of SAP’s talent management and succession management suite, there really isn’t much to write home about. Without any significant investment since Enhancement Package 4 and with SAP’s go-forward solution being SuccessFactors then this market has really taken a nosedive. Although robust, SAP’s succession management was never a best-of-breed set of applications and it makes sense that customers have looked at SuccessFactors. SuccessFactors have invested in Succession & Development and also have some new Talent Review functionality coming out. They are working on adapting a similar competency model to SAP so that position-based competency requirements can be used in different parts of talent and along with the new Talent Pool functionality the suite is moving in the right direction. Although it still lacks a comprehensive position-based competency profile match – this will be possible once the competency model has been released – there are quite a number of functionality enhancements coming in the first 3 releases of this year. Based on what I’ve seen of the innovation and the market, I firmly believe that the growth is clearly going to be with SuccessFactors and this is where I would recommend that customers and consultants put their focus”

SAP and SuccessFactors Integration

I spoke with Brandon Toombs who is owner of Toombs Consulting and star moderator of “the great debate OnPremise vs Cloud” at HR2014 who told me:

On the demand side, judging from the customers I’ve talked to, a large percentage of core SAP HCM customers are looking to either begin or expand their use of SuccessFactors for Talent Management.  This means integration experience will be in high demand. On the functional side, consultants with a deep understanding of the SAP HR data structures and BizX Provisioning/Administration is sure to be the “white rhino” of the SAP consulting landscape.  On the technical side, consultants with experience with the middleware will be in demand as well.  The “X-Factor” on the technical side will be seeing how quickly customers warm to the Hana Cloud Integration (HCI), which is still in only limited use in SAP/SFSF hybrid deployments and carries an incremental 7.5% cost.  The fallback is use of On-Premise Process Integration (PI) middleware.  Regardless of approach, customers will want to employ expertise to establish the initial connectivity between SAP HR and SuccessFactors; so technical middleware skills will meet high demand as well.

On the expertise supple side, I have spoken with multiple customers who are frustrated by dearth of resources who understand both the SuccessFactors and SAP sides. The reality is that many customers will be forced to work with consultants who will be learning as they go.  My advice to these customers is to ensure that their consultants have a track record on either SuccessFactors or SAP and that the consultant has a network of contacts that he or she can rely on to help him or her fill in the gaps.”

SuccessFactors Compensation and SAP ECM

I spoke with Jeremy Masters who is the author of five SAP Press Books and managing partner of Worklogix who told me:

“As with other talent management functionality, SAP/SuccessFactors will spend the bulk of their investment dollars on enhancements to compensation functionality in SuccessFactors. SAP’s on premise ECM (Enterprise Compensation Management) offering will continue to be supported in the future with minor enhancements based on feedback from the Customer Connection program. For some additional insight into the two offerings, you can read the debrief of a recent online Q&A I did with SAPInsider.

What is less known by consultants (and customers) is that SuccessFactors Compensation is actually composed of two different modules: SuccessFactors Compensation and SuccessFactors Variable Pay. (In fact, there are two separate training courses as well if you are getting trained). SuccessFactors Compensation supports the annual (focal) worksheet planning process (merit, MBO bonus, equity) through the more traditional “pay-for-performance” model. SuccessFactors Variable Pay, on the other hand, supports short-term incentives with more complicated calculation schemes that include quantitative business performance and employee performance measures. You can implement one without the other, or both at the same time, for a customer.

It would certainly behoove all compensation consultants working in SAP to learn both SuccessFactors offerings – SuccessFactors Compensation and SuccessFactors Variable Pay – in addition to their knowledge of SAP Enterprise Compensation Management (SAP ECM). Regardless of deployment model, it will be the consultant’s expertise in the compensation domain, as well as the ability to bridge together functional and technical knowledge that will make him/her successful in the marketplace”

SAP HCM Mobile, SAP Fiori and SuccessFactors Mobile

Many of folks in this article have multiple areas of domain expertise but only Jeremy Masters was lucky enough to get two sections.  Here is what he told me:

Enabling robust mobile functionality for any business process is a challenge. Within SAP HCM, mobility is of a particular challenge to consultants since there are so many offerings within the on-premise area. Some SAP HCM mobile applications (i.e., those apps connected to a customer’s on-premise SAP system) are available on the SAP Marketplace but have received largely a cold response from customers.  The reason is mostly around cost, including the amount of infrastructure needed to support these applications using the SAP Mobile Platform (previously known as the Sybase Unwired Platform). Consultants with a technical (i.e., programming) background will see more activity in these types of projects rather than a functional HCM consultant. As a side note, vendors and consultants who have provided more lightweight solutions (which rely on web services and other open APIs) and have fared better with engagement with customers.

SAP Fiori has made a decent entrance into the marketplace largely due to its friendly UI, more aggressive pricing, and its lightweight approach of serving up employee and manager self-service applications on device (and on desktop!) through a modern HTML5 presentation layer. During TechEd this past year, Dr. Vishal Sikka, Head of Products at SAP and on Executive Board, outlined his vision of the “SAP Fiori UX Paradigm” (being that SAP Fiori could be ‘the umbrella’ for a customer’s cloud and on premise applications!). I don’t see customers going this far with SAP Fiori in the short term but it’s important to understand Sikka’s vision as a consultant since he does drive the overall product direction for SAP.


It’s wise for SAP/SuccessFactors HR consultants to learn more about SAP Fiori, despite the fact that only 7 out of the 190+ apps are HR-focused.  You can read more about SAP Fiori here. It is important to note that even though SAP Fiori is listed here in the mobile section, you can see that SAP Fiori is a concept with a wider scope than just mobile. And one final note: for consultants implementing SAP Fiori, experience with installing and configuring the NetWeaver Gateway will be of utmost important since it’s an essential part of the technical set up.

Mobility within SuccessFactors, by contrast, is relatively straightforward since there is only one mobile application that contains all of the functionality. The SuccessFactors native mobile application is available for iOS, Blackberry, and Android operating systems but there is no current support for Windows OS.  As a consultant/customer, there are few administrative tasks to know including how to enable the employee profile, org charting, analytics headlines and other functionality within the OneAdmin tool (administration console). You can also manage the mobile users and their connected devices here as well.  There is functionality-specific configuration too, such as configuring which fields should appear on the mobile goal application. For consultants, there is no training course for mobility within SuccessFactors since most of the functionality is already set up and just needs to be configured and managed via OneAdmin.”

ESS/MSS and HR Renewal

I spoke to Martin Gillet who is the author of two SAP Press Books and a fellow SAP Mentor who told me:

“Time still in motion, customers, vendors and consultants are still gathering options to empower employees and managers through self services. I have found throughout my different assignments in Europe and Middle East that no ‘common rule’ can be found. When Master data is still a challenging questions as I underlined last year ‘Where do we consolidate the HR data and which user interface do we put in place. Customers and the eco-system are answering these requirements in many ways and are still gathering, as well as building the ‘best practices’, for setting up the primary layer and foundation and the Master Data either through SAP ERP, in the cloud, through HANA, through Employee Central and SuccessFactors’, the primary focus I have come across, and in my humble opinion, equally important matter: the end user interface. The HR Renewal still carries on through the delivery of the Enhancement Packages concept and add-ons. Options still do persist with the temptation to select SuccessFactors as end user interface.

Through 2013, I have witnessed a transition in the Self Services whereas my customers have assessed options and are now keen to move to deployment.

For example:

      • Migrating the Universal Worklist (UWL) into the Personal Object Worklist (POWL)
      • Migrating Self Services to NetWeaver Business Client (NWBC) interface
      • Enabling new Services as ‘standalone’ through NetWeaver Business CIient (NWBC) when before it was just too much hassle from a technical point of view (not to mention from a budget point of view) to deploy one service.
      • Empower employees and managers through Talent Management latest functionalities.

In conclusion, I would say that the best is still there to come, with many promises and bright future for the end users service delivery. I trust our enthusiasm made us believe that deployment would run faster but it seems that reality of deployment can be sometimes different from the vendors time to market delivery. Thus functionalities are still being deployed and technologies assessment being made. Therefore, I see a growing demand on skills across the different possibilities offered by the market. There is no right or wrong choice as long as you are aware of all the consequences of your choice. It is quite important today to relay on these consultants that have seen SAP growing along with its new functionalities and acquisitions, to fully understand the potential scope of your project. Meanwhile, let’s keep challenging SAP and the eco-systems with new ideas and requirements so that we can always fulfill the end users journey.”

SuccessFactors Recruiting Execution (Rx)

I spoke with Mark Ingram and Kim Lessley who are co-owners of Ingram Talent and in a past life both had product management roles at SAP and they told me:

“Prior to last year I was a little skeptical of the then immature Recruiting Management (RCM) product and the fact that SAP were pushing it as the go-to solution despite it not meeting many basic needs. I’m pleased to report that quarterly updates with aggressive improvements have alleviated most of my concerns. 2013 was largely a year for competitive catch-up (e.g. resume parsing, flexible email template selection, user interface improvements). SuccessFactors RCM is a totally suitable solution for many organizations that have the same 80% requirements. The first release of 2014 (1402) shows more of the same, with the long-waited arrival of application sub-statuses, pre-defined offer approval routing, and job profile builder integration. The general theme of the rest of the year seems to be usability improvements for both candidates and recruiters, as well as incremental enhancements to existing functionality. The UI improvements are very much needed.

In terms of 2013 customer adoption, including switch from on-premise E-Recruiting to RCM, my expectations were far exceeded. When the Metadata Framework fully supports recruiting, I’d like to see how it (along with HANA Cloud Platform) is leveraged by customers and partners to fill that other 20% of requirements. This will likely occur with vertical add-on solutions and new complementary applications rather than the typical on-premise “tweaking” of existing functionality. Time for everybody to relearn Java! (Again).

As the former Jobs2web solution was already quite mature, a lot of the focus has been and will continue to be on Recruiting Management (RCM). Last year and 2012saw developments in the area of real-time integration between Recruiting Marketing (RMK) and RCM, for both job postings and social employee referrals. A user interface overhaul was also achieved to better render career pages on different devices. 2014 will see integration of “Apply via LinkedIn” (and Facebook) functionality from RMK to RCM. A promising trend for both RCM and RMK is the increased self-service configuration and administration available to clients. For RCM this means, for example, managing recruiting templates in Admin Tools instead of editing XML files that have to be loaded through Provisioning. For RMK this means, for example, changing SEO, themes and brand content, as well creating additional landing pages. The more clients and consultants can do without dependence on SuccessFactors engineering, the better!”

SuccessFactors Onboarding and SAP E-Recruiting

I spoke with Mark Ingram and Kim Lessley who are co-owners of Ingram Talent and in a past life both had product management roles at SAP and they told me:

“SuccessFactors Onboarding is still a very new module. The first release focused heavily on the social side of bringing new employees into an organization; on capitalizing on the excitement a new employee feels about starting a new job to make the first days and weeks in the new company as smooth and enjoyable as possible. An example of this is the SuccessFactors Onboarding mobile app that enables new hires to interact with their new company and team prior to their first day on the job:

      • Get to know the team – pictures and contact information for important people allows them reach out with any pre-hire questions and to recognize some familiar faces when they show up for work
      • Get to know others in the company – proposal of other people they should get know, not just restricted to direct team members
      • Learn schedule for first week(s) – you can push information to new hires about upcoming meetings on first day / first week so they know a bit more what to expect
      • Map functionality – makes use of integrated map functionality on mobile device – who wants to get lost finding their way to the office on their first day?

In 2014 we will see SuccessFactors strengthen some of the core functionality around forms and task management, making the administration more robust and flexible while at the same time working out some of the kinks from the first releases. Although there already is some basic integration with SuccessFactors Recruiting and Employee Central, this will also be built out more and potentially also include integration to Learning so that training can be assigned and tracked as part of the onboarding process.”

In terms of on-premise SAP E-Recruiting there has been a significant drop-off in projects. Client investments have been in the areas of upgrading, extension of existing implementations with additional custom functionality and optimization of existing solutions. Consulting opportunities in the above areas have been mostly but not exclusively in the area of public sector.”

SuccessFactors Reporting and Analytics

I spoke with Rana Hobbs who is the Senior Director of Workforce Planning at Aasonn and she told me:

“In the past year, SuccessFactors Reporting and Analytics has seen some major advancements in improved visualization capabilities as well as broader integration across the BizX suite. The ease of highlighting KPIs and proactively mining the data is bringing a new level of awareness to managers and leaders into their workforce data. It is also allowing HR professionals to leverage the software to tailor reports for varying audiences allowing them to allocate their time to more value-add analysis of the findings rather than just collection of the data.

With these developments, also brings a new set of challenges. Customers continue to look for guidance on KPI selection but I am seeing more requests for a consulting partner that can advise on not just what to measure but how to report, interpret, and design actions around findings. The more integrated the reporting and analytics application becomes, the more complexities in data management and design options become a focus for customers. So the requests for a standard reporting suite, KPI identification, change management demand for data synthesis and communication skills remain as they have every year. But the scope of the data and range of audience is so much broader now, that customers are looking for expertise in the software implementation across the integrated suite as well as consulting experience in issue identification to action implementation and comprehensive rollout strategies.”

SAP LSO and SuccessFactors Learning

I spoke with Sharon Newton who was a co-author of SAP Enterprise Learning, a fellow SAP Mentor, and the CEO at hyperCision and she told me:

As we move into 2014, it is clear that most of our customers (even some of those committed to on-premise solutions just a year ago) are now looking to the Cloud to support their future learning initiatives. This isn’t a surprise, as SAP has clearly stated their development focus for HCM is SuccessFactors and SuccessFactors Learning is generally acknowledged as a best-of-breed learning management system (LMS.) As a learning consultant, it’s imperative to have the skills to support customers as they transition their LMS to the Cloud.  At the very least, this requires an understanding of the mappings and deltas between SuccessFactors Learning and SAP’s Learning Solution (LSO) but I would suggest knowing the current integration points between SAP and the SuccessFactors HCM Suite as well as SAP’s go-forward integrations to support costing and qualifications integration between SuccessFactors Learning and SAP’s Financials and Planning solutions is also key.

As far as implementations of SuccessFactors Learning are concerned, there is no denying the fact that they are simpler than implementing LSO from a configuration and an architecture perspective.  For example, there is no need to worry about TREX indices or to discuss client infrastructure or server sizing, unless the customer has decided to keep their content on-premise.  If the customer is using iContent, then content integration conversations are typically brief.  However, it is important to understand that if your customer has complex learning needs, their implementation will still be complex unless they are willing to redesign and align with the solution as delivered.  Therefore, as a consultant, the ability to understand a customer’s business requirements, business drivers, vision, go-forward implementation and integration paths, and to translate all of this into optimal processes in alignment with the solution being implemented is still an essential skill. This fact remains true regardless of whether the solution is in-cloud or on-premise.

A final thought as we examine current demand for LSO consulting services: There are some LSO customers who simply do not plan to migrate near-term to the Cloud while others prefer to remain on-premise from a regulatory risk perspective.  Most of these customers are now on EhP4 or higher, so there are few incentives to upgrade from a learning perspective.  Last year, we saw a large increase in interest within the EU for our RegLearn add-on for LSO and we continue to receive inquiries from customers in other countries.  ASUG’s LSO Influence Council worked closely with DSAG and other customer influence groups worldwide to successfully push for the inclusion of LSO in SAP’s Customer Connection program in 2013, and as a result, more than 64 improvement requests for LSO were submitted via this program.  Almost half of these requests (31) were qualified by SAP, including proposed improvements to the Content Player, an enhancement that customers ranked high in importance and which SAP acknowledged they would carefully consider. (Incidentally, SAP plans to announce in February which improvements they will add to LSO.)  I don’t see these improvements driving significant demand for LSO consulting services in 2014, simply because customers involved in the Customer Connection program or in enhancing their LSO with an add-on typically have the skills in-house to implement these targeted improvements. Therefore, while there will remain a customer base for SAP’s Learning Solution as well as the rest of the on-premise HCM solutions, SAP Consultants should aggressively look at training and project exposure in the SuccessFactors HCM Suite. Make your years of project experience a differentiator for your engagements in 2014.”

There is an excellent quote from Naomi Bloom who is a HR Technology thought leader that is very relevant to this overall discussion and it reads:

“Consultants, at least in my world view, are individuals who are able to study a business problem and, regardless of any particular technology choices, guide the client to the best possible approach to achieving the desired business results.”

At the end of the day, if you are a consultant that is able to provide that type of value for your customers then it won’t matter if you are working with SAP, SuccessFactors or any other HR technology, you will be have the head start at being successful. That said, it is very important whether you are a customer or consultant, that you are aware of the extremely strong momentum in HR towards cloud based technologies. Information is a key competitive advantage given the rapid pace of change in HR Technology, and in order to stay current on all the major news and developments within SAP HCM and SuccessFactors I would recommend joining the 11,300 people in my SAP and SuccessFactors group, try to attend the upcoming HR2014 Conference (March) and the HR Technology Conference (October), as well follow me on twitter at SAP_Jarret.

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  1. Shafiq Rehman

    Novice question …. How will future SAP HR IT teams look like? Will SAP handle all development and configuration roles and the clients will take care of HRIS?

    What development skills will be needed for SucessFactors?

    1. Jarret Pazahanick Post author

      Hi Shafiq

      My expectation is that more functions that were done by IT in the past, in SAP HCM, will be done by the business within SuccessFactors as the software is a lot easier to support and use.  That said a good HRIT person will never have a problem being in high demand.

      As far as development skills directly in SuccessFactors there are none as you can only do “configuration” in SF but having some basic XML skills can be helpful to a consultant. 

  2. Jimson Michael

    Thanks J. Pazahanick for this wonderful summary………..

    Whether we have all MSS Functionality  in SF ?? ESS Functionality i suppose would be there…

    What about HR process whether all actions can be processed through SF user interface???

    Please provide ur valuable inputs??

    Thanks & Regards


    1. Jarret Pazahanick Post author

      Hi Michael

      Thanks for the comment and SuccessFactors Employee Central has both ESS/MSS and it is typically the responsibility of the EC consultant to set it up.  It is interesting as in SAP HCM you might have a PA, OM, Workflow, Security, ESS/MSS consultant on a project team and inside of EC those are all the responsibility of the EC consultant.

      I will leave it to Martin Gillet or Jeremy Masters to provide any additional color.



    2. Harris Moideen

      ( In reply to Jimson Michael).

      Jarret is right. The technical part like setting up workflows, workflow route maps,Role based permissions etc is being done by the EC consultant itself as we are seeing in my current project.

  3. Sven Ringling

    Thanks a lot for this very comprehensive overview.

    I certainly can confirm the general observation of a trend towards cloud in HR. Faster in talent etc. than it is in core HR, but both moving that direction.

    The difficult question is the speed of this transition and the question whether it will be a close to 100% change, or whether it’s going to stop somewhere and leave a considerable percentage of HRIS on premise for the forseeable future (say, 15 years).

    The speed varies beween regions – a point you also touch upon – and I guess the contributors coming with some bias towards the US, there is probably more urgency speaking from this blog than you would perceive on a global average. But that doesn’t change the overall trend.

    Another observation:

    A few years back, when I was managing my first HCM and T&E projects in the cloud, everybody was referring to them as SaaS projects, and rightly so. Over time, cloud seems to have become a synonym for SaaS in the HRIS and ERP world for most people, rather than the sum of SaaS, PaaS and IaaS. it now seems we should bring this distinction back, because some things referred to as cloud HRIS would qualify as PaaS in my book. It is mentioned above that HANA cloud is replacing what were BAdIs in SAP onprem. This is using the cloud as a platform for individual development, and is therefore no pure SaaS in my opinion, but classic PaaS. Which doesn’t have some of SaaS restrictions, but also doesn’t come with all its benefits. it should therefore be made very clear that the benefits associates with SaaS and hence also often with cloud are lost to some extend, when this concept is used. otherwise we might get into a similar mess with cloud systems as we did with onprem ERP, once labelled as “Standard software” because everybody was using the same code with very few exceptions…

    So, I expect a trend of fewer customers going pure SaaS in their cloud solutions and more doing custom development on PaaS. this is fine, but I just hope this trend isn’t going to become too strong.

    1. Jarret Pazahanick Post author

      Thanks for chiming in Sven and great point on the fact that overall HR SaaS adoption is the strongest in North America at this time and small pockets of Europe so there might be a longer window for SAP HCM consultants due to this.

      That said Workday who is a major SuccessFactors competitor is aggressively moving into Europe and Asia Pac along with building a UK and France Payroll to be released over the next 18 months so my thoughts are that competitive pressure will push cloud adoption very quickly in the not to distant future.

      Given the small amount of investment dollars SAP is spending in SAP HCM vs SuccessFactors what customers will start to notice is the the differences in functionality, usability, mobile capabilities will become more pronounced after every SF release (4 per year). In my opinion customers would be wise to do some due diligence and stay knowledgeable so they ensure they have a clear understanding and are aligned with SAP/SF strategically prior to making any new investments.

      1. Sven Ringling

        Call my cynical, but Workday’s UK payroll at least was to be released ‘in 18 months’ 2 years ago.

        Those in Germany, who remember the ongoing disaster of the peoplesoft payroll, which never materialised, may thing some bad DNA has been inherited here 😉

        Still should hope those at Workday, who still remember, will have learned something and have been honest after the first deadline fell.

    2. Sharon Newton

      Excellent point, Sven.  We don’t implement in the EU except in support of our solutions but I understand LSO is still selling very well in both EU and ME, and perhaps in other locations as well.  I think my advice still stands in it’s entirety for US consultants but for those in other regions, it sounds as if there is still a lot of opportunity.

      1. Sven Ringling

        We do get that interest indeed, Sharon.

        After a long period of being undecided, what to do att all, midcap customers actually seem to have a new appetite for LSO.

        And those, who finally made the decision it’s not worth the investment, because of the nature and size of their organisations, sometimes even go for the old TEM. If they don’t need that much, buying between 5 and 15 consultant days and have a system and process in place within 6 weeks (or a few days and 4 weeks for a pragmatic custom ESS/MSS, because the standard one has been cut of by SAP) can make real economic sense. And some of them are still great with talent. If you are a small organisation with line managers actually caring about their people and a good knowledge sharing and collab platform already in place you may not need a huge system. Good talent management isn’t measured by pounds spent on IT systems after all 🙂

  4. Srikanth Naidu Akula

    Hi Jarret,

    Thank you for a clear cut explanation of the future facet of SAP HCM with Successfactors.

    As a boomer in SAP HCM only with 2 years of experience, people like me are afraid of drastic changes those are happening and changing the entire future in short term. At the same time SAP is going to grab the best market share that make us so happy as we are a part of SAP.

    Hope SAP is going to expand its business with advanced features and technology besides supporting its consultants with aggressive training measures that achieves win win strategy.

    All the best to you and The Authors of “SuccessFactors with SAP ERP HCM”

    (Amy Grabb, Luke Marson & Jyoti Sharma)

    1. Jarret Pazahanick Post author

      Thanks for the comment Srikanth and unfortunately the shift to the cloud will impact SAP HCM consulting as the supply of SAP HCM consultants is already greater than the amount of new work available.

      As far as “aggressive training measures” SAP is offering them through their SuccessFactors Training (for partners) but it is important to note that it is a brand new technology to learn as it is not very similar to SAP HCM.

  5. Harris Moideen


    As usual a great article and a wonderful effort to talk to all these experts and give us this deep insights.

    I agree that the SF is the way forward in the SAP HCM world especially with regards to Core HR modules , Talent management , Compensation etc with integration to SAP Cloud Payroll and Time management functionality.

    In Australia we have seen couple of big organisations who traditionally would use ECC because of thier business complexity and sheer size  take the step to implement SF with integration to cloud payroll. If Big organisations are going down the SF route then there is no way smaller ones are going to go the HCM route.

    I agree that there is a lot of disruption in the HCM consultant space due to this SF acquisition .I would suggest Experienced consultants to focus more on the Solution side of the projects and integration with SAP  rather than learn to configure SF.Of course to do this you need a good overall knowledge of how SF works as it is quite different from SAP HCM in all ways.The excellent documentation available from SF and also the articles from experts like Luke,Jarret, Steve Bogner, Jyoti , Jeremy Masters,Donna Leong,Brandon Toombs have been extremely helpful atleast  for me to understand SF and its integration aspects.

    Many SI’s and SF partners are building competency centres offshore especially to do the Configuration part and there might not be much to do  that aspect on a client site in the future like traditional HCM implementations.

    Also the iterative way of implementing SF is a marked difference from how traditional HCM projects .

    Like the say”Every cloud has a silver lining”. I think the wider HCM consultant world need to admit this reality and work forward on how to best position and utilise thier skills in the current scenario.

    It would be helpful if SAP/SF would loosen thier training strategy so that more people could equip themselves with these skills which would benefit not only the consultants but also to the product and the business in the long run.

    Great work Jarret ! Keep it coming  all experts! We need all your help in this transformational period.

  6. Jarret Pazahanick Post author

    Thanks OM for the kind words and you are right that there are still some work streams happening in the SAP HCM world most are around overall usability (ie Fiori, HR Renewal, New Payroll Cockpit) but what is not clear is at what cost as some will come at additional costs to the customer (ie HANA, Fiori).

  7. Christopher Solomon

    Thanks as always for the great write up, Jarret! This is great info to help clear up the confusion (and/or “fear of the unknown”) for many consultants and clients out there in this rapidly changing world of SAP HCM. As an “independent consultant”, I am at that place now where I am having to plot my own future path based on the information available, what the market is doing, and what I think will play out based on my own best “educated” guess/vision. I am sure I am not alone! As a more “technical” consultant, I am also in that “weird place” where that world is changing too….as development shifts to HTML5 (via SAPUI5/Fiori), HANA, and more. These are some wild and wondrous times we are in….but I wouldn’t want it any other way! 😆

    1. Jarret Pazahanick Post author

      Thanks Chris and very well said as there are a lot of people and major consulting firms in that “weird place” as well.  I have long felt that information and continual learning is one of the things that set apart very good consultants and with things in HR Technology rapidly changing it is more important than ever.  Even for the SuccessFactors experts out there, some of the products like Employee Central are getting 4 major updates a year so without continual learning they will become a “legacy” consultant as well if they dont stay current.

      For those that dont know, Chris was the one that talked me into contributing on SCN many moons ago, is a SAP Mentor and one of the foremost experts in HCM P&F in the world.

    2. Dino Uys

      You’re definitely not alone here Chris – also in that weird space about which direction to take with technology. Problem is you don’t want to invest time in something which might be hot for a year or two and then instantly become too oldschool eg. BSP, ITS, etc. HCM functional consultants have a bit more direction on this it seems from the blog and will remain more relevant and able to transition skills with SFSF. I like the assessment Jeremy Masters gave on Mobility and the adoption thereof with customers. It seems like HCM technical is left with making the most of the HR Renewal opportunities or trying to find space in integration.

  8. Howard Marshall

    I, and maybe other readers, would like to know why most of your so-called “experts” did not even know successfactors existed prior to the acquisition. most of your so-called “experts” are legacy sap hcm consultants fairly new to the sfsf game. wild wild west indeed. why not get some “real” experts from those companies that have been in the sf game and just did not decide to jump on the bandwagon

    1. Jarret Pazahanick Post author

      Hi Howard

      It is important to note that the article is about about both SAP HCM and SuccessFactors and folks from both Aasonn (1500 SF implementation) and HRIZONS (300 SF Implementations) are included. Let me know the names of the people that you would consider “real experts” that you personally respect and I will be sure to include them in next years version as always looking to provide well rounded analysis to customers and partners.

      That said it is the “Wild West” out there and customers have to beware and it is why I highly recommend they use the following before bringing on any new consultant, replacing the word SAP with SuccessFactors if that is the skill set you are looking for.

      Seven Tips to ensure you hire the Right Consultant

      Thanks for as always for the comment and curious to get your take on the SAP HCM/SuccessFactors market as I know it is topic near and dear to your heart.



      1. Ritesh Shetty

        Excellent Article Jarret. This actually provides you an overview of the demand for SF. However, I have recently got trained in SAP HCM and would like to know in the coming months of 2014 if there would be ample opportunities for SAP HR Fresher or shall I go for SF training as well. Your or any other member suggestions and guidance is highly appreciated!



        1. Jarret Pazahanick Post author

          Hi Ritesh

          Thanks for the comment and kind words. I dont believe there will be “ample opportunities” in SAP HR for “Fresher” as it has been challenging for several years for people to break into the SAP HCM space without experience and going forward there will be less overall demand given the move towards cloud based technologies in HR.  I would recommend that you look into getting SuccessFactors training as well as it never hurts to have both and here is some information from Luke Marson on doing so.

          SuccessFactors Training and Certification FAQ

          Good luck.


      2. Stephen Burr


        Great article and as always; lots of readers and a strong comment thread.  Good job.

        On Howard’s comment, I have heard others echo thoughts similar to Howard’s although I see two sides to this.

        It is great that you and the contributors gave your time and energy to get the article posted.  I would not want to see anyone being discouraged from writing, commentating and contributing to the HCM community.  I have found articles I’ve read online very useful in building my own understanding in some areas. We all need to learn continuously!

        As I understood it, your “Seven Tips to ensure you hire the Right Consultant” article was all about choosing the right consultant (“person”).  So I don’t think it is a good idea to justify the use of some contributors by listing what their company has done previously.  This seems to be against a practice I’m sure you must dislike (i.e. company with good reputation wins project using experienced resource, then sends inexperienced consultants to deliver it). If individuals are willing, perhaps it is worth including their own relevant experience. E.g. something like “SuccessFactors Certified Professional with 8 SuccessFactors Learning deployments in the last 3 years“. There is no ambiguity in a statement like that.

        Also, I think the use of the word “expert” can be contentious (to some people).  Its definition is suitably subjective, with Wikipedia’s “general” definition being:

        is a person with extensive knowledge or ability based on research, experience, or occupation and in a particular area of study

        Like me, many readers might think of “expert” based on Anders Ericsson‘s study (made more famous by Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers”) which was based around doing 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery.  That is about 5yrs of full time work solely doing (not reading, writing or talking about, but actually doing) one thing. That is a lot!

        Please do not take the above that I’m suggesting any of the contributors isn’t an expert in their field – many I know are in specific areas, and many I simply don’t know enough about.  I am not trying to cast aspersions on anyone!

        Howard does make a good point though … there must be people out there who have been implementing or using SuccessFactors for more than the 2yrs (since SAP bought the company).  The challenge is finding them, and then the hard part is convincing them to write or talk about it!  I wondered if you’d thought about utilising the communities you participate in to ask for future contributors – e.g. SCN, LinkedIn SAP&SuccessFactors group, and SuccessFactors Community. Hopefully some will step up and be willing to put themselves out there.

        Keep up the good work and hope life is treating you well.



        1. Jarret Pazahanick Post author

          Hi Stephen

          Thanks for the comment and kind words and you bring up a great point. Just for clarity I wrote the intro for each of the commentators (not them) and I just removed the word “expert” based on your feed back above (huge fan of Gladwell as well). On a side note maybe I shouldn’t have even included an Employee Central section as no one in the world is an expert based on Gladwell’s logic 🙂

          It is always a challenge finding smart people willing to share their views publicly as we live in a world when many SI’s wont even let a competitor listen in on one of their webinars so obviously they dont want to share their “secrets” on where they think the market is headed. I also have to balance that this is not a deep technical article but more an overview on the market direction and wanted to pick people that could comment on BOTH SAP and SuccessFactors as the article was already 5K words but might look at adding a few more next year. That said, I am the owner of the LinkedIn SAP&SuccessFactors group and check the SuccessFactors Community daily and have yet to see anyone come forward willing to share their expertise with a deeper background then the folks above. That said, shoot me an email if you come across anyone and I will be sure to try to include them in next years version as always looking to provide well rounded analysis to customers and partners.

          Since no one has specifically challenged any of the individuals above expertise and qualifications I will say as a whole they have written over a dozen SAP Press Books (including the only on SuccessFactors), are presenting over 25 sessions at the upcoming HR2014 conference, 5 are SAP Mentors chosen by SAP (domain expertise is a core pre-req), several own consulting firms that are SAP/SF partners with many active SF projects, several work for large SF only consulting firms, and Rana for example works for Aasonn that has 1,500 implementations and is the largest SF consulting firm in the world, so I would like to think I selected a good cross section but as always trying to offer value to the community and looking to have each years article be better than the last so always love constructive viewpoints so much appreciated Stephen.

          Curious to get your thoughts.


          1. Stephen Burr

            As I said above, I was by no means criticising any one for contributing and your article was informative. 

            While I think presenting sessions, blogging, writing books, being a Mentor, owning a consulting firms, working for a renowned SuccessFactors partner, etc. are all great credentials, but I think Howard’s point was that his key credential was “how many times have you delivered SuccessFactors projects in the area you are talking about”.  Hence my suggestion of how best to introduce people; not because I’m being critical of anyone’s ability, but because it addresses that concern “front and centre” and without ambiguity.

            My suggestion was whether you put a “shout out” on the groups you run/use to appeal for others to come forward.  Given the following you (and the groups) have, I would hope you might unearth some of these long term SuccessFactors implementers and customers.

            I did smile at your EC & expert comment. I guess it is a small community of EC experts right now …. or perhaps the projects are such hard work that people are knocking up their 10,000hrs in less days!! 🙂



            1. Luke Marson

              You do have to realize though that Howard wants to knock SuccessFactors at every opportunity (since it means he has no future in consulting as he works for a customer), so there is an undertone to his comment that is not as genuine as yours.

            2. Luke Marson

              And interestingly, it’s not about whether you know the product that is important here – it is whether you know how the products are implemented. I’m sure you’ve used both SAP/Nakisa and Succession & Development and you have probably noticed that they are pretty similar to use from a process perspective. From that perspective, the crossover is easy. But how different is an implementation? Well, I can tell you that there are a few differences – but overall it’s not a million miles away from what you might be used to. But there are still cloud nuances (and even understanding the cloud has it’s benefits) that are unique to the delivery model of SuccessFactors implementations. And I believe this is why experience is key.

              I am far more familiar with Employee Central implementations than talent and the approach has similarities and differences from the OM/PA implementations I have been part of in the past. I particularly like the Cloud approach and maybe that’s just my personal preference. There are various nuances and technical differences that need to be understand, particularly around understanding where and when to use extensibility and integration. Project approaches and pitfalls are important experiences. But also just as important are process knowledge and helping customers have effective business processes. Although in response to Howard I would say that they aren’t important for this particular blog, although in the grand scheme of things they definitely are.

              And last but not least I couldn’t agree more with “I think presenting sessions, blogging, writing books, being a Mentor, owning a consulting firms, working for a renowned SuccessFactors partner, etc. are all great credentials” 😉

              But seriously, having deep expertise is an essential step and you obviously can’t do some of the above – and do it well – without having the expertise. You can’t create good content if you don’t know the subject.

        2. Luke Marson

          Good points Stephen and I share the view that I would like to see more people from the “old” SuccessFactors world contribute to the community. My employers HRIZONS have completed over 300 implementations of SuccessFactors and I hope to get them blogging and contributing their expertise to the community in the coming months. In particular, my Talent Management colleagues have an average of 15 years’ domain expertise so I think they could bring a lot of all-round contributions to the community. Watch this space!

          Another interesting angle to this conversation is how you define an “expert”. Let’s look at the contributors to this blog because we have a variety of folks here. Some are product experts, others are implementation experts, others are strategy experts, some are market experts, some are thought-leaders, and some are combinations of those and other areas. Taking me as an example (in the context of this blog): although I know Succession & Development features, functionality, and process very well I am by no means an expert in implementing that product. However, I have domain expertise, know the market well, and work with SuccessFactors on enhancing the product (because of my domain expertise). Along with my on-premise expertise that is already proven, I believe that this qualifies me to write on the SAP HCM and SuccessFactors consulting market – which is what this particular blog is about (you may find me to continue to write on other succession topics in the future that focus on SuccessFactors Succession & Development as that is the go-forward solution, although I am likely to write about new areas than existing ones). However, if we take someone like Jyoti or Rana then they could be considered both implementation and product experts (among other areas). Although I haven’t said anywhere that I am an expert in Succession & Development, I thought using myself for an example was the best way of not upsetting anyone else 😉 . I also don’t want people to think that I am in any way suggesting that I am an expert in the Succession & Development application because I contributed to the overview of the market for succession planning from a SAP HCM and a SuccessFactors perspective in this blog. It would be interesting to see if there was anyone who also knows both the SAP HCM side and SuccessFactors side. No doubt they will come out of hiding soon 😉

          Employee Central is a very interesting area because the product in its current guise is probably 12 to 18 months old and some of the core functionality is 6 to 9 months old. This means an expert would require significantly less than the given 10,000 hours to be considered an expert. Or should it be considered that there are no experts in Employee Central?

          This is what makes the discussion interesting from my perspective, as it’s hard to classify people as expert without defining what type of expert. You might even consider an expert to be all of those things, but that’s the beauty of the topic.

          Personally, I believe most if not all of these people are qualified to contribute because the topic is about the consulting market for SAP HCM and SuccessFactors and not about individual products. No-one here has coined themselves as an expert in the area they are talking about, even if they genuinely are. And like you, I’m not trying to suggest any of these contributors aren’t experts in their fields. But I do think it’s important to point out that for contribution to this blog each one of these people knows what they are talking about.

    2. Mark Ingram

      Howard and Stephen have good points.

      Howard makes a good point about getting a broader set of people to give input. I have my own favorite mentors that have been doing Rx longer than me. I certainly wouldn’t call myself a SuccessFactors Rx expert. The demise of on-premise recruiting has made everyone embrace the cloud. The “bandwagon” isn’t necessarily a term I’d use. That should be reserved for Seahawks fans like me that couldn’t spell NFL until this year.

      Like a lot of my peers, I am applying 17 years of SAP HR and 14 years of working with clients and their recruiting requirements to build solutions. The Recruiting Management solution only came out in September 2009 and for a long time wasn’t mature enough for many of our enterprise customers.

      Cheers, Mark

  9. Ozgur Akman

    Jarret, thanks for the awesome article as always! I am one of the silent followers of your insights here on scn, and yes at the same time I am one of the ‘legacy’ sap hr consultants. I am as well in that “weird place” between continue doing what I know best or just channel all my time into the cloud-sfsf solutions and set sail to the new horizon. I guess at these times, we are as hybrid as the consultants would get. I would ask people not to judge us all and put us in the same bandwagon. After all, the process knowledge should count for something too, eh?

    Better if I just cut to the chase with the hope to meet @ the sap hr conference in March.

    Here is the question:

    To Martin Gillet’s point, (I know him from many little pin-point solutions he provided mostly on the sap toolbox site) how serious is sap in developing the HCM renewal type of solutions, the one-off NWBC services? do you recommend focusing on those rather than the EC to any consultant?

    another rather technical question is that what is sap going to do with the lost functionality during this transition?

    1. Jarret Pazahanick Post author

      Thanks for the comment and kind words Ozgur and as far as HR2014 it would be great to get a chance to connect even if only for 5 minutes.  If you haven’t already signed up for HR2014, you can save a $ by using the discount code attached within this article

      SAP and SuccessFactors HR2014 Conference and Special Discount Code

      I am big believer that process knowledge is some of the “secret sauce” that helps separate the good from the great consultants although it is also important to have strong technical knowledge on the specific software (ie SAP HCM, SuccessFactors) you are implementing to combine that with.

      On a side Martin Gillet was a legend on the Toolbox site and was sharing his expert views well before it was a “cool” thing to do and I will let him answer your HR Renewal question and believe he is doing a session on the topic at HR2014 as well.

      Not sure I follow your “lost functionality” question so if you could elaborate that would be great.

      1. Ozgur Akman

        Thank you for the code! Already bought it – Oh well, it does not hurt to support this great conference!

        As to the “lost functionality” – I was referring to functions in on-premise that do not exist on the EC however I think the answer most likely will be(in a nutshell): Forget about the past, this is not only a interface replacement. Customers are expected to adopt to the new processes with the new technology.

  10. Greg Robinette

    Thanks to Jarret and all his contributors, the article was well thought out and timely.

    I appreciate the insights. I have seen several trends in overall IT/IT focused business that I think will affect the SaaS/PaaS market including SF et al.

    A lot of the benefits of SaaS is the relatively low implementation costs as generally there is not much coding. Many of the businesses I interact with want the savings from low customization but still see themselves as unique. This may create a middle area that needs to be addressed.

    I think Chris’s idea of a BADi like integrateable tech thingy (widget, appliance, small bolt on?) will be realized. The mindset of apps for tablets, phones, etc. leads the general IT development scene. these trends always seem to trickle down to the HR world in some form. As the SaaS vendors partner with PaaS environments there will be opportunities for low cost integrateable components.

    Ideally they will work with all the HRIS SaaS providers. Maybe it will happen or maybe not but I think that the limitations on true customization (whether it actually needed or not) of the SaaS model and the low return on the total on premise investment makes this bolt on component likely to happen. Of course I may be completely wrong.

    In any case if you are a consultant working in the SAP HCM world you need to focus on understanding how to translate customer needs in a manner that is cost efficient and user friendly. The last few projects I have contributed to have been more about making business functions integrate rather than blueprinting and configuring. thanks again for a great read.

    See you in Orlando, I am going to be chatting about SAP HRIS security and about HR data security/privacy in the cloud.

    1. Jarret Pazahanick Post author

      Thanks or the comment, kind words and insights Greg and I look forward to finally meeting in person at HR2014.

      While I agree some of the benefits are low implementation costs, some of the other differences are a better UI/UX, better user adoption, mobile capabilities all of which have been pain points for SAP HCM customers for as long as old timer like you and I can remember.

      I also think that SaaS gets a bit of a bad wrap in that it cannot meet complex requirements while in fact with the Meta Data Framework and HCP Extensions (see with great video by SAP Mentor Chris Paine) the functionality is a lot more robust than many think and when you throw on 4 releases a year, clear strategic direction from SAP on cloud investment any gaps are going to disappear pretty quickly.

      On a side I love this comment from Steve Bogner for customers “Ask yourself if everyone can use a software package why cant you and look at your business processes” in an interview we did a few years back as understand multiple large companies with 100K employees are currently replacing SAP HCM with SuccessFactors Employee Central and BizX

  11. Shafiq Rehman

    Moving HCM from on premise to SuccessFactors and still keeping rest of the core modules on premise would add to the complexity and cost of other modules as most of the cost is fixed cost. New skills, more interfaces, less utilization of cross application components, maybe lesser control on customization are my main concerns.

    I’m sure SAP would have put good thought on these concerns already, but wouldn’t less real time talk between two core modules devalue the idea of strong integrated modules (that other SAP competitors lack)

    Somehow I do not have good feel about it, but hey I’ve been proven wrong on a number of occasions.

    1. Matt Fraser

      This is some of my concern as well.  Additionally, we have a very complex HR/Payroll setup (as Greg said, everyone wants to benefit from low customization but still thinks of themselves as unique — that’s us, all right!), with heavy usage of Concurrent Employment, lots of non-standard requirements for state-mandated reporting (we’re an urban school district of moderate size), dozens of divergent union contracts for payroll schedules, holiday calendars, benefits packages, and the like, and yes, we integrate all of this as tightly as we can with budget processing and finance, not to mention our student information systems.  In short, we’re heavily invested in our on-premise SAP ERP/HCM system, with not much budget, and a team that is constantly busy responding to new and changing demands from our core users.  Oh well, we’ve got six years to figure it out, right?  Wait… only six years?  Where is the time going….?

      1. Jarret Pazahanick Post author

        Thanks for the comment Matt and check out my response to Shafiq below.

        That said the areas you mentioned such as Concurrent Employment, Complex time administration, benefit administration (US) are all gaps in SuccessFactors even though they are starting to roll out some global benefit functionality and have some basic time off functionality. The SF EC Payroll solution is the traditional OnPremise SAP Payroll hosted by SAP so given your environment and requirements it probably makes sense to stay put and keep paying maintenance dollars although I would strongly consider looking at the HR Renewal to improve the overall UI/UX for your employees/administrators.  Here are a few articles on it.

        New SAP HCM Functionality – HR Renewal 1.0

        SAP New HR Renewal Functionality and Roadmap

        On a side I bet in 6 years from now you are not using SAP HCM anymore 🙂

        1. Matt Fraser

          We are setting up a sandbox to explore HR Renewal now (this is my major project at the moment), with an eye toward implementation next year (the boss wanted it this summer, but the team is already overloaded, so we got deferred).

          And… I won’t take that bet!  It is my understanding (please correct me if I’m wrong) that in 2020 SAP plans to drop the on-premise HCM module and replace it entirely with SF, so, we’d all better keep an eye on that future lest it bite us in the behind due to inattention, eh?  😉

          1. Stephen Burr


            I’m not trying to detract from Jarret’s point, but just to say that I don’t believe SAP have made any statement about the end of life for SAP HCM on premise being 2020.

            If you look on PAM you’ll find that the “End of Mainstream Maintenance” is 31st Dec 2020 and this is actually applicable (see OSS note 1648480) for all of the SAP Business Suite 7.  Within this note is this statement:

            The maintenance outlook for SAP Business Suite 7 is currently to 2020. There is no decision yet on availability, timeframe and conditions of extended maintenance after 2020.

            My understanding is that this length of this future mainstream support date is pretty common for software vendors and you wouldn’t necessarily expect a future date to be communicated yet. 

            There are 14000+ SAP HCM on premise vendors, so you are not alone in your situation.


            P.s. 6 years is still quite a long time … the iPhone only came out just over 6yrs ago!

            1. Jarret Pazahanick Post author

              Thanks for the comment and fully agree Stephen as see my comment below to Matt.

              On a side note the iPhone is only 6 years old (and Workday is only 7 years old) but see the disruption both are having or did have on the legacy players. In the mobile phone space for example the leaders 10 years ago were Motorala and Nokia and both are struggling today and how many people do you see walking around with a 10-15 year old phone as they do not meet the true “needs” most people have an want today.

              In some ways the HR Technology space is going through the same transition and we have even seen SAP as a company commit to a “cloudy future”.

              SAP going after Salesforce, Workday “with everything we have” says CEO McDermott – 21 Jan 2014 – Computing New…

              It is important that customers are aligned with the strategic direction of their vendors and I would challenge anyone who claims that direction is not squarely with the SuccessFactors HCM Suite as it relates to HR.

            2. Matt Fraser

              Ah, but we are a school district.  We move very slowly.  It takes us a couple years to plan a capital levy, and after voter approval (which is never certain), another year before we actually start seeing any of the funds.  If something big like this doesn’t make the cut, it has to wait another 3 years before another levy comes around.  So, yes, for us, 6 years is a very short time frame.

              Ok, I guess we have been one of the many confused customers about the SAP management “misquote” about the 2020 time-frame for dropping HCM support.  I’ve seen a number of blogs as well talking about how investment in on-premise HCM will drop off sharply, how SF is the “go-forward” route, etc, and it has all had me a little worried.  We were one of those “extended maintenance” customers for R/3 Enterprise 4.7 (we’re on 6.0 EhP4 now), and we’re on extended maintenance for SRM 5.0 right now, because we cannot move that fast on a big upgrade.  In the end, end-of-life of a product or version is what ultimately drives most of our upgrades, not new functionality, and the disruption tends to be unfavorably looked upon by our end-user departments.  I actually had a school secretary tell me she hoped my project would fail (with regard to rolling out a SAPGUI upgrade last year) because she didn’t have time for any disruption.  A few years before that, we had the retirement of a (non-IT) director who refused to touch a computer, but instead had his admin assistant print out his emails and deliver them.  He would hand-write his replies and return them by inter-office memo.

              We asked our account rep about the 2020 deadline and he did nothing to disabuse us of the notion, and is even trying to push us towards SF.  I think he is going to be very disappointed.

              So, 6 years is the blink of an eye here, even though I can barely remember a time when I did not carry an iPhone in my pocket.

              1. Sharon Newton

                Hi Matt – My understanding from leadership at SAP has always been that it is the current release that will not be supported after 2020 – just as release for ERP2004 was not supported past March of 2013 (and I think that had been extended a few times from the original date.)  That doesn’t mean that the solutions won’t be supported – just not supported on the current release.  You mentioned you were on extended maintenance for 4.7 – so you know exactly how SAP handles support and I can’t imagine they will change that.

                With all of that being said, Jarret’s article really is on the future of consulting and that was my focus, with a US bent.  I would not recommend that someone start a career as an LSO (or HCM, for that matter) consultant in the US in 2014.  There are many excellent SAP consultants out there, many of whom are chiming in on this discussion, and a customer would be better served engaging them than looking to a new SAP consultant.  Nor would I recommend that a current LSO consultant (or an SAP HCM consultant) not know as much as they can about SuccesFactors, as this is SAP’s go-forward path for HCM.  Even if a legacy SAP consultant has no interest in moving to SuccessFactors consulting, to serve as an adviser for their customer, they need to be able to talk about what makes the most sense for them, their landscape and their holistic SAP suite (whether it be on-premise or in-cloud.) Good luck with your HR Renewal project!     

                1. Christopher Solomon

                  I agree with your Sharon (about consultants). But as has been mentioned here and in many other posts/blogs/threads/etc., the problem for consultants (especially independents like me) is the learning/experience “barrier” with SF. As the saying goes “One does not simply walk into Mordor” (haha). You have to get training/certified…but to get training, your company has to be a SF partner…and then you get certified, but you need experience on projects…it is a vicious cycle right now that only a few “select” folks can even participate in. In the meantime, personally, I just try to absorb any and all info I can find that is public (thanks to folks like Jarret and Luke Marson).

                2. Matt Fraser

                  Thanks, Sharon.  You’re quite right.  I think we were one of the many customers confused by the presentation a while back that implied that HCM would be ending in 2020.  I did worry about putting too much of my ‘customer’ focus in this thread, as I know it is really aimed at helping consultants orient their career (fyi, I’m a former Basis consultant myself, before settling down 14 years ago and stopping all the travel; my team here is composed nearly half by former consultants who for one reason or another (usually marriage and kids) to settle similarly).  Still, I hope my perspective on how some mid-market customers (or at least public sector, 3/4 billion revenue, 9000-employee customers) think about these things may be of some use to consultants in this field who have to deal with us.

          2. Jarret Pazahanick Post author

            Hi Matt

            Your question about SAP dropping support for SAP HCM in 2020 is a question I hear quite frequently and I would be shocked if SAP did NOT continue support well after that so no worries on that front.  If I was a betting man I would expect SAP will charge a slight premium in maintenance much like they do customers on earlier releases but 6 years is a long ways aways.

            My bet of the 6 years was more based on the fact that it wont make business sense for most companies to stay with SAP HCM given its 20+ year old architecture and design in its current form is not equipped to handle the mobile, social, predictive analytics, and unique requirements that millennials for example will bring and they will make up over 50% of the workforce by 2020.

            The HR world is changing quickly before our eyes and companies will have to ensure their HR solutions are as well if they want to stay competitive in the marketplace.


    2. Jarret Pazahanick Post author

      Hi Shafiq

      Thanks for the comment and you bring up a great point and I know the Employee Central team has deepening the integration between EC and SAP ERP as a key item on the 2014 roadmap and in the 1402 release (Feb) there is some new functionality coming:

      1. Replicating the EC Business Units, Divisions, Departments into SAP ERP and are mapped against Organizational Units with the hierarchy information transfered as well. Leveraging the organizational structure in EC in SAP ERP will help support modules that require Organization Structure (ie CRM, SRM).

      2. Replicating employee assignments to Business Units, Divisions, and Departments from EC to ERP OM and the employee will be assigned to the corresponding org unit on the ERP side. This will help leverage the Organizational assignment of an employee in SAP ERP; Support Modules in ERP that require Organizational Assignments – especially workflow scenarios like sending a work item to a department, Protect investment in downstream interfaces built on ERP leveraging organizational assignment information.

      It makes sense that SAP will continue to extend out the integration with EC to SAP ERP as it offers them a real competitive advantage as other HRMS will not be able to offer this type of integration as they are not familiar with the SAP ERP data structure.



  12. Rob Makinson

    Thanks Jarrett for a comprehensive summary.

    Certainly a lot of considerations for customers and consultants. from my discussions most existing SAP HCM customers aren’t in a rush to move to SF or other cloud solutions. It is a balance of business need to drive for change whether it be in a particular process or a change in operating model.

    In in no our case we have been evaluating SF in certain processes ever since the acquisition. I am more confident that 2014 will certainly be an exciting year in my space.


  13. Shafiq Rehman

    Hi Jarret,

    My concerns continue … 🙂 Any idea how many SuccessFactors implementations are there right now, I am talking about the new SuccessFactors as HRMS ( full replacement of SAP HCM, I guess I mean EC with payroll, time etc. appologies for my lack of right technical words) not the legacy SuccessFactors which traditionally is not system of records and companies used it for performance management or employee portal etc., pretty much SAP ESS/MSS replica.

    SuccessFactors as HRMS is a new paradigm and not many large companies would want to be the first ones to implement a solution that would take years to mature and stand side by side to current SAP HCM in flexibility and functionality, I work for a large company (100k employees) and they don’t want to be guinea pig.

    I feel this a wonderful place to clear all doubts about SuccessFactors as many experts are reading them here and thank you so much again for putting all this content and experts in one place.



    1. Jarret Pazahanick Post author

      Hi Shariq

      The last number I heard was for Employee Central was ~225 customer in Q4/2013 and know there are many new implementations starting as we speak.  Maybe David Ludlow can chime in with a current information if that is something SAP/SF is open to sharing.

      It is important to note that in some industries, such as Big Pharma, the move to the cloud is dramatic as it is my understanding that currently 6 of the top 10 Pharmas are moving their core HRMS to cloud based HR technologies. 

      When you look at big companies like Pepsi with 275K employee moving to SuccessFactors Employee Central Globally over the next few years for example you dont have to worry about being the “guinea pig” 🙂   On a side note the early adopters have a great “seat at the table” partnering with SuccessFactors so they will get additional benefits due to that alone.

      Great dialog and thanks for stoking the conversation and look forward to your thoughts.


  14. Steve Bogner

    Lots of interesting comments here – it’s sort of turning into a cloud/on-premise debate (which Sharon and I will take on at HR 2014 hosted by Brandon Toombs). I don’t buy the argument that cloud HCM makes a company more competitive or efficient or better. Sure, it is easier, has some great features and so on, but what really makes a company more competitive are their people-processes, not their people-software. I’ve seen great companies with marginal software, and marginal companies with great software.

    The key for consultants is to help clients improve, help them solve problems, help them achieve more value from their efforts. It’s not how modern your software is, it’s what you do with it that makes lasting differences. What has muddled the conversation for so long is that we’ve had technologists implementing the systems, and so the focus is on the technology. Good consultants, in my opinion, are going to be good technologists AND good process experts AND good innovators who can change their methods and approaches to suit the culture of their clients. That’s not an easy thing to do, but that is where the competitive advantage starts.

    1. Sven Ringling

      ABsolutely agree with your notion that great people processes are the most important thing. Great HRIS can help them become great, but there’s no guarantee.

      It is interesting that we should be perceived as engaging in a cloud vs onprem discussion, when you could be excused for thinking that the two models are converging – at least, when you look at SAP and SF:

      – Successfactors is partially retreating from the pure SaaS model onto a PaaS model, where only the platform is the same for all users, whilst each customer can create amendments to the solution to fit their own requirements. This gives the solution some of the flexibility onprem has – for better or worse. In how far this is going to inhibit innovation speed remains to be seen, but it certainly is a relief for integrators with large armies of developers and consultants.

      – With Employee central Successfactors is also developing form a set of loosely connected best-of-breed tools to become one integrated HR solution. Certainly gaining a mile against onprem with that step, but we will also remember that integration has also always been a driver of complexity not only for the tech end, but also for end-users. It is still very good news in my book.

      – SAP onprem on the other hand is taking a leaf out of SF’s book, by focussing heavily on fun user interfaces and a drive to make the full solution accessible from anzwhere you have a web browser available, incl. mobile. So far it looks like they make good progress, but make customers to pay dearly for it.

      Not to worry: I’m not telling you the two systems will keep converging until they look like twins, But it is interesting that each aspires to emulate some strong points of the other even though that comes at a price.

      1. Sven Ringling

        Agree you don’t need to be a technical expert in any of the products to have a valuable view on this. Naturally, one would want more SF tech experts in this and other SCN discussions, but given the history of SCN it’s not surprising there are more onprem experts.

        I’m sure itvis very valuable for both products to have people look at it from a bit of a distance. How would a group on onprem experts only have talked about SAP HCM’s future in the cloud?

        And I believe successfactors is just in the process of experiencing a stepchange not much smaller: they move from best of breed to fully integrated and from pure SaaS to hybrid SaaS * PaaS w. custom development. Not to mention a large number of customers with quite a different DNA from those they know. As much as it’s fair to assume experienced SAP onprem consultants are naiv when it comes to cloud transition, manybexperienced SF experts will probably be surprised by the effect of those changes

        1. Jarret Pazahanick Post author

          You bring up a great point Sven as in Employee Central for example there are consultants with multiple implementations that have never touched Time Off, Meta Data Framework and Position Management all of which have been released in the past 12 month and the pace of innovation (some of which with a SAP design flavor) is unlike anything in the past so it will be a combination of experienced consultants, that stay current, that have the skills Steve Bogner talked about above that will be the true experts of tomorrow.

  15. Jyoti Sharma

    Jarret, my fellow blog authors and readers,thank you for your contribution and all the comments.

    The blog has triggered some stimulating conversation and I am seldom able to keep myself away from that arena. So here we go-

    1. Defining an expert solely by the 10,000 hr rule is a simplistic view. Does KSAOCs ring a bell? There has been further research in Psychology since Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers. If interested check this post by Malcolm Galdwell himself in Aug 2013.

    David Epstein in his new book “The Sports Gene” makes some key points. i) The 10,000 hr rule must be understood as an average ii) It does not apply to every domain, for example, studies show that it takes only 4000 hrs to reach international levels in Basketball iii) The ability to reach the expertise also varies by the individual. I encourage you to read the above post.

    2. Luke Marson makes a very good point about the nature of your expertise, you have to see it at a more granular level when it comes to SaaS solutions than we are used to. In a SaaS solution gaining expertise is closer to a continuum due to the evolutionary guise of the product and SuccessFactors Employee Central happens to top the charts as Luke rightly mentions that “the product is 12-18 months old with some of the core functionality being just 6-9 months old.” I have been implementing Employee Central since SAP’s acquisition of SuccessFactors and have first hand experience of how much changes in a single implementation from one quarter to the next, hence what you may have mastered a few months ago may become less valid or may need to be unlearned, your “expertise” lies in your agility to adapt and lead the customer to success. I have sat with Employee Central Product Managers and seen them discover more possibilities from the product based on intriguing customer use cases, so does that disqualify them as product experts?

    I think it is high time folks stopped this childish warfare of validating expertise. Their time is better spent trying to accept that Cloud is here to stay and adapt to the learning curve.

    3. I also commend Mark Ingram for stating that “Like a lot of my peers I am applying 17 yrs of working with SAP HR and 14 yrs of working with clients and their recruiting requirements to build solutions” – Exactly the point! Just because you are implementing a new technology does not mean you discount a consultant’s bank of experience in implementing similar solutions for customers. Don’t forget that any of the aforementioned SuccessFactors “experts” –  are extending their years of experience to make customers realize more value from SuccessFactors solutions. PS: Jarret I choose to still use the term “experts” for all the folks who have contributed to the blog as I don’t subscribe to the simplistic view of the 10,000 hr rule.

    All views are my own and I am happy to have a one-on-one discssion with anyone. The best place to catch me next is at HR2014 in Orlando, Florida.

    1. Jarret Pazahanick Post author

      Thanks for the comment Jyoti and additional insights on the “expert” topic.  I am living proof that the 10K is just an average as have probably spent more time in my life on a golf course than that and I am “average” at best 🙂

      Looking forward to catching up at HR2014

    2. Greg Robinette


      Thanks for illuminating the concept of expert. I would also add that expertise as referred in the article is not simply technical expertise but a unique combination of consultant experience (as Steve Bogner pointed out), SAP (as a company and vendor) expertise, SF (as a company and vendor) expertise, and overall HRIS/HCM expertise. In these areas the contributors to this article are very well qualified as experts.

      Looking forward to meeting you at HR2014.

  16. Marcus Bonrat


    Perhaps I want to seek the community’s opinion on the competitiveness of SuccessFactors in the market. As pointed above, there are many worthy competitors including from Oracle, Workday, IBM, Lumesse etc. for example in the E-Recruitment SaaS space, yet, SuccessFactors pricing is typically the least attractive (with rigid pricing and discount allowance), even compared to best in breed of similar class. It is often very hard to justify choosing SuccessFactors based on product features, as most of the best of breed will catch up pretty well/fast (over 3-4 releases a year), and SuccessFactors product features are not perfect as well. One may argue going for Successfactors becuase of its better integration, but there are just as many robust (mature) integration technology and solution out there .. business just do not buy on this argument alone for the hefty price difference. I am not sure if this is the case faced by other organizations evaluating the best solution for their HCM needs … Any comments on what are the most compelling reasons of organizations choosing SuccessFactors over other worthy SaaS/cloud competitors ?

    Best regards,


    1. Steve Bogner

      That’s a great question Marcus. I’ve seen clients choose software because it was ‘best of breed’ and I’ve seen them choose it because of the product’s breadth of functionality. Those two factors are usually in opposition to each other. And yes, with the pace of development and release cycles, cloud HR systems catch up with each other. Maybe selecting software is sort of like selecting our favorite cars – we each have preferences and we wonder why in the world did the other guy buy that piece of junk (because our car is the best!)?

      Successfactors is and will remain competitive for a number of reasons – a large one is because of the access to the current SAP customer base. Integration with SAP HCM is another key feature; sure you can develop your own integration, but why do so when the vendor delivers a good starting point? There are worthy competitors, and SAP/Successfactors are losing some clients to them… but SAP’s marketing/sales machine is formidable and they have some good, deep relationships with many of their clients. And the software is pretty good too 😉

      1. Marcus Bonrat

        Hi Steve,

        Thanks for your inputs, hoping more would chime in 😀 .

        I think investing in SFSF involves more stakeholders (compared to buying a family car) and justifying at each level : e.g. ROI of choosing SFSF as oppose to other comparable cloud products. Yes, relationships are important, but unless there’s a very solid justification of its supremacy, it hardly can pass the approvals of CFOs and beyond, looking at qualitative justifications is hard to measure. Integration is no longer the “deciding factor”, as you know, alot of customers and vendors have built proven interfaces to SAP HCM regardless of the solution (including before SFSF was acquired by SAP), and hence, not entirely building from scratch. Knowing predelivered interfaces, one still faces challenge eg. the need to invest in PI, or the relatively new HCI has yet to mature or “highly adopted”/”tested”. In fact, some SFSF partner I know recommends third party tool instead. Also, whether the interface is flexible enough to cater customer requirements is yet to be widespread endorsed, like many SAP delivered interfaces, it is often too “simplistic” to be used without some degree of customizing/extension.

        In short, I feel SAP/SFSF must do more, beyond the current norm, to penetrate into the market (eg APJ), no doubt it is a good software, but certainly not outstanding, in view of fierce competition out there.

        Best regards,

    2. Christopher Solomon

      Wow! Talk about a timely discussion….just got off the phone today with a friend that works for ….let’s say a “global food manufacturing company”….they are about to start a year long project to rethink their next steps….look at their needs, their strategy, and ALL products in the HCM space to compare to find what best works for them to then implement a whole new HCM solution (maybe SAP which they have had for MANY years, maybe not). Interesting times. 😉

    3. Luuk Sengers

      Hi all,

      While I may not be the most experienced HCM consultant to contribute here, I would like to share my views on the competitiveness of SF in the marketplace today.

      1. The fact that a client can implement any module individually is a big plus for SF. There are very few clients that feel comfortable going ‘big bang’ with cloud solutions at this point. The option to implement separate modules allows clients to ease into a Cloud-based HCM landscape. Compare this i.e. to Workday, where you must implement the Core solution before anything else.

      2. MDF: Before MDF, I think SF was way behind the competition. MDF has given SF the extensibility and configurability it needed to become a viable replacement for on-premise solutions. While I can never be sure as an outsider to SAP, I do feel that this development has been accelerated after the acquisition by SAP. This focus has been the correct strategic choice i.m.o.

      I do agree that SF must do more to stay competitive, but I think that is also very much the nature of the Cloud where developments follow each other more and more rapidly.


    Excellent analysis. Be sure that we read these comments and make our best to respond to the needs for 2014. Don’t hesitate to reach out directly for more detailed feedback on what you would like to see in SuccessFactors trainings for the coming year. Our job is to prepare you to give your best and delight your customers. Looking forward.

    1. Jarret Pazahanick Post author

      Hi Julien

      Thanks for chiming in and the kind words. As someone who went through 3 SuccessFactors Mastery courses last year (PM/GM, Comp, EC) I really enjoyed the training delivery method of instructor lead, self learning, class presentations and a final recorded case study.

      My only request is for SuccessFactors to try to do their best to keep the training material current (which is challenging with 4 releases a year) but some such as Compensation were slight outdated so hopefully that is being looked at internally.

      Similar to SAP training, going through Mastery training will help set your technical foundation but it is a long journey where a large portion of your technical knowledge will come from experience and on the job training, although as has been mentioned above in the comments and my final paragraph, your consulting abilities and business process knowledge will transfer well from technology to technology



  18. Luuk Sengers

    Hi Jarret,

    Thank you for this great article. It definitely resounds with my own experiences in the field. I do wanted to add two points to the discussion that are detrimental to the competitiveness of SuccessFactors, based on my own observations working as an SF consultant:

    First, documentation on the inner workings of SuccessFactors is sometimes incomplete, or doesn’t seem to exist at all. Especially with the old legacy features like ad hoc reporting. It almost seems like this kind of knowledge has been lost through time, or at least has become so inaccessible that even SuccessFactors support cannot retrieve certain bits of information. Plus, the information that is available is scattered all over, with the partner portal, knowledge base, customer community, JAM etc etc.

    This leads to the second point: The quality of consultants. I absolutely agree that it is first about understanding the needs of the business. But step two would be to be able to tell whether or not SF can cater those needs. As most will agree, getting to know all that is possible with SF will not come from the mastery training as that will only teach you the basics. Right now, there really is not enough in place to ensure that consultants that are working with clients actually know enough to provide a client with the optimal configuration for them. In the eyes of the client, the consultant is the expert. If that consultant does a bad job implementing SuccessFactors telling the client that ‘this is how the system works’, then that bad rep will rub off on SuccessFactors.

    Just my two cents!


    1. Luke Marson

      Great comments Luuk. Particularly this:

      As most will agree, getting to know all that is possible with SF will not come from the mastery training as that will only teach you the basics. Right now, there really is not enough in place to ensure that consultants that are working with clients actually know enough to provide a client with the optimal configuration for them. In the eyes of the client, the consultant is the expert. If that consultant does a bad job implementing SuccessFactors telling the client that ‘this is how the system works’, then that bad rep will rub off on SuccessFactors.

      I recently went into a customer to firefight an implementation where the consultant had done the Employee Central Mastery course about 6 months before and wasn’t really able to support the customer to the level that was required because the Mastery didn’t provide the level of detail. And it’s not the fault of the course – a 3 week course is simply not enough to cover all of the ins and outs of Employee Central (and the course was previously 2 weeks) and very few consultants go on to shadow an experienced consultant afterwards. And add to that that sometimes the Delivery Enablement provided by SuccessFactors does not add enough value to bridge the gap and you can see how this might be a problem. I’m sure this example can apply to some of the other modules as well. I can’t imagine many would want to invest in a 6 week course, even if that is what will provide maximum value.

      Ultimately bad implementations often fall onto the product, especially if the consultant or consultancy tries to mask their failings with the product limitation excuse. I have seen this plenty in my time.

  19. Rob Makinson

    Well if nothing else this blog has sparked a lot of discussion, passion and viewpoints on the topic. I think it is brilliant to see so many people chiming in, after all isn’t this the point of SCN? Sharing ideas, feedback, comments and a tiny bit of controversy.

    Hopefully current and potential customers are reviewing the comments (78 of them) as well as the article.

    Personally I operate/partner with the individual or organisation that I believe will give us the best ‘opportunity for success’ to deliver a complete solution / process to meet our business requirements.

    Selecting the right partner is more crucial now, as the independent consultant is at present not viable. 

    As customers it is important that we do our due diligence and remember to look beyond the glitz of the sales pitch and focus on who you can work with to get the outcome you require, not the outcome the consulting partner requires.

    My comments above are my own point of view.

  20. Raghu Kolukuluri


    Nice article.

    I hardly see any new SAP HCM works for last 7-8 months.

    It’s the high time for independent consultants like me to think about SAP HCM consultant career.

    1. Jarret Pazahanick Post author

      Hi Raghu

      Great observation and in North America there is not a lot of demand for traditional SAP HCM skills in the market as most SAP HCM consulting firms are over staffed and looking to cross train their employees in SuccessFactors.

      Good luck.


  21. Adaboina Ramesh Reddy

    Hi Jarett,

    Greetings for the day!

    I have a question for u ,How the schema’s and PCR’s of Time management would be handled in SF.What is the functionality been using for time management in SF as of now.

    Thanks in advance.

    Ramesh Reddy.

    1. Jarret Pazahanick Post author

      Hi Adoboina

      Currently SuccessFactors does not offer any robust Time Evaluation functionality and there are currently no plans on the short term roadmap as they are recommending customers partner with Workforce Software or Kronos both of which they offer more simplistic integration to from SF.

      SF does offer Time Off functionality (think absence management) and there has been talk of time sheet functionality being added by the EOY.

      Hope this helps.



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