Our SAP HCM Insights Podcast has become an institution in recent years (at least for myself) and not being able to join the discussion due to other commitments always makes me feel a bit lonely out there (yes guys, like it or not: you’re family now 😛 )
Missing this one was particularly annoying, as it does touch upon a few topics I’ve been known to get passionate about.
– how do Fiori and HR renewal compete with or complement each other
– how could they fit into an overall SAP UI strategy
– and does such a thing exist at all and if so: how does SuccessFactors fit in?
– impact reduced freedom to change the system
– changing consulting models and what customers need to watch out for
or search for “SAP HCM Insights” on iTunes.
On Part 1 (UI strategy):
I do agree that customers are left with far too little tangible guidance from SAP to decide which way to go and how likely they are to lose their investment, when the next big trend kicks in. The reason for this probably is that SAP don’t have a clear picture of the future themselves and I don’t mean this as a negative point. They’ve been known before for offering options and then watch what customers do before carving anything in stone. This approach comes with benefits as well as problems for customers, but in any case, this is my guess of what’s happening.
However, it seems to me they make it very clear that the future is Fiori – not necessarily in terms of the current apps, but in terms of technology. And that includes HR Renewal.
On part 2 (less freedom to change the system):
I do agree with Steve here. There is a risk indeed, that the HRIS community drives their cloud solutions into a similar mess like the one they wanted to escape from: over-customized systems lacking agility.
It’s very early days and we can already see a switch from the pure SaaS model to a PaaS model: platform as a service, which provides a cloud platform, but allows custom coding to thrive on it. That’s exactly what the SAP HANA cloud development platform is. Sure, it’s beneficial, when used in moderation and well managed. I’m not saying it’s got to be messy, but there is a risk.
There is another factor driving that risk: integration – so far the holly grail of SAP software.
Cloud solutions have been compared to speed boats beating on-premise ERP systems, looking more like big oil tankers, in speed as well as maneuverability. Well, so far most cloud solutions were stand alone applications for one or few processes with lean interfaces to some other systems. The broad, tight and fully automated integration we’ve become adicted to from the on-premise world certainly adds some value, but it can also act like a bunch of chains. So, it’s now no longer a speed boat racing an oil tanker, but a few dozens of different speed boats chained together. It may seem unlikely and we can certainly make use of cutting edge integration technology to allow for more agile models, but even with a perfect technology: to make process changes in a highly integrated environment always requires a host of people to be consulted. Thinking back to the early 1990s: back then the (on-premise) client-server model was praised as the new leanand agile world of enterprise computing liberating organisations from the chunky, slow host model.
Well, now to the fun part: Changing consulting models, middle men and consultant selection.
I will try not to make this another rant.
One change my HCM Insights friends addressed is more than welcome to me: working with various customers at a time rather than full time with one for a longer period.
Personally, this was always “consultancy” for me as opposed to “contracting”. I don’t claim to be more intelligent then the next guy, who’s a perm employee at one of my customers. So, how do I justify rates, which look high compared to a perm salary (apart from being such a jolly and nice chap to spend time with 😉 ): providing best practise (and recognising poor practise early) from the many customers I work with and doing what I’m really good at – bringing in colleagues for tasks I’m not. Having various customers at a time just makes it easier to learn fast, if your brain capacity is closer to average than to Alan Turing (by the way: seen the film already? You really should!) Of course I appreciate that some projects require full time assignments. I’m just glad I don’t usually have to do them and really look forward to the model changing towards what I love anyway.
And then the subject of the middle-men. Yes, a consultancy working with independents to an extend can and should add value. But that doesn’t justify more than one contractual layer between the consultant and the customer.I’ve discussed this a year ago on “Full time culture and the non-value adding middleman“.
Customers should challenge each layer to prove their value (being able to search for “SuccessFactors” on Linkedin doesn’t qualify as value-add). Remember: the consultant on the ground usually has the strongest intrinsic motivation to do a good job. The more contractual layers they are wrapped into, the more their loyalties are split and the more things they are not allowed to say aloud.
And finally: there’s still a need for on-site consultants and whilst I do love reducing travel time, there is a minimum level of face2face engagement, which imo is currently being pushed down a bit far.
There’s a risk of large players in the market establishing implementation models, which suit them rather than customers:
– pushing back towards full time resources
– maximising remote time
This allows them to sell a maximum of resources at the highest level of flexibility and lowest cost. It’s not evil – it’s business. But customers need to be aware of it and do their due dilligence.
Think about contractual and deployment models to suit your organisation.
Anyway: great Podcast, guys! And special thanks to Steve for putting it all together. One day, there will be an Oscar for Podcast directors and it’ll be yours for sure. I do look forward to recording the final session of this year with you on Friday – huddled around the virtual fireplace and looking into the 2015 SAP HCM world 🙂