It has been another very eventful year in HR Technology, and per Josh Bersin this next year is shaping up to be another one. Last year at this time, a group of friends and I collaborated to write The Future of SAP HCM and SuccessFactors Consulting – 2014 to talk about our views on the SAP HCM and SuccessFactors world, but a lot of people continue to reach out to me trying to understand what lies ahead and how to make the transition into SuccessFactors. This was one of the reasons I recently recorded “Becoming and HCM SaaS Consultant” and followed it up with “Becoming a SuccessFactors Consultant” with fellow SAP Mentors Jon Reed and Luke Marson that I would highly recommend. 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) which Bill Kutik has done a great job of outlining in this article. SAP has been very aggressive over the past 4 years spending over 17 billion on acquiring cloud companies such as SuccessFactors, Ariba, Fieldglass and Concur and has even went as far to say that “Cloud DNA is now embedded across 65,000 hearts and minds, as it has now become the soul of SAP”.
Given that, it should come as no surprise that SAP is leading with SuccessFactors HCM Suite for all new customers, in most regions worldwide. There has always been a delicate balance within the SAP HCM Consulting market and this major shift over the last few years of HR customers moving to the cloud (with SuccessFactors and with competitors) has started to have a very big impact on the traditional SAP HCM consulting market. In the SAP HCM market, I am seeing a lot less opportunity, billable rate compression and layoffs. It should come as no surprise that there is some major disruption with several of the legacy consulting companies, many of whom still have an army of consultants approach, which is no longer required in the “new cloud world”. On the flip side virtually every consulting company is looking to add experienced SuccessFactors resources as well as re-train and certify their existing consultants on new technology. 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 guarantee the OnPremise SAP HCM consulting market will continue its downward spiral.
I decided to reach out to a diverse group of individuals that I personally know and trust would give an honest opinion of what they are seeing on the ground in their respective areas. 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. Almost 9,000 words later, here are their thoughts on where things currently sit for each of major areas of SAP HCM, SuccessFactors and Concur:
SAP and SuccessFactors Project Management
“The growth of SuccessFactors and all the changes in the SAP on-premise landscape have broughta lot of change to the industry and for customers. The pace of development and new features in the SuccessFactors product line creates particular challenges for larger clients or those with longer rollouts. Many customers implementing some part of the SuccessFactors product will also have a sizable SAP on-premise landscape, and that is also changing – think of HANA, Fiori and HR Renewal for examples. And then there is the need to integrate all of this – but how, and how much, is best for us? The race among consultancies to adapt to and profit from all this is creating another ‘Wild West’ environment for customers. Which firms really have experience in all this? Who can really be effective for us? And how can you be sure?
There are a few important points to keep in mind as customers approach and execute projects in 2015 and beyond. First, instead of following the herd, choose projects that provide value for you. Take a serious look at your firm’s culture and risk profile – can you handle the fluid and somewhat uncertain environment now or do you need to wait for things to settle down a bit? Second, be selective with your consultancy choices. There are a lot of people who say they can do this, but can they really? Check on references, check with colleagues and with SAP and SuccessFactors. Be sure to educate yourself on the products too. Design a project that works for you – be careful of projecting one company’s experience on to yours; you might not have the same requirements, constraints, culture and so on. Third – remember that change management, design, integration, testing, training, project management and all that other stuff we have always done on projects still exists with cloud HR projects. And finally – as always – practice good project management on those efforts you decide to implement. The old waterfall approach won’t work these days – be more agile and be more connected. HR, Finance, users, IT, vendors and consultancies all need to work well together to make these projects successful.”
“2014 has been an eventful year traveling and presenting in the US, Europe and UK sharing my experience with Employee Central and rest of the SuccessFactors HCM suite, gaining insights from customers across the world, witnessing how their business needs are evolving even from month to month and assessing the sweet spot in the product that just seals the deal for them. This presents a very dynamic operating environment both for Product Management and Partners requiring them to move with the customer’s velocity and that’s only the start button of the fun we are all having in this space. When Jarret reached out to me this year I had a few subjects brewing and I have attempted to present a concise peek into 3 main areas that have propelled me to show up for work every morning. I have chosen to name the categories as follows (blame it on the recently concluded Golden Globes!)
1) The Spotlight – covering Employee Central product leaps that I am seeing make a phenomenal contribution to equip customers with a progressive core HRIS in the cloud with SuccessFactors Employee Central.
2) The Cocktails – covering aspects of an Employee Central implementation that are the subject of board room and project room discussions during the decision making and implementation cycles.
3) The SpiceRack – covering the infusion of multiple roles in SuccessFactors implementations.
While there were many contenders for this category, the show was ruled by advancements made in the area of Workflows, Position Management, and integration of Recruiting Management with Employee Central. The feature to check RBP permissions for an approver for a workflow step both in edit and view mode is a significant value add that provides another layer of “peace of mind” to customers for data security and authorizations. This is especially important for compensation related information for which we have seen separate roles and workflows being created altogether, while a Compensation admin role may still be required but this feature definitely provisions for a more elegant solution. Same day data changes have been a big area of worry in the past but now the workflows in Employee Central allow for a warning message notification to workflow participants prompting them to think before they approve a change and how they may impact a change that is already in the queue, again, system intelligence enhancing employee productivity and better decision making. I have a business sponsor that looks me in the eye with an added twinkle as he can now manually delegate workflows on his mobile device! This goes a step further if the delegate declines the request and the system asks the original approver to take over again and decide the next plan of action. My most awaited and a topper in my personal chart is the ability to use custom Foundation Objects to create dynamic roles for workflow routing. There is rarely an organizational structure where we are not using custom Foundation objects and this was an invaluable enhancement that customers can now apply and leverage their organization structure in an improved manner with workflow routing. Last but not the least, integration of Recruiting with Employee Central has been a hot topic where we have seen accelerated development and will continue to see in 2015 but the seamless nature of hiring an internal candidate from the time the offer has been accepted is a huge game changer for both Employee Central and Recruiting prospects and customers. Position Management is adding such composite value to the product and it is difficult to pen it down here but I am particularly excited about the new rule function that allows customers to trigger workflows as the system is intelligent to know if a position has been created or changed. I will be implementing the new Position Types later this year for a customer, so more to come on that regarding benefits and lessons learned.
Partner experience and customer references are significant topics that we will keep hearing about but I do feel that the customers are at a higher maturity level on this topic from a buyer’s cycle perspective, thanks to everyone here who invest their time in educating customers through various channels. Project Management, Change Management and a proactive solution design irrespective of the implementation sequence of the products in the SuccessFactors HCM suite are the hard hitters in the cocktails category. This takes us to my last category, the SpiceRack!
Jarret and Luke have recorded an excellent two part video series (Part 1, Part 2) on the changing role of the consultant that encompasses what we have been experiencing and witnessing in the industry. One of the themes that has come up is the infusion of roles in a SuccessFactors implementation, while the degree of this infusion may vary according to the scope of the project I have been living the drill a lot this year due to the increasing pivotal role that an Employee Central implementation is playing for the SuccessFactors suite implementation. The role of the Solution Architect, Business Analyst and Project Management are beginning to create an insightful new ingredient and an invaluable resource on these implementations. While there will still be an overarching Project Manager but this new role spices up the suite by bringing in a flavorful mix of product expertise, expertise with solution design, not just SuccessFactors but one’s previous experience implementing or working with other products, a holler to all the SAP experts out there!, and a Business Analyst role. The Business Analyst role will most often be filled by the customer, but it definitely helps if the consultant has this expertise, it is particularly helpful during requirement gathering workshops and maintaining the customer’s vision of the cloud solution irrespective of the number of products in the implementation mix.
Lastly I want to thank Jarret and all my industry friends and colleagues who make this journey an enriching experience by sharing their knowledge and lessons learned with candor.”
I reached out to Luke Marson, who is a Certified Professional in Employee Central, has worked with 12 SuccessFactors customers, co-author of the SAP PRESS book “SuccessFactors with SAP ERP HCM” and co-author of the forthcoming SAP PRESS book “SuccessFactors Employee Central: A Comprehensive Guide”. He runs the SuccessFactors business at Hula Partners and delivers Employee Central and integration implementations, optimization, strategy, roadmapping, assessment, and advisory who told me:
“I think over time we’ll look back at 2014 as the year that Employee Central came of age. SuccessFactors increased their Employee Central customer numbers from just over 100 at the start of the year to over 500 which is a great reflection of the growth of the solution in the period since Thomas Otter became VP of Product Management for Employee Central. Global Benefits and Timesheet have been significant new features added in the previous year, with existing functionality continuously enhanced and a new deployment model – Side-by-Side (SBS) – introduced for SAP ERP HCM customers who wish to distribute their core HR usage between the two systems. 2015 is likely to see further enhancements to the recently introduced Global Benefits and Timesheet functionality, as well as Time Off. Document management and Contingent Workforce Management are some of the big features I expect to come and the recently started EC2MDF project will see a majority of the Foundation Object configuration, workflow rules, and event derivation rules moved to the powerful and flexible Metadata Framework. In a recent conversation with Thomas Otter and Joachim Förderer I had suggested that SAP continue to build out benefits (including for the US market) and time management functionality to enable organizations to fully manage these processes in Employee Central, as well as develop UI mash-ups and workflows for partner solutions. SAP are currently running a customer engagement initiative for Global Benefits with ASUG, which suggests that US-specific functionality may come in the next 12 to 18 months.
In terms of implementations, there has been a strong adoption by SMEs but there are also some notable large customers that have moved to Employee Central, including Sitel (58k employees), Spotless (47k employees), Smurfit Kappa Group (41k employees), and Thomas Cook (31k employees). Side-by-Side has begun to attract some interest from customers who want the latest innovations of Employee Central but don’t want to do away with their SAP ERP HCM system. Packaged integrations have been released for Side-by-Side and further integrations – as well as UI mash-ups – are due to be delivered in 2015.
Talking of packaged integrations, SAP has extended their packaged integrations between Employee Central and SAP ERP, as well as third party solutions. The image below shows what is currently available and what is planned for release.
One of the biggest changes I expect to see with regards to integration is the introduction of SAP HANA Cloud Integration (HCI) as the packaged middleware with Employee Central, replacing Dell Boomi AtomSphere for new customers. For new customers this will simplify the integration story and enable those using HCI for Talent Hybrid able to switch over to Employee Central more easily. It also brings the middleware technology “in-house” for SAP and therefore supported in the same way as other SAP applications.
Customers are still trying to understand how they can move and what the to-be future will look like for them. I expect to see more and more customers seek out services to enable them to assess their existing processes, systems, and landscape and identify if and how they can move to Employee Central, what the future solution may look like, what effort is required, what gaps may exist, and what new functionality they will get. Having already worked with some customers on this type of work, I have seen first-hand the value and clarity that this type of exercise provides to customers.
One area I hope to see change is the implementation partner market as too many inexperienced consultants are performing too many implementations when many experienced consultants exist. Customers still need to perform their due diligence, including reference checks and interviews. I have gone into several customers in the past year that had sub-optimal Employee Central implementations and required corrections and optimizations and – even worse – I have spoken to countless more customers that had a horrid time of their implementation because they had been misled about the experience of their partner.”
SAP Core HCM
“As with 2014, SAP continues to invest in its on-premise core HCM offering with HR Renewal, HANA, Fiori and Customer Engagement Initiatives. 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. 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.”
Employee Central Payroll and SAP Payroll
“I am still seeing demand for SAP Payroll but there are definitely not as many new implementations as there has been in the past. It will be interesting to see if SAP can convince their 7,600 Payroll customers to make an investment to implement the new Payroll Control Center, which is a solid new offering by SAP as that could drive some additional consulting demand. The good news is the Payroll Control Center helps address long standing complaints around overall usability but the bad news is SAP can’t control if and when their OnPremise customers deploy or use it.
There are currently 29 Employee Central Payroll customers out of the 453 Employee Central customers and this number is slowly growing. It is important to note that the foundation of this product is SAP Payroll (hosted by SAP) with integration with Employee Central. It is important to note that the preferred skill set needed to do Employee Central payroll is a lot broader than it is in SAP Payroll as you need to be familiar with Employee Central and ideally certified in that offering. The good news for ECP customers is that the Payroll Control Center has been delivered as part of the 1411 offering so customers will not have to do the heavy lifting to implement. That said, I was disappointed to hear that the initial release was not on HANA, which is what SAP has been recommending for their SAP Payroll customers, interested in the new Control Center.”
SuccessFactors Compensation and SAP ECM
“The consultant’s expertise in the compensation domain and their ability to bridge together functional and technical knowledge will ultimately make him/her successful in the marketplace. And this is regardless of the technology choice – whether it be on premise SAP ECM (Enterprise Compensation Management), SuccessFactors Compensation or Variable Pay, or another technology platform or vendor product.
Those consultants, who can transition from talking ‘business’ with the business team, to talking ‘tech’ to the technology team, will have the most impact on project success. Within a compensation context, for example, how does the customer’s compensation team handle accruals for their bonuses? Accruals, forecasting, and what-if scenarios are concepts not easily understood for those not familiar with compensation business practices. To be able to break these concepts into meaningful ‘bits and bytes’ for a technologist, is where real consultative value can be seen.
Understanding the roadmap of products is another important asset to a consultant’s knowledgebase. This provides clients with an important head’s up on what the vendor is doing in terms of improvements to their products and potential changes to the way they deliver their product and/or service. Whether a compensation tool is in the cloud or OnPremise, understanding the product roadmap is especially critical to the compensation function since these processes are perhaps some of the most difficult to make an out-of-the-box solution for. Differences with short- and long-term incentive calculations, forecasting/accruals, market data analysis, compensation planning/approvals, and the handling of lump sum payments are just some of the complex processes that a comprehensive compensation solution must be scalable to accommodate.
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 two years ago in How to Transition from a SAP HCM to SuccessFactors, and he told me:
”In the Performance Management space of SuccessFactors (I won’t waste your time trying to talk about the future of SAP OnPremise Performance Management consulting), this isn’t really a bold statement but 2015 will be a year filled with converting clients both new and old to v12 Acceleration. This will include clients who were hanging onto their v11 form because they didn’t like that v12 was missing some functionality they loved, as well as clients who just recently went live on v12 so they can stay on the PM platform where SuccessFactors will continue making functionality improvements. So no big surprise but the near future of consulting in this space is appreciating the nuances between v11, v12 and v12 Acceleration. As an example, v11s get edits & comments functions have been brought back to v12 Acceleration and now exist in addition to old v12’s get feedback function. Now clients can use all 3 at the same time, so you’ve got to know how each functions and which of those are best for your specific client.
That means that if you’ve started in the SuccessFactors space since the advent of v12, it would greatly behoove you to go back through v11 configuration options, since v12 Acceleration is essentially v11 and old v12 functionality put together. It has been my experience thus far that converting a client from v12 to v12 Acceleration is a fun exercise in seeing which v11 configuration has been lying dormant in your v12 forms for the last couple of years waiting for its moment to shine.
Continuing on with my theme from year’s past on this blog – you can still see a gradual move of Performance Management configuration away from XML work in provisioning to instead be settings in admin tools. It’s still not possible to get forms 100% built using the front end only, so you’ll need to do some measure of XML work but v12 Acceleration has made some pretty strong steps toward bringing section configuration options to the front end. The Goal forms trail behind PM in this regard where even goal permissions are still managed only via XML.
My final (and generic) advice that some people may be overlooking is to pay close attention to the SuccessFactors Customer Community site. The kind of Q&A that you see on that site, are the problems being faced by real customers, on real projects. When you’re getting trained on a SuccessFactors module you often learn the modules basic capabilities, but often times an implementation is more about learning a module’s limits. Following the Q&A for your module(s) of expertise is a great way to see the issues people and customers are experiencing.”
SAP LSO and SuccessFactors Learning
”It’s hard to believe we are halfway through the first month of 2015! Last year, in Jarret’s ‘Future of Consulting’ blog, my focus was primarily on existing SAP customers and the conversations we were having with them around learning strategy. Since that time, we’ve continued to support on-premise SAP Learning Solution (LSO) customers worldwide and have continued consulted with customers as they migrate off of the SAP Learning Solution to SuccessFactors Learning. Interestingly, by far the most interest in learning we’ve seen is from customers new to the SAP Learning Management System suite that are interested in implementing a corporate LMS. And almost all of the ‘new’ customers are interested in SAP’s Cloud offering, SuccessFactors Learning.
I will only touch briefly on SAP LSO consulting because, while there is still a need for expertise in this area, it’s not an area I would encourage someone new to SAP HCM solutions to explore. If you have LSO skills, they are still in demand, particularly outside the US, and I expect to see this demand continue through 2015 and beyond. Current LSO consultants should ensure they are familiar with the Customer Connect enhancements for LSO released in July and October of 2014.
I expect that we will continue to see more and more migrations from LSO to SuccessFactors Learning over the next few years. Migrating an established LMS, whether it is SAP’s or another vendors, is not a simple project, and will require extensive planning, particularly for those organizations with mature learning strategies in place. If you are an SAP LSO consultant looking to get some experience with SuccessFactors Learning, working with an experienced team on a migration is a great opportunity to expand your knowledge base and will allow you to provide immediate value-add supporting business process and data mapping as well as data migration while gaining hands-on experience with SuccessFactors Learning. If you are certified in SuccessFactors Learning and not so familiar with the SAP data model for HCM, a migration project is a great way to understand the legacy solutions many of your customers have worked with for years.
As we move into 2015, I continue to have planning conversations with customers who want to implement SuccessFactors Learning as their first corporate LMS. Most of these organizations are interested in a rapid initial implementation to support a key core business unit and then want support planning and rolling out SuccessFactors Learning throughout their organization. What is most interesting to me is that these customers may have their HR records managed in SAP HCM, Employee Central, or other non-SAP HCM solutions and they are investigating or have selected SuccessFactors Learning for their LMS, so some of these customers are completely new to the SAP HCM world. With the new functionality SAP continues to roll out for SuccessFactors Learning, I expect to see a lot more interest from ‘new’ SAP and ‘new’ LMS customers in 2015 as well.”
SuccessFactors Recruiting Execution (Rx)
“Looking back on 2014 it was another big year for enhancements in Recruiting Management (RCM) and Recruiting Marketing (RMK). Integration was a key focus – including job profile builder, SHL for assessments, First Advantage for background checks and Solique for job postings. The first pieces of interview scheduling were introduced in 2014 as well as online offer letter functionality, including eSignature functionality with DocuSign.
One prediction from last year did not come to fruition as much as hoped. We were expecting more of the configuration tasks to be made available to clients, like template maintenance. 2015 looks to be a year to further solidify integration between RCM and RMK, beef up data privacy to support global organizations and build out RMK’s Marketing Central for job posting. We expect to see continued strong adoption of the Rx solution, along with Onboarding.”
SuccessFactors Onboarding and SAP E-Recruiting
“Though the Onboarding solution was already integrated with the other SuccessFactors HCM modules after it’s acquisition from KMS in 2013, 2014 saw harmonization through increased adoption of BizX architecture such as replacing manager notifications with slick notifications via the Metadata Framework, use of picklists for dropdown, which SuccessFactors consultants are used to working with but I think there’s still a ways to go.
2015 will see continued leveraging of the SuccessFactors HCM platform by Onboarding. Probably more significant will be the localization of Onboarding. It has been deployed in other countries but was in the past a US-centric product. Availability of language packs, translation tools, and local compliance rules and legal forms will make it much more appealing for implementations outside of the US. I think there is pent up demand in this area so expect this to be a hotspot for consultants.”
Expect a continued migration from SAP E-Recruiting to SuccessFactors RCM, with the one exception of organizations whose processes cannot be supported by SuccessFactors. Even then we have seen many organizations that had in the past significantly changed E-Recruiting to match their mandatory processes become more flexible in the face of the benefits of the cloud.”
SuccessFactors Talent Management
I spoke to Amy Grubb is the CEO of Cloud Consulting Partners, Inc who has been in the HR consulting space since 1997 and holds three SuccessFactors certifications: Talent Management, Talent Sourcing and Align and Perform. She has been implementing SuccessFactors solutions since 2007 and has implemented hundreds of modules for clients. She is also co-author of SuccessFactors with SAP ERP HCM, both the first and second editions, and she teaches several SuccessFactors Mastery courses for SAP Education who told me:
“The SuccessFactors Talent modules are comprised of Succession and Development and have been best practice for several years now. Most of my Succession and Development clients adopt the best practice configuration, as most are going from a very manual, paper-based process for Succession and Development, or are introducing it for the first time in the organization. For those clients that do have a process in place for Succession and Development, they often adopt the best practice configuration with minor modifications for data capture or differences in how to display the matrix grid (AKA the 9 box or performance by potential). The majority of my clients in this area love the interface, the ability to capture the data and make it accessible to various players in the organization, as well as pulling data from other modules such as Performance Management and leverage it in the Succession process. So this area has been very stable for quite a while and customers can gain some immediate ROI after implementation. 2014 saw some improvements to the Talent Search logic and the introduction of the Presentations feature, which pulls data from Succession and displays it in a “slide” mode so the data can be summarized for ease of dissemination and digestion. I personally really like the Presentations capability and I have several customers who are starting to use it and really get a lot of benefit from it as well. Its sort of amusing to me that customers are going from a manual process where they were displaying their data in PowerPoints to implementing SuccessFactors and generating the summary of data into a similar presentation! However, at least they are capturing the data in a user-friendly system now and reducing the risk of human error in data collection and analysis. We also saw MDF being introduced in Succession to extend the position data beyond what it was.
For 2015 I really see a continuation of refinement of the functionality that is already there with possibly a few small enhancements, similar to the introduction of Presentations in 2014 (a caveat to this statement is that I by no means intend to imply that Presentations was not a significant addition, because I think it definitely was. But when you have a product that’s already so advanced in functionality its hard to find large additions to the functionality). I would also anticipate MDF being used by more and more customers, as they understand how this feature is designed and how it can benefit them in their process. I think as more customers have their Performance and Goal modules in place and start looking to the next phase of their Talent strategy, there will be an ever growing number of customers looking to implement Succession and Development to take them to the next level. I think the Customer Community forum will become even more important for new and existing customers to share their experiences and communicate to SAP/SuccessFactors additional functionality they would like to see introduced. This is, after all, where we got Presentations–from Customers! I encourage all SuccessFactors customers to engage in the Customer Community and leverage it to the full extent. Connect with like Customers and share knowledge, best practices and learn from each other’s mistakes! And most of all, be vocal about what you want to see in the product. They do listen!”
SuccessFactors Reporting and Analytics
“I see 2015 as a pivotal year for SuccessFactors as it relates to reporting and analytics. There has been such an increase in both reporting functionality added to the suite and customers leveraging the full suite from Employee Central through to Talent. The consequence of these positive developments is that there is confusion as to what tool to use when and a disjointed availability of data depending on what tool you are using. There is so much power and so much value there; all of the reporting, visualization, and analytic options need to be rationalized into a clear standard for dashboards, operational reporting, analytic reporting, and strategic analysis. Navigating the options [and limitations] now is equally difficult for customers and consultants to understand. The peripheral threat of not doing so is coming from outside reporting and data aggregator vendors that are offering advanced visualizations and a more clearly articulated reporting standard.
I’ve conferred with colleagues and we agree that Reporting would fare far better now if it were handled as its own implementation. Due to the interdependencies and complexities of the various tools and data sources, consultants need an overarching awareness of customers end state reporting needs. Additionally, consultants need to guide configuration to properly align data output with the tools available and reports required. We have started engaging with customers during the beginning of Employee Central implementations to talk through and advise on considerations as it relates to Workforce Analytics and reporting. It is key we are having conversations from the beginning about their reporting and analytic needs so that we can best leverage the tools available within the suite. That said, I hope SuccessFactors recognizes that even with this additional consulting support, product rationalization should still be a priority for 2015.
No matter how large an organization is, reporting is always a critical path in their human capital efforts. Without a solid reporting function in place, analytic teams are mired in ad-hoc reactive querying instead of deep dive investigations into the data. We need to protect their skills and time by enabling them with clearer ways to report out on the data. We must do a better job from both the software and service side in laying a clear path forward for our customers. No matter how great we build it, if they can’t report out on it, we have limited our success.”
I reached out to Luke Marson and he told me:
“The Metadata Framework (MDF) and Rules Engine have continued to grow and – for me – remains one of the most significant aspects of the SuccessFactors HCM suite. I would go as far as saying that there can’t be many cloud-based extensibility frameworks with the power and flexibility that the MDF and its rules engine have.
SAP has continued to release functionality on the MDF, with Global Benefits being the first SuccessFactors solution built entirely on MDF from the ground up. In Employee Central MDF now supports, at least touches, several recently released features, including:
- Global Assignment
- Income Tax Declaration
- Global Benefits configuration
- Pay Scale Structure
- Payroll Configuration
- Payment Information portlet
In addition, the new EC2MDF project will see all Foundation Objects move onto MDF and workflow rules and event derivation rules move to the Rules Engine. This will greatly increase the flexibility of these areas as well as put configuration and maintenance capabilities into the hands of customers. I don’t expect this to be completed much before the end of the year, but with the first release made at the end of 2014 there will be major movements in the first couple of releases.
I see more Platform and Talent functionality being produced on MDF, with recent examples being Talent Pools and some of the Onboarding functionality. However, I believe it is more likely for new standalone functionality rather than within existing applications like Performance & Goals and Compensation.
I have seen multiple customers being to use MDF to build their own functionality and this is increasingly becoming an area where consultants need to have a deep understanding of the MDF and Rules Engine. The Rules Engine in particular can be used to extend standard, non-MDF Employee Central functionality and should be a foremost weapon in any consultant’s armory.”
SAP and SuccessFactors Integration
I reached out again to Luke Marson and he told me:
“Integration seems to have picked up a bit of pace in recent times and this year should see additional Talent Hybrid integration for Variable Pay and Onboarding in the first quarter. Learning Cost Allocation has been pushed back a couple of times due to complexity, but I would expect it to make either the June or August release windows. There has also been talk of a planned Succession Planning integration, but this has been lower on the agenda. The important thing is that SAP is close to having completed delivery of most of the integrations for the Talent Hybrid model. The only outstanding areas I see are background elements, Job Family/Roles, and Job Profile integrations – but these are not major areas of concern for customers compared to the areas that SAP have now covered. By the end of this year customers should be comfortable that 90% of the talent integrations are available and that no other vendor can provide this level of integration.
From an implementation perspective the Talent Hybrid integration has proven to be more complex to implement than expected, with some limitations to the enhancement framework in SAP. In addition, requirements for HCI or SAP Gateway have complicated the adoption of qualifications integration and will likely impact the uptake of Variable Pay integration. I would like to see SAP simplify some of the requirements over time and make all integrations available for both PI and HCI.
From an Employee Central perspective the biggest change we are likely to see this year is the shift from Dell Boomi AtomSphere to SAP HANA Cloud Integration (HCI) as the middleware. As long as this is bundled in with Employee Central then this will benefit customers for simplicity and implementation; HCI is a similar yet much easier-to-use middleware than PI and further adoption will increase the robustness of the solution. That said, if internal development KPIs are based on financial revenue and not costs saved then we might not see it bundled in like Boomi. Time will tell, but I trust SAP to make the smart move here and do a straight swap for Boomi. From a consultant perspective, I think this will benefit PI integration consultants much more as the familiarity with SAP technologywill more easily enable them to ramp-up on the technology.
In terms of packaged integration content for Employee Central, SAP is likely to add more integration content for SAP products like Fieldglass and Concur and for other 3rd party providers. A packaged integration released recently for Thomsons Online Benefits solution and packaged solutions for Ceridian and some further ADP solutions should be on the cards. Additionally, the packaged integrations that have been planned for SAP Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) and SAP Cross-Applications Timesheet (CATS) should come to fruition. An Employee Central connector was included in the recently released version 8.0 of SAP’s Identity Management solution. Side-by-Side integration has been included in the last two releases and enables replication of data from SAP ERP HCM to Employee Central to use in this scenario. There will be more to come, including UI mash-up integration.
SuccessFactors have made a lot of progress with new APIs leveraging the OData protocol, as well as releasing SuccessFactors adapters for PI and HCI for both the SFAPI and OData APIs. This enables greater integration between different systems and for customers to easily build their own integration. I envisage further enhancements to the APIs, although at this stage they have already reached a solid level.
Integration is going to continue to be a requirement by customers and partners with a strong background in integration and without a track record of delivering Talent Hybrid integrations are likely to find themselves getting busier during 2015 and beyond. SAP is continuing to provide robust content covering a variety of areas and further enabling customers and developers to develop their own integration with a variety of tools.”
SAP HCM Fiori and ESS/MSS
“Start anywhere, Go anywhere” as we overheard in SuccessFactors Sales meeting. Although today, the ‘regular Employee and Manager Self Services’ have evolved towards a nifty renewal, customers are more and more embracing the myriad of options that SAP is offering. It includes the Side by Side, the Hybrid or the Cloud solution along with other powerful tools.
As Europe might have a slower adoption pace I see more and more customers making the plans for migrating to Employee Central and consolidate their personnel information. Building the primary layer for either using the Employee Profile and/or the Employee Central. Employee Central could be a smooth transition for online Services. I trust this would be the trend we will acknowledge in the forthcoming SAP Insider HR Conference. For customers still running SAP HCM On Premise, there is no rush and still plenty of new functionalities to enable as long as they are on the current enhancement package.
As illustrated last year, I have witnessed migrations of the following functionalities, with even more options:
- 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.
- Enable Talent Management latest functionalities through SuccessFactors and an hybrid installation
- Deploy the SAP Personas to enhance transactional data experience
- Deploy SAP Fiori Applications for most useful processes such as Time Recording
When it comes to Fiori, the numbers of Apps are rising. SAP finally released the standard course SAP Fiori Implementation and Configuration, in order to educate and reach out to even more customers. No doubt that SAP Fiori has promising days as the license costs have been taken out of the equation. Furthermore, customers can also take benefit from the SAP Personas, enabling the ‘best user experience’ as the SAP Marketing team describes it.
In conclusion, 2015 is full of potential and wide open so establish plans for the forthcoming quarters while the transition to the cloud continues. I see a growing demand on skills across the different deployment possibilities offered by SAP. There is no right or wrong choice as long as you are aware of all the consequences of your choice. It goes without saying that Customers will have to pay close attention, as usual, to the upcoming announcements at SAPPHIRENOW and have a fruitful year everyone.”
SAP HR Renewal
“HR Renewal (in general) and the HR Professional Role (in particular) are one of the most ambitious undertakings from SAP in years. It’s no less than a complete rewrite of the HR User Interface but the trouble is, the word really hasn’t gotten out about this solution yet. So the lack of success stories out there has limited the amount of attention that the new solution has gotten and it’s a bit of a vicious cycle. Will this continue? I don’t think so as the SAP HCM install base will realize it needs to move. Sure, some will go to Employee Central but here is a link to a blog series I’m writing to help customers decide but for some it may make sense to stay on-premise and refresh the UI through renewal. This is doubly the case since a lot of the technical requirements for HR Renewal are already being installed at organizations that are using Fiori outside of HR. I think that Fiori and HR Renewal will be a compelling offering given the level of investment that SAP continues to make.”
SAP HCM Processes and Forms
I spoke with SAP Mentor Chris Solomon who told me:
“First off, many thanks to Jarret for even asking my $0.02 on the state and predicted future of HCM Processes & Forms. Second, in no way do I consider myself an “expert” or the “end-all-be-all”, but I can happily report on what I see and hear “in the trenches” and from that, I can make my own predictions. Predictions are fun!
2014 was an “interesting” year for HCM Processes & Forms (aka. HCM P&F). From my perspective, I saw more and more adoption of it, and more projects going on or starting up. That was due in large part (wholly?) to two key factors in my opinion:
1. Availability of the FPM forms option as clients/customers upgraded to HR Renewal. Yes, HR Renewal has been around a few years now, but keep in mind how long most customers lag behind on upgrades. Many were avoiding/ignoring HCM P&F when their only option was Adobe Interactive Forms which carry a licensing cost (let’s not beat that dead horse anymore please) and were in a holding pattern until this other FREE option was available
2. Greater implementation/push of “new” ESS/MSS, which incorporates a lot of HCM P&F functionality.
But as there is greater adoption for HCM P&F, what is SAP doing in this area? Well, I wish I had more positive news. From my perspective, they seem to be spending time and resources in the wrong areas. The only real improvements we have seen in HCM P&F have been in the newer “roadmap” forms option and the addition of “dynamic processing rules”.
“Roadmap” forms are simplistic, easy to configure/build but at the same time, very limiting. The use case is generally for what we might think of doing in Maintain Master Data (PA30), single infotype maintenance. However, as I said, the “guts” behind this option do not allow for much flexibility, surely not as much as the rest of HCM P&F offers when building your own process. In fact, to me, it is just as easy to built a simple process for your infotype update and have all that “extra” functionality available than spending the time to create a “roadmap” process and limit yourself. SAP has put time/resources/money into making this better, but then I would ask did they do so because they really heard customers clamoring for this?
That brings me to “dynamic processing rules”. Think of this as SAP’s attempt to fill the gap in HCM P&F where it did not handle the old, tired “dynamic actions” of older SAP HR. For years, for our actions in HCM P&F, we had to write custom code that would in effect, mimic these “dynamic actions”. So rather than come up with something largely new, which would have been a major overhaul, SAP seems to have spent time simple porting over and renaming the concept to work with HCM P&F. And let’s not forget that it still only works with “roadmap” forms (whose disadvantages I mentioned earlier) and not all of our HCM P&F developed processes. I had an interesting exchange with some of the SAP product folks about his over on another blog’s comments thread. I will try to remain positive on these, but I just do not get why SAP felt that those areas were the needed focus for HCM P&F. I could have named a few of higher priority in my opinion (standard SAPUI5 form option, better mobile support, easier FPM form component reuse via the standard feeder class, etc).
So I guess this brings us to predictions, which is the fun part! Using my best consulting response “it depends”. I think/hope/pray that SAP will incorporate a native, standard UI5 option for the forms into the framework. I know a LOT of people and companies that have already developed their own custom UI5 solutions that work now. This reminds me of pre-FPM forms when several companies offered a WebDynpro alternative to Adobe forms, and then SAP built in that support in later versions. I think we will see that coming. To be more realistic, I think you will see SAP further develop and mature “roadmap forms” and the “dynamic processing rules” (DPR). The latter of which I do see somehow being integrated into either our existing HCM P&F configuration or better yet, into the decoupled infotype framework directly (so that DPR config would get used anything that “touches” our infotypes). Right now, DPR just as old “dynamic actions” is just too tightly coupled to the user interface. Finally, I think we will see HCM P&F supported/exposed as Fiori Apps possibly as they already lend themselves very well to the simplified Fiori concept. This of course would go hand-in-hand with HCM P&F having a native, standard UI5 option.
From a consulting perspective, I see 2015 as an even bigger year for HCM P&F. Again, largely due to what drove 2014 as mentioned above, but also, many companies have embraced the idea of making HR more strategic. Many of those who are making that transition (or are now there) are looking for areas of even better efficiency, so HCM P&F is a natural fit. I think more customers are starting to “get” what HCM P&F can do for them in cost savings, process improvement/standardization, better usage of resources, etc. For that reason, I do not expect I will be going anywhere else anytime soon, and that means, you can expect more blogs about HCM P&F coming from me in 2015. You have been warned!!! J Thanks again to Jarret for including me in his discussion.”
I spoke with Sven Ringling who is the UK director of iProCon, a small consultancy based in the UK and in Germany. He’s been working as a SAP HCM consultant since 1996, had his first travel management implementation 1997, his first encounter with Concur was in 2010, and recently his firm became a Concur Platinum advisor who told me:
”Concur is the latest big addition to the SAP universe and one I was very happy to see happening, because I’ve worked with the solution before and loved it. But what does it mean for consultants and customers looking for help with their T&E systems?
There are various reasons, why most customers will find it easier to put their expense data into the cloud than core HR or talent data. Also: Concur’s strengths in vendor integration and easy to use mobile apps are catering perfectly for what new T&E customers would be looking for now and going forward. Therefore, this is how I would expect the demand for consultancy to develop in 2015:
– As many on premise customers still are rolling out or improving their travel & expense self service processes consultants with strong expertise in XSS and workflow will still be high in demand.
– The typical backend work will start drying up, as it’s mostly required for new customers and most if those would start on Concur or wait and observe.
– Customers with a focus on vendor integration will (and definitely should) shun the dreaded OnPremise solution and go for Concur. So, I expect that skill to be less relevant.
– It is more difficult to predict is the demand for mobile. Will OnPremise customers still invest in the existing solution a lot or will they hold back and wait for the move to Concur? It could go both ways.
– Apart from the few unfortunate customers, who’ve deployed it already, no one would need skills in the SAP Cloud Travel solution.
– Concur is a huge market already. I expect growing demand for
quick deployments for SMEs as well as the enterprise versions.
– Customers can rely on Concur themselves for the technical deployment, but it’s often been very useful to have a consultant with process knowledge and cloud experience to manage the project and look after the change process and communication. You can’t overestimate the importance of that role.
– The hot cakes of the season are going to be integration skills. Technical understanding of the existing (Boomi) integration tools, custom interface built and last but not least the ability to bridge the gap between two systems (and therefore groups of users) with fundamentally different approaches.
What customers should be looking for to deploy Concur:
– Go with the established Concur implementation service as far as possible, unless you find a rare consultant with experience in both worlds.
– Complement it with a strong project and change manager, who should also be able to challenge the recommendations. You definitely need someone on board, who understands the technical context as well as mindset in a SAP on-premise organization.
– Technical experts for the chosen integration tools. Make sure you are not oversold here! Interfaces you deploy now may only be an interim solution until SAP provides a new level of integration.
– If possible, always go for a mix of old world and new world skills.
The usual warnings:
– Don’t buy into any full time engagement, until you’ve checked the requirements very carefully. Contractors and consultancies will want to stick to the costly model as much as possible.
– Don’t go into a Concur deployment thinking “we can still amend the system as needed, when you spot an issue.
– Check CVs against reality. There will be a strong temptation for consultants focused on backend activities to sneak into the cloud world.
– Don’t get talked into waiting until integration is perfect. Cloud changes too quickly, so, you’ll always be waiting for the next thing. If Concur is what you want in the long run, it doesn’t make sense to keep investing in new workflows, mobile etc. on-premise.”
There is an excellent quote from Naomi Bloom who is a HR Technology thought leader that I like to share every year as I find it very relevant.
“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 the 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. If you trying to break into HR Technology I don’t see any scenario where learning SAP HCM as a “fresher” in 2015 and beyond is going to serve you well in the long run.
I am a big believer that being a lifelong learner 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 I would recommend joining the 19,000 people in my SAP and SuccessFactors and SAP HCM and SuccessFactors groups. I would also recommend attending the upcoming HR2015 Conference (March), which I have worked with the organizers for a special $250 discount code for the readers of this article.
Would love to get your comments, questions to the authors, insights on what we got right and what we missed below.