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Proving it with Employee Central SuccessFactors customers. Reflecting on two customer days.

Over the last few weeks, we have hosted customers in two cities, well one a city (San Francisco) and the other a village (Sankt Leon Rot).

Here is the photo from the San Francisco gathering.

Group Photo.jpg

While we have various user group meetings, a product advisory board, Sapphire, TechED,  and SuccessConnect, we figured it was high time we invited customers to join us for workshops and one on one meetings. It was a chance for product managers to talk with customers about new developments, gather feedback, and for customers to ask whatever was on their mind. The events were a mix of product manager presentations, customer presentations, networking and meet the expert sessions. Eva, the Product Marketing Manager for EC also blogged about the event. The VIP team helped arrange the event in San Francisco. These are the coolest offices with the most impressive view.

Our customer base is a mix of  many organizations that don’t have an SAP footprint, and then an impressive list of organizations that have a strong history with SAP.  While many of their requirements are the same, the SAP customers often have specific interest in ERP integration, S/4HANA, and how the capabilities compare between EC and SAP on prem HCM.  Interestingly, we had several PeopleSoft replacements and also a Workday replacement in the workshops. I’m seeing a significant trend of PeopleSoft customers moving to Employee Central, especially if they run SAP Financials.

The nicest thing at these events for me is to listen to the customers, either in one on one meetings, or in presentations. Two of the presentations in the US were from customers, Outerwall and Sun Communities. Both showcased rapid implementations, from two very different industries. At the event it was great to see some of the early adopter customers, Brice from Timken, for instance. I got to sit down with one of the world’s largest sporting goods companies to look at their project plan. Seeing live customers helping those just starting out is lovely too.

In May 2013, just after I joined SAP / SuccessFactors, I got an email via Linkedin from an old friend with whom I had not spoken to for a decade. He had just started working at Aryzta (one of the world’s largest bakers), in Ireland, and his job was to implement EC. He was nervous as he had heard the product was really new, and there weren’t that many other companies of their size actually live.  I told him that he could call me anytime if he had issues. Several months went by and I didn’t hear anything, so I got back in touch with him to see if the project was on track. He told me the project went well, they were happy and in production, and that they hadn’t needed much assistance to get them live. Deloitte worked on the project with Aryzta.

The overall head of the project was at the US event, and he was very enthusiastic about the roadmap, and what we had delivered in the last year or so. He was amazed at the speed we had delivered, and that we had pretty much mirrored his wish list (we need more customers like that !-)). They did a reference video for us recently.

This is cool stuff. It is an excellent example of the strategic importance of strong and flexible core HR system. With EC and Successfactors, they are able to absorb acquisitions in weeks, not months. Core HR is so much more than just admin, it is the foundation for an agile organization. It is a strategic system, and one that will lay the bedrock for the organization for decades (I’ll need to come back to that core as strategic theme another day).

At the Rot event, Cargotec presented. Cargotec is one of the world’s leading cargo handling companies, headquartered in Finland. With 11,000 employees in over 50 countries.They deployed EC globally in less than 8 months, with the help of our partner, Effective People.  Those Fins don’t mess around.


We had a secret weapon at the event- Karla, from marketing is a very talented illustrator, and kindly came along and illustrated the day. Here is her take on the Cargotec presentation. I used the new microsoft app, officelens, to convert the large illustration into a slide. The other illustrations are going to hang in our corridor in Rot. Thanks also to Michaela, without whom the event would simply not have taken place.

I particularly liked the Cargotec advice below.


It was also great to catch up with the Swiss Re team. Their project won an award this month in Switzerland,  The SAP quality award. Again, around 10,000 employees, multi-country deployment (31 if I remember rightly), including a migration off on-prem HCM, deep ERP integration, and a  tight connection to ADP GlobalView. Project was also done by Effective People, so they are on a roll.

The second half of 2015 will see another wave of go-lives, it will be a bigger wave, but in surfing terms it will be even smoother. While explosive sales growth is cool, go-lives and successful on going customers are what make our product management team most happy.  Our goal is to make every release better. Easier to deploy, easier to run and with suite integration at the centre of what we build. There are always areas where we can improve.

I will be at Sapphire this week, so customers, partners or prospects, drop me a note if you want to meet up. Calendar is looking hectic, but I will squeeze you in. Several other PMs are in town, and Eva has done a great Job of summarizing the various SF related gigs. I will be speaking too, on Tuesday at 3.00 pm in S210D. I’m waxing lyrical about the overall SuccessFactors Roadmap and strategy. Pop in and say hello.

We will run another series of events in the Autumn. Hope to see you there too.

Thanks again to the customers for taking the time to visit us, and a special thank you to those that presented.

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  • Great job and kudos to the team. I spoke with 3 of my EC customers and they thought the event was excellent. Being able to meet and talk with all of the key product managers gives customers great confidence in the product and your ability to deliver. Keep it up.

    • Howard,

      your point is one many customers are talking to SAP about, and whilst the argument that doing everything yourself is not aligned with the idea of SaaS (rather than SaSS – Software as SelfService) has it’s merits, my observation is that SAP is listening and as more and more options move from provisioning into Admin Tool they are starting to act.
      More than most other cloud vendors – and it requires a culture change for the vendor as well (will be an even bigger job for Concur, where not even partners used to do core config). I believe more will be coming, but yes, it’s good for customers to keep discussing it with SAP.

      However, I don’t feel random and – if I may be frank – troll-type comments on blogs like this won’t help. It’s not an eye2eye discussion. It feels like random shots from the sidelines.

      I know you’ve contributed value posts elsewhere and I trust it wasn’t your intention for this comment to come across that way, but it does for me – and others, who’ve mentioned it to me.

      And in all fairness, I can understand that SAP is cautious and would want to make some technical changes first. Whilst most customers would probably use provisioning access responsibly, there’s also no denying that some customers have given config, programming and even modification access to very dangerous people in the past – often consultants with fake CVs. Whilst that could happen with partners as well, they have more to lose from non-compliance (basically their partner status and therefore their whole business).

  • Thank you Thomas for those words. Effective-People on a roll! A good indicator that implementation experience and focus does matter.