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Future Market for SAP HCM Consultant

I am SAP HCM Functional Consultant, what will be future for me in market?

This is a common question for many SAP HCM practitioners at this moment, what should they learn to add more value in market? What is new happening in SAP and what short of job will be created in market? Through this article, I am trying to discuss SAP HCM future roadmap and at the same time market for SAP HCM across globe.

Three words are common when we talk about SAP road-map i.e. Cloud , HANA and user experience improvement. All SAP webinars and SAP Tech-ed sessions were revolving around these words. I will discuss each topic separately with keeping in mind what will be impact on SAP HCM.

1.   Cloud

Believe me, this is the biggest area where business are growing.  It is assumed that in next 10 years, the penetration of business in cloud will be 10 fold. In HCM space, SAP has its own acquired product “Success Factors”. New customers are continuously adopting Success Factors and it is the most popular cloud based HCM solution in the market. It does not mean that all customers who have stable solution in SAP ECC will migrate to Cloud based Success Factors.  But at the same time it is very likely existing ECC customers will adopt some components (modules) of Success Factors while payroll and time will be managed by SAP ECC. It means, jobs on hybrid concept will be in next few years are very likely. Customers are finding new dimension products like Performance, LMS, and Recruitments are better to have on cloud than in-house ECC system. SAP is also promoting more cloud based solution than in-house products for new customers. The customer who already has solution in SAP HCM may choose to move to Success Factors for cloud technology advantages.

If we talk about cloud based solution or hybrid solution in HCM space, then there will be space for other technologies like MDF and HANA Cloud Platform. I hardly find, vanilla solution is cent percent fit for business requirement. As success factor cloud based solution there is limitation of customization. If requirement is not fulfilled with given space of customization from Success Factor, then we can customize or extend the solution with help of MDF (Meta Data Framework). Meta Data Framework is new concept in success Factors, which is used to extend the solution without writing a single line of code. MDF can add scope of extension of solution and mostly it serves the purpose. The other possibility of extension is through extended application on HANA Cloud Platform. We can create new application with any extent of customization in SAP HANA cloud platform.  The realization of solution in Success Factors is very swift (3-6 months) in compare to SAP ECC system. It is challenging to find right resource for short time period for realization. And if it is hybrid solution, then it is required to have someone who understands both SAP ECC and Success Factors for better solution.

If you are SAP ECC consultant, then there is no need to worry for shortage of job in ECC space very soon. Success Factor will improve market share but will not replace SAP ECC system in next 5 – 10 years. To add more edge in your skill, it is good, if you at least improve your knowledge about Success Factors. You know the HR business scenario and already seen the realization of HCM solution, it will be very easy to grasp the introductory knowledge of Success Factors and you will find yourself playing better role if the customer is looking for hybrid technology.

2.   HANA

SAP has first introduced HANA as database for analytical solutions like BW. A few years ago, it extended its product-portfolio with business suite on SAP HANA. Last year, SAP has added S4 HANA as next biggest revolution after R3. SAP has realized the current solution in ECC is complex and has great scope of simplifications. First simplified S4 HANA solution is S-Fin (Simple Finance) which has proven its simplification in terms of database and business process. The biggest advantage of S4 products is – it can be adopted as cloud or on-premise. This gives benefit for customer that they can decide to move to cloud in future without scrapping the solution and vice-versa. After Finance, SAP is developing many other modules on S4 concepts. Some of these modules have potential to hit market late quarter this year.

I do not see if SAP will develop S4 HCM in next 5 years. To support my statement, I will discuss some proofs. As S4 HANA is developed keeping cloud in mind, SAP HCM space already has one cloud solution i.e. Success Factors. SAP is continuously developing more functionalities and improvement through quarterly releases of Success Factors. All objectives of S4 HANA fulfill by Success Factor except one i.e. Success Factor can not be realize as on-premise implementations. I will not surprise if I see on-premise version of Success Factors in future, but this is not planned in next 5 years.  In nutshell, SAP HCM is not impacted much by S4 HANA.

3.     User Experience

SAP is actively investing its resources for improving user experience. It was always said by business users that SAP screens and process are very complex; it needs lots of training to expertise end user. This story is ended by two new SAP products ‘SAP Screen Persona’ and ‘SAP Fiori’.

SAP Screen Personas delivers a new personalization option for modifying SAP GUI screens. End user can change SAP screens for better visualization and simplified user experience. The information from many related transactions could be displayed on single screen through simply drag and drop kind of functionality. Although it is based on Java scripts, but users need not to be expertise in scripting language for developing new Screen Persona. It is simplified solution for those SAP transactions, where information is distributed across multiple tabs. This is useful when, user has to look multiple tabs of same transaction or many transactions to complete the work. This screen simplification can improve user experience and save time to complete the business task.

As a HCM functional consultant, we can deliver some screen personas for SAP ECC end users to simplify their activity. HTML viewer can be attached on Screen Persona where user-guide in PDF or as YouTube videos could be embedded.

SAP Fiori is not a technology; it is a new guidelines or principle to develop application. It is a fundamental change to the way SAP is looking at delivering user experiences across SAP product portfolio. SAP has defined 5 guidelines: Responsive, Simple, Coherent, Role-based and delightful; they referred to the “Fiori Design Principles”. These principles are being applied to all the new Fiori apps. It is common that developers from SAP partners develop new applications where there is no unified standard for measuring user friendliness. There were no SAP defined standards earlier, on which applications will be judged whether it is user friendly or not, but now we have.

Not surprisingly the first of these design principles is that the screens should support all device types, screen sizes, form factors, versions and channels. Of course implicit in this is a “mobile first” principle as well. This means “responsive” design where a single code base produces a client experience that adjusts to best support the device characteristics. The technology behind SAP Fiori is HTML5. The Fiori application should be tailored for particular role and un-necessary information should be avoided.

As SAP HCM consultants, we are equally responsible for success and acceptance of any new development. We could ensure all the Fiori guidelines are followed and must justify it. SAP Fiori guideline website is providing ‘Prototyping Kit’ which can be used to discuss with business user that – How the application will look like? The fundamental behind all these are to establish user confidence in new application. It is better fail in early stage than scrapping all at UAT stage. SAP Fiori user experience (UX) and SAP Screen Personas software will now be included within underlying licenses of SAP software. So SAP customer need not to pay extra for developing Screen Persona or Fiori applications, it is a big plus point and hence multiple openings will hit market in very short term.

Conclusion: We should be aware of what is happening in SAP and how jobs related to new technologies are emerging. We can learn SAP Screen Persona and SAP Fiori guidelines. These will improve our knowledge on user experience strategy. Learning SAP Success Factors will be added advantage as new challenges will be in market space of hybrid implementations. I do see the jobs are emerging for specialized skills in SAP screen persona and SAP Fiori skilled HCM consultant. It is very likely that someone may be hired with extra compensation because having knowledge on SAP HCM and Success Factors.

There will be continuous demand of SAP HCM consultants but addition of knowledge on above said technologies, will be added advantage. Knowledge of multiple technologies in SAP space is in demand because of complex business requirements. Open SAP and SAP SCN are good source where we can improve our knowledge.

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  • Success Factors is still growing in payroll and time evaluation schema. Customers would not simply migrate to Success Factors just for benefit of cloud solution. I have my doubts for lot of SAP customers I have come across with, for them it might be more than a decade before they are forced to accept the changes. I mean by those organisation who are not willing to feel the change in winds or those with mature SAP implementations or even organisations which are occupied with surviving in the competitive market. the hurdle would be to convince business to have the farsightedness ( the biggest argument would be if the existing systems provide enough support to the function what is the need?).

    On technical front I believe the typical journey for these organisation would have to be starting point B in SAP rapid deployment solution: (Upgrade to latest EHP, Migrate DB to SAP HANA, deploying the exchange innovation and then move data to cloud) but in real life deployment would not be as easy  as it is on technical front.

    I see more development on UI5 applications as it is based on HTML5, which is platform and device independent. All we know today is i-pad and mobile edge.

  • Hi Ajay Kumar,

    Very good blog, it clears lot of my doubts and answered lot of my queries, but i have major concerns that if SAP encouraging existing SAP HCM consultant to enrich their knowledge towards new technologies than why they didn’t open door in more simple way, like if i want to get certified myself in Succesfactor then i must belong some Partner not as individual i do all of these stuff. even if i did something like this and get certified SAP did not allow me to configure something as consultant which sure road blocker for new learner (in personal point of view);

    Any way good contribution from your side, keep the good work. thanks again



    • Hi Bashir,

      You asked something very tricky. Success Factor is cloud based solution and SAP does not want to demotivate its partners. You know to implement Success Factors, it requires just 4 – 6 months of time even for a big company. And after realization, it does not require too many consultants to support Success factor Production from SAP partners.

      SAP is getting much from licence, maintenance and infrastructure. But to keep its partner happy, it has probably chosen this way.

      Just 2 days ago SAP has introduced a course on related to Success Factors. You may join there, i think you need a partner email there as well. But try if you can login. This is good for readers from partner company.

      Another option is Success Factors Cloud learning center. Check out this article for the same, it is very good for learning.

      SuccessFactors Cloud Learning Center

      Remember learning is different than certification.

  • Dear Ajay,

    Wonderful blog. It helps SAP HCM Consultant like us to get a roadmap for future. I am currently working on SAP FIORI and would like to know what additional skills can I adapt to make myself competitive in the current HCM market.