Evaluating Time Management in the Cloud: What does the SAP partnership with WorkForce Software mean for customers?
At SuccessConnect 2015, WorkForce Software announced that it was signing a global reseller agreement with SAP that “adds a robust, cloud-based workforce management solution to SAP’s portfolio, complementing the company’s market-leading core human resources (HR) and global payroll solutions.”
Since this has happened, many customers and partners have reached out to me to understand what this agreement offers, what it means for customers, and what this means for the developing Time Management capabilities in SuccessFactors Employee Central. Current SAP customers who are using SAP Time Management and also evaluating a move to Employee Central have shown a particular interest in understanding the differences in the offerings and what the use case is for each one. In this blog I will investigate the agreement, what it means for customers, how customers can figure out which solution to choose, and how to build the roadmap for moving time management to the cloud.
What’s the crux of the agreement?
SAP’s agreement with WorkForce Software means that SAP will now be reselling and supporting three applications from WorkForce Software’s EmpCenter® suite under the brand SAP Time and Attendance Management by WorkForce Software. WorkForce Software’s EmpCenter suite is a robust cloud-based workforce management solution that can handle simple, complex and/or industry-specific scenarios. The three applications are:
- Time & Attendance: time and attendance application
- Advanced Scheduler: workforce scheduling optimization
- Absence Compliance Tracker: complete leave management solution (for U.S. and Canadian Employees)
You can learn more about the agreement and the functionality available by reading SAP Time and Attendance Management by WorkForce Software.
Who is WorkForce Software?
WorkForce Software is a best-of-breed provider of cloud-based workforce management solutions for organizations with complex policies and compliance concerns. They were formed in 1999 and are based in the US with offices in the UK and Australia. Through its EmpCenter® workforce management suite, WorkForce Software enables organizations to fully automate time and attendance processes, effectively manage employee absence and leave, optimize staff scheduling, and gain real-time visibility into labor costs and productivity. They have 1.8 million users at nearly 600 clients across more than 90 countries worldwide which all rely on WorkForce Software solutions to streamline compliance, reduce labor costs, provide more intuitive tools to their employees, and achieve strategic HR on a global basis.
What does the agreement mean for customers?
By adding these solutions to the SAP pricelist, it means customers have a one-stop-shop to purchase total workforce management solutions along with other solutions from SAP. Apart from simplifying procurement and billing, it also means that they leverage application support through the SAP Support Portal and benefit from investment in data and user interface (UI) integration between Employee Central and WorkForce Software. While both data and UI integration already exists (customers can see what is currently available by heading to SAP Service Marketplace via http://service.sap.com/ec-ondemand), additional, deeper integrations will continue to be developed to enhance the user experience.
For customers currently using older time and attendance systems, this opens up an entirely new option: the opportunity to transition to a best-of-breed solution in conjunction with SuccessFactors’ Employee Central and Employee Central Payroll. In addition, as more partners are trained to implement SAP Time and Attendance Management by WorkForce Software, customers will be able to use their preferred implementation partners. To meet the growing demand, WorkForce Software has already begun to ramp up its Partner Certification Program to supplement its existing roster of joint WorkForce Software and SuccessFactors implementation partners as well.
What this deal is not
While this deal is many things, there are definitely some things it is not. This reseller agreement is not about selecting one timesheet application over another. It’s not SAP Time and Attendance Management by WorkForce Software versus Employee Central Time Management. WorkForce Software offers a set of total workforce management solutions covering time and attendance, absence tracking, leave management, and schedule optimization. Employee Central’s time management capabilities offer a different use case, and we’ll cover this later in the blog.
The deal is also not meant to suggest that SAP are not investing in time management or that it does not have time management functionality currently; both are not true. The deal does mean that SAP is offering customers the chance to manage complex time and attendance scenarios, track absences, and more with one of the leading workforce management solutions in the market, in the event that their needs cannot be met by Employee Central Time Management. In addition, the solutions are not mutually exclusive. Customers who want to use time management in Employee Central, but want to perform absence tracking with WorkForce Software, for example, can do so.
The best way to answer this question is to quote Thomas Otter from this blog comment:
Partners play a vital part in our strategy. We don’t think we can build everything. We have excellent relationships with WorkForce [Software] and Kronos. These will strengthen rather than diminish
I believe that the approach is an excellent way of bridging the gap while SAP builds out functionality as well as a long-term solution for items that they do not plan to build. While some industry commentators may see this as SAP admitting they don’t have strong functionality, it’s worth pointing out that SAP – and any other vendor – simply cannot build out a fully functioning feature overnight. It takes time – and customer feedback – to build out functionality. In this candid interview with Jon Reed of Diginomica Thomas also points out that:
WorkForce [Software] are doing things with time at a much deeper industry level than we are currently capable of, or plan to do. Let’s say you’re a manufacturing org with 100,000 people. 60,000 work in a plant, and are unionized. 40,000 are salespeople and office staff. We’ll let WorkForce [Software] handle the manufacturing staff; we’ll handle the office staff.
What is offered in Employee Central Time Management?
Before we dive deeper into what all of this means, it’s worth quickly looking at the two offerings that make up Time Management in Employee Central.
The Time Off module offers employees the ability to book vacation, PTO, sick leave, and other types of leave. It can handle accruals (both standard and seniority based), holiday calendars, period-end processing, workflows, and offers both employees and managers a team calendar to view pending and approved time off. The Manage Time Off feature enables managers and/or HR administrators to view and modify time types and balances and create time off requests on behalf of employees. The solution has been available for around 2 years and has well over 100 customers using it.
A simple demonstration of the Time Off module can be seen in the blog Time Off in SuccessFactors Employee Central: demonstration. SAP customers can read the Time Off implementation handbook on SAP Service Marketplace at http://service.sap.com/ec-ondemand.
Formally known as Payroll Time Sheet, the recently released Time Sheet module enables overtime, positive, and negative time entry along with time valuation for each type of time entry that can then be sent to payroll to pay an employee. Additionally it can also handle entry of non-paid time such as on-call time and allowances. The Time Workbench is also provided to display all work schedules assigned to employees, show and highlight work schedule changes in a calendar view, and assign a new temporary work schedule to employees.
In the future, there is a likelihood that we should see the introduction of functionality like begin and end times for time recording (clock-in/clock-out), more complex valuation rules, and clock integration, etc.
A simple demonstration of the Time Sheet module can be seen in the blog Time Sheet in SuccessFactors Employee Central: demonstration, while the blog SuccessFactors Employee Central Time Sheet and Time Valuation gives a reasonable overview of the first release of the functionality. SAP customers can read the Time Sheet implementation handbook on SAP Service Marketplace at http://service.sap.com/ec-ondemand.
So what does this mean for SuccessFactors Time Management?
Well the simple answer is timing. SAP has it covered today and in the future. It just depends on what is needed when it is needed. SAP is still investing in building out a more generic time management solution, just as they did with SAP Time Management. However, Employee Central Time Management is aimed to offer more simplicity than SAP Time Management, which has seen the over-complex time schemas created by many SAP Time Management customers. Clients can leverage the SAP Time and Attendance Management by WorkForce Software for anything that is not native within Employee Central, and they can leverage Employee Central’s Time Off module, which is already handling complex scenarios.
Which Time Management solution is the best for me now or in the future?
As Thomas Otter said to Jon Reed in his candid interview for Diginomica:
We felt that in terms of immediate fit, WorkForce [Software] made sense. But this does not mean we are scaling back our own effort to build time and attendance. We believe that we will need elements of time and attendance in EC [Employee Central] going forward. We have clear customer demand for time and attendance native to EC.
This clearly points to a specific use case for SAP Time and Attendance Management by WorkForce Software and it makes a lot of sense to me. As a best-of-breed solution, WorkForce Software has a long history of handling complex requirements and meeting industry-specific needs, making SAP Time and Attendance Management by WorkForce Software an appealing option for those looking for an integrated cloud-based solution that targets complex needs and compliance concerns. At the same time, customers should remember that Time Management in Employee Central will continue to be available, providing a basic time management functionality aimed at meeting the requirements of a large selection of customers.
With all of this in mind, customers are still going to be interested in understanding which option works best for them. There are several factors that influence which solution to go for, but the issue essentially comes down to this: how complex are the requirements? For customers with more simple time management needs Employee Central Time Management is most likely the best fit. However, when you start to get into scenarios that are more complex, where the employer is working with multiple employee groups, pay codes, clock systems, valuation rules, unions, and locations, SAP Time and Attendance Management by WorkForce Software is purpose-built to address those needs – while keeping the customer on one SAP contract.
So what do the experts think?
For a deeper understanding, I wanted to get a couple of quotes from industry executives and experts on what they thought of the agreement. First, I turned to Kevin Haus, Global Alliances Manager at WorkForce Software to get his reaction:
SAP Time and Attendance Management by WorkForce Software brings two strong solutions together for a complete HCM suite. With the convenience of single sign on and key performance indicators that appear right on the SuccessFactors dashboard, users can readily spot trends and make informed decisions about time and labor.
I asked Joachim Förderer what he thought about the deal:
It’s all about choice and specific requirements. There is no one-size-fits-all Time and Attendance product out there, and we feel with our own offering natively in EC, plus the WorkForce Software product as a solution extension, our customers have that choice. Plus, there are other partners who will remain in the game. We will make sure that we advise our customers to pick the right option for themselves.
Sven Ringling – a long time expert in SAP Time Management and now growing his Employee Central skillset – said:
It’s great to see SAP and WorkForce Software establishing a closer partnership with the WorkForce Software solutions available on the SAP pricelist. Traditional SAP customers like the idea of getting everything from one vendor and this makes it easier for them. The real proof will be in the pudding, i.e. support. If that works a seamlessly as the sales process, when interface issues occur, it will be a great deal for customers.
The reseller arrangement between SAP and WorkForce Software certainly gives customers a trusted choice for time and attendance, absence tracking, leave management, and schedule optimization and enables them to purchase these solutions directly from SAP. It also gives Employee Central customers an option if their time and attendance needs cannot be handled in Employee Central’s Time Management features, or if they want to add scheduling and absence management tools to their solution. For customers looking for their Time Management capabilities to be handled by Employee Central, either now or in the future, this deal should not impact SAP’s roadmap or investment. Given the flexibility that this agreement offers, all-in-all it is a good deal for customers.
Further Reading and Upcoming Free Webinar
There are a few pieces that I recommend you check out in order to get a wide-range of perspectives on the topic, including:
- Free Webinar: December 10th: Cut Costs & Improve Efficiencies with SAP Time and Attendance Management by WorkForce Software
- News Analysis – WorkForce Software Announces Global Reseller Agreement with SAP (Constellation Research)
- SuccessFactors’ Thomas Otter on the WorkForce agreement, cloudy development, and HR futures (Diginomica)
- The comments on (RP)TIME to Say Good Bye? (SCN)
Also, don’t forget that you can keep up with the latest and greatest on SuccessFactors in the SAP HCM and SuccessFactors LinkedIn group. You can also keep up on Employee Central specific topics in the SuccessFactors Employee Central LinkedIn group, or follow WorkForce Software’s LinkedIn page.