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Author's profile photo Priyanka Porwal

Global Benefits in Employee Central – A Design Thinking Showcase

Dear All,

Wish you all a happy 2016. Here I am with my first blog for 2016. I have been meaning to write about this since quite some time, finally I am able to pen down my thoughts.

I had earlier shared my thoughts on how Design Thinking helps in solving the right problem for the end user. With this blog, I would like to share few experiences of using Design Thinking Methodology and how it resulted in the product  – Global Benefits in Employee Central. Yours truly acted as the Design Thinking Coach for this during the Design Thinking process.

Previously, non-availability of Global Benefits was considered as a major gap in Employee Central. And although we had the on-premise Benefits, this would be only available to customers who use either EC Payroll or Hybrid scenarios. We needed to build something native to Employee Central which could be used by all EC customers. Keeping this in mind, we started working on Global Benefits and chose to use Design Thinking Methodology.

Traditionally, coming from globalization services, we have many country version for our HR solutions. One way would have been to build similar country versions in Employee Central as well. Alternately we could combine similar aspects in many countries and make it as a common product feature. Design Thinking helped us in choosing the second approach. As a result we have a Benefits Framework that caters to multiple country requirements and can be used for different Benefit Types – Allowances, Reimbursements, Pensions, Insurances, Wallets, Deductible Allowances, Other Benefits etc. The country specific benefit can be created with minimal effort and could be used by customers across the globe.

So how did we approach this?

Design Thinking advocates interaction with end user, the ones who are going to actually use the product. For this we identified various users like Employees, IT Administrators, Total Rewards Administrators, Payroll Administrators, People Managers and HR Administrators. We conducted close to 25 interviews across all regions (APJ, EMEA, LATAM, NA ). And what could be better than interacting with our very own SAP HR colleagues across the globe. The SAP HR colleagues in various regions are well versed with policies, know the eligibility and entitlement rules for a country and were the best source of information that we needed. This engagement helped us in –

1) Bringing a holistic picture across all countries.

2) Combining the similar requirements and creating a Framework.

3) Identifying very country-specific requirements and addressing them.

4) Understanding the various nuances of Global Benefits – eligibility rules, global/country specific benefit, entitlement, payroll integration and associated payment or deduction, extensibility, configurability needs for both UI and underlying objects.

5) Connecting the end user to our product. When the end user is involved in creation of the product, there is a sense of ownership that automatically comes along and brings in a lot of satisfaction and motivation. One of the Regional heads for Total Rewards mentioned that,” This is the first time in my 12 years, my experience is being used to design a product”.

6) Understanding the needs of accessing the solution on mobile.

7) Understanding the integration needs with various other functionalities.

8) Understanding that most of the products in market are very NA focused and more addressing the needs of HR Administrators. It was time to bring in another important actor “employee” in the game and also to ensure that solution could cater to global needs.

9) Understanding the needs of integrating with life events.

10) Bringing consistency across implementations for various country needs.

Just to give an idea, here is a picture of the countries Global Benefits supports now.


We started in Q4 2013 and at the moment we have a leading reinsurer in Europe, a leading automotive engineering company in US already using Global Benefits. Additionally many others are in implementation phase. We would not have been able to achieve all this in a short period of time had we not used Design Thinking as the underlying foundation. Thanks to Design Thinking, the product is a success in global market now and one of the major differentiator against competition.

As usual, eager to hear back from you.

Best Regards,


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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Great post Priyanka! I am big proponent for the Design Thinking approach that that you describe, having done something very similar for a customer for on-premise Benefits. Traditionally, it it has been said that Benefits and Compensation cannot be global since there are many local nuances and exceptions. While that is true for the actual plans and rules, there should absolutely be a global framework around the types of plans, flexible rules, integration, user interaction etc.- which is what is showcased in EC Benefits. I am excited to see the evolution of this product in future releases!

      Wish you a happy 2016 as well!

      Author's profile photo Priyanka Porwal
      Priyanka Porwal
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks for the kind words Chirag. Very rightly said.

      Author's profile photo Sven Ringling
      Sven Ringling

      Excelent blog combining two interesting topics. I should think focussing on finding the common global requirements and principals not only makes it easier to incorporate new countries, but also makes the solution more agile to accomodate future changes in any country than an starting with the bespoke country details would have achieved.

      One question: seeing the UK has a nice yellow colour, so hopefully covered now or soon: can you point me towards any info how EC deals with UK Pension Auto-Enrolment?

      Author's profile photo Priyanka Porwal
      Priyanka Porwal
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks Sven. Agree with what you said. It also brings in more consistency across different country implementations and thus more easy to use for end user.

      About UK, lets discuss it offline on current possibilities.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Nice  Blog

      Author's profile photo Priyanka Porwal
      Priyanka Porwal
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks Monalisa.