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It seems the SuccessFactors community is only talking about implementing modules. Is there really nothing customers need once SuccessFactors Recruiting, Employee Central, Performance and Goals, or other modules are up and running? Many policies and practices incl SuccessFactors professional certification suggest: not really

There’s Some Demand for Post Implementation Services

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However, the great feedback my colleague got in just one area suggests otherwise: ever since he started blogging about SuccessFactors reporting tools we had a whole bunch of live customers asking for help with with Dashboards, BIRT reports, ORD or Employee Central advanced reporting.

Other topics live customers seem very much interested in are improved integration with SAP on-premise, Concur, Fieldglass, S/4 or 3rd party solutions including electronic HR files.


In the Old World, Experienced Consultants Worked Mostly with Experienced (i.e. Live) Customers

I’m fully aware that comparing SaaS / PaaS solutions with the old world doesn’t always make sense, but allow me one thought about the past: When I started in SAP R/3 HR in 1996, implementation projects were most of my job, though with payroll involved, annual updates started to take some time soon.

Fast forward 10 years and there were not that many implementations left to be done and they were often decided on price – leading to a focus on junior and offshore resources.

The best consultants with strong experience where picked off by experienced customers, who, after 10 years of live operations, needed experienced consultants to add value, knew how to spot them, and had the most challenging jobs:

– improving integration

– getting value add analytics

– system consolidation

– optimising systems to improve user acceptance and / or maintainability

– fixing cheap implementations…

Sure, the SaaS concept leads to much less need for all kinds of technical support services and leveraging innovation coming in through quarterly updates is easier than in the old world. Yet, there still is a clear need for help in process improvement and using the full potential of SuccessFactors. The number of customers still using PMv11 in Performance&Goals, although they are not 100% happy with it and could benefit from PMv12 Acceleration is just one small example I’ve come across a few times recently.


Consultants and Partners are Incentivised to Focus on New Implementations


Why do so few SuccessFactors consultants seem interested in helping customers to get more out of what they already have?

One reason could be that the whole incentive system set up by SAP is focusing on implementation and ignoring optimisation, unless HCP is involved:

Want to achieve the SuccessFactors professional certification, which SAP is pushing customers to demand? Get 3 new implementations of the same module done. Best achieved by jumping to the next client on go live day, so you’ll never learn, how your implementation stands the test of time

Want some extra revenue? Become a VAR and earn commission on each new subscription. Nothing to be made from lingering with the client after go-live…

Want any kind of SuccessFactors certification? Focus on one or few modules. Cross process knowledge is not really asked for. he Big Picture is for the Sales guy, if at all relevant.

Want to impress a recruiter? Give her a high number of full cycle implementations…

So, naturally, anything but implementations becomes a second priority. Sure, SAP have upped their game considerably with the new support model. Right thing to do! And strategically, SAP has to drive new SuccessFactors implementations, as this is the time when market share in the HR cloud market is determined.

It’s Kinda Normal for this Stage, but There’s Business to be Made With Live Customers

But for customers, it can be difficult to find innovative partners to help them getting more Bang for their subscription Bucks after go live. Added to scarcity is the problem that the experience and qualities they are looking for in this case are only partially represented by certifications.

So, SAP got it all wrong? Certainly not! They need to start somewhere and as emphasised above it’s the right focus for them. I’m almost sure it’ll shift over time and the re-design of support was already one such step.

Customers need to be aware, as always, what they are really looking for: the person with the highest number of implementations on their CV may not always be the answer to their challenges. Obviously I’m not arguing experience is not important, but that the right kind of experience is important.  if integration is your problem, the consultant, who’s done 5 standard implementations and left the difficult questions (like integration, process decisions, analytics, post go live user adoption) to others, is not necessarily better than the one, who’s done one implementation, but solved integration for 5 customers. And we also need to be clear that the implementation is, after all, not everything, but the first leg of a journey of innovation. The difference to the on-premise world is that they will find it much easier to keep up with the innovation they pay for, but it will still take some effort.

While this is all happening, I got an appointment booked with my colleague Chris for some more knowledge sharing in reporting tools… 🙂


Update, Easter 2016:

IT feels what is happening more and more now is integration of add-ons and partner solutions and switching on features not in scope of the initial implementation. This is imo driven by two trends working together:

– customers getting the basics all set up and now adding extra value

– SAP adding ever more features as integration like SAPposting (formerly multiposting) and Docusign integration in Recruiting or native new and improved features like Timesheet, Document generation, improved benefits functionality, and more in Employee Central. Reporting is still the top improvement topic hitting my team, but this may be due to the many blogs my colleague wrote on it.

It still seems that partners have a tendency to push for new modules rather than improving what’s there – probably for the same reasons as outlined above. Wich is a shame, because after a successful P&G implementation switching to continuous performance management would imo add more value for most businesses than adding compensation.

Off course this is a competely different conversation, but any consultant who says “annual review is what the customer had and asked for, so why suggest continuous now?” should be stripped of the title “consultant” immediately – no matter how many certifications. These people may write “senior platinum with configuration box ticker with 5 diamond stars” on their business cards.

It’s not even acceptable in this case to say “this is a business decision and IT just follows” (dto), because it’s not. Without the right technology to support it, continuous performance mgt was possible, but rather impractical. So, the very least would be to explain to the client what is possible now and how it could improve their business performance.

But, of course, this wouldn’t earn you any commission as a VAR nor a project towards your professional certification…

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6 Comments

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  1. Jim Newman

    I enjoyed reading your Blog Sven.  Very insightful and more importantly, very real. Evolution, optimization and ongoing value realization are very important for customers and SAP, and it’s incumbent on us, the eco-system, to help customers realize that value as we’re ultimately all co-dependents.  Would be a great panel discussion! 🙂

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    1. Sven Ringling Post author

      Thank you, Jim! Yes, I guess you are right. Would make an interesting panel – particularly in markets like the US, where you have a mature instal base as well as enough new customers to bring together and learn from each other.

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  2. Luke Marson

    I am seeing more and more need for post-implementation support, particularly beyond what SAP offers from a support perspective. SAP does offer some great resources for customers who are live, but even then it can be difficult without a focused approach. Many customers are still learning their system and therefore don’t always have time to understand the realities of quarterly releases.

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