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Author's profile photo J. Pazahanick

Wild West of the SAP SuccessFactors Partner Ecosystem

SuccessFactors re-launched Professional Certification about 2.5 years ago, which has a requirement of two projects as lead and customer references to be able to qualify, and as of October 25, 2017 only 49% of official SuccessFactors partners currently have at least one consultant with it across any the 11 certifications. It is crazy to me that more than half of the of the 191 SuccessFactors Service/Implementation Partners do not have at least one consultant with Professional Certification in any of the 11 modules. Here is the information on the 94 SuccessFactors Partners that meet this criteria by region by module of certification.

Update – November 13th – Sadly SuccessFactors has now removed the detailed information that has been publicly shared on the community for the past year, and referenced above and below, which appears to be going in the opposite direction of transparency customers deserve.

When you look deeper into the numbers you can see the following information by module which becomes more troubling:

  1. 79% of SuccessFactors Partners do not even have 1 Professionally Certified Employee Central Consultant
  2. 79% of SuccessFactors Partners do not even have 1 Professionally Certified Recruiting Management Consultant
  3. 91% of SuccessFactors Partners do not even have 1 Professionally Certified Recruiting Marketing Consultant
  4. 99% of SuccessFactors Partners do not even have 1 Professionally Certified Career Development Planning Consultant
  5. 81% of SuccessFactors Partners do not even have 1 Professionally Certified SuccessFactors Compensation Consultant
  6. 80% of SuccessFactors Partners do not even have 1 Professionally Certified SuccessFactors Learning Consultant
  7. 95% of SuccessFactors Partners do not even have 1 Professionally Certified SuccessFactors Onboarding Consultant
  8. 63% of SuccessFactors Partners do not even have 1 Professionally Certified SuccessFactors Performance & Goal Consultant
  9. 86% of SuccessFactors Partners do not even have 1 Professionally Certified SuccessFactors Succession Consultant
  10. 96% of SuccessFactors Partners do not even have 1 Professionally Certified SuccessFactors Variable Pay Consultant
  11. 98% of SuccessFactors Partners do not even have 1 Professionally Certified SuccessFactors Workforce Analytics/Planning Consultant

So long story short, customers should realize they only have a 1% to 37% chance of engaging with a partner that even has one consultant that has two projects as a lead and two happy customers (i.e Professional Certification) depending on the SuccessFactors modules they are implementing and even then what are the odds that consultant is going to be assigned to your project.

Brandon Toombs (who is professionally certified by the way) had a great idea is why cant SAP SuccessFactors provide a list of who is professionally certified by Partner as it should be easy for SAP to have consultants opt if they want to be part of the program.

Just because one of the consulting firms above has at least one Professionally Certified consultant that doest mean that you as a customer are going to get that person or they are certified in the SuccessFactors module you are implementing or that they even still work at consulting firm as there is a lot of turnover in our industry. Luke Marson does a very good job of outlining this program in this blog that was written almost 2 years ago if you are unfamiliar with it.

Prospective SuccessFactors customers need to be very diligent on choosing a SI and choosing each consultant as it is still the “wild west” out there and there is very good chance if you do not, you will end up with a consultant/s that are not qualified to lead your implementation as two projects as a lead + customer references is not really a lot in the whole scheme of things (I have 40 in SAP/SF Payroll for example) 🙂 To put in perspective we have SuccessFactors endorsed partners looking for SuccessFactors “Developers”, SuccessFactors endorsed partners looking for contractors to help them get certified, SuccessFactors endorsed partners winning work without the key skilled resources to deliver project, 19 partners considered “recognized experts” but some of them don’t even have any Professionally Certified Consultants, have customers answering their own SuccessFactors endorsed partners questions and SuccessFactors endorsed partners offering “free” Employee Central implementations (with all the details murky) plus a lot more that happens behind the scenes that most customers never see.

Why this is so important is that experienced and well trained consultants can often be the difference between good and bad implementations, happy and referenceable customers, and will be important if SuccessFactors ever starts sharing customer satisfaction information publicly like their competitors. Successful implementations are a win/win/win for customers, partners and SuccessFactors as happy customers can be the best sales advocate in the marketplace. This was a key topic that Bill KutikLuke Marson and myself talked about in our “SI Tricks of Trade” video released two years ago and it is often discussed in the Global SAP and SuccessFactors Linkedin Group as well.

I have had several calls with SAP recommending that SuccessFactors step up and truly start to police and monitor the partner ecosystem over the past year. The first step will be to really reduce the number of official partners (they have 191 Service Partners and Workday for example has 36) especially since many are not qualified to do an implementation to start with and given how many there are vs the volume of work lead to some very shady go-to-market practices by some of these “official” partners. SuccessFactors should also ensure that every project has at least one professionally certified consultant in each module of the SuccessFactors implementation. Again all Professionally Certified means is two projects as a lead and a customer reference which should be the bare minimum customers deserve especially given the dollars they pay consulting firms and the trust they are putting with SAP SuccessFactors.

SuccessFactors says “Please note that the posted list of Professional Certified Partners may not be representative of Partners’ current level of experience. Since this program is new, we have many Partners that qualify for Professional Certification but have not formally applied” which is interesting on several fronts. They consider a program launched over 2.5 years ago “new” and they appear to be “hoping” that partners apply and are okay with customers living in the “grey” area of not having the proper information vs mandating that projects have to have SuccessFactors Professionally certified consultants which would definitely nudge those that haven’t formally applied (if they are really out there). Transparency is extremely important in the cloud and the above response is not acceptable in my opinion and important to note that even Denis Tournesac who is Senior Vice President of Global Partner Operations agrees:

Sadly to date SuccessFactors seems to be following the old school SAP Partner playbook which Vinnie Mirchandani does a great job of outlining in SAP Nation where many customers are getting inexperienced consultants that just passed their multiple choice Associate Certification and are showing up to learn on the job at the clients expense. Customers should be able to easily look up by Partner, by Module the individual consultants, their certification and the projects they have worked on. Status Quo is no longer acceptable as Brian Sommer outlines in this very good article, and part of customers getting the full value of the cloud and on-time, on-budget implementations is having good partners that are vetted, trained, certified and monitored by their cloud vendor.

November 7 – Update

Some great insights from Venki Krishamoorthy (who has multiple SuccessFactors Professional Certifications) and Naomi Bloom who is a long time HR Technology Industry Experts that is very relevant to this conversation.

November 11 – Update

Here is some new information from SAP/SuccessFactors on Professional Certification and looks like “another” Certification Transformation review is underway. Fingers crossed they get this right once and for all.

3 Gigs, 3 References, 3 Years: The Elite SAP-SuccessFactors Professional Certification Demystified

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      Author's profile photo Christopher Solomon
      Christopher Solomon

      GREAT blog and can not agree more!!!! As a consultant, this is EXTREMELY frustrating (ie. no SAP enforcement of quality), so I can only imagine the further frustrations the customers experience. Something needs to change QUICKLY across the board.....from certification process to project "quality". Sadly, this is more of SAP's history where they book the "sale" and let the implementors fight it out for landing the whatever they turn a blind eye and only poke their head back up if follow-up revenue is possible.

      Author's profile photo J. Pazahanick
      J. Pazahanick
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks Christopher Solomon and spot on.  I cross posted on LI and got 20X the views and 30X the comments and 80X the likes (which shows what a ghost town SCN is)

      Funny as every SI knows this an issue, knows there is to much competition, is scared to say anything (as SAP/SF will try to punish) and DONT want extra controls (i.e policing) as in the current environment will cost them $.  Lots of short term thinking in the SAP/SF and SI community which has been happening for years and definitely starting to catch up with SAP/SF with some major customer loses to Workday all over the world.