In April 2020 SAP SuccessFactors delivered the anticipated new release format with “H1 2020”. With this new release, a whole host of updates have been made across all SuccessFactors modules. Though all these updates are important and helpful to the entire SuccessFactors community, the enhanced Continuous Performance Management (CPM) UI is a real highlight.
Activities: The new CPM UI offers a range of new functionality within the sub-module. The Activities view consists of a slick dual tab view of viewing by status and goals. Status’ can still be configured for customer requirements, but the great addition here is the drag and drop functionality. End users can now quickly and accurately assign their open activities into an easy-to-read view.
Achievements: Updates to the achievements tab are an enhancement too. Firstly, the analytical summary at the top of the screen provides a great overview of the current CPM usage and status of an employee. The achievements are neatly presented across the page using smart tiles with a supporting filter option to deep-dive into specific periods of time.
Meetings: Finally, we have the meetings tab. Once again SuccessFactors has introduced the analytical summary at the forefront of the page. Further additions include the rebranded “Discussion Topics” replacing the pre-existing “Other Topics”. The new page offers all information to be viewed on a single screen without navigating one-by-one through countless topics. The meeting history feature allows end-users to specify dates for discussion topics making referring to previous meetings ever simpler. Next, we have the note-taking feature, allowing items to be captured within 1:1 meeting between an employee and manager and stored directly in the CPM area.
Why have these changes been made?
The main reason behind all these updates is to make the CPM tool easier to use and increase efficiency. The current way of prioritising activities by status on top of having regular meetings with staff is often regarded as additional administration work by managers. By aligning to the Kanban method, which I will propose later in this blog, SAP are introducing a way to manager weekly activities in a way that employees might already adopt from their day-to-day work. If adopted, this could mean a faster transition of using the Continuous Performance Management tool.
On the achievements tab, the new user interface now allows users to see all of their achievements and the activities associated in one place. For the meetings tab, SuccessFactors has repurposed Other Topics for the Discussion Topics feature. Once again, this has been built to make it easier for employees and their respective managers to access numerous records of any topics discussed within the context of any 1:1 meetings or past meetings. For the Activities tab, these updates have been made not only in terms of looks, but behaviour also. The argument that I will propose in the latter of this blog is the shift from setting activities with a priority status to a progress status.
How should you use it?
With all these great updates being introduced, the most crucial part is now using these in the right way to suit a customer need. If a customer has used CPM in the past, they may be familiar with the sub-modules usage around creating activities and achievements to discuss with their line manager or to align these to their overall performance goals.
Now, and with the support of the new CPM user interface, customers can use the latest activity view as a task planner. This task planner can be used over the course of a week/month depending on the size of each activity. End-users are now able to list out all crucial activities to be completed for the period ahead with their CPM page. This is perhaps a more well-known and generally accepted method of project planning, the only drawback here is this is a new way of using the CPM tool.
As we can define the status options in the CPM admin console, end-users can progressively move their activities towards a completion status. This now allows CPM to act as an agile project management tool, constantly being updated in real time for both the employee and line manager to see.
During scheduled 1:1 meeting’s, this page can be referred to quickly and efficiently. It is also clear to see how the employee’s progress is coming along; what is completed, what tasks are pending and which activities the employee needs to action. By having this view, managers can track the progress of employees in real-time. With the help of the new notes’ functionality in the meeting view, comments on the overall progress of this project management tool can be pre-populated and addressed.
To help new and existing clients adopt this approach when using CPM, referring to the Kanban methodology can be a useful solution. Kanban is well regarded as a lean method to manage and improve work across human systems. In this case, the CPM functionality visualises activities tiles as work items, acting as a “Kanban board”. This gives the employee a view of progress and process from start to finish. The aim of providing a visual process management, which can now be deployed in SuccessFactors can aid decision making of employees about which tasks they need to prioritise or action.
With the Kanban methodology to follow, customers looking to implement this new method of using CPM will find the first transition steps in already in place. In terms of SuccessFactors, configuring the previous CPM priorities for activities such as “High, Medium, Low” into the new “Not Started, In Progress, Complete” is a strong start. Existing users of CPM will need to think about the migrating process to a more well-known method of project management working. The most considerable change will be transitioning away from the priority status. SuccessFactors customers can make the configuration update at any time, but a sensible solution would be to wait until the new performance cycle begins before adopting this method to help ease the transition. Alternatively, new SuccessFactors and CPM customers can adopt this method immediately after their CPM implementation.
Despite all the positive upgrades, the downside to this new UI is the missing feedback functionality which makes the standard CPM module so effective in gathering feedback on specific pieces of activity from possibly anyone in the organisation. Though this is a roadmap item for the next release, this new UI and way of working would be enhanced further if feedback was included. In addition, if customers are already using feedback in CPM and wish to adopt this new method of working within the CPM sub-module they face a decision to delay the transition or lose feedback functionality entirely.
In summary, the new CPM UI is a positive step forward in terms of new functionality and ways of use. In my opinion and experience, the previous CPM UI often held back clients from using the tool as it may have been a chore to update across the company to maximise its potential. However, with this new UI and potentially project management method of using it, more customers will invest in this specific part of SuccessFactors. It is important to note however, this update is not yet mandatory. Clients who still wish to use the existing version of CPM are free to do so, this update is very much opt-in at this current time.