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Author's profile photo Prateek Raj Srivastava

HXM Solution Architect – The Why and The What?

Solution Architects are everywhere. Whether you are a customer or a partner or a consultant, you will see this title being used widely, and in some cases arbitrarily, by various groups and individuals.  If you ask 10 individuals to define a role of a ‘Solution Architect’. I am sure you will get 11 different answers. 🙂 Solution Architects in my opinion are prime advocates as well as the critics of a solution. They provide the right guidance to clients and businesses towards the most efficient implementation of a solution based on the business needs. You might think – should I really care about that? And what does it have to do with HXM? My recommendation would be a definitive Yes and let’ see why.

The traditional HCM (Human Capital Management) is evolving, and organizations are realizing the power of a more engaged workforce. SAP Human Experience Management solution is a key enabler for organizations to better engage with their workforce, provide them with a seamless experience throughout various processes, listen to their feedback and incorporate it to enhance their journey. SAP SuccessFactors HXM Suite offers a comprehensive solution for this end-to-end Recruit to Retire process.

The Why: The HXM Suite offers a wide range of cloud-based products and solutions to jump start the standardization of customer HR processes. However, it is a fact that no two customers are exactly the same and even though there are standard processes that several customers can adopt, there would remain nuances specific to customer requirements. These nuances can arise from a wide range of factors such as collective bargaining requirements, number of employees, monolith legacy applications, traditional processes, organizational culture, country specific rules, past grievances, mergers & acquisitions and many many more.

Then how would you navigate through the wide range of solutions within the HXM suite and determine which HXM solution would best fit your organization’s need? This is where the role of an HXM Solution Architect comes in. An HXM Solution Architect can evaluate the current state of your HR processes, applications, gather your business requirements, constraints and provide a solution tailored to your business based on the leading practices. A Solution Architect provides the answer to ‘how does it all come together’.

The What: Next question would be – what should you expect from an HXM Solution Architect? Let’s take an example to explore this question. Let’s say you have hired 5 Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) for all the 5 key HR domains you would like to revamp. These are industry proven experts in their specific areas and are providing the best transformation inputs to your organization. On its own, each of these 5 domains have an excellent future state design but who is responsible to ensure that each of these domains can interact seamlessly. You will need an HXM Solution Architect to provide the leading practices on how the interaction across these domains should work. The domains in this example can range from individual processes, to business areas, to SuccessFactors modules, to various other products in HXM offerings, to other non-HXM related processes and products.

This was just one of the several examples to explore the ‘What’. A seasoned customer typically has a considerably highly complex landscape and requirements. Depending upon where a customer is in their HR transformation journey, an HXM Solution Architect can provide guidance in various areas. Below are some of the key areas where HXM Solution Architects should get involved to ensure consistency across the HR stream as well across the organization.

Here are some samples questions that HXM Solution Architects can assist organizations to answer:

  • Deployment Options:
    • What do 2025/ 2027 end of maintenance dates and several other dates from SAP mean for your organization?
    • How does this all fit in with S/4HANA buzz?
  • Cross-module and cross-application interactions:
    • How would the handover between Recruiting – Onboarding – Employee Central work?
    • Can we use position management for our external workforce handled through Fieldglass?
  • Enterprise and Technology Architecture:
    • What are the Business Architecture, Technical Architecture and Information Architecture align with organizational future direction?
    • What should be the middleware strategy and how can I align it with enterprise middleware strategy?
  • Instance Management:
    • How many instances would I need to procure per module?
    • Which instance would be used during which phase of the implementation?
  • Reporting & Analytics:
    • What are the in-product reporting options and what are the cross-product reporting options? Where does SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) fit in?
    • How can we devise a Reporting strategy as part of the Transformation project?
  • Integrations:
    • What are the typical interactions between Payroll – Time – Core HR – Benefits – Finance?
    • What are the leading integration patterns to follow?
  • Data Conversion & Strategy:
    • How many mock conversions do I truly need? What would feed into payroll parallel tests?
    • What are various Extract, Transform, Load options?
    • What should be the data scrambling strategy?
  • Security:
    • What should be the Single Sign-On approach?
    • How does workforce data interact with the identity data in an organization?
  • Extension:
    • If the existing functionalities in the applications do not meet the business requirement, what are my suite extension options?
    • Which extension option to choose and when?
  • UI/UX/Mobile:
    • How would employees and contractors login? Would they have to hop to different applications for different processes?
    • How does SuccessFactors mobile app work with MDMs?
  • SuccessFactors Platform:
    • How can organization specific themes be setup?
    • What is Proxy and Delegation?
  • Qualtrics
    • How can we improve employee engagements?
    • How can employee feedback be turned into actionable insights?
  • Tools and Accelerators:
    • What are the key tools and accelerators in the market to jump start the implementation and reduce the overall implementation timeline?
    • Are there tools to automate recurring tasks and manual steps during the various testing cycles?

HXM Solution Architect role span across multiple areas. The scope and complexity of your HR Transformation initiative should lead to a decision on the type of Solution Architect involvement. Each of the topics mentioned above are blog-worthy and I will try to cover as many of these in my future blogs as possible. I will also try to cover some of the additional questions you might have around an HXM Solution Architect role in the future. Please share your feedback on the content and what would you like to know more about an HXM Solution Architect. Also, please feel free to share your experiences on the impact of Solution Architects in your HR Transformation projects.

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      5 Comments
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      Author's profile photo Ivan Dosaev
      Ivan Dosaev

      Nice blog on a very underestimated topic, Prateek, thank you.

      My idea of solution architect role in a project is to raise and answer the most difficult questions. You gave pretty common examples, but in general there is no defined set of difficult questions that is relevant for all projects and clients.

      Any question becomes difficult when it is expensive to revert the decision and this is when you call your solution architect.

       

      Author's profile photo Prateek Raj Srivastava
      Prateek Raj Srivastava
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks Ivan for your comment. I agree, it is definitely underestimated and that is why I wanted to bring up the importance of this role. I totally get your comment about the 'difficult questions' and I wanted to highlight here with some examples the areas where the difficult questions arise to showcase the breadth of . Each of the areas in my opinion are blog-worthy and have several complexities associated.

      Author's profile photo Arpit Nigam
      Arpit Nigam

      Excellent !!

      Author's profile photo amol hirulkar
      amol hirulkar

      Excellent topic, Prateek! Looking forward to read the deep dive into some of the areas that you mentioned above. As a suggestion, it would be interesting to read your opinion on cross application design approach since it's very unique across clients and I always feel that it takes a great deal of critical thinking.

      Author's profile photo Srinivas Prabhu
      Srinivas Prabhu

      Good one. Looking forward to read the future blogs on this topic. Thank you.