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It has been another very eventful year in HR Technology and last year at this time, a group of friends and I collaborated to write The Future of SAP HCM and SuccessFactors Consulting - 2015. This year we split the report into a three-part series with the Future of SAP HCM On Premise Consulting – 2016 (Part 1) and Future of SuccessFactors Consulting – Talent Management (Part 3) released over the past month. This is the second installment and hopefully everyone enjoys this series.

I have no doubt we are we are still in the early innings of the multi year shift from client server OnPremise software (i.e. SAP HCM, Oracle EBS, PeopleSoft) to the next generation cloud based offerings (i.e. SuccessFactors, Workday, Oracle HCM Cloud). Some of called it a "Once in a Decade Land Grab" which is spot on and Bill Kutik has done a great job of comparing the major HR cloud vendors in this article. SAP has been very aggressive over the past 5 years spending over 17 billion on acquiring cloud companies such as SuccessFactors, Ariba, Fieldglass and Concur and is now predicting that cloud and support revenue will overtake software by 2018.

Given that, it should come as no surprise that SAP is leading with SuccessFactors HCM Suite for all new customers, in most regions worldwide. There has always been a delicate balance within the SAP HCM Consulting market and this major shift over the last few years of HR customers moving to the cloud (with SuccessFactors and to competitors) has had a huge impact on the traditional SAP HCM consulting market. In the SAP HCM market, I am seeing a very little opportunity, billable rate compression, layoffs and it is not a place you want to be longer term.

On the flip side virtually every consulting company is looking to add experienced SuccessFactors resources as well as re-train and their existing consultants on new technology. This was one of the reasons I recorded “Becoming and HCM SaaS Consultant and followed it up with “Becoming a SuccessFactors Consultant” with fellow SAP Mentor Alumni Jon Reed and Luke Marson to help people with the transition. For any customers or consultants reading this, the SuccessFactors consulting world is VERY different than the SAP consulting world and would high recommending watching the video below.

While there will continue to be some very small pockets of strength in the SAP HCM market in various regions and modules, the combination of the product roadmap being squarely focused on SuccessFactors, SAP sales teams leading with the Cloud (for HR), continued off-shoring, faster implementations, the buzz for cloud based HR technology and serious competitive threats from Workday, Oracle Fusion and others guarantee the OnPremise SAP HCM consulting market will continue its downward spiral.

I decided to reach out to a diverse group of individuals that I personally know and trust would give an honest opinion of what they are seeing on the ground in their respective areas. They include SAP HCM and SuccessFactors Industry Experts, SAP Mentors, SAP Press Authors, HR Expert authors, well-known conference speakers and some of the most knowledgeable individuals I know in the industry.  Here are their thoughts.

SuccessFactors Project Management

I reached out to Steve Bogner who is Managing Partner at Insight Consulting Partners a fellow SAP Mentor, maestroof the great HCM Podcast Group and he told me:

Sound advice for SAP HCM and SuccessFactors HCM project management is much the same as a year ago. The technical landscape is changing rapidly, so be sure to keep an eye on that as you plan your roadmap and implementation. Integration is still a key part of projects, with more moving to HANA Cloud Integration (HCI). Consultancies are racing to build their practices and win implementations, keeping us in a Wild West environment for now. Address this by being selective with the consultancies and consultants you bring in to your projects, and perhaps by hiring a third-party, independent consultant as an advisor.

As you plan projects it is ever more critical to have good, solid buy-in and ownership from each business area impacted. In fact, if the business areas - HR, Benefits, Payroll, etc - are not willing to allocate resources and leadership then it might not be the right time to start critical projects. And also remember that IT resources are still needed! There is integration work, understanding legacy systems, and system architecture issues (and more) to deal with in the cloud.

SuccessFactors Employee Central

I reached out to Luke Marson, who is a Certified Professional in Employee Central, has worked with over 15 SuccessFactors customers ranging from 750 to 105,000 employees, co-author of the SAP PRESS books "SuccessFactors with SAP ERP HCM" and “SuccessFactors Employee Central: The Comprehensive Guide, runs the SuccessFactors business at Hula Partners and delivers Employee Central and integration implementations, optimization, strategy, roadmapping, assessment, and advisory who told me:

2015 was really the year that Employee Central took off. SAP sold their 1,000th subscription for Employee Central and a number of large global customers went live. Employee Central continued to mature, with enhancements to existing features (such as time management and workflows) and introduction of new features (such as document generation and contingent workforce management). The integration offerings have increased significantly in terms of SAP integration capabilities (i.e. CATS, GRC, Fieldglass, etc.) and technology (SAP HANA Cloud Integration (HCI) is now available for new customers).

In terms of the consulting market, there has been a surge in demand for quality resources (also in areas such as Recruiting and Onboarding). Although there are a limited number of experience consultants compared to other modules, customers should still be easily able to find consultants that have Professional Certification to lead their implementation. However, some customers are still not doing their due diligence or are hiring brand names without understanding who will actually deliver the implementation. As a result, there have been several customers who have struggled with their implementation or who have needed help afterwards to fix their botched implementations.

The maturity of the product is no longer a question and large enterprises are actively implementing or have gone live with Employee Central. Only recently was I lucky enough to begin working with one of the largest oilfield services firm in the world, who has over 105,000 employees across more than 40 countries. They are currently rolling out Employee Central over the next 18 months while integrating back to SAP ERP, which goes to show that even large, complex, global organizations are able to leverage Employee Central for their HR needs. And every quarter last year, SAP signed a new record sized customer for Employee Central. SAP’s top five Employee Central customers in terms of employees employee over 1.3 million people and are headquartered in 4 different continents.

In 2016, I expect to see more and more consultants obtaining both Associate Certification as well as Professional Certification in Employee Central, as more consultants continue to gain further experience due to the rapid growth of Employee Central. Many firms have still not delivered many Employee Central implementations or have delivered them at smaller customers, meaning that customers really need to look around at the ecosystem and do their due diligence to avoid getting burned. Customers can learn a few more tricks in this interview on Firing Line with Bill Kutik that features jarret.pazahanick groups

Would love to get your comments, questions to the authors, and your individual point of view.

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