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Source:www.awesome-desktop.com by S.K.

I remember when in the early 90-ties while client-server and object-oriented solutions started to conquer the IT market displacing monolithic mainframe environments, the development teams could at last provide business users with shorter iterative development cycles and involve them throughout the whole development process.

Thus cloud computing is nothing new here. Iterative and agile development as well as user involvement has been known for over 20 years. Whether they are conducted effectively or not, is another question.

Often we are so fascinated by the new technology and its potential that we forget to ask some simple questions. Therefore I cannot overlook discussions on how replacement of SAP HCM with SuccessFactors technology will radically change the implementation process involving the users, shortening the project time, making the configuration iterative, giving better ROI etc. 

As cloud computing is inevitably the future environment making life much easier and processing much more effective and dynamic, we should openly talk about the challenges while implementing this new technology to set appropriate expectations for the future customers. It is worth to clarify a few misconceptions related to the implementation process. 

  • I have read that implementation of solutions based on SuccessFactors comparing to SAP HCM involve the business users through the whole process providing iterative design workshops every couple of weeks with instant change implementation. As that is true such iterative design workshops can also be conducted implementing SAP HCM as long as the changes involve configuration enabled features and processes. As the applied technology contributes to the iterative process in considerable degree, the project management is the main and fundamental factor here.

  • Another statement on compressing time schedule for SuccessFactors projects compared to SAP HCM implementations due to very high configurability of SuccessFactors should also be explained. 

One of the main differences between cloud systems, here SuccessFactors and on-premise, here SAP HCM, is that cloud systems can only be fitted to the business processes through the configuration, while on-premise systems can also be customized, or colloquially called “hacked”. To my knowledge most of consultants strongly recommend clients on practicing configuration and avoiding the customization. Unfortunately quite often the business requirements, often driven by competitive advantage, cannot be met simply by configuration and then customizing takes place. That’s truly where the shoe pinches.

It is not the configuration time that busts the budget, it is the customization. I can only refer to one of my SAP E-Recruiting implementation projects where we used standard functionality and went live in 8 weeks with the solution. Ergo, it is achievable with on-premise system too.

The question that should be asked here is whether the provided configuration features and options are flexible enough to cover business requirements. And in the case where it is not possible, it would be interesting to see how the customers react and what they choose and at last - how we can help them.

  • One more overlooked challenge while discussing length and speed of projects applying cloud computing versus on-premise is the complexity of the business to be supported as well as readiness and involvement of the business organization. That applies especially to talent management processes that more often than not are not so rigid and consolidated in the organization as administrative processes.

Implementing a talent management solution requires specification and consensus on involved talent processes within the organization. It is the prerequisite for a successful implementation without regard to the applied technology. Whether you apply SuccessFactors or SAP HCM the project will be extended if the decisions are not in place at the right time. 

As we are very excited about the new cloud computing possibilities at the same time we should foresee the challenges related to it and advise our customers as objectively as possible. Especially that many challenges we have already seen in the past.

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