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Today, I continue my interview with part 2 of the Q&A with Heike Kolar, Business Development Manager – hr expertise at inside Unternehmensberatung GmbH to discuss some of the common questions and challenges about implementing and using Employee Central. You can read Part 1 here.

What would you say are the key differences between implementing on-premise SAP HCM and when implementing Employee Central?

The key differences result out of the deployment model of both solutions. When implementing an on-premise solution, customers need to also to deal with the IT infrastructure topics and size their hardware correctly, negotiate or adjust the contracts with their hardware providers. This is an extra effort that does not play a role when implementing cloud. The IT infrastructure topic in the cloud model is with the provider, not with the customer.

With implementing cloud also activities around identifying the right software or support packages and possible software dependencies is nothing the customers need to deal with, they simply get the latest code of the solution and can fully concentrate on the configuration. Configuration then is a good next aspect to look at. The on-premise solution allows customers to customize the solution towards their need, they have access to the source code and can add additional source code in the system directly. There is nothing bad about this as such, although in a lot of cases this has created the big HCM implementation beasts, has allowed various departments in the company group to add whatever they liked, and overall this is hard to be controlled centrally and hinders simplification and standardized processes, reduces the companies’ agility to mention some outcomes. Cloud instead does not grant access to source code. Customers do influence the system behavior by configuration. SuccessFactors allows a lot of configuration, including that a customer can deeply tailor the solution to their custom specific needs. Here are to mention the Metadata Framework (MDF) and the extension packages available with SAP HANA Cloud Platform for SuccessFactors. This is outstanding in the market.

The overall advantage I see for cloud implementation that central governance of what the company is implementing can be achieved more easily than compared with an on-premise implementation.

Do you have any recommendations for migrating from SAP ERP HCM to Employee Central?

Earlier I spoke about chances. My clear recommendation is to first look what are the things missing in the current implementation, are processes outdated and modern things missing, what hurts most and what shall be achieved. Ideally all of this is mapped to an overall HR strategy. Based on that analysis, a clear charter of what the future solution shall be able to cover is to be set up, followed by a defined roadmap. I really argue to put a lot of effort into that preparation work. This will help companies to their cloud implementation projects exactly to transform the company to what it should be and operate HR that way that is can support business outcomes better than currently and is prepared for growth.

How do you currently see the market in the DACH (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) area?

Due do the rapid economic changes and the continued trend of a globalized economy, more and more enterprises need to be able to cope with these dynamics and at the same time seize their chances to retain market leadership. This includes staying flexible with their HR strategies as employees are key contributors to company success. All this requires solutions that can provide the right answers to the challenges just outlined. This is true for companies in the DACH region as well as well as it is the case for midsize companies.

Cloud solutions seem to be the right answer. At least more and more companies ask for these. Whereas in the US the decision to go cloud is often easier to take and clearly proven by the adoption already, many decision drivers in DACH have to overcome some stumbling blocks such as to convince their work council and to convince their data security managers with good arguments as to why cloud solutions do not hurt any data security or privacy requirements. This explains why the adoption of cloud is slower in the DACH region than in the US, for example. Nevertheless, DACH companies also want cloud as it helps them to offer the right solutions to employees, line managers and HR employees far quicker and to adjust them easily when needed.

SAP – together with the partner eco-system – can be successful in the DACH market when the decision makers are efficiently supported in solving their concerns, especially around data security and privacy. From personal experience I have seen that SAP and the ecosystem do an excellent job during the sales cycles to provide the decision makers with good arguments, but still the sales cycles in DACH are generally not too fast. I think there is still a lot of work to do around providing company guidance in what solution strategy might be the most appropriate for them and fighting the prejudices about cloud. I strongly believe that cloud is the future for DACH customers, and that more and more companies follow the cloud path in a more accelerated manner soon.

Some customers are interested to know more about Time & Attendance and Benefits functionality in Employee Central and what other options are available. Can you offer us any insights?

Included in the SuccessFactors Employee Central subscription fee is time-off functionality. This allows companies to manage any kind of absences, such as dealing with leave requests or reporting sickness. Scenarios are also available as mobile applications and are also included in the subscription. SAP has invested in time-off functionality right from the beginning when Employee Central development got accelerated, around two and a half years ago.

When it comes to time & attendance, SAP so far follows a partner strategy. WorkForce Software and Kronos are the two go-to-market partners and their solutions are integrated with SuccessFactors Employee Central using packaged integrations. So time & attendance functionality communicating with the Employee Central master data and payroll is available as such, however it adds an extra price tag. SAP to my best knowledge hasn’t yet officially announced whether they are going to offer comprehensive time & attendance functionality included in the Employee Central subscription.

With regards to benefits, SAP has BenefitFocus and AON Hewitt as a go-to-market partners. Following a similar model as with time management, customers can use these solutions integrated with Employee Central. In addition, SAP released in May this year the first public release of Global Benefits capabilities, delivering control for administrators and efficient global benefit events support for employees. Benefits content is pre-delivered and integration withpayroll is available.

Do you have anything else you’d like to add?

We at inside see Employee Central as well as a good option for mid-market customers and have started to look into how the inside HCM Cloud and SuccessFactors Employee Central can go together. We are strongly aligned with SAP and work together with them. All-in-all we are beginning to see growth for Employee Central in DACH and the wider region of Europe and it won’t be long until adoption reaches are high level.

Thank you very much for your time Heike, it was a pleasure to speak with you again.

Thanks Luke. Answering your questions was a great pleasure for me.

Heike can be followed on Twitter with her handle @hkolar and on LinkedIn. You can find me via @lukemarson. For the latest and greatest in SuccessFactors join the SAP and SuccessFactors LinkedIn group.

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