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Since SAP HCM acquired SuccessFactors the number of SuccessFactors partners has grown tremendously, with nearly every SAP HCM consultancy partnering with SuccessFactors. Currently the SuccessFactors partner list has over 230 partners listed on it.

One of the biggest concerns I have, and I’ve also heard expressed by jarret.pazahanick, is the number of consultants and consultancies who are claiming to be experts in SuccessFactors. Many of these so-called “experts” have neither implemented SuccessFactors nor have they worked with SAP or SuccessFactors on any related activities or initiatives. The SuccessFactors bandwagon is moving at a rapid pace and for many of the consultants or consultancies working in Talent Management, they have been left with little choice because of SAP’s “go-forward” strategy for Talent Management. This has left a scramble of consultancies looking for their first “break” in the SuccessFactors implementation business.

In a recent conversation I had with SAP, they expressed their concern at some of the individuals publishing professional articles or speaking at HR2013 on SuccessFactors with little to no experience or with no solid relationships with SAP or SuccessFactors. With a lot of misinformation and confusion in the marketplace, it is important that clarity remains. SAP has some plans to provide a central source of information, but there are no concrete guarantees just yet.

It will be extremely interesting to see which sessions at HR2013 provide facts and clarity and which add to the confusion. My hope is that only genuine information and clarification is presented and that speakers have their ducks in a row, as there is a common belief that even SAP have struggled with this recently. There is a real possibility that selecting a SuccessFactors speaker based on their SAP HCM reputation could lead to misinformation and create friction between SAP and the conference producers, which is not a situation that I would want because I believe that these conferences are the best around for SAP HCM.

In defense of publishers and the conference producers of HR2013, they have many of the same challenges as customers do with not knowing who really are the experts and who aren't. Since most speakers are SAP HCM experts and are starting on a "blank canvas" when it comes to SuccessFactors, there are no real points of reference and this is another reason why customers must be extra vigilant when engaging with SuccessFactors “professionals”.

Customers should look to take some of the following steps when evaluating whether to move to the Cloud and when selecting a partner to advise them and/or support an implementation:

Stay Informed: Customers need to stay informed with the latest developments in the market. There are a number of analysts, thought-leaders, consultants, and SAP employees who are valuable sources of information on the reality of the state-of-play of SAP HCM and SuccessFactors. Customer should look to Twitter (in particular SAP HCM, Jarret Pazahanick, myself and the #SuccessFactors hashtag), the SAP Community Network, and LinkedIn to stay current. In 2013 there will be several new sources of information for customers:

Seek Expertise: Customers should ensure that their consulting/strategic partner has sufficient expertise when helping them formalize a HCM Technology strategy or support an implementation. While many consultancies or consultants don’t have experience of implementing SuccessFactors, they may have sufficient expertise to be able to support creation of a strategy. Customers should always seek to understand what credentials their partner has and should validate references. This applies to both SuccessFactors and HCM strategy construction. SuccessFactors also has a list of certified partners, which can be found here.

Use experienced consultants: When it comes to implementing SuccessFactors it is important that customers seek a partner that either has experience in SuccessFactors and SAP HCM, or has a SAP HCM partner that has partnered with an experienced SuccessFactors implementation shop. Many SAP HCM consultancies are up-skilling in experience and may partner with a SuccessFactors specialist. This is no bad thing and customers should be wary of consultancies that are “going it alone” with no experience. Having trained consultants is not enough, so customers must verify who will actually be delivering the services. I recommend this blog to help customers find the right consultants needed to successfully deliver their projects: Seven Tips to ensure you hire the Right Consultant

Customers can use many techniques to find the right partner and reaching out to fellow customers who have completed an implementation is a reliable way of finding out if a consultancy is up to the task or not. Experts will be easy to spot by customers who keep themselves informed and these individuals can either help customers deliver projects or recommend an appropriate partner.

As I was recently told, 2013 really is going to be the “Wild West” when it comes to SAP HCM and SuccessFactors.

*update 18th February 2013: URLs for the HR Expert Special Report and the SAP Press book have been added*

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