Enterprise Resource Planning Blogs by Members
Gain new perspectives and knowledge about enterprise resource planning in blog posts from community members. Share your own comments and ERP insights today!
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Active Contributor

It has been another very eventful year in HR Technology, and per Josh Bersin this next year is shaping up to be another one.  Last year at this time, a group of friends and I collaborated to write The Future of SAP HCM and SuccessFactors Consulting - 2014 to talk about our views on the SAP HCM and SuccessFactors world, but a lot of people continue to reach out to me trying to understand what lies ahead and how to make the transition into SuccessFactors. This was one of the reasons I recently recorded “Becoming and HCM SaaS Consultant” and followed it up with “Becoming a SuccessFactors Consultant” with fellow SAP Mentors Jon Reed and Luke Marson that I would highly recommend. I have no doubt we are we are 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 Fusion) which Bill Kutik has done a great job of outlining in this article. SAP has been very aggressive over the past 4 years spending over 17 billion on acquiring cloud companies such as SuccessFactors, Ariba, Fieldglass and Concur and has even went as far to say that "Cloud DNA is now embedded across 65,000 hearts and minds, as it has now become the soul of SAP”.

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 with competitors) has started to have a very big impact on the traditional SAP HCM consulting market. In the SAP HCM market, I am seeing a lot less opportunity, billable rate compression and layoffs. It should come as no surprise that there is some major disruption with several of the legacy consulting companies, many of whom still have an army of consultants approach, which is no longer required in the “new cloud world”. On the flip side virtually every consulting company is looking to add experienced SuccessFactors resources as well as re-train and certify their existing consultants on new technology. While there will continue to be some 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 (RDS) and serious competitive threats from Workday 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 all around top-notch people I have a lot of respect for and their opinions. Almost 9,000 words later, here are their thoughts on where things currently sit for each of major areas of SAP HCM, SuccessFactors and Concur:

SAP and SuccessFactors Project Management

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

“The growth of SuccessFactors and all the changes in the SAP on-premise landscape have broughta lot of change to the industry and for customers. The pace of development and new features in the SuccessFactors product line creates particular challenges for larger clients or those with longer rollouts. Many customers implementing some part of the SuccessFactors product will also have a sizable SAP on-premise landscape, and that is also changing – think of HANA, Fiori and HR Renewal for examples. And then there is the need to integrate all of this – but how, and how much, is best for us? The race among consultancies to adapt to and profit from all this is creating another ‘Wild West’ environment for customers. Which firms really have experience in all this? Who can really be effective for us? And how can you be sure?

There are a few important points to keep in mind as customers approach and execute projects in 2015 and beyond. First, instead of following the herd, choose projects that provide value for you. Take a serious look at your firm’s culture and risk profile – can you handle the fluid and somewhat uncertain environment now or do you need to wait for things to settle down a bit? Second, be selective with your consultancy choices. There are a lot of people who say they can do this, but can they really? Check on references, check with colleagues and with SAP and SuccessFactors. Be sure to educate yourself on the products too. Design a project that works for you - be careful of projecting one company’s experience on to yours; you might not have the same requirements, constraints, culture and so on. Third – remember that change management, design, integration, testing, training, project management and all that other stuff we have always done on projects still exists with cloud HR projects. And finally – as always – practice good project management on those efforts you decide to implement. The old waterfall approach won’t work these days – be more agile and be more connected. HR, Finance, users, IT, vendors and consultancies all need to work well together to make these projects successful.”

Employee Central

I reached out to Jyoti Sharma who is VP Consulting & Services | Cloud HCM at HRIZONS and she told me:

“2014 has been an eventful year traveling and presenting in the US, Europe and UK sharing my experience with Employee Central and rest of the SuccessFactors HCM suite, gaining insights from customers across the world, witnessing how their business needs are evolving even from month to month and assessing the sweet spot in the product that just seals the deal for them. This presents a very dynamic operating environment both for Product Management and Partners requiring them to move with the customer’s velocity and that’s only the start button of the fun we are all having in this space. When Jarret reached out to me this year I had a few subjects brewing and I have attempted to present a concise peek into 3 main areas that have propelled me to show up for work every morning. I have chosen to name the categories as follows (blame it on the recently concluded Golden Globes!)

1) The Spotlight – covering Employee Central product leaps that I am seeing make a phenomenal contribution to equip customers with a progressive core HRIS in the cloud with SuccessFactors Employee Central.

2) The Cocktails – covering aspects of an Employee Central implementation that are the subject of board room and project room discussions during the decision making and implementation cycles.

3) The SpiceRack – covering the infusion of multiple roles in SuccessFactors implementations.

The Spotlight:

While there were many contenders for this category, the show was ruled by advancements made in the area of Workflows, Position Management, and integration of Recruiting Management with Employee Central. The feature to check RBP permissions for an approver for a workflow step both in edit and view mode is a significant value add that provides another layer of “peace of mind” to customers for data security and authorizations. This is especially important for compensation related information for which we have seen separate roles and workflows being created altogether, while a Compensation admin role may still be required but this feature definitely provisions for a more elegant solution. Same day data changes have been a big area of worry in the past but now the workflows in Employee Central allow for a warning message notification to workflow participants prompting them to think before they approve a change and how they may impact a change that is already in the queue, again, system intelligence enhancing employee productivity and better decision making. I have a business sponsor that looks me in the eye with an added twinkle as he can now manually delegate workflows on his mobile device! This goes a step further if the delegate declines the request and the system asks the original approver to take over again and decide the next plan of action. My most awaited and a topper in my personal chart is the ability to use custom Foundation Objects to create dynamic roles for workflow routing. There is rarely an organizational structure where we are not using custom Foundation objects and this was an invaluable enhancement that customers can now apply and leverage their organization structure in an improved manner with workflow routing. Last but not the least, integration of Recruiting with Employee Central has been a hot topic where we have seen accelerated development and will continue to see in 2015 but the seamless nature of hiring an internal candidate from the time the offer has been accepted is a huge game changer for both Employee Central and Recruiting prospects and customers. Position Management is adding such composite value to the product and it is difficult to pen it down here but I am particularly excited about the new rule function that allows customers to trigger workflows as the system is intelligent to know if a position has been created or changed. I will be implementing the new Position Types later this year for a customer, so more to come on that regarding benefits and lessons learned.

The Cocktails:

Partner experience and customer references are significant topics that we will keep hearing about but I do feel that the customers are at a higher maturity level on this topic from a buyer’s cycle perspective, thanks to everyone here who invest their time in educating customers through various channels. Project Management, Change Management and a proactive solution design irrespective of the implementation sequence of the products in the SuccessFactors HCM suite are the hard hitters in the cocktails category. This takes us to my last category, the SpiceRack!

The SpiceRack:

Jarret and Luke have recorded an excellent two part video series (Part 1, Part 2) on the changing role of the consultant that encompasses what we have been experiencing and witnessing in the industry. One of the themes that has come up is the infusion of roles in a SuccessFactors implementation, while the degree of this infusion may vary according to the scope of the project I have been living the drill a lot this year due to the increasing pivotal role that an Employee Central implementation is playing for the SuccessFactors suite implementation. The role of the Solution Architect, Business Analyst and Project Management are beginning to create an insightful new ingredient and an invaluable resource on these implementations. While there will still be an overarching Project Manager but this new role spices up the suite by bringing in a flavorful mix of product expertise, expertise with solution design, not just SuccessFactors but one’s previous experience implementing or working with other products, a holler to all the SAP experts out there!, and a Business Analyst role. The Business Analyst role will most often be filled by the customer, but it definitely helps if the consultant has this expertise, it is particularly helpful during requirement gathering workshops and maintaining the customer’s vision of the cloud solution irrespective of the number of products in the implementation mix.

Lastly I want to thank Jarret and all my industry friends and colleagues who make this journey an enriching experience by sharing their knowledge and lessons learned with candor.”

Employee Central

I reached out to Luke Marson, who is a Certified Professional in Employee Central, has worked with 12 SuccessFactors customers, co-author of the SAP PRESS book "SuccessFactors with SAP ERP HCM" and co-author of the forthcoming SAP PRESS book “SuccessFactors Employee Central: A Comprehensive Guide”. He runs the SuccessFactors business at Hula Partners and delivers Employee Central and integration implementations, optimization, strategy, roadmapping, assessment, and advisory who told me:

“I think over time we’ll look back at 2014 as the year that Employee Central came of age. SuccessFactors increased their Employee Central customer numbers from just over 100 at the start of the year to over 500 which is a great reflection of the growth of the solution in the period since Thomas Otter became VP of Product Management for Employee Central. Global Benefits and Timesheet have been significant new features added in the previous year, with existing functionality continuously enhanced and a new deployment model – Side-by-Side (SBS) – introduced for SAP ERP HCM customers who wish to distribute their core HR usage between the two systems. 2015 is likely to see further enhancements to the recently introduced Global Benefits and Timesheet functionality, as well as Time Off. Document management and Contingent Workforce Management are some of the big features I expect to come and the recently started EC2MDF project will see a majority of the Foundation Object configuration, workflow rules, and event derivation rules moved to the powerful and flexible Metadata Framework. In a recent conversation with Thomas Otter and Joachim Förderer I had suggested that SAP continue to build out benefits (including for the US market) and time management functionality to enable organizations to fully manage these processes in Employee Central, as well as develop UI mash-ups and workflows for partner solutions. SAP are currently running a customer engagement initiative for Global Benefits with ASUG, which suggests that US-specific functionality may come in the next 12 to 18 months.

In terms of implementations, there has been a strong adoption by SMEs but there are also some notable large customers that have moved to Employee Central, including Sitel (58k employees), Spotless (47k employees), Smurfit Kappa Group (41k employees), and Thomas Cook (31k employees). Side-by-Side has begun to attract some interest from customers who want the latest innovations of Employee Central but don’t want to do away with their SAP ERP HCM system. Packaged integrations have been released for Side-by-Side and further integrations – as well as UI mash-ups – are due to be delivered in 2015.

Talking of packaged integrations, SAP has extended their packaged integrations between Employee Central and SAP ERP, as well as third party solutions. The image below shows what is currently available and what is planned for release.

One of the biggest changes I expect to see with regards to integration is the introduction of SAP HANA Cloud Integration (HCI) as the packaged middleware with Employee Central, replacing Dell Boomi AtomSphere for new customers. For new customers this will simplify the integration story and enable those using HCI for Talent Hybrid able to switch over to Employee Central more easily. It also brings the middleware technology “in-house” for SAP and therefore supported in the same way as other SAP applications.

Customers are still trying to understand how they can move and what the to-be future will look like for them. I expect to see more and more customers seek out services to enable them to assess their existing processes, systems, and landscape and identify if and how they can move to Employee Central, what the future solution may look like, what effort is required, what gaps may exist, and what new functionality they will get. Having already worked with some customers on this type of work, I have seen first-hand the value and clarity that this type of exercise provides to customers.

One area I hope to see change is the implementation partner market as too many inexperienced consultants are performing too many implementations when many experienced consultants exist. Customers still need to perform their due diligence, including reference checks and interviews. I have gone into several customers in the past year that had sub-optimal Employee Central implementations and required corrections and optimizations and – even worse – I have spoken to countless more customers that had a horrid time of their implementation because they had been misled about the experience of their partner.”


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

“As with 2014, SAP continues to invest in its on-premise core HCM offering with HR Renewal, HANA, Fiori and Customer Engagement Initiatives. There have been, and I would expect to continue seeing incremental improvements in the software. As always, consultants and customers need stay up to date with those changes by reading the SCN forums, SAP notes and release notes. The momentum for Employee Central is increasing, but there will remain many customers needing help with on-premise SAP HCM for years to come. On-premise SAP HCM core consultants will see an increasingly hybrid landscape in the coming years, so it will pay to get involved and leverage your existing skills to deliver value to clients in that environment.”

Employee Central Payroll and SAP Payroll

I reached out to Jarret Pazahanick who is Managing Partner at EIC Experts, an SAP Mentor and he told me (couldn’t resist a formal intro) :smile:

“I am still seeing demand for SAP Payroll but there are definitely not as many new implementations as there has been in the past. It will be interesting to see if SAP can convince their 7,600 Payroll customers to make an investment to implement the frans.smolders/content discount code for the readers of this article.

Would love to get your comments, questions to the authors, insights on what we got right and what we missed below.

Labels in this area