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4 Ways HR Services Will Change as You Make the Shift to HCM

by Frank Bareis | SAPinsider

April 1, 2005

Is your HR department still bogged down in paper-based processes, data entry, and reporting? HR professionals should be free to lend their expertise to exceptional situations and strategic, value-added tasks such as talent management, enterprise learning, and enterprise compensation management. To achieve this transformation in your own organization, look to SAP HCM Service Delivery to increase process automation and expand delivery of services.

As HR organizations shift their focus from purely administrative tasks toward a more strategic role as a business partner — and even as a profit center — within the enterprise, the delivery of HR services must, by necessity, change as well. To help demonstrate their added value to the bottom line, HR teams are finding they must achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness with a broader, more wide-reaching approach to service delivery.

Consider the traditional approach to HR tasks, characterized by minimal use of self-services and little process automation, bogging down HR departments in paper-based processes, data entry, and reporting. Now, resources previously allotted to HR are being reallocated to support more strategic initiatives, and HR organizations are looking to more effectively transfer tasks directly to the responsible data owners — employees, managers, and professionals both within and outside of HR — and to automate processes to ensure that HR expertise can be applied most strategically.

Are Your Services Changing to Match Your HR Strategy?

To move from simply achieving data and process consistency to a more strategic focus on user productivity and process optimization depends on offering the right services to various stakeholders. Costs and headcount for administrative tasks must shift toward strategic initiatives, employees must be more accountable for their own data, and processes must be further automated to reduce HR intervention wherever possible. Only the right HCM Service Delivery strategy fuels these HR objectives.

For instance, self-services for managers and employees must be offered across a range of delivery channels, depending on their workforce and industry. A casual user needs completely different guidance through a transaction than a professional user.

Process optimization also requires the right service delivery channel: kiosks for self-service access for factory workers, mobile devices for easy approval or data entry steps for traveling users, or interaction center technology as the preferred channel for HR professionals in a call center environment (or "shared services center") devoted to HR inquiries.

The size of your company and the industry sector also play a part; we're seeing dramatic increases in the use of self-service applications for both managers and employees, and SAP customers in the Service sector tend to count on HR call centers (or shared services centers) while Retail, Manufacturing, and Consumer Products industries go with kiosks rather than portal-based self-services.

Customers of SAP's ERP and HCM offerings have already gone a long way toward more effectively collecting and managing HR data and streamlining processes. HCM Service Delivery currently delivers adaptable, seamless, end-to-end processes, services, and content to different stakeholders through various delivery channels as part of mySAP ERP HCM. But to show continued efficiencies, HR organizations must constantly strive for increasing process automation and expanding delivery of services. Achieving this kind of transformation means looking for further innovations in delivery channels (including workflows, online forms, and shared services centers, as shown in Figure 1) and continuing to rely less on HR professionals for administrative tasks.

Figure 1
The Changing Vision of Service Delivery for HR Organizations

No matter where your organization falls in the progression shown in Figure 1, the overarching goal is to automate processes wherever possible, bring process steps to the end user, and free HR professionals to lend their expertise to exceptional situations and strategic, value-added tasks such as talent management, enterprise learning, and enterprise compensation management. This article provides an overview of SAP HCM Service Delivery and discusses the vision of HCM Service Delivery for the future, to achieve this transformation in your own organization.

How SAP HCM Service Delivery Supports This Transformation

HCM Service Delivery supports three major objectives of the HR department: cost control, focus on strategic initiatives, and measuring the impact of HR on the bottom line. Along with services such as leave requests and address changes, it provides business process content and information to a wide user base, everyone from employees within the organization to applicants, new hires, retirees, and contracted workforce. HCM Service Delivery encompasses: Manager and Employee Self-Services, Interaction Center, mobile and voice services, expert user functionality (exception handling, analytics, and decision support), and self-service-like applications (see sidebar below).

So what can SAP customers expect to see in the future of services that enhance the shift to a forward-looking HCM focus?

4 Future Trends and SAP's Vision for HCM Service Delivery

To address this new set of business expectations for HR, look for HCM Service Delivery offerings that further streamline business processes as supported by online workflows, expanded and more flexible self-services, and enhanced support for HR call centers.

Expanding self-services deployment and process automation based on the new service delivery technology will mean less HR involvement in purely administrative tasks. Instead of HR being the main owner of employee data, processes will move outside of HR and also become increasingly automated. As a result, HR teams will be free to focus primarily on exceptions, and all straightforward cases will need less and less direct HR involvement.

SAP is constantly working on adding to and enhancing its self-services offerings and roles. Companies can adapt to other service delivery trends whenever they are ready, without losing previously realized benefits. These trends include:

Increased Use of Online Forms and Workflows
Look for manual data entry in cross-company processes and paper forms to vanish, with process steps that can be completely automated through workflow and online forms.

For example, a traditional request for pay grade changes is done by paper form or mail and then manually entered into the system by HR. With an easy-to-understand online form for use by managers across your company, manual data entry by an HR professional is no longer needed, and SAP customers can look forward to greater usability with these forms in the future.

Expanded Roles for Self-Services
The use of self-services will largely increase, not only for typical manager and employee functions, but also for HR and non-HR professionals in tasks they do not perform regularly.

For these less familiar processes, users need a different kind of self-service-like application to easily navigate through each step. For example, in some industries, garnishing of wages is fairly infrequent, so in the future, SAP customers will look to a self-explanatory user interface to guide their HR professionals through the transaction. Unlike a typical self-service, the number of steps and the time needed to perform an unfamiliar process is less important than offering clear instruction.

Thinking ahead even further, garnishment information could come directly from a manager or other authority into the HR system through Web services, without any further human interaction at all. In the future, SAP will use SAP NetWeaver technology to exchange data in this way.

Exception-Based Handling of HR Processes
Consider a bonus request. Currently, managers can handle a good portion of this process through SAP Manager Self-Services. But suppose a company allows a manager to pay a special bonus for his or her employees of a maximum of $3,000 per year; any bonus above that threshold needs HR approval. In most cases managers stay below this limit, so HR only gets involved in exceptional cases.

In this example, all rules (i.e., the $3,000 threshold) are defined by the company. However, there may be cases in a process or workflow that require individual rules for a particular step. For example, some managers may not want to approve any leave requests of three days or fewer, allowing such requests to instead go directly to the system. If the request is for more than three days, then the manager wants to approve it before it is booked in the system. You will want HCM processes, workflows, and services to support this kind of customization. So in addition to having a process framework for company-wide rules, we also foresee the need to personalize rules within these company-wide standards; SAP is developing this for various HCM processes now.

More Extensive Reliance on Shared Services
Expanding processes further outside of HR brings up concerns for some when it comes to data monitoring and data integrity. Process automation and exception handling could make it difficult to track who entered which data and for what reason— information that, to conform to compliance requirements, must be transparent for HR and auditors.

However, this is where shared services centers can help. Process automation and exception handling largely increase the benefits of shared services centers, especially where employees, such as managers, are not able or willing to use any of the offered delivery channels.

SAP currently offers call center options for SAP's HCM customers, and in future releases, this will be included as part of the standard mySAP ERP HCM component. Such a flexible process framework eases the definition of metrics, so it becomes very easy for HR to document the contribution to the bottom line. A wide offering of delivery channels for employees and managers, automated process steps, and HR intervention only in exceptional cases reduces the need for manual work of HR administrators. As a result, shared services centers can work very effectively on difficult and exceptional cases only.

A Sampling of Service Offerings from HCM Service Delivery

Services for Employees
SAP has designed more than 80 self-services for employees, including:

  • Leave Request

  • Travel Expense Report

  • Benefits Enrollment

  • Payslip (see Figure 2)

  • Skills Profile
Figure 2
SAP Employee Self-Services

Services for Managers
SAP offers more than 30 self-services for managers, including:

  • Performance Reviews

  • Personnel Change Request (see Figure 3)

  • Team Calendar
Figure 3
SAP Manager Self-Services

Employee Interaction Center
For "one-stop" HR information for employees, SAP supports HR call centers (or shared services centers). This is scheduled to be included as part of future mySAP ERP offerings. Employee Interaction Center offerings currently include:

  • Contact Management

  • Case Management (see Figure 4)

  • Alerts and Scripting
Figure 4
SAP Employee Interaction Center

Mobile Services
Services for users on the road include:

  • Mobile Time Management

  • Mobile Travel Expenses


By making the most of service delivery options now and in the future, HR can really focus on value-added, strategic tasks like talent management, enterprise learning, and enterprise compensation management to drive employee efficiency and user productivity. Administrative tasks can be automated, costs per transaction reduced, and errors eliminated.

For more on current service delivery offerings from mySAP ERP HCM, visit

Frank Bareis is a Director of Solution Management for mySAP ERP Human Capital Management at SAP AG. Since joining the company in 1991, he has been dedicated to the subject of Human Capital Management and has held various international positions in development and product management. Frank holds a master's degree in Computer Science from the University of Passau, Germany. You can reach him at


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