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Engage Employees Through Innovative HR Solutions

by David Ludlow | SAPinsider

July 1, 2011

The roadmap in the human resources (HR) space is an exciting one for SAP. In this first installment of the new “HR Innovations” column, learn about enhancements to SAP ERP Human Capital Management, including the more social user experience that HR users have come to expect today, and innovations such as HR mobile apps and in-memory computing.

The ease of use prevalent in many consumer-based software products and websites is combining with social media and gaming trends to change what business users expect from enterprise applications. Advanced functionality with a low point of entry is what users expect from things like online banking and LinkedIn, so it should certainly also be found in their business applications — especially human resources (HR) applications, which have daily users across a diverse landscape of organizations.

With that in mind, SAP continues to innovate its SAP ERP Human Capital Management (SAP ERP HCM) solution to address users’ desire for more streamlined access to and delivery of information. A company’s ability to leverage its wealth of HR data to operate, adapt, and decide better supports the new global workforce.

People-Centric Applications Get Social

A company’s workforce is its most important asset, and it is unique because it can walk out the door at any moment. At their core, HR applications like SAP ERP HCM are people-centric. So it’s not surprising that they are becoming more user-friendly and “social” in their design and functionality. A good example of this trend is the increase in employee self-service features.

Like many organizations in the enterprise, the HR team is continually looking for ways to help the company operate more efficiently. The employee self-service feature traditionally was a way to automate some administrative transactions by having managers and employees perform them directly. At first, employee self-service was delivered to support HR departments by decreasing labor-intensive tasks and allowing employees to control and manage their personal data.

Today, however, riding the tide of social media applications, more users want not only the ability to change their personal data, but also a high level of control over their profiles and information. If a user can update his LinkedIn profile simply by logging in, editing the profile, and saving it, why can’t he do so with his corporate profile? Social media has changed how users want to experience their enterprise applications.

Enhancing the User Experience

Enhancement package 5 for SAP ERP HCM focuses on the user experience, expanding beyond employee self-service to incorporate social networking into HR applications. For example, in traditional career planning, a company might offer an employee a “career ladder” that suggests a path for that employee based on his or her current level, skills, and department. However, that career ladder assumes that the employee wants to stay at that company and on that path for the foreseeable future. The reality is that, at some point, employees often decide to pursue new opportunities within or outside their current company.

With enhancement package 5, the new talent management functionality in SAP ERP HCM enables employees to set up a profile and network internally with co-workers rather than externally on websites like Facebook. Employees can explore internal positions, find mentors, and view organizational charts to better plan their own career within the company. These features help retain top talent at a time when the war for talent is very real and affects almost every global industry.

Leveraging the Data

As more HR processes are automated and more data is collected and stored, there is a growing opportunity to turn that data into actionable business intelligence that can help managers and executives make better decisions about workforce plans and strategy. In fact, HR typically has a larger repository of historical data than many other parts of the enterprise, tracking how often employees switch jobs, where they move internally, compensation trends, and other data that can be mined for useful insight.

To that end, the latest enhancement package for SAP ERP HCM offers 10 preconfigured talent analytics dashboards, including Talent Supply and Performance and Potential Analysis, that display data extracted from SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse (see sidebar). For example, the Talent Supply dashboard gives users an overview of the company’s employees and their personal development based on promotions, lateral moves, or firings/leavings.   

SAP’s recent advancements with in-memory computing, particularly SAP In-Memory Appliance (SAP HANA), have taken enterprise analytics to new heights — and HR is no exception. In fact, when the masses of historical HR data are combined with financial and other business data, the result is a large data set. Users don’t want to wait an hour for a report; they want instant access, and SAP HANA is the key to making that happen in all areas of the enterprise, including HR.

SAP BusinessObjects Strategic Workforce Planning is the first SAP ERP HCM-related application to run on SAP HANA, allowing managers to plan and model workforce needs based on business planning and strategy. The streamlined analytics let users analyze workforce trends, such as attrition rate and retirement rate, and project future hiring needs more accurately (see Figure 1).

Figure 1 SAP BusinessObjects Strategic Workforce Planning helps users plan and model talent needs

Flexible Deployment Options

SAP also supports flexible deployment options for HR solutions. Applications delivered in on-premise, on-demand, and on-device environments offer options to bring value to managers and employees across the enterprise. For example, the centralized, core HR processes, like payroll and new-hire transactions, are data-intensive and thus work best in an on-premise environment.

But in areas like talent management and recruitment, which take place at various points in the enterprise and leverage a wealth of social features, an on-demand delivery model makes more sense. For example, a company’s headquarters may be running an on-premise instance of SAP ERP HCM, while its subsidiaries deploy an on-demand solution for recruitment, which links more closely with social software and feeds the data back to the centralized system.

Plus, SAP is mobilizing SAP ERP HCM functionality to provide “anytime, anywhere” access. In fact, the broad HR user base of managers and employees is a perfect audience for mobile apps. Recently, SAP unveiled HR-related mobile apps. The HR apps, which are to be delivered before the end of the year, will improve user engagement, boost productivity, and promote collaboration among managers and employees.

Three upcoming HR mobile apps from SAP are:

  • Meet My Managers: Arms managers with employee data to assist with talent planning and recommendations
  • Me@MyCompany: Enables employees to access information, such as pay stubs and time records, on their mobile devices
  • Interview Assistant: Gives managers mobile access to the business’s talent management processes

Future Outlook

The roadmap in the HR space is an exciting one for SAP, which has a clear vision moving forward and continues to bring innovations, like SAP HANA and mobile HR apps, to the SAP ERP HCM solution set. Customers can expect future enhancements in shared services, employee and manager self-service, and more. Empowering managers and employees with user-friendly, consumer-like applications and solutions can keep engagement high and align the workforce with business goals — a winning recipe for top-line and bottom-line results. Learn more at

David Ludlow ( is Vice President of Solution Management, focusing on the global Human Capital Management (HCM) solution strategy and direction for SAP. He leads the team responsible for determining the future strategy of the SAP solutions portfolio that enables organizations to attract top talent and manage a borderless global workforce. David has been with SAP for over 10 years and has more than 20 years of experience in the HR/HCM solutions space. He holds a degree in business administration from California State University, Chico.

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