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Increase Employee Engagement with Your HR Systems — Across Any Type of Deployment

by David Ludlow | SAPinsider, Volume 15, Issue 3

July 1, 2014

The right user experience (UX) of an HR system can go a long way toward increasing employee engagement, which can be a challenge as employees expect to keep up with the rapid pace of change in business. These employees need to be able to access data remotely, on mobile devices, and across sytems. This article takes an in-depth look at the SAP UX roadmap, and details when it makes sense for HR organizations to leverage the cloud to better keep up with the changing marketplace.


One of the most direct effects of the increasingly rapid pace of business is the challenge of keeping employees engaged in their roles and organizations. Just as businesses are moving at a faster pace, so too are their individual employees. To keep up, organizations must have IT systems that deliver the required information when employees need it. In fact, consumer technology trends have conditioned employees to expect simple, yet targeted solutions to help them complete a task or solve a challenge — and if that expectation is not met, employee engagement suffers.

While this trend applies to all enterprise technology, it is felt acutely in the human resources organization. HR systems are used by the broadest set of employees, so if they don’t deliver the right content or information to users, employee engagement decreases.

The UX Equation

The right user experience (UX) of an HR system can go a long way toward increasing employee engagement. User experience encompasses much more than an intuitive interface; it includes:

  • Access on mobile devices or remote access to functionality
  • Access to the right data across other systems
  • Embedded content
  • Intuitive content delivery
  • Secure, streamlined entry into the system

For example, some roles require employees to maintain specific certifications, and many companies leverage learning management systems to facilitate and control this process. But if the system were set to proactively suggest certain courses to employees based not only on the certifications their job required but also on their interests and career development, it could boost employee engagement and help ensure that they continue to be certified.

SAP has put a laser focus on user experience across its HR solutions in recent years. For example, one of the key features of SuccessFactors Employee Central is the ability to create a personalized homepage to put the information and functionality that the employee uses most often front and center. And SuccessFactors Presentations, announced at the SAPinsider HR 2014 conference in March, simplifies the talent review process by using a more engaging user interface and leveraging employee data across multiple sources within the system.

SAP’s on-premise offering, SAP ERP Human Capital Management (SAP ERP HCM), has also received a number of updates to enhance the user experience and make its processes more consumable. In 2010, these enhancements were targeted at employees. By 2012, HR administrators were seeing updates to their user experience as well. In 2014, the focus of our enhancements has been on payroll functionality and the user interface. We demonstrated at the HR 2014 event one example of this: the improvement of the payroll reconciliation process, which was designed based on customer feedback. The new capabilities capture payroll data from various interfaces to provide a control center of all payroll data. This lets payroll administrators drill down into errors and validate data.

But end user expectations change often. UX updates are now constant across our development processes. What was new last year might be out of date next year, so we continually look for ways to incorporate new technologies, ideas, and processes into our HR solutions. 

The Cloud Advantage

A main challenge for HR organizations is to deliver the latest software innovations to keep their employees engaged. However, the pace of change has increased for all business processes, putting more demands on IT departments to continually upgrade enterprise systems. HR often finds itself waiting for other projects to be completed, resulting in continued usage of solutions and user interfaces designed many years ago. At the same time, many software vendors are increasing innovation, widening the gap between what’s been installed in the existing systems and the latest and greatest from vendors.

This is where HR organizations can get value from the cloud. With the cloud, organizations always have access to the most recent innovations a vendor has delivered — no more IT projects to evaluate, upgrade, install, and modify. IT organizations must still be involved, as interfaces, integration, and potential impact on other enterprise systems must be assessed. But the cloud allows organizations to identify, select, and deploy new innovations more quickly.

The HR Roadmap

SAP has more than 14,000 customers using SAP ERP HCM, and we plan to continue our innovation in the on-premise solutions to improve their consumability just as we always have. New functionality additions to the on-premise solutions, such as the payroll validation capability I described earlier and HR data powered by SAP HANA, ensure all users — whether employees, managers, or HR business partners — have the tools they need and can remain engaged in their roles.

SAP customers who want to continue to leverage their on-premise HR solutions will be able to do so. But the current momentum and direction of the market is evident — many companies are moving their HR systems to the cloud. That trend led to our acquisition of SuccessFactors, which enabled SAP to offer market-leading cloud HCM solutions.

So for SAP customers, the good news is our HR product roadmaps provide the flexibility to leverage the cloud where and when they want. They can continue to leverage on-premise investments and extend some processes like performance management with the cloud, or move the entire HR system deployment into the cloud. And it’s all supported with productized integrations that help customers get there faster with lower cost and risk.

Yet, determining the best path to the cloud and a future HR system blueprint requires careful thought and analysis, as well as an examination of your business processes. For example, one business case for moving from on-premise to cloud HR solutions may be the current state of your HR landscape. If an organization implemented on-premise HR solutions from SAP 10 years ago or more and has made few updates or enhancements to that environment, getting up to speed in the on-premise world may be time-consuming and costly. This money might be better spent to move to a cloud-based solution like SuccessFactors Employee Central. But if your on-premise HR environment is already up to date with the most recent innovations from SAP, leveraging the cloud for other options like performance management or learning management might be best. 

SAP and our HR partners have the solutions, strategies, and expertise to help customers plan their future, whether it is on premise, in the cloud, or a combination of both.

An Important Resource: Partners

For SAP customers, there are more options in the HR space than ever before. SAP and our partners have the solutions, strategies, and expertise to help customers plan their future, whether it is on premise, in the cloud, or a combination of both. SAP relies on partners to help customers with process designs, implementation plans, and, most importantly, building those long-term roadmaps. We have been very involved in helping our partners understand our goals, roadmap, and customer needs. In some cases, the partners know the customers’ implementation much more intimately than we do, and can advise customers on which solutions would interact best with their environment.

This is particularly true of our HR partners and their understanding of SuccessFactors solutions and their evaluation of how and when to move to the cloud. They are adapting to a changing market, just as SAP is and our customers are. Partners can help customers identify the right solutions, provide updates on the latest integration, and plan the rollout and training of those new solutions in a way that matches their business goals. For more information, visit

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David Ludlow, SAP
David Ludlow

David Ludlow ( is Global Vice President of Product Marketing, focusing on global human capital management (HCM) solutions for SAP and SuccessFactors. The team works with customers, partners, industry analysts, and the entire SAP and SuccessFactors ecosystem to help ensure SAP/SuccessFactors delivers top HCM solutions for their customers.

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