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Reimagine HR in the Cloud

Supporting SaaS from Implementation to Post-Go-Live

by James Groark | SAPinsider, Volume 16, Issue 4

October 9, 2015

HR software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions are becoming increasingly more popular, but what happens after implementation? Read this article to hear how companies of all sizes determine their implementation path, leverage program management offices (PMOs) during go-live, and utilize various support models to ensure success post-go-live.


No component of enterprise software is more affected by the trend of moving to the cloud than HR. Increasingly, global companies are adopting best-in-class, integrated HR software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions — such as those made by SuccessFactors, an SAP company — and are confronting challenges to managing those instances in implementations and production environments post-go-live. Available functionality is increasing and has resulted in the need for more governance and specialized support.

We hear a number of questions from companies undergoing SaaS implementations, such as:  

  • How do changes in one application affect others?
  • How can you prepare to test a new release?
  • When rolling out a solution globally, how do you bring in a new country?
  • How do you roll out a new solution without affecting current operations?
  • How do you track a contingent workforce without creating access or security issues?
  • How can you get your HR team to grasp the “big picture” and embrace new business processes and functionality?

With the varied, complicated nature of questions that the business has, IT teams that support the HR function are often not sufficiently equipped to support cloud environments without considerable training. Responsibilities blur, and if HR and IT are not appropriately aligned, companies can fail to achieve the benefits promised by these cloud solutions. Here are a few tips for handling cloud solutions with increasingly taxed IT departments, from implementation to go-live to support.


If HR and IT are not appropriately aligned, companies can fail to achieve the benefits promised by cloud solutions. 


During the implementation phase, a common issue facing customers is determining how many instances of a given SAP SuccessFactors solution they need to deploy. The decision usually rests on the complexity of the implementation, forecasted change, and ongoing maintenance that will occur. Organizations might be using the full SAP SuccessFactors HCM Suite, or solutions such as SAP SuccessFactors Workforce Analytics or SAP SuccessFactors Learning. It’s also important to take company size into consideration.

Small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) may only need one instance, with production and testing systems combined. In such situations, rapid-deployment solutions as well as Cognizant’s Talent-In-A-Box HCM platform, configured with pre-packaged best practices, permit customers to move their data into an SAP SuccessFactors solution with minimal configuration changes.

Most medium-to-large enterprises undergoing a big-bang implementation opt for two instances: one for testing and one for production. In these scenarios, configuration activity takes place simultaneously, with cross-functional coordination to ensure that the modules are properly functioning before they are moved to the production system. An example of such an enterprise may be a single country instance with multiple talent management modules in scope.

A large company undergoing a phased implementation over an extended period of time may wish to introduce separate development, testing, and production environments. This allows for evaluating new functionality, release testing, and building proofs of concept in development while reserving their testing environment for integration testing and training. This landscape is becoming more common as new products and applications are introduced and companies are adopting the full SAP SuccessFactors HCM Suite.

Regardless of implementation size or style, it’s important to properly maintain the system. Maintenance of multiple instances can be more burdensome from governance and technical perspectives. The speed at which new functionality is developed and distributed for SAP SuccessFactors solutions hinders the ability for automated promotion or synchronization tools to keep up. As a result, manual configuration might still be required.  


Upon go-live, organizations must consider how to support their HR SaaS environment. The problem is that as companies have moved HCM applications to the cloud, a skill gap has emerged among their employees. Basic infrastructure demands on IT are reduced, but there are now additional tasks for members of functional HR and HRIS teams.

A key to the success of the program is an empowered program management office (PMO) with solid representation from all key HR stakeholders. PMOs are often large organizations that include solutions architects who can manage changes in the SAP SuccessFactors environment, manage development and maintenance release testing, plan on instance topography and usage, and update documentation, as well as technical resources who are responsible for managing the integration between SAP SuccessFactors systems and external systems. Also key to a successful PMO is a change control board that can approve modifications, additions, and implementations.

The PMO can then create project plans that show integration checkpoints and dependencies with other enterprise initiatives. For example, a company could be migrating an HR knowledgebase that contains HR policies and procedures, and also want to integrate with SAP SuccessFactors Learning or SAP Jam to make the content more accessible to end users. It can also analyze the impact of business process changes on other initiatives within the organization. An organization that is looking at an initiative to redesign the performance management process, for example, would need to understand the impacts on HR reporting and analytics data as well as on compensation and workforce planning.


There are three primary means of supporting cloud implementations. Using the example of an SAP SuccessFactors solution, you could use an internal support person or team, premium support through SuccessFactors or a partner, or a combination of support from both SuccessFactors and a partner.

Internal Support

Companies that choose to support the solution internally should set up an integrated HR SaaS system admin. With so many common data points running through an integrated HR system, it is vital to have a highly trained resource, as well as support from other positions, with an in-depth view of module interactions and common data running throughout the system.

Although the complexity of the internal interactions with cross-module data flows might have reduced the number of external interfaces to disparate systems, HR and HRIS teams need to understand the data common to the various integrated modules within the landscape and the timing of those flows. One expert is often not enough, depending on the size and complexity of the environment; using role-based permissions, a company could have regionally based admins focused on talent management or core HR, for example.

Premium Support via SuccessFactors or a Partner

If an enterprise does not have the right skills or resources in house, it may consider a premium level of service directly from SuccessFactors or from a partner such as Cognizant. When companies use many solutions and advanced functionality, they often seek help from the outside. With this level of support, businesses can achieve cost savings and risk mitigation because of a more seamless transition from project to support, and can pursue on-demand, a la carte, and full-time admin service models.

Platinum Support from SuccessFactors and Premium Support from a Partner

With SuccessFactors platinum support, companies can expect more detailed service level agreements (SLAs) and more frequent touchpoints if issues occur. The systems integrator (SI) can then play the role of supporting ongoing integration, implementing new features, testing new releases, and even performing system admin roles.

Regardless of which model is chosen, a robust governance strategy that includes all HR leads for the modules that may be affected by a change in configuration is needed. As SaaS evolves, more and more of the back-office configuration previously performed by an SI’s professional services can now be done by customers.

Learn More

Cognizant offers a full list of services for SAP SuccessFactors solutions, from process transformation and organizational change management to technical infrastructure, implementation, integration, and ongoing support services. For more information, visit

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James Groark
James Groark

Cloud Architecture
HCM Practice
Cognizant Technology Solutions

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