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HR 2011 Ask-the-Experts Online Forum Summary

by Amy Thistle

April 4, 2011

Recently, 3 leading SAP ERP HCM experts -- Jeremy Masters, Steve Horn, and Kellie Fitzpatrick -- answered questions from Insider Learning Network members in an exclusive HR 2011 Ask-the-Experts online forum on March 16 as a followup to the HR 2011 conference in Orlando, Florida. Here is an edited excerpt of the full forum.

Featured Experts & Topics

Jeremy Masters, Worklogix: Enterprise compensation management; performance management; employee and manager self-service
Steve Horn, AspireHR: Project team and end user training

Kellie Fitzpatrick, Symphony Management Consulting: HR business case and ROI; KPIs and risk management; HR functional questions covering personnel administration (PA), organizational management (OM), benefits (BN) modules, Time Management and Compensation Management



Amy: Welcome to the HR 2011 online Ask-the-Experts forum on Insider Learning Network. Thanks for joining us!

To begin the Q&A, I'd like to open with a more general question for our experts:

After last week's conference, what functionality in SAP ERP HCM seems to have the most buzz around it right now?

Kellie Fitzpatrick: From everyone we talked to there are three areas:

  1. Fixing core to handle talent management

  2. Talent Management for ECM, Performance Management

  3. LSO seemed to also be a hot button for a few people we spoke with

SteveHorn: I received a lot of questions about new functionality in E-Recruiting in EHP-4 and EHP-5.

Jeremy Masters: There is a lot of buzz around a few different areas. I would quickly classify them into:

Usability - what steps is SAP taking to improve usability for its self service solutions?

  1. Talent Management - specificall y, what's available in EhP4 v EhP5, especially around Performance Management, Talent Development and Compensation?

  2. Mobility - what are SAP's plans for on-device applications - iPads, Playbook, etc.?


    Jeremy Masters: Nice to see Jarret P join. If anyone has EIC questions, this is your man.

    Kellie Fitzpatrick: Good point Jeremy. Maybe Jarret can sum up EIC so people know what it is. Sometimes there is confusion and I think this is a great area.

    Jarret Pazahanick: Thanks Jeremy on the EIC shout out. :-)

    EIC is the Employee Interaction Center and there are 3 deployment options which have caused confusion in the marketplace: CRM, ERP, Shared Services Framework (new in EHP5). I am just finishing up an HR Expert article on the 3 deployment options so hopefully that will help.

    Bottom line: it is call center software for employee inquiries (i.e., 401K questions, Paycheck, EEO, Harassment). The great thing that most customers don't know is that if you choose the ERP version it is included in your base user license so they already own it.

    There are 70 customers (including SAP) using one of the versions of EIC worldwide so it is starting to gain some traction.


    Jarret Pazahanick: Why do you think SAP HCM customers have been slow to adopt social media such as Twitter and free tools such as the SAP Community Network as there is a wealth of information on each?

    Kellie Fitzpatrick: Let's face it, even I was not a supporter because I was unaware and a little skeptical of the technology. I think people are still getting to know it and still trying to understand. It's like Facebook - not everyone did it in the beginning, but they are now!! I think within 12 months there will be so many more people using it. IMO = In my Opinion. :)

    I think the more we can try to promote all of these areas, the better we are going to do. I know we've put posts up on FB and Twitter. On FB, there aren't enough clients who use it. And, even if there are, they don't want to share their personal information - just their business. I think that is another issue.

    Jeremy Masters: Jarret,

    Good question, I think some of it is around awareness but it's also generational as well. Regarding Twitter, I don't see too many folks on Twitter in the office (and maybe that's a good thing?!). Also, the issue is how you can discern garbage (like tweets on what Britney Spears thinks of Paris Hilton) versus good content (all the good stuff coming from experts like @SAP_Jarret).


    Andrea Haynes: Hello -

    Is there any new functionality included in Enhancement Package 5 that you are particularly excited about?


    Jeremy Masters: Andrea,

    Two come to mind:


    1. The new Compensation Planning UI, which has improved functionality and usability (the technology is Web Dynpro ABAP) and

    2. The ESS framework which will take over the existing Home Page Framework.


    Both of these functionalities provide steps in the right direction for SAP.


    Melanie Obeid: Kellie has mentioned that SAP customers are finally starting to free up budgets for new projects. What advice do you have for those who are weighing their options for an investment in HR now? Where are you se eing the most promising projects?

    Thank you,


    SteveHorn: I think that the improvement in Talent Management will get clients the biggest "bang for their buck" for future projects.

    Kellie Fitzpatrick: I think people are going back and looking at what they have to make sure it works for their business. With the availability of budgets, they are making sure what they implemented is stable and using money to train their end-users and deploy functionality such as ECM, Performance Management, and eRecruit. People are seeing more and more that without a stable core around the Organizational Structure, they can't get much further. So people are paying attention. The other area is Nakisa. People seem to want to learn a lot more about how this product will help them.

    Jeremy Masters: Hi Melanie,

    Benefits is usually the #1 cost-saver and easy for a business case. If that's already implemented, I would look at Performance and Compensation Management. These two processes have the farthest reach within the organization and can make a huge impact if implemented robustly.

    Kellie Fitzpatrick: The other thing I would say here is that with ECM specifically, organizations take 1-2 months to perform those functions outside SAP. By incorporating it into SAP, they have been able to reduce the time to perform their compensation planning and increases at the end of the year significantly. One of my clients went from 4 months to 3 weeks - WOW is all I had to say!


    Aja Norton: Hi,

    This question is for Kellie. What was the biggest takeaway from the panel discussion you did last week on proving the value of HR to the business?


    Kellie Fitzpatrick: For individuals, I hope what people took away was that employees need more than money to incent them. I n our environment today, we forget employees are PEOPLE and they need to hear they've done well and they are valued. They need to have a reason to show up every day - and in many cases, that reason is career growth and development.

    For companies, I hope what they took away is that they should be held accountable for the promises they make. I think Nu Skin said it best when they said "talk is cheap" - they actually did what they said they were going to do.




    Kristine Erickson: Steve,

    Can you follow up on Kellie's comment about career growth and development being key to retention? How do you measure/justify training in this context? What do you see as the big challenges for training as projects get kickstarted again - both for project teams and for end users?


    SteveHorn: Great question. One of the biggest challenges with an implementation or upgrade project is to justify the need for training and realize its importance early on. This applies to both project team training and end-user training. As a result, training becomes an "after thought" that everyone forgets about until a few weeks before "go live". Suddenly, the team realizes that they need to train their end users and also make sure that the project team is trained to support the system after the consultants have left.

    The key to avoiding this problem is to have the change management and training team involved from the very beginning of the project. The ROI for this early investment in training will be users that are excited about their new set of SAP tools and that also know how to use them.

    On the flipside, if companies do not make an investment in training, they will have a huge investment in an SAP system that nobody knows how to use.

    Kellie Fitzpatrick : This is so true. A lot of people think training can be done after the project. But, when you flip the switch - people are using the system. There have been many studies done - projects don't typically fail because of the functionality or technology. They typically fail because the team and the end-users haven't been trained and haven't "embraced" the changes which now impact their job. I tell everyone training, change management and a good understanding of the requirements are the keys to success.


    Liang Shan: Hi Jeremy,

    I know you are a master on self-service. :) We are new to ESS/MSS and are planning to implement it in our company by end of this year. Can you brief on the differences between the ESS framework and the existing home page framework?

    Also, I saw many showcases (companies) decided to customize ESS/MSS. I'm trying to evaluate the out-of-box functionality (especially MSS). Can you please give your 2-cents?



    Jeremy Masters: Hi Liang,

    Great question. To answer you, it depends on your timing. The new ESS in EhP5 does NOT rely on the Home Page Framework (HPF), so if you are implementing on ECC 6 now (up through EhP4), you will be using the HPF, so you might want to consider limiting the amount of customization (and later re-work) when you decide to move to EhP5. Right now, I am unclear on how the "new" ESS framework gets configured. I am not sure if it's done via the backend like the HPF is now, or if it is done at the Web Dynpro ABAP level.

    Does that help?

    Liang Shan: Thanks Jeremy.

    Definitely it helps in our project planning. Timeline wise we will phase it - i.e., we will only implement open enrollment and on-line rem statement this year (i.e., partial ESS) for salaried employees only, and will add MSS functionalities next year. Howeve r, my plan is to evaluate the ESS/MSS as a whole since I am having a concern that, if management likes out-of-the-box ESS but does not like standard MSS, which means more or less we have to customize it, would this affect the initial ESS implementation possibly? Or another way - would the initial ESS implementation limit the customization on MSS so that we have to re-implement ESS? Again, we are new on this. Hopefully the questions are making sense to you.



    Jeremy Masters: Hi Liang,

    Makes sense. I would treat ESS and MSS differently. There is no "right" solution/approach, so as long as you know the SAP Roadmap and are aware of what's coming down the road, you will be knowledgeable enough to do the right thing!


    JoanneBastone: We originally implemented SAP in 1998 as our Y2K solution. For HR, we only configured core modules such as OM, PA, PD, Benefits, Gross Payroll and later CATS. We would like to add Talent Management starting with just 1 module. We have performed a technical upgrade from ECC 6.0 to EHP4. We are now planning to implement Compensation Management (ECM). Can you tell me which EHP business functions need to be activated for full functionality for ECM along with functionality for Job Families (JF) & Functional Areas (FN)?

    I know we need to activate HCM_ECM_CI_1 but do we also need HCM_TMC_CI_1? Do we need to activate any other functions for BI, Portal, etc.?


    Jeremy Masters: Hi Joanne,

    Where do I know you from???

    You need both that you mentioned for ECM and Job families/Functional areas:

    For the new stuff in ECM, you need

    For the Job Families and Functional Areas, you need

    In addition to activating these business functions, you will need to import the corresponding MSS business package (for the ECM stuff) which should be MSS 1.41 or similar.


    Heather: Hi Jeremy,

    One of your SAP Expert tips talks about using SKIP BADI flags. Can you give a couple specific examples of some good scenarios for using this?



    Jeremy Masters: Hi Heather,

    OK, now you are probing into my geeky side.

    Within Compensation Management, there are a number of Business Add-Ins. Business Add-Ins, or BAdIs, are essentially user exits. You can write code within these BAdIs to perform some logic and, where relevant, "skip" the logic within the BAdI entire and return to the standard code. For example, if you had logic specifically ONLY for your salaried employees, the logic within the BAdI could first determine if the employee was salaried or hourly and, if hourly, "escape" the code and process the standard SAP functionality.

    See, I told you it would be geeky.

    Heather: Thanks, Jeremy! Geeky is *great*!


    Davin Wilfrid: Hi all,

    Someone earlier mentioned business cases. Are there any particular KPIs o r metrics you favor in terms of tracking the success of an SAP ERP HCM solution? Can those KPIs be defined clearly in the business case?



    SteveHorn: From a training perspective, one metric I like to track after go live for an SAP implementation is the number of SAP-related help tickets logged with the help desk at "go live" and after go live. This helps me to track the areas where users are struggling so that we can adapt training materials based on these "pain points". If needed, we may even offer "refresher" training in those areas. Also, by tracking the help tickets I can see if there is a downward trend in tickets that indicates the users are "getting it". If they are not, I need to look at ways to improve my training methods, content, and delivery.

    Although these metrics may not help with your business case, they will definitely help you to measure how your users are adapting to their new SAP tools.

    The goal of the training team is to ensure that users like their new SAP tools and know how to use them. If they don't, they will quickly get frustrated and stop using them. If that happens, the SAP system will have a bad name and any future projects will be dreaded rather than anticipated with excitement.

    Kellie Fitzpatrick: Hi Davin -

    There are a number of business cases and such we've helped with. I'm not sure if you have access to the presentations from last week, but look up "How to prepare and present a comprehensive business case for your next project" from the HR 2011 conference. It tells you how to prepare a business case and lists a number of KPI's on slide 30 or so.

    Some of which are mentioned are around HR Expenses and Staff, Total HR Staff, etc.

    Here's the link, just in case:


    Lucy Swedberg: Greetings,

    Jeremy, it was great to meet you in Vegas last week -- I can say first-hand that attendees were raving about you every time they left your session room!

    A question for all of you:

    For customers who haven't yet upgraded to ECC 6.0 but want to add Talent Management, what do they need to know to implement it? Can they implement in their current version – 4.7, 4.6, etc.?

    Thanks for your time today!


    Kellie Fitzpatrick: If you are trying to implement Talent Management on 4.6 or 4.7 it is going to be a little difficult since a lot of the functionality changes or is enhanced with ECC 6.0 and the application of Enhancement Packs. Today, Enhancement Pack 4 is available for general release with Enhancement Pack 5 on its way to the masses. If you are looking at an implementation of Talent Management, first I would upgrade to ECC 6.0, EP4 (at a minimum). Once you do that, the world of Talent Management has been completely opened up.

    As an example, Compensation Management changes between the older versions of SAP and ECC 6.0. For instance, new tables are being utilized and replacing the old functionality.

    While SAP hasn't done so yet, it is likely on the way that they will not be supporting the older versions as it matures.

    There are still options in 4.6 and 4.7, but I'd know what you are getting into before you go there.

    Hope that helps!


    Laura Casasanto: Hi Kellie,

    When implementing ECM, what are the big differences in managing payroll interfaces and testing with SAP Payroll vs. a third-party payroll provider? Do you have different advice for avoiding payroll problems after implementation?


    Kellie Fitzpatrick: Hi Laura -

    Great question. The biggest piece of ECM is that when you utilize SAP for the process, you need to make sure you are testing the functionality at the end and the integration into Payroll. As part of the implementation you will want to run a parallel to make sure the increases and wage types are integrating correctly. ECM automatically updates IT 8 or 15 as such it should be picked up within SAP Payroll.

    With a third party provider, you will need to make sure the wage type and deduction codes are passing in the interface. You will also want to check via a parallel to make sure everything is happening correctly.

    ECM is a great tool for organizations trying to capture bonuses, merit increases, etc. You just want to make sure you accurately test the functionality through the integration to SAP payroll or your third party Payroll provider.

    Hope that helps.


    Amy Thistle: Thank you to all who were following the discussion today!

    If you have any other questions for our speakers, you can reach them on Insider Learning Network here:



    Thank you, Kellie, Steve, and Jeremy, for fielding these questions!

    If you would like a full summary of the discussion today, it will also be available on Insider Learning Network in the HR Conference Group.

    An email has been sent to:

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