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ERP Employee Interaction Center Q&A

by Jarret Pazahanick

February 17, 2011

There is a lot of misunderstanding in the marketplace regarding the ERP Employee Interaction Center and I thought I would outline some of the questions I get on a regular basis.

 

What is the Employee Interaction Center?

The Employee Interaction Center or otherwise known as EIC is a centralized call center application and is key part of SAP’s shared services offering. In layman’s terms it is call center software for HR and it delivers employee information to agents and empowers them to capture the details of their interaction with an employee or vendor. It uses a web-based interface with a good look and feel and provides EIC Agents with decision-support and productivity tools to expedite processing time and resolution of any issues.

SAP delivers multiple types of communication channels and employees can contact the Employee Interaction Center by phone, email, chat or web request although we don’t believe there are any customers currently using the chat functionality.

Some examples of how EIC is used include an employee calling about an issue on their paycheck or questions regarding the upcoming benefit open enrollment to more serious issues such as discrimination or harassment.

 

Where did the ERP Employee Interaction Center come from?

SAP had offered an EIC solution for several years within their CRM module but found many customers were looking to establish HR only shared service center and it didn’t make sense to implement CRM which was the core reason that SAP developed the ERP Employee Interaction Center.  It is interesting as they used their existing CRM solution and design and behind the scenes it uses many CRM labeled tables as well as the case management technology.



What are the basic requirements for implementing the Employee Interaction Center?

That is a good question as SAP recommends that a minimum customers should use Enhancement Package 1 (EHP1) for SAP ECC 6.0 but there is some very basic functionality delivered in core ECC 6.0 on its own.  We always recommend where possible that SAP customers consider implementing EIC with enhancement package 4 as there is quite of bit of great new functionality.

 

Are there any additional licensing fees for the ERP Employee Interaction Center?

The great thing about the ERP Employee Interaction Center is that is included in the existing SAP license therefore there are no additional costs outside of the implementation.

I have found over the years that a lot of customers don’t realize some of the great SAP HCM functionality they already own or the improvements SAP has made on their products. I also recommend that customers who are using SAP HCM as their system of record they take a hard look at what SAP offers as there are some real benefits to using 1 company for all your HR IT needs. 

 

What are some of the benefits you've seen at clients who use EIC?

The real value of EIC is that companies can answer their employee inquires in a high quality consistent manner and provide management visibility with things like service level agreements, employee surveys and real robust reporting capabilities. We have seen several companies move from a paper based and excel solution so you can imagine what a step forward EIC was for them

The great thing about EIC is the tight integration with Human Capital Management (HCM). What I mean by that is that EIC integrates with Employee Self-Service (ESS) and Manager Self-Service (MSS), HCM Processes and Forms, Business Warehouse (BW) and Personnel Administration out of the box and can connect with any HR transaction or internal and external websites using functionality known as the transaction launcher. 

Another key benefit outside of the integration is that customers already own EIC as it is included in your existing SAP license, so if you use a non-SAP software solution for you are essentially paying double for that functionality - in licensing, vendor support and internal support. While EIC on its own might not be the “best of breed” it does offers a lot of very good functionality that is already integrated and supported by one firm.

 

We is the new functionality that SAP delivered in Enhancement Package 4 for EIC?

Those of us who started working with the Employee Interaction Center from the beginning have seen the product grow with all the major additions in Enhancement Package 1 such as Employee Survey, BW Integration, Service Level Agreement), the integration with HCM Process and Forms which came in Enhancement package 2 (EHP2) and more recently there was a slew of new functionality in Enhancement Package 4.  Some of the key items that had been requested for many years were included in EHP4 such as Authorization, Flexible Activity Views, Personal Reminders, Activity Printing and enhanced Employee Search.

 

What does a typical implementation look like in length?

The "typical” implementation takes roughly 6 months. To give you a flavor on how that 6 months would be divided we would spend roughly 1 month on the blueprint, 3 months on configuration and development, 6-7 weeks on informal and formal testing and 1-2 weeks on cut-over and go live.

 

What type of consulting resources is needed for an EIC project?

An average project would need one full time EIC functional and one full time EIC technical consultant. An EIC project also has a need for part time security and basis resource on a roughly 10-15% allocation but the good news is that these roles normally can be handled by internal resources.

 

What are some of the challenges customers encounter in implementing and/or using EIC?

The two major challenges we have seen involve understanding the various EIC deployment options (ie ERP, CRM, SSF) as well as  choosing the right consultants.

A. Deployment Options

SAP offers several deployment options of the Employee Interaction Center and you with hear about ERP, CRM and with EHP5 the Shared Services Framework or SSF.  It is important for customers to understand the functionality and differences with each in order to determine the best fit for their organization.  The bottom line is that it is hard to be successful if you don’t choose the correct piece of software that match up with your business requirements and project goals.

B. Consultants

I have seen choosing consultants without the proper skill set be the single biggest issue on EIC projects and often get asked by companies what they should looking for. The bottom line is you will want to find someone that has

  • Participated in multiple EIC implementations
  • Expertise in Case Management
  • Experience with Enhancement Packages
  • Expertis e in Organizational Management and Personnel Administration
  • Expertise in CTI integration.
  • Expertise with HCM and HR Data

I think it goes without saying customers should do a detailed technical interview and check multiple references of any consultant that they bring on board.  The sad thing is because EIC is a somewhat newer area of SAP there is a lot of fraud with consultants and software integrators claiming experience they don’t actually have. I really believe that if clients ensure that their software integrator and consultants have the necessary EIC experience they will be on the right track to having a successful project.

 

How does the new Shared Services Framework (SSF) compare to ERP EIC?

The Shared Service Framework (SSF) is a new product from SAP will be delivered with Business Suite 2010 (EHP5). EHP5 is expect to be available for customers in July 2011 and will address many of key aspects for implementing a successful shared service strategy although it is important to note that it comes with additional licensing fees which the ERP version does not.

I would expect that you will start to hear quite a bit about this in the marketplace as SAP committed over 10,000 man hours internally to build this solution and although the new Shared Service Framework product has an Employee Interaction Center component it also offers some new functionality in Financial Supply Chain Management and other areas which up to this point SAP didn’t have a solid solution.

In general I would expect there will be a lot more information in the coming year on SSF which is based on underlying CRM technology. 

 

Are there many customers using the ERP Employee Interaction Center?

Many companies are still in the process of upgrading to ERP 6.0 therefore the adoption of EIC has been slower than SAP would have liked.  There also seems to be a lack of awareness regarding all the functionality that the ERP Employee Interaction Center offers which is one of the reasons I published this article.  The bottom line is that ERP Employee Interaction Center is currently being used by multiple large clients worldwide and given all the new enhancements and additions over the past few years the product is fully developed and a great fit for SAP HCM customers looking for a shared service solution.

Would love to hear any additional questions or comments you may have on the Employee Interaction Center.

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