Jeremy Masters, Managing Partner at Worklogix and an experienced SAP HCM consultant, joins SAPinsider for another installment of HR Connections, an SAPinsider podcast series focusing on trends and developments in the HR space. Topics of this discussion include:
- The beginning of the consolidation of HR Renewal and SAP Fiori
- New employee and manager services in the SAP Fiori suite and steps for incorporating those services into SAP Fiori Launchpad
- SAP Fiori Launchpad as an access point for SAP Fiori and it’s relevance to the SAP Enterprise Portal
- Considerations between HR Renewal and SAP Fiori, including security and content delivery, browser compatibility, and the SAP Netweaver Gateway
- Productized integrations between SAP HCM on-premise and the new SAP Business Suite 4 SAP HANA (SAP S/4 HANA) and the flexibility this offers SAP customers
Listen to the podcast, and read the edited version of the transcript here:
Ken Murphy: Hi, this is Ken Murphy with SAPinsider and this is HR Connections, an SAPinsider podcast series focused on the latest developments and trends in the HR space. Today I am pleased to be joined by Jeremy Masters, Managing Partner at Worklogix. Jeremy, welcome back and thanks for joining us.
Jeremy Masters: Thanks Ken, thanks for having me.
Ken: Jeremy, a lot going on. I want to get to SAP Fiori has come out with wave 9 for their SAP Fiori apps collection, which includes functionality called My Team Services. Can you tell us a little more about this and some other features in the new release?
Jeremy: Sure, that’s a great question. Yes, wave 9 has come out and for those not familiar with Fiori, it is an SAP UI5 – or HTML5 – platform that SAP has come out with over the last three years. I’m sure most of the listeners have heard of it and probably some are using it. But this latest wave includes some interesting additions that you can leverage from the HR Renewal functionality, which as you mentioned My Team Services is one of them. The other is My Services, so there are actually two new services. Basically the My Services application in Fiori is the same functionality as what you have in HR Renewal for employees, and then My Team Services is the same manager services that you have in the HR Renewal MSS services. So basically what (SAP) did is ported that information or those apps from the HR Renewal suite into the Fiori suite. And those target applications are not converted into Fiori yet. I say yet, maybe they will never be, but those applications are still in a WebDynpro ABAP technology.
So some interesting things, I did write down a note you should all check out if you’re interested in these services. That SAP note is 2181062. That SAP note gives you steps for actually incorporating those services into your Fiori Launchpad, assuming you have and are using a Fiori Launchpad. So as we can see, just to kind of summarize, this is the beginning of the consolidation of HR Renewal and SAP Fiori.
Ken: Kind of expanding on that, can you discuss whether SAP has provided any further differentiation and address in which area of innovation on-premise is going?
Jeremy: I mentioned a bit about Fiori before about it being an SAP UI5-based suite of applications. Fiori was really an initiative started by a different group within SAP that really wanted to implement a very simple user experience, device-agnostic, responsive design across all SAP modules. HR Renewal was a specific initiative within the HCM on-premise group within SAP that did their own work using SAP UI5 and a Gateway. I attended the Nice conference that SAPinsider put on this past June, and it was interesting to see David Ludlow speak on the direction of SAP with these two different UIs. So clearly now SAP has taken a stance on this, and they’ve said that SAP Fiori Launchpad is the preferred access point for either HR Renewal or SAP Fiori. That doesn’t mean that you can’t use a Portal. In fact many of my customers are heavily entrenched in using SAP Enterprise Portal or NetWeaver Portal, and you can access these applications through the SAP Portal. In fact there’s an option to have the Fiori Launchpad within the SAP Portal; that’s actually an option that SAP has to accommodate customers. But what’s interesting is, although the access point is clear, at least directionally from SAP, HR Renewal has now been cast as the HR Professional, or HR business partner functionality for using these new apps vs. employees and managers using Fiori apps. So they’ve differentiated – although it’s a single access point – HR Renewal is now more focused on the HR experience as an HR business partner or HR generalist using those apps vs. a more “casual” user ESS/MSS using the Fiori apps. That’s again just a recommendation, it doesn’t mean it’s right or wrong it’s just what SAP is saying. Some other things that came up recently was around innovation around the country roadmap for HR Renewal. There are 49 countries that are now incorporated into the HR Renewal screen; that means the various PA and mass upload infotypes and so forth. So the planned innovation for HR Renewal is to continue innovating around the roadmap forms, they’ve talked about continuing going down the international UI configurations route, and mass changes data, and also from a Fiori perspective continuing to take those HR Renewal applications and pull them into Fiori. That’s the idea, especially the ESS/MSS ones as I said before. So it’s pretty clear that Services may specifically set things like centralized inbox for managers to get information and notifications from SuccessFactors Talent Management, or additional capability around substitutions and delegations within Fiori. Also within Fiori for the HR Professional pulling in some of those other applications that are in HR Renewal regarding the processes, being able to launch the HCM process and forms functionality, being able to launch the different org views and so forth that are built into HR Renewal. So even some of the HR stuff is being pulled into Fiori and this is sort of directionally I think pretty clear that HR Renewal is still being innovated, but of course Fiori is where I think they’re doing a lot of their productized apps now going forward.
Ken: Jeremy, having implemented both HR Renewal and Fiori apps, do you have any advice for listeners who might be considering a deployment?
Jeremy: Definitely, I guess I’ll talk about a top three or four – the first is the access point which we talked about before so we don’t need to get too carried away there. But of course you need to understand a lot of customers already have a built-out framework for their self-service. They’ve got a portal, the question is what do you do with Fiori Launchpad? Do you integrate it with a portal, do you start migrating things over to the Launchpad? There are some disadvantages with that. Obviously you lose a lot of the content and knowledge management that the SAP Portal has sort of innate in its functionality so you lose that type of content. Not that you can’t put content in Fiori Launchpad, but if you ever were to get a demo on it you can see it just looks and feels completely different than the way that we’re traditionally thinking of a portal with the tabs on the top and the different links via a homepage framework or other ways that you set up your navigation. So the access point is pretty crucial, whether you’re using SAP Portal there’s a – it’s not new but new to many – NetWeaver Business Client or NWBC, that is a way to launch and manage the applications through more of a just basically using this new client that can either be a VIN client or through a browser. So you have a lot of different possibilities there.
The second thing that comes to mind is the security model and content delivery. A lot of times we don’t understand – I’ve talked about the homepage framework and with MSS a lot of you have dealt with Services, but with these – whether it’s HR Renewal or Fiori – you’re going to be in the Launchpad custom item, so that transaction LPD_CUST, that is the transaction where we do a lot of our navigation as opposed to on the Portal via iViews and Page and Worksets and so forth. So that is something to keep in mind in terms of security and content delivery; that’s all the security roles, the Launchpad roles, and all that coming together with your catalogs and so forth on the Fiori Launchpad side of HR Renewal, the Lane side.
Browsers is another big one that comes to mind. A lot of these apps are really meant for modern browsers. There was a statistic that over 50% of companies are using Internet Explorer, and out of those companies only 25% were using IE 11, the others were using a variety of IE. And really IE 11 is considered, to me, a modern browser. With Chrome and Firefox and Safari. Think about if you’re implementing these Services, consider that, because obviously most likely you won’t have a say as to when the company is upgrading to your next version of browser but it’s something to consider as you’re evaluating Services.
The last piece I’d say is just the knowledge of the SAP NetWeaver Gateway. So the Gateway is an important piece whether you’re implementing HR Renewal or SAP Fiori it’s really the communication mechanism if you will of surfacing this data and these transactions to you. So it’s important to get with your basis team to understand how a gateway would support your Fiori or HR Renewal project. So whether it’s a central hub vs. an embedded scenario, or sometimes called a remote vs. local gateway scenario, you need to understand sort of the infrastructure implications of having a Gateway within your landscape.
Ken: Shifting gears a little bit Jeremy, a hot topic today that everyone’s talking about is SAP S/4HANA, kind of the evolution of R/3 that SAP is touting as the next-generation business suite which SAP released earlier this year. I’m curious what your thoughts are about SAP S/4HANA and also SAP’s recent announcement of including support for SAP HCM as part of the solution?
Jeremy: Yes, it’s definitely a burning topic right now and a great one to talk about. You’re right, S/4HANA is the next-generation business suite according to SAP, and really what they’re saying is that this is the next suite for the digital economy. So there’s this idea of a digital core for porting user empowerment, process enablement and other things. So there’s a play here for speed with the HANA database, there’s a play for traditional core where we’re moving things and simplifying things especially. On the finance side with Simple Finance; now many customers are just happy to be where they are with their own enhancement packs and they’re years away from even looking at S/4HANA. To boil it down, S/4HANA is a next-generation of an ERP. The difference is you have an option of deploying on-premise or on the cloud. And with that comes some complications when we talk about SuccessFactors and customers migrating, or not migrating, to that technology. So just a couple months ago there was no plan and productized integration between SAP HCM on-premise and S/4HANA. That has now since changed. So what SAP is now saying is that it doesn’t matter if you’re staying with on-premise and integrating your SAP HCM to S/4HANA, it doesn’t matter if you’re doing that, if you’re going to go to Employee Central, or if you have some type of hybrid where maybe you’re going to stay on-premise for HR and you’re going to use Simple Finance in the cloud as part of S/4HANA. SAP is now saying that they’re going to support productized integrations between those scenarios. So that’s quite a big statement and it provides customers choice and time to think about their infrastructure and their overall strategy for the next 5-10 years. So to sum it up I think it’s good news in general for customers because they can go to S/4HANA at their own pace or not.
Ken: And last question Jeremy, you’ve been known to say that these are the formative years within HR technology, and in particular mentioned that these are the roadmap years. I’m hoping you could take this time to explain to our listeners a little more about what you mean by that?
Jeremy: I talked a little bit about it in the discussion of HANA, S/4HANA specifically, not as HANA as a database but HANA as the platform. And I think customers are presented with a lot of options now. Whether it’s cloud, mobile, S/4HANA, analytics – there’s a lot out there right now and it’s exciting but it’s confusing. So what I’m hearing when I visit customers we do these implementations whether talent related or core or what-not, there’s a lot of buzz and excitement around what’s out there but there’s a lot of ambiguity about where they should go. So what I sense is there’s almost some stalling going on and customers trying to wrestle with the options that they have. So I think they are roadmap years especially now, I think it’s important to collect the right folks in your organization and really think about strategy long-term in terms of on-premise, cloud, mobile, and analytics and figure out what works, what doesn’t work, where your investments are going, how do you leverage your existing investments and how --- a lot of customers are happy where they are, they’re stabilized after many projects and upgrades and they’re tired, they’re tired of that and I think some customers are quite happy with where they are. Others are excited about the various opportunities in the cloud, mobile opportunities consuming less of applications through a Fiori-based sort of framework. I mentioned analytics before, and the whole data piece to this – and I’m not saying big data, I’m not going there – for HR I’m really talking about how to leverage and make sense of the data that we have available to us and in an analytical capability kind of moving it up a bit. For years we’ve been dealing with operational types of reporting, we’ve talked about analytics and there’s really a science to this data consumption. There’s a lot of energy and focus on roadmaps now and that’s what I’ve been helping customers a lot with, is just sitting down with them and figuring out what’s best for them? Not what SAP or some other vendor is telling them, but what’s best for them and their roadmap? That’s why I was trying to figure out the roadmap years and sitting down with customers and understanding how to help them sort of pave the way for the next 5-10 years.
Ken: Jeremy, thanks for joining us today to help listeners clear up some of those questions and ambiguity you mentioned.
Jeremy: Thanks Ken, appreciate it and thanks for inviting me.