Q and A


Building an HR Mobile Strategy with the Right Apps: A Q&A with Jeremy Masters (transcript)

by Amy Thistle

With an array of options available for mobile delivery of SAP and SuccessFactors applications, where do you start? To help you answer this question, I ecently moderated a Q&A with HR expert Jeremy Masters of Worklogix that covered the currently available mobile solutions for HR, security issues, technical prerequisites, licensing considerations, deployment options, and more.

You can read the full text of the Q&A in Insider Learning Network's HR Forum, or read our edited transcript here. You can also catch Jeremy at the HR 2013 events in Amsterdam and Singapore.

Amy Thistle, HR 2013: Welcome to today's HR Forum with Jeremy Masters on mobility with SAP HCM and SuccessFactors. Jeremy is an SAPexperts advisor, SAP PRESS author, and frequent speaker at our SAPinsider HR conferences, and he'll also be presenting sessions at our next HR 2013 events in Amsterdam and Singapore.

Jeremy will be monitoring - and posting his answers in - the HR Discussion Forum thread for the next hour. Welcome, Jeremy, and thanks for joining us again today!

I see a few questions already posted, but I also want to ask for a quick summary of a few mobile solutions available now for HR for ESS/MSS and other areas, to get us started?

Jeremy Masters, Worklogix: Thanks, Amy! And thank you to everyone logged in today for this Q&A forum on HR and mobility. It's certainly one of the top five topics that come up in any recent HR strategy discussion, conference, or blog.

Perhaps I should start at 10,000 feet. We need to constantly remind ourselves that the important thing here is around increasing employee, manager, HR productivity.

A lot of times some of us get stuck in the technology aspects of solutions, but we need to always be aware that mobility -- just like a portal, or kiosk, or any other technology offering -- is only a means to an end. If we are implementing mobile solutions and increasing workforce productivity, then we have done our job as HR practitioners.

In the world of Facebook and Twitter, we need to ensure that we focus on the most important transactions that will give us the greatest "bang for our buck". This means HR approvals (the second "killer" app), or something else suitable for your business. 

Now, getting back to your first question, Amy. As far as current HR solutions in mobility, this is the list of current offerings:


FOR EMPLOYEES >> The following applications are examples using SAP HCM

From SAP

SAP Employee Lookup

Search a directory of co-workers and their organizational details.

SAP Timesheet

SAP Timesheet Lite 

Allows employees to create, review, submit, and manage time entries.

SAP Leave Request

SAP Leave Request Lite

Give employees a quick and easy way to create and review leave requests on the go.

SAP Learning Assistant

Makes on-demand, online training available anytime, anywhere so workers can access required classes to address compliance and job requirements.

From third-party vendors


Slalom Consulting Corporate Cards   

Search and view a colleague's photo, send an email or text, call or view other profiles' details.


FOR MANAGERS >> The following applications are examples using SAP HCM

From SAP

SAP Manager Insight 

Manage your people more effectively with secure iPad access to employee profiles and KPI reports -- including headcount, diversity, and talent by location.

SAP HR Approvals   

View and respond to leave requests and timesheet entries. Check for incomplete timesheets, overbooking, and overlapping leave requests. Review team calendars and employees' time account balances to evaluate requests.

SAP Interview Assistant  

Display open requisitions, candidates, applications, and resumes/CVs, review candidates and then schedule interviews, evaluate candidates before, during, and after the interview.

From third-party vendors

Skill Scanner   

Provides a Line Manager with a single view of their employee's mandatory certifications and the compliance thereof.


Provides leadership-relevant HR information and KPIs for better decision making.

Manager Desktop   

Provides managers with ability to view team, process and approve eForms (PCRs).


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FOR HR >> The following applications are examples using SAP HCM

RegLearn OJT

Principal User: Trainer

Supports hyperCision's On-the-Job Training module for SAP LSO. Integrated with SAP portal as well.

HR Desktop

Principal User: HR Business Partner 

Provides HR Business Partners with ability to view team, process and approve eForms (PCRs).

SmartData Mobile

Principal User: HR and Executives 

Allow HR Business Partners and Executives to view metrics and dashboards across strategic functional HR area, including performance, compensation, and talent.


Additionally, the following apps are available from SuccessFactors (Cloud)

BizX Mobile Touchbase 

Set the right priorities and make one-on-one meetings more efficient.

BizX Mobile Jam   

Stay on top of projects, find experts and content, and contribute new videos and photos.

BizX Mobile Org Chart   

Find people in your company fast, then connect via email, phone, or a text.

BizX Mobile Recruiting   

Monitor applications, approve requisitions, provide candidate feedback, and approve offers.

BizX Mobile Learning   

Sign up for courses, connect with experts, and even complete entire classes while on the go; instructors can manage their classes and enrollment from their phones or tablets.


SheaMatt: Hi Jeremy,

How can HTML5 and CSS3 help an HR mobile strategy?

Jeremy Masters: Hi Matt,

HTML5 and CSS3 are not specific to HR mobile strategy, but rather technologies that can support a company-wide mobile strategy.

The key takeaway for HTML5 is that it runs in a web browser. This is how the mobile web app gets delivered to the end user. As opposed to a mobile application that is native to the smart phone or tablet's operating system.

HTML5 has some neat features, such as offline storage, where information can be stored locally on the device, and then synced up when connectivity is restored. This has made development of mobile applications more robust. CSS3 (like the earlier iterations of cascading style sheets) provides the "presentation semantics", or look-and-feel on web pages for your mobile apps.

Hope that provides a short overview on what HTML5 and CSS3 can do for you in a mobile context, but please feel free to reach out to me for further information.

Hi Jeremy,

I saw the infrastructure architecture security diagram. Most of the clients that I have are very big on mobile security issues. How do we address this issue? In fact, most of them are concerned that the mobile device can become rogue and people can get access to the internal services if we do not have adequate security policies for a mobile device in place before it hits the relay server.

If you see Afaria is a mobile management system and is inside the internal firewall, how do we make sure that the mobile device has not gone rogue?

I understand this might be a wrong forum to post this question, but just need to get the gist of the security policy, if any?



Jeremy Masters: This is indeed the right forum for this question, and it's a very good one. You are absolutely correct in saying security is the concern of most companies when it comes to mobility. In fact, SAP Afaria is a full end-to-end MDM (mobile device management) platform, and does have the device management capability to remotely wipe a device. This means that if a cell gets lost, this software can remotely wipe clean the device centrally through an administrative console.

If you don't have a DMZ (relay server) to expose/manage mobile devices outside the network, there are other ways you can connect mobile devices securely. For example, there are many mobile VPNs, such as those provided by MobileIron and Cisco, which can provide a secure connection point between the user's device and the company's internal network/data.

Hope that helps answer your questions.

Kir Chern: Hello Jeremy,

I have 3 questions:

1. What is your view on the potential of SAP NW Portal on devices with regards to accessing HCM apps on mobile?

2. With SUP (which requires heavy investment), what is your view with regards to the effort required to customize the UI and business logic (to suit customer-specific needs) pertaining to the pre-delivered HCM mobile apps like Leave Request/Approval, etc.?

3. What is your assessment on HCM mobile apps provided by third parties, e.g., SAP partners? Are these solutions better adopted by customers (in terms of ROI, user friendliness/user experience, customizable, support, etc.)?

Thanks once again & best regards,

Kir Chern

Jeremy Masters: It's great to hear from you, and hope all is well in Singapore. Let me answer one question at a time:

1. What is your view on the potential of SAP NW Portal on devices with regards to accessing HCM apps on mobile?

Unfortunately, many of the applications written for the SAP Portal were not written with a "mobile first" mindset. This means that most of the standard applications within the SAP Portal are not optimized for viewing on a tablet or smart phone. That said, as long as your portal is outward facing (i.e., accessible from outside of your network), you can theoretically expose those iViews to end users, but again, you would have to try this out yourself, so that you can determine if the user experience would be sufficient.

2. With SUP (which requires heavy investment), what is your view with regards to the effort required to customize the UI and business logic (to suit customer-specific needs) pertaining to the pre-delivered HCM mobile apps like Leave Request/Approval, etc.?

Yes, SUP does require heavy investment at the current time (both monetary and infrastructure). With regards to enhancement/customization with the pre-delivered HCM mobile apps, this is possible via SAP's SUP infrastructure, which is their Mobile Enterprise Application Platform (MEAP). Again, you would need to develop this in-house, or work with a consulting partner to assist. If you know right away you will need to enhance the standard apps, I would take a look at some options (which I mention below).

3. What is your assessment on HCM mobile apps provided by third parties, e.g., SAP partners? Are these solutions better adopted by customers (in terms of ROI, user friendliness/user experience, customizable, support, etc.)?

Of course, I am a bit biased on this since Worklogix is an SAP Software Development Partner and our own established mobile platform and applications are available for purchase for customers.

Overall, the SAP ecosystem is very strong with partners such as Worklogix, EPI-USE, hyperCision, Gavdi, Nakisa, and others providing powerful mobile solutions. My advice would be to leverage your contacts within companies such as these, and ask for a demo.

Oftentimes, the usability, functionality, and extensibility of solutions from third parties are excellent since each partner has specialized expertise in a given functional area of HR.

Andre Sousa: Hi Jeremy,

What are your thoughts about the mobile apps SAP delivers for Employees & Managers?

- Travel Expense Report & Receipts

- HR Approvals

- Leave Request

- Etc.

I've read a bit about these apps and they seem very expensive (you have to pay per user and per app). Also it is always difficult to address security issues and clients are always skeptical to expose their ERP on the web.

Thanks again and best regards,


Jeremy Masters: Hi Andre,

Indeed, these mobile apps are very expensive. This is one of the challenges the folks at SAP are taking on now. For those of you who are interested, you can look at the prices listed for these apps in the SAP store (which is SAP's version of iTunes). Click to see the list.

As far as security, yes, this is always a key issue, but the good news is that with MDM (mobile device management) solutions such as SAP Afaria , and other solutions, sophisticated solutions can be achieved to ensure that your business users feel secure about exposing company (and employee) information to the mobile device.

uday: Hi,

Can you quote some successful clients in North America who have implemented these?

I would also be interested in knowing how they did this.

What kind of functional scope is available for this solution?



Jeremy Masters: Hello Uday,

For customer examples, I would look to SCN (SAP's Community Network) for these. There is a collection of videos, and other media on enterprise mobility using SAP. Although these are not HCM-specific, you can get a sense of how other customers h ave implemented. You can view that link here.

Jarret Pazahanick: I will start by saying your session on SAP Mobility at HR2013 was by far the best session I attended so kudos for that.

Just curious to get your take on the current licensing strategy on the official SAP-delivered HCM Mobile applications and if you are seeing any adoption among your customers.

PS - How many words can you type a minute? :-)

Jeremy Masters: Thanks, Jarret. This means a ton coming from you.

As far as the licensing, this has been a problem from the very start, and many customers are concerned about the licensing and overall cost of the applications. The SUP infrastructure, which is the MEAP (Mobile Enterprise Application Platform), and SAP Afaria, which is SAP's MDM (Mobile Device Management) software, both come with significant investment.

As far as adoption, it is low currently, but hopefully SAP can turn this around. Also, SAP partners' development applications within the ecosystem have been successful at offering alternatives that are more cost attractive.

Dave Hannon: Jeremy,

Thanks for taking questions. I have seen research in the past that suggests there's a data analysis skills deficit in HCM. Do you think mobile HCM will add to or reduce that deficit?


Jeremy Masters: Hi Dave,

Nice to hear from you.

Enabling a mobile workforce within HCM will definitely increase our ability to use metrics and KPIs to our advantage within the HR world. This is because the mobile device is just another medium on which to present and collaborate on this data. Certainly, we will continue to have access to more Big Data and "actionable" analytics using our mobile devices. Also, with BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), it is important that we realize how real mobility will be in our industry.

Hope that answered your question.

BrandonToombs: Jeremy,

Have you heard anything from SAP regarding what mobile applications might be on the horizon? The most glaring omission I see currently is mobile HCM approvals and I don't think they plan on addressing this anytime soon.



Jeremy Masters: Toombs in the house! Thanks for joining.

Planned innovation for Mobile include:

- Timesheet (CATS)

- Viewing pay slip

- Clock-in, clock-out

So obviously a focus on time and payroll elements.

As far as mobile HCM approvals, I assume you mean for supporting HCM Processes and Forms? Yes, this is definitely a gap in mobile functionality. However, there are third parties that provide this application. Those interested can email me.

Ken Murphy: Hi Jeremy,

There are lots of questions in the HR community about technology infrastructure. Can you talk about the basic requirements for HR mobility -- SUP and Afaria, for starters -- and other technical prerequisites and investment that’s required?



Jeremy Masters: Hi Ken,

That's a great question.

This depends on what approach you take for your mobility platform.

If you decide to deploy an on-premise solution, then SAP Afaria will be your MDM (Mobile Device Management) software and SUP (Sybase Unwired Platform) will be your SAP's MEAP (Mobile Enterprise Application Platform). Each of these has its own technical prerequisites which can be found on the detailed help pages. You can see SAP Afaria documentation here, as well as SUP documentation here.

You could also decide to use the newest offering from SAP within the mobility space, which was just released a few weeks back. You can read an excellent blog about its features from Jens Koerner here.

If you decide to use a third-party provider (on premise, or cloud), these will have their own specific technical dependencies, so you would have to check with them yourself.

M.S. Hein: Hey, Jeremy,

I have a question. Which HR activities do you recommend as good starting points for going mobile? And that are well-suited for mobile deployment and a good user experience?

Jeremy Masters: Hi Margaret,

Good question.

I would say candidates for early adopters would be applications such as:

- HR Approvals

- Timesheet Entry

- Employee Lookup

- Leave Request

These are processes that typically require a minimum amount of device/touch interaction.

As an interesting side note, to see what applications are actually getting used, SAP Mentor Richard Hirsch recently wrote a blog on some research he did. It contains some interesting statistics on the applications that have actually been downloaded so far by customers. You can check this out using this link.

For those interested in checking out the latest SAP mobile apps on the SAP store, you can follow this link.

That said, please be sure to check out capabilities with third parties currently building mobile solutions. I mentioned some of the names in an earlier post. Like Big Data and Cloud, mobility will be one of the most strategic parts of your business strategy.

Brandonwebb: Hi Jeremy,

Thanks for keeping the conversation going on this exciting topic. It was great to catch up with you at HR2013. Do you think the in-browser approach will suffice for the majority of non-SUP customers? Last year SAP endorsed Adobe PhoneGap, a free and open source framework which enables us to create native mobile apps for all common mobile platforms. What are your thoughts on this partnership?



Jeremy Masters: Hi Brandon,

Thanks for joining. 

Yes, it was great to catch up at the conference, and I especially loved what you have been able to do with Adobe PhoneGap. I think Adobe PhoneGap is another alternative for those companies wishing to use open standards (HTML5, CSS, JavaScript) but deploy on multiple O/S (iOS, Android, Windows, BlackBerry), i.e., without having to learn Objective C for iOS, Java for Android, etc.

As far as the partnership, this is a tough one, as I am not sure how much SAP will push this considering that SAP Afaria (for MDM) and SUP (for MEAP) are the current SAP Mobile Platform solutions.

Certainly, what you are doing to push the envelope on mobile web application development is appreciated from me and many of my peers in the SAP HCM community.

Thanks for being you.

Amy Thistle: Thanks to all who posted questions and followed the discussion! A full summary of all the questions will be available here in the HR Forum in the next day or so.

I also invite you to join Jeremy and me in person at HR 2013 in Amsterdam and in Singapore. We're happy to have Jeremy giving a number of sessions -- including the one on mobility for ESS & MSS that got Jarret's rave review!

You can also find Jeremy at a pre-conference 3-hour session on Talent Management, and a presentation and demo on ECM. Visit the HR 2013 conference website for more details, and view all 9 tracks for Amsterdam -- . Be sure to come and introduce yourself, and take the opportunity to get your questions answered!

Two of our HR 2013 Amsterdam speakers will also be taking questions in upcoming online events: Sven Ringling on HR authorizations (May 21), and Jeremy (June 5) about on-premise vs. cloud HR deployments. Follow me @amyhthistle for updates on those in the coming weeks.

Thank you again to Jeremy Masters of Worklogix for great advice today. Looking forward to seeing you in Amsterdam!

Jeremy Masters: Thanks, Amy! And thanks again to all of you for joining me today on this Q&A. You all had some great questions around mobility and HR. I am hearing the same themes -- usability, cost, usage, prerequisites, among others.

If you have any further question s, you can always reach out to me on email:

Also, you can follow me on Twitter: @jeremymasters and check out my website:

For specific information around mobile solutions from my company, Worklogix, you can click here.

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