Planning for Talent Management with SuccessFactors: Q&A with Amy Grubb

by Amy Grubb

August 26, 2014

Thanks to everyone who joined our Q&A with Amy Grubb on Talent Management with SAP ERP HCM and SuccessFactors.

Amy Grubb HCM expert and HR Expert advisor Amy Grubb of Cloud Consulting Partners took reader questions on how talent processes are changing in the transition to SuccessFactors talent solutions.  

Review the entire Q&A in the chat replay and the edited transcript below.


Live Blog Q&A with Amy Grubb on Talent Management with SuccessFactors

M.S. Hein, Moderator: Welcome to today's chat on planning and implementing SuccessFactors for Talent Management. I'm especially pleased to have Amy Grubb of Cloud Consulting Partners here. She is an HR Expert advisor (specializing in SuccessFactors) and author, and is also a frequent speaker at SAPinsider's HR conferences. She is also a co-author of the book SuccessFactors for SAP ERP HCM, and an instructor for SuccessFactors University. Amy, great to have you here!
Amy Grubb, Cloud Consulting Partners: Thank you, Margaret! I'm so thrilled to be here and answering questions about SuccessFactors Talent Management.
M.S. Hein: Amy, I see that there are already lots of good questions waiting for you to answer, so I'll let you get to them now without further delay.
Amy Grubb: Great, away we go!


Comment From Devi: Is there an auto-save option when employees are filling their appraisal template in SuccessFactors?
Amy Grubb:
Yes, in PM v12 there is an auto-save feature. Also, in V11 of PM, you can make a template setting to save before logout.


Comment From Archana: Is SuccessFactors Learning Management integrated with Performance Management? For example, can a manager nominate a training for an employee from performance appraisal?
Amy Grubb:
Great question! Typically, you would nominate training in LMS from a development goal/objective on the Development Plan. If your PM form has a Development section, then you could do this right from the PM form.


Comment From Guest: I have a longer-term roadmap question. Our company is hesitant to commit to cloud-based HR solutions because, as one exec puts it, they're "constantly changing." How can I address that?
Amy Grubb:
Also a great question! I would turn the tables and say that rather than the cloud "constantly changing," it's always being improved. Those improvements are readily passed along to you to implement as it fits your business. That's one of the biggest benefits to a cloud application, in my opinion! It's a matter of perspective. :) Good luck with that discussion, I hope it goes well!


Comment From Uday: Is Employee Profile available separately or does it come only as part of Succession Management? If so, do we need to purchase the module if we want to use it in conjunction with Talent Management modules? Please tell us the best practice.
Amy Grubb:
Employee Profile is part of the Platform of SuccessFactors HCM Suite. This means that it integrates with, and is leveraged by, all the modules. While it plays a big part of Succession Management, it is not meant for SM alone. The Platform should be implemented with your first module(s).


Comment From Uday: Is it possible to implement only SuccessFactors Performance & Goal Management? What options do we have if we would like to implement Performance & Goal Management in SF in terms of scenarios such as PM + EC (employee central) and the like?
Amy Grubb:
Yes, it's absolutely possible. Have you heard, "Start Anywhere. Go Everywhere."? Any module of SAP HCM Suite (I'm getting used to the new terminology!) can be implemented stand-alone or in conjunction with other modules. The more modules you have implemented, the more robust your entire Talent Management system becomes, as each module within the suite integrates with the others. I spoke about this at the HR conference this past March.


Comment From Guest: What possibilities do we have with PM & GM in SFSF in terms of architecture? Can we have only PM & GM or is any other module within SFSF mandatory? If it is hybrid scenario, how can we integrate PM & GM with SF Perf. & Goals?
Amy Grubb:
Again, with SAP HCM Talent Suite, you can implement any module as stand-alone or modules together. It's the "Start Anywhere. Go Everywhere." model. Remember that the more modules you implement, the richer and more robust your Talent Management system/applications will be! The Talent Suite has many "natural" integration points among each module. If you attended this year's HR conference, check out my presentation on this topic.


Comment From Uday: Can we have just Employee Profile and Performance Management in SuccessFactors? Do we need to buy Employee Profile or is it available with PM & GM? Where does employee data in Employee Profile come from? I know it can be uploaded in provisioning, but then that is part of Succession. So what comes with what? What modules are mandatory for implementing SuccessFactors PM & GM?
Amy Grubb:
Yes, you can have just Employee Profile and PM, although I would also recommend Goal Management. I always implement these two modules at the same time. The most typical way for EP data to be updated is to have employees complete it. However, you can import data via OneAdmin; it doesn't have to be done in Provisioning.


Comment From Guest: Competency management is central to Talent Management. When will SF recognize this, add additional functionality, and make competencies a module within BizX?
Amy Grubb:
Competencies are part of the Platform within SAP HCM Suite. This means that they are integral to the entire suite and are leveraged by numerous modules -- for example PM, Development, and Succession Planning. I don't have insight into overall product design, but as this is core to how the entire suite is currently designed, I don't see this changing.


Comment From Archana: I have a question about goals management. Is there a workflow for goals/objective approval? I know there is one for lock/unlock goals.
Amy Grubb:
No workflow to goal approval at this point. Employee and Manager can create/edit goals at any time. However, goals created by employees should always be the subject of discussion between the employee and manager first!


Comment From Lucy: Is Employee Profile the same as Employee Central?
Amy Grubb:
Employee Profile is part of the Platform and you will have this piece regardless of the deployment model (full cloud, hybrid, or side-by-side). EC is HRIS in the cloud. I hear there's a book out there that provides a really good overview of the SAP HCM Suite modules. You might want to pick it up for more details. ;)


Comment From Kenny: Do you know what the plans are around the legacy onboarding tool, and if/when customers will be asked to migrate to SF Onboarding?
Amy Grubb:
I haven't heard any plans to force customers to migrate to any SAP HCM Suite modules from on-premise/legacy products. However, the cloud-based Onboarding tool offers many great features likely not available in the legacy product. I'm writing an article on this module right now for HR Expert. Stay tuned for more detail -- coming soon!


Comment From Guest: Is SuccessFactors going to replace SAP Talent Management?
Amy Grubb:
This is a question for SAP. Sorry I don't have a crystal ball!
M.S. Hein: Let me jump in here to add that for product roadmap questions, I also recommend reading Prashanth Padmanabhan's Q&A from last week.


Comment From Mark Gibling: We have historically kept "performance ratings calculations" for Sales teams, etc., in third-party applications and only interfaced final rating back into HCM. Does SF have the flexibility to calculate these complex scores or should we import them as before?
Amy Grubb:
That's a tough one to answer without knowing more detail on how you calculate those performance ratings. It's possible that it could be handled within PM -- I have several past clients that have used PM to manage their sales teams' performance reviews. I would recommend taking a detailed look at what both the Goal Management and Performance Management modules offer in terms of tracking and calculating these scores before making a determination. There are numerous tools baked into both of these modules that will probably add much value to your entire organization!


Comment From Guest: How does the SuccessFactors platform integrate with the ECC HCM module, and where is the employee master data stored (i.e., in the cloud vs. ECC), particularly in cases where the ECC HCM module is already implemented? Where are the Talent Management components implemented through SuccessFactors in the cloud?
Amy Grubb:
Great question, with a standard consulting answer of, "It depends!" If you already have ECC implemented and are using that for your core HR data, there's no need to make a change. You can use the standard-delivered Employee Data integration to bring the employee data you need to support your Talent Management functions into the cloud. I've seen this work successfully for numerous customers in the last two years.


Comment From Will: Is there a standard feed from SF to SAP to update appraisal ratings on completion of Performance Evaluation?
Amy Grubb:
My first question for you would be, "Why would you want to feed that data back into ECC?" There isn't a standard-delivered integration for that, but if you had a valid business reason for doing so (for example, to support your compensation/salary planning process in Enterprise Compensation), then it's not difficult to get the data from SFSF back to ECC.
Comment From Will: We are using a Compensation Planning process out of on-premise SAP. Is the development of the feed in configuration, or does it require development? The goal would be to move toward SF Planning, but that would not be year one, so we need to determine a manual report and upload or automate via feed.
Amy Grubb: The feed could be as straightforward as creating a report in SFSF and SFTPing it over to your ECC system (or other system), or you could look at other integration options that would be slightly more automated. Either way, I don't think you would have a problem getting the data where you need it to go! Happy to have an offline discussion with you on more specific details/requirements.


Comment From Anne Murray: If using a hybrid solution, what is the typical time frame for interface updates to occur from on-premise ERP to cloud -- especially when only implementing, say, Performance Management/Goal Setting in SuccessFactors?
Amy Grubb:
I assume you are referring to interface updates to employee data? That is entirely up to you! Larger clients usually do a nightly update, but I've seen other customers get by with weekly updates. It really just depends on how much your employee data changes from day-to-day or week-to-week.
Comment From Anne Murray: Thanks, Amy, for your response. It was Employee Data I was referring to, so your response fully answered my question.
Amy Grubb: Great, thanks!


Comment From Malcolm: As far as I gather, SF is the go-forward recommendation from SAP for new TM customers.
Amy Grubb:
I guess the answer to this question depends on to whom you are talking! I'm a huge fan of Talent Management in the cloud (as if you couldn't tell!). There are nearly 20,000 pieces of content delivered within SAP HCM Talent Suite that provide really robust tools to help your employees and managers (such as the goal library and best practice competency library). And this toolset is growing and expanding all the time! It's definitely worth consideration if you haven't looked at it.


Comment From Uday: How can we download employee data from ECC and upload it to BizX -- i.e., employee profile in SuccessFactors? I want to know the exact way of doing this, especially for production where we have thousands of employee records.
Amy Grubb:
I would recommend using the standard-delivered employee data integration from ECC to SFSF.


Comment From Jamey: What are your thoughts on the skill set required to support a cloud-based Talent Management solution like SuccessFactors as opposed to the on-premise SAP Talent Management suite?
Amy Grubb:
Great question! Most of the functions within OneAdmin are such that they can be managed by business/functional users as opposed to developers/ABAPers. Until about two years ago, the only interaction I had with IT types on SFSF implementations was to set up SSO and talk employee data! However, I recognize that there are different considerations in each organization. I find most business/functional users want to be involved and manage things like PM form templates, goal plans, picklists, etc. All of these are easily managed without special technical skills/knowledge being required.


Comment From Archana: Is there any plan to introduce a metadata framework in talent management modules?
Amy Grubb:
Yes this is already happening. MDF is already part of Succession Planning, for example. I don't know specific plans for other modules, but I would expect to see the MDF usage expand across the suite.


Comment From Guest: Can we perform calibration on a team/BU with multiple performance templates?
Comment From Archana: Can calibration be performed if the employees in the team are assigned to different performance templates?
Amy Grubb:
Yes, this is possible. Thanks for the easy question. :)


Comment From Guest: For customers implementing Performance and Goal Management first, but planning on others later, do you have any suggestions on which ones make the most sense to add next?
Amy Grubb:
This a great question that I hear all the time. There isn't any one right answer for every customer. Because any module can be implemented at any time or in any order, you really need to look at your current landscape. I always advise clients to identify those processes that are causing them pain today, identify an area where they don't currently have a system solution (Succession Management always seems to be in this category!), and then look at where they can receive the most immediate value -- the biggest bang for their buck, so to speak! I do a lot of work with clients on their cloud strategy/roadmap these days and that is where I start.


Comment From Sara: With PM in SuccessFactors, can they be configured on an anniversary of Hire Date instead of having all employees completed during a certain time of year?
Amy Grubb:
Yes, anniversary date review cycles are supported.


Comment From Archana: What is the roadmap of SuccessFactors talent management? What can we expect in upcoming releases?
Amy Grubb:
This is ever expanding and growing. You need to keep current with what's coming in future releases and what's on the roadmap (which is always updated) as published by SAP. The Customer Community is your best option here. I will also refer you to Prashanth Padmanabhan's recent Q&A for additional information.


Comment From Jackie: We have an overwhelming need for additional custom fields on the User Data File that is sent to our Learning and BizX modules. Any plans to allow for an increased number of fields?
Amy Grubb:
I feel your pain! It always seems my LMS customers need to use up all those custom fields. :) I haven't seen specific plans in this area, but I agree it's sorely needed! I'll do a little research and see what I can find out.


Comment From Uday: I would like to know if we can have a mix of focal review and annual appraisal templates. Let's say we want to implement focal review for one division and annual for another division. Is there a correct/recommended way to do this?
Amy Grubb:
You can certainly do that, but I personally wouldn't recommend that as a best practice. Nearly 100% of my clients are on a focal review cycle.


Comment From Guest: As we review the various SF modules, are some more tricky integrations than others? We are targeting a quick win first, but a challenging integration could derail that.
Amy Grubb:
I'm not entirely sure the kind of integration you are referring to, so I'm going to take my best guess. If you have ECC for your core HCM data, there is a standard employee data integration to bring your employee data over into SFSF. That isn't tricky and is proven. Once you have your employee data, you are ready to go from a Talent Management perspective.
For quick wins, I always recommend PM/GM, as these can be implemented fairly quickly (if necessary) and there are many, many tools built in that provide immediate value to your employee/managers. Examples are goal library, SMART goal wizard, best practice competency library, and team rater function, just to name a few.
Other integration points will depend on the modules you are implementing and where you need to have/send data. SAP has already provided several standard integrations from/back to core HCM and those work well. Other integrations would need to be reviewed separately for complexity.
I say go for it! Start with Employee Profile, PM, and GM, and you should see immediate benefit with little difficulty, assuming you are working with an experienced implementation partner!
Comment From Daniel Gerardo Martinez: Sorry -- development transactions about talent, for example, in my company. Can you connect this information with Talent Management?
Amy Grubb: Thank you for the clarification. Development is a module within the SAP HCM Talent Suite and it's very robust, with integration to Performance Management and LMS. Look for information on this module to see if it covers what you are talking about.
Comment From Guest: I thought we needed a special module to "interact" between the PM and LMS modules?
Amy Grubb: I'm not sure what you mean by "interact" but the Development module would be the integration point here. You can create/edit Development goals that have Learning Activities pulled from the LMS. Development goals can be created in the PM form, if your form has a Development section in it. I hope that helps!


Comment From Murali: SAP Core HCM is on premise. If the customer is planning to move onto SF Compensation/Learning Management, what are the different integration options?
Amy Grubb:
There is the standard employee data integration that will "feed" your compensation/LMS and Employee Profile in SFSF. There is also a standard integration from Compensation back to HCM to support payroll for salary updates, bonuses, etc. For more information on the integration options, there are good resources on Service Marketplace, or you can refer to the SuccessFactors with SAP ERP HCM book that came out last year. :)


Comment From Uday: How does the transport mechanism work in SFSF Talent Management, especially PM & GM? If we want to move configuration from test system to production in PM & GM, how do we do it?
Amy Grubb:
There aren't "transports" in SFSF the way you are used to in HCM/on-premise. Most configuration done in the test instance would need to be replicated in the production instance. There is the ability to copy some configuration between instances in Provisioning, but this doesn't cover everything. I believe this is something that will change over time, but I haven't seen anything yet!


Comment From Uday: So does it also cover the SAP OM objects viz org unit, job, etc.?
Amy Grubb:
I'm not sure what "it" refers to exactly, but I'm going to assume employee data/org structure. The SAP OM org structure cannot be replicated exactly in SFSF/SAP HCM Suite (Talent), so you'll need to decide what elements are needed to support your talent processes, reporting, and role-based permissions. I've implemented with several SAP HCM customers and it isn't usually an issue, although it does take some in-depth discussion and usually several custom fields are utilized.


Comment From KC: Do you have plans to enhance the ability to review talent at an organization level? The succession org chart currently allows for very basic functionality. We would like to provide a better big picture view when discussing our talent.
M.S. Hein:
Again, for product roadmap questions, I recommend reading Prashanth Padmanabhan's Q&A from last week.


Comment From Jackie: Are there intentions to place more emphasis on allowing for multiple sources of data to be displayed in the custom dashboards? Today, only one source is allowed and null values are not displayed.
Amy Grubb:
In all honesty, I don't this answer! Let me do some research on the custom dashboards and see if I can find out anything for you. Thanks for the question!


Comment From Guest: In a hybrid solution where Employee master data is on SAP and Performance & Learning is on SuccessFactors, is the look & feel consistent and seamless for self-services such as ESS (Employee data, My appraisals, my training) and MSS (Team view , Team appraisals, Team learning)?
Amy Grubb:
The user interface within SFSF/SAP HCM Talent Suite is consistent across the modules (PM/GM/Employee Profile/Learning, for example). I haven't seen ESS/MSS recently, so I can't comment on what that UI is these days. Numerous customers will have ESS/MSS be the launch point for SFSF. I haven't heard that this is an issue for users.


Comment From Guest: Is there any mileage/value in using the SAP HCM Job Architecture in the hybrid environment, or would you recommend just switching over to SFSF?
Amy Grubb:
It's hard to say without any detail. I would say you would need to decide what functions/processes will occur in HCM and which ones will be in SFSF. From there, I would recommend exploring how you would utilize the Job Architecture in HCM and what value it would bring you. I can see business reasons for using that architecture in HCM while also maintaining a "job" structure in SFSF (via Families and Roles). You will need to maintain Families and Roles in SFSF to utilize features such as mapping job/role-specific competencies to PM forms, development objectives, etc. It's also used heavily in Recruiting Management to maintain/pre-populate job description and job code data on requisitions. So, in short, you really need to take a comprehensive view of your processes and go from there.


Comment From Guest: We've had trouble getting our HR folks to take on the admin functions in SuccessFactors. Has anyone else seen that?
Amy Grubb:
I have seen this occasionally. However, in my eight years implementing SFSF, most of my business/functional users are excited to be able to maintain so much of the application in Admin Tools (OneAdmin) and not have to rely on IT resources. There is no "one size fits all" from an administrative perspective. Each customer needs to evaluate their culture, the workload of the HR/functional users, the workload of IT, etc., and then devise a support model that provides the best coverage from a business and IT perspective. OneAdmin is geared so that someone without a particular technical skill can manage it. But that doesn't mean the business has to own it. Again, in my experience most are very willing to do at least some of the work!


Comment From Guest: I know vendors like SAP say security in the cloud is not an issue, but with things like payroll and employee data, I'm still unsure. What do you think?
Amy Grubb:
I'm not a payroll expert, so I'm going to cop out of that part of the question. :) However, with employee data, you have to look at your deployment model. If you are a hybrid customer (or leaning in that direction), your "critical/sensitive" employee data is still in HCM. You are only bringing over employee data to support your talent processes. If you are exploring full cloud (Employee Central plus talent), then obviously all of your employee data will reside in the cloud. Honestly, I have to say that this argument is really tired (no offense intended!). It's 2014 and the cloud is not new! Software as a Service (SAAS) has been around for years now. Huge multi-national companies do business in the cloud and don't seem to have concerns. At the end of the day, you need to do your own due diligence on data security, but I would also suggest looking at SAP Cloud's customer list to help allay any of your existing concerns.


Comment From Guest: Will SAP and SFSF eventually all be one package?
Amy Grubb:
Well, I didn't realize they weren't already one package! Integration has come a long way in the last two years and SAP has made great strides at incorporating the SFSF modules/functionality into their HCM offering. You may have noticed me referring to SAP HCM Suite (or SAP HCM Talent Suite or other variations) -- that is the new branding and how SAP is going to market. Obviously, there's still work to do, but again great strides have been made and will continue to do so.


Comment From Uday: Can you tell me a bit about side-by-side?
Comment from Albert: I've read about both hybrid and side-by-side cloud models. What's the difference? Or are they the same?
Amy Grubb:
Refer to Prashanth Padmanabhan's recent Q&A for more information here. Basically, hybrid is where you maintain your core HR processes (PA, for example) on-premise in HCM, while talent is in the cloud in SFSF. Side-by-side is where you concurrently run core HR processes in HCM with talent in the cloud, but you also have core HR processes and talent in the cloud. I can hear you asking, "Why would you ever do this?" Well, it's not very common ... yet! But, I've discussed this model with customers who may not want to deploy HCM to certain countries, for example (or for other reasons). So they will go full cloud for certain countries, utilizing Employee Central for the core HR processes supplemented by talent in the cloud, and maintaining their existing countries in HCM while adding talent in the cloud. There are other business drivers for deploying a side-by-side model as well.


Comment from Guest: How will competencies be handled differently in HCM vs. SuccessFactors?
Amy Grubb:
For the answer to this question, I would refer you to the white paper "SuccessFactors Competencies and Curricula Integration with SAP Qualifications." This should be available on the Service Marketplace, and possibly in the Customer Community. If you can't find it, let me know and I'll help you locate it!


Comment from Andrew: Any tips for calculating TCO on moving TM to cloud in the longer term? Does TCO change over time?
Amy Grubb:
What a great question! TCO always seems difficult to calculate, even when you are dealing with tangible data points. It's a little trickier with talent processes/applications because we have some "fuzzy" intangible factors to consider. First, I recommend gathering data on how much resources, time, hours, etc. you currently expend supporting existing talent applications. Is this in HCM? Is this in various third-party systems? How much time do your business owners in HR spend maintaining or running manual, paper processes? This needs to be considered too! Not to mention how much time your employees and managers spend completing "talent" type activities, like completing a performance review. And I mean a meaningful performance review, with thoughtful, actionable feedback! Back to the IT perspective, you need to consider the cost of hardware and such that you will not expend any longer for HR/talent systems and the hours that go into upgrades. This is a lot of data to gather and estimation is sometimes difficult. And any calculation could definitely change over time and need to be reevaluated. Those are just a few tips to get you started, I hope it helps!


Comment from Uday: If a client is using SAP LSO, and PM & GM in SFSF, or vice-versa, what possible integrations can be realized? So if we have Qualifications in SAP, and PM & GM in SFSF, what data movement does SF support? How are the courses assigned to employees in PM & GM? Next, after the appraisal in SFSF, how does this transform into compensation (if using SFSF or SAP for compensation)? Is it possible for a company to have only PM & GM in SFSF, and no compensation at all?
Amy Grubb:
Wow, where do I start on this question?!
First, courses are not assigned to employees in the PM/GM modules. Courses are assigned in the LMS or via a Learning Activity that is mapped to a course (or courses) in the LMS and attached to a Development Goal. Development Goals can be created in a performance evaluation if the form includes a Development section. So, the process is: Create a Development Goal (either directly on the Development Plan or in the Development section of the PM form), then create one or more Learning Activities to support said Development Goal. One of the ways you can create a Learning Activity is to choose a learning intervention from the LMS, although there are other ways as well.
For information on the Qualifications in SAP, please refer to the white paper "SuccessFactors Competencies and Curricula Integration with SAP Qualifications."
Once performance reviews/appraisals are complete in PM, the ratings are available in the Compensation form in SFSF and drive merit guidelines on the form. If Compensation is done outside of SFSF, such as Enterprise Compensation, the scores can be exported from PM and imported back into SAP for merit increase purposes, but this is not via a standard integration. There is a standard integration to send Compensation data from SFSF back to HCM and/or payroll once the compensation process is complete in SFSF.
Lastly, yes, it is possible that a company can only have PM/GM in SFSF, or any other module for that matter. "Start Anywhere. Go Everywhere."


M.S. Hein: Thanks, everyone, for participating today's chat.

You'll find more SuccessFactors and HCM tips from Amy on HR Expert, including Amy's presentation "Best Practices for Building a Performance Strategy in SuccessFactors." Amy will also be presenting a jump-start session on SuccessFactors at 
the HR 2015 conference in Las Vegas this spring.

Amy Grubb: Thank you, Margaret! I really enjoyed today. Thanks to everyone for the great questions. You can contact me at for more detail on any of these questions/answers. Also, if you are planning to attend SuccessConnect next month, stop by the Cloud Consulting Partners booth (#10) and say hello!

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