Live from the SAPinsider Studio: SuccessFactors Customer Panel Hosted by Luke Marson

An exclusive panel discussion recorded live at HR 2014

April 18, 2014

In this panel discussion recorded live at HR 2014, Luke Marson of HRIZONS discusses a variety of topics with three SuccessFactors customers. Jane Stewart of Outerwall, Marc Farrugia of Sun Communities, and Sean Junor of Cameco discuss the SuccessFactors solutions they've implemented and the benefits they've received.

Topics covered in the discussion include:

  • Benefits of manager self-service solutions
  • Savings and workflow benefits of Employee Central
  • The benefits of HR-specific metrics and analytics available in SuccessFactors
  • Challenges of integration

Full transcript:

Luke: Hi, I’m Luke Marson, and I’m here at the SAPinsider HR 2014 conference in sunny Orlando. I’m joined by three wonderful customers who’ve implemented SuccessFactors, and we’re just going to have a little talk about their experiences with implementing SuccessFactors. So if you could introduce yourself, your company, and the SuccessFactors solutions you’ve implemented, that would be great.

Jane: Ok. I’m Jane Stewart from Outerwall and previously known as Coinstar and Redbox, that rings a bell for people a little bit better. I’m the director of HRIS at Outerwall and we’re implementing the full SuccessFactors suite. To date, we have implemented Employee Central, Recruiting Management and Marketing, and we are about to go live with Goals, Performance, and Career Development Planning.

Luke: Ok.

Marc: My name is Marc Farrugia from Sun Communities and Sun RV Resorts. I’m the director of human resources, and we have already implemented SuccessFactors Learning, Performance Management, Compensation, SAP Jam, Employee Central, Recruiting, and we’re going live with Onboarding by the end of this month.

Luke: Ok, great!

Sean: Sean Junor, I’m manager of workforce planning and talent acquisition with Cameco Corporation, based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. We have implemented Workforce Analytics, Workforce Planning, Recruitment Management, and Succession and Employee Profile.

Luke: Ok, great. So just want to have a little chat about some of your experiences with your implementations, so I guess I’ll start with you, you’re closest.

Jane: Ok.

Luke: Tell me, what are some of the benefits you’ve got from implementing SuccessFactors?

Jane: I think specifically in Employee Central we took advantage of being able to do employee self-service and manager self-service, and that’s going very well. Our managers are thrilled with some of the visibility that they have, into what their team is doing, and the tasks that they have to do, so they’re very happy with that. I think the other thing that has been a big hit with Employee Central is the automation of our whole hiring and onboarding process, the automation of that data in the workflow, around that, has been a big hit because we were pretty much paper-based up until that point, so that’s been very good. With Recruiting Marketing we are finding some advantages there where we can work with just SuccessFactors and getting our jobs out and don’t have to continue those contracts with some of the other vendors that we would have to scrape our jobs and send them to, so we’re very happy with that as well.

Luke: Ok, sounds good. And …?

Marc: I would say that probably when we look at the suite overall from, you know, a couple years ago when we were completely manual to an interim phase where we had some segmented systems that we would experience integration issues and things like that, to where we are now where our candidates are applying online in SuccessFactors, going seamlessly through the process to where they ultimately end up in EC, Employee Central, and really for us what that’s meant has been substantial cost savings from a manual HRIS data entry standpoint, to enhanced efficiencies in data validation based on a lot of the workflows and validating functionality that Employee Central offers. And then I would say lastly, having Employee Central be the core to all of the suite, in our case, we’ve got, you know, now, employees when they start on their first day with us we’re just literally confirming that they’re there, their information is in the system already, and then that’s made available instantly to Learning Management or Performance, so they can set goals on their first day if they want to with their manager, or they can access critical training that they need to perform their job. They’re doing that now, substantially earlier on in the employee life cycle than they used to be, so I would say, you know, that we’ve had so many benefits that it’s been a big hit with our company.

Luke: Wow, that’s good. Sean?

Sean: Yeah, for us I would say on the analytics piece, it establishes a single source of truth within the organization, we now have the ability to speak confidently with our business in terms of how many employees we have and then some of the key metrics that we’re going to track, whether it’s turnover, quality of hire, those types of things which are important in terms of HR and also to the business. From the Workforce Planning perspective it gives us a tool to again, perform with confidence in forecasting based on the analytics, so we’re happy with that. There’s the reporting capability also which allows us to perform a different role than we would have been able to perform, we were just pushing reports out to the business, now we can actually give them dashboards and make that a little bit more on the self-service model, and it also allows us, as a global organization, to have our HR people in the field have access to data that’s important to them, whether it’s absenteeism, turnover, whatever that might be, we don’t have to be the only person who’s pushing that information out, we can make it available, it’s standard, it’s simplified for them, they don’t have the risk of going into the system and wrecking anything, so we have that confidence.

I would say on the recruiting side, the recruiting management piece allows us to have automated workflows and so that’s key for us, we were looking for simplification for the users, standardization for the business, and automation which is going to drive efficiencies, so we’re in the early days yet but we expect that the opportunities are going to far outweigh the challenges.

Luke: Ok, so it sounds like you’ve got a lot of value—all of you—but, you know, have you found any significant challenges during implementation or anything since post go-live that has not been sort of, as you might have expected?

Sean: Yeah, I would say that on the analytics and planning side, the establishment of you know, confidence in your data is great, but the challenge still is, how do you get your users engaged and active in a solution, which, to them, still remains a bit of a mystery, and we want to continue to look for ways to give people insight and visibility into that. Part of that is trying to link it into various different things, we don’t use some of the other BizX which may provide that visibility, so we try to find ways outside of that to try to make those linkages for people, but it’s not necessarily always easy. I would say on the recruiting side and the succession side as we transition away from the implementation into the usage, there’s probably, if I look back at things, did we do the change management as we should have, there’s probably gaps there that we could have addressed, better linkages with our IT department, I think that’s one of the things if I look back at a lesson learned, that would definitely … earlier and active engagement with our IT group, cause we couldn’t do the implementation on our own with the vendor as a business unit, we need our IT group there particularly to figure out what does our technology infrastructure look like, cause we’re using the infrastructure that’s existing for the business. What are the web browsers we’re using, what are the security measures—we don’t control that. We know the workflows we want to change, but we don’t have the ability to turn on and turn off different things in our IT.

Luke: Yeah, so you need that kind of governance of the IT—

Sean: We need that. Yeah, definitely. 

Luke: Yeah, ok. And for you guys?

Marc: I would say, you know, for us the user adoption piece was almost more of a slam dunk, I would say, just because of having so many different modules in the BizX suite, so there’s a lot of reasons for team members to go in and access the tool. For us it was really, I would say, the one integration point that we needed to have and have it be very strong would be that with payroll. We’re using an outside vendor for our payroll processing even though Employee Central is our HRIS and when we were going through the implementation process, of course having so many different options for building integrations, whether it’s, you know, Boomi for your integration or HANA Cloud, or even in some cases it could be a simple file transfer back and forth, we found that the path that we had maybe gotten some original guidance on wasn’t going to be the best option for us, so midway through implementation we found out some things that you know kind of diverted our direction to a different focus, and when all was said and done, things were great.

I mean, again, we’ve been live for about a year now, and we couldn’t be happier with the system overall, but really having a solid plan in place to begin with and really understanding what complexities are associated with things I think would be the number one piece of advice I would give to someone who is considering Employee Central and ultimately going to be using it to connect and communicate with other systems.

Luke: Ok.

Jane: And for us, I think similarly the integrations probably were where we struggled the most. Our IT department took the opportunity with, in putting in some of the SuccessFactors suite, to really start using an enterprise bus system, which we’ve wanted to do for a long time. And then in addition to that we used APIs, to feed data from Employee Central down to some of our other legacy systems, and also wanted to use APIs to take contractor data from our third-party vendor and system and put that up into EC so that we could have a really good look at our entire workforce as we prepare to go to Workforce Analytics and Planning.

That was a bigger struggle than we had anticipated, was really understanding the APIs and how they work with SuccessFactors and how we really needed to configure that. So, we’re probably 99% of the way there, we still have one piece there that we’re still struggling with and need to work on a little bit. We also use Boomi integrations for some of our systems that go to third-party vendors and try to keep those as pure and standard as possible so that we don’t have to touch them in the future and those seem to be working very well. So, I think it was the APIs for us that probably were, kind of gave us a hiccup and delayed our progress a little bit.

Luke: So how did you find the maintenance of the integrations, now that you’ve gone live?

Jane: Well, I think for Boomi, it’s been great because you know, if SuccessFactors is going to change something that’s going to change that standard Boomi integration, then they’re going to help with that as well. So, we’ve not found any issues with that at all and like I said, you know probably 90% of our APIs are working like a dream and have not had issues through, I think we’ve had two upgrades since going live.

Luke: Ok. Sean, in terms of integrations, have you had any challenges?

Sean: Yeah, I would say, I mean our first piece, Workforce Planning and Analytics was fairly simple, you know, you’re doing an FTP file transfer, there’s not much risk there, the usage is not as widespread as Employee Central or some of the other ones, whether you’re looking at something daily, but in our recruitment implementation we also had to stand up SAP PI, because we didn’t have anything previous to transfer data back and forth with any degree of predictability, so it was a learning experience for our group as well, cause they hadn’t done that before, so we were running essentially two projects beside each other, one with much more of an HR people focus, and then one with obviously a very heavy bent on technology, so sometimes one got a little ahead of the other and had to hurry up and wait on something, so that to me was also a lesson learned, was that integration depends on where you put the needle on the spectrum, it’s always going to be a bit of a mystery and a challenge, right, so …

Luke: Yeah. So any key pieces of advice you would give to any of the customers who are looking to do some of the things that you’ve done?

Sean: Yeah, I would say that if you look at it, take a step back in terms of what you’ve purchased, because I know on the recruiting side when we looked at it, it was recruitment management, there was onboarding inside there, some social aspects of it, and we dove in and really spent most of our time on our relationship between us, SuccessFactors, and our implementation vendor, and we didn’t probably spend as much time as we could have with some of the subcontractors that were inside that were testing their privacy policy, and engaging with them sooner, rather than just waiting until the last minute when all the vendors then got involved. It still turned out ok, but could have turned out better if we probably would have spent more time looking at the whole series and the relationships that were inside there and what was in front of us.

And the second thing I’d probably say, as I said in one of my presentations, was I’m less concerned as we go into implementation on these types of issues with how long it takes, when people say, well, it’s going to take 12 weeks or 14 weeks—it isn’t a race, you want to make sure you’re implementing what’s right for your culture and at the speed and change that your organization can accept new processes into it, or changes to the process into it. So if it takes three times as long as the average, that’s ok! Cause it has to work for you.

Luke: It’s got to be done right, basically, the first time.                  

Sean: Right.

Luke: So you gave us some pieces of advice earlier, but anything additional that you might give to customers?

Marc: Probably a little more big picture would be just don’t underestimate the functionality and capabilities that you are going to be adding to your toolset, I guess I’ll say, when you make an investment with SuccessFactors, because whether you’re implementing one module or you know, or on the other end where you’ve got almost everything like us, there’s so much functionality that’s available, there’s so much capability, and then, you know in our case, one of the challenges I have now that we, that I’m well versed in Boomi and have built some of the integrations myself is getting key business leaders in other areas of our company to understand how easy it is for me to get them employee data that they’ve wanted for forever, and you know, so, having the tools and just really leveraging them for all that they can do, we’re at a point now where we’re using SuccessFactors as our intranet. So, it’s truly a key system for us, the tiles on the homepage, the information we can serve up, the info that’s available on the mobile app, I mean it’s everything that we need, the social collaboration with Jam, our team members are out in the field in someone’s home repairing something, and they can pull out an iPad and watch a job aid video stored in Jam and see how to do something on the spot, so there are so many things that you can do with the tool.

Luke: Wow. Do you have any advice, in addition?      

Jane: You know, I think, yes. I find, in a lot of HR departments, we have typically in the past, we’ve got multiple, separate systems from different vendors, right? And in some cases, if we’re lucky, you know, we’ve been able to choose the best-in-class system for a certain part. So, if you’re going to the full suite, which I really recommend, I think it’s an awesome and very helpful thing to go with the entire suite, one user interface, the user experience is the same whether you’re in performance or you’re in recruitment, the feel is the same. If you’re going to do that, I think it’s really important that you set up with your business centers of excellence leaders, for instance the recruiting director, the learning director, make sure that they understand there will be trade-offs as you go to configure those modules, they may not get the bell and whistle that they have in their current system, but what they get from that flow of data, from one area to the next, I think compensates and overcompensates for that. And so it’s important to make sure that they understand what they’re getting and what the trade-offs are. And I think your configuration, later implementation work will be smoother because of that.

Marc: And with the release, the quarterly releases, it might be, in our case, it might be something where they don’t have that bell and whistle right now but rather than another system which might be a year or two down the line for that enhancement to come out, it might be coming out in the next quarterly release, which has happened to us, so …

Jane: Yeah. Us too, which is very positive. I think the other thing that I like to emphasize, especially with Employee Central and the suite, is that whole user interface. It’s very engaging and very inviting, and so if you really want your employees to get engaged with what you’re trying to do, throughout those modules, it can help a lot. You know, some of the old systems that, I like to call them almost DOS–like, just, you know, people aren’t all that excited about going in them, into those systems, but I think the SuccessFactors suite is entirely different, and we’ve really seen an uptick in employee engagement from using it.

Luke: Well, I’d just like to thank each of you for a really insightful conversation, actually, it’s been pretty enjoyable, so, thanks very much!

Jane: Thank you.

Marc: Thank you.

Sean: Thank you.




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