In this podcast, SAP mentor Steve Bogner reviews the major 2013 trends in SuccessFactors and SAP ERP HCM, and what SAP HR users should be looking for in 2014.
Dave Hannon: Hello and welcome, this is Dave Hannon with SAPinsider. Joining me today is Steve Bogner, Managing Partner at Insight Consulting Partners and SAP mentor and someone who’s worked with SAP HR and payroll since 1993. Steve’s also going to be presenting and hosting some panels at our HR 2014 event coming up in March in Orlando. Today we’ll be talking with Steve a little bit about what he saw in the SAP HR space in 2013, and also what we can expect in 2014 in the SAP HR space. Welcome, Steve.
Steve Bogner: Thanks Dave, thanks for having me, I’m glad to talk with you today and talk about what’s coming up and what happened.
Dave: So Steve when you look back at 2013, what do you think people will remember most in terms of SAP HR solutions? There was certainly a lot of activity, and a lot of different things going on there. More of a new solution, a new roadmap direction, or something along those lines that you think will stand out when we look back at 2013?
Steve: That’s a good question. I think 2013 is the year that SAP customers really started gaining traction in implementing SuccessFactors Talent Management. You know, shortly after SAP purchased SuccessFactors they announced that SuccessFactors would be the go-forward solution for talent management applications and it took a while I think, for that to sink in with the customer base, and for the SAP sales force to ramp up sales. It helps that SAP announced this program where customers can kind of trade their on-premise licenses for SuccessFactor licenses. Now I’m really simplifying that because licensing gets really complicated really fast but that was the general intent of that and I think it was a pretty good incentive.
So finally, I think in 2013 customers had worked through their internal project initiation processes, got them funded, and got them started, and a lot of them completed, also. So it was a big year for customer adoption of the SuccessFactors Talent Management suite. Which I think, you know, is a good thing for the SAP HR ecosystem overall.
On the on-premise side of things, we saw SAP enable HANA for payroll reporting and analysis. And I saw that product and really cool stuff, really good functionality, it still needs to be developed a little more, I think it needs to go a little further, include some HR and time data and I think that SAP will get there over time, but it was good to see that start. I think in 2013 we heard an awful lot about HANA, and it was good to see how it applied to the on-premise system too. And to be fair for the on-premise side, there were a good number of more functional sort of incremental improvements also that customers had looked for for a long time. So it was a productive year.
Dave: Overall, what would you say was the impact of those changes, specifically SuccessFactors and HANA? What was the impact of those changes to SAP users and maybe even to SAP as a company, out in the market?
Steve: Sure. Well, for HANA on-premise applications with HR, I think it’s very limited, I think it’s still very early in the game for that. I think we’ll see a lot more of that in 2014. But, you know moving from SAP on-premise talent management to SuccessFactors, it’s a very different user experience and, you know, that’s typical whenever you compare cloud solutions to on-premise solutions, typically the user experience is much better in the cloud systems and I think that users like that a lot and that’s good. For the IT department, it was a whole new technology platform for them to absorb. You know for some of them, it was their first major cloud initiative, and for others it was their biggest cloud initiative, even if they’d done some small ones before.
And you know, there’s different models for the middleware platforms that people use, there was Boomi from Dell and SAP’s PI system; the whole integration middleware thing is has developed a lot. And then there’s questions about how to integrate these new systems into the existing on-premise systems that depend on HR data. You know, the things like, you know, your FI systems, your identity management systems, everything that depends on an employee number and name and information about employees, which is a lot. And then, you know, we can’t forget the existing HR data warehouses.
So, I think on the users, the interface got a lot better, and it simplified their lives. I think for IT, things probably got more complex, just because their technology base expanded and, you know, it’s kind of a challenge for some IT departments but that’s the world we live in these days, the cloud’s not going away.
Dave: Ok, ok, good. So what’s on tap for 2014? Are there things you think SAP users, SAP HR users should be on the lookout for, things you’re particularly interested in and looking forward to in the coming year?
Steve: Yeah, you know, it’s an exciting time as a consultant, you mentioned I’ve been involved in this since 1993. I was trained on the R2 system and I saw the very early releases of R3, and got to kind of grow up in R3 and now I’m seeing a transition into SuccessFactors and cloud systems. So, it’s really interesting for me from a consulting perspective to see yet another transition. And it’s going to impact a lot of things, and it already is.
I think we’ll see more SuccessFactors implementations, not just in Talent Management but also with Employee Central. I think that Employee Central is starting to gain some traction. I think we’ll see more innovation in this area as firms gain experience with the SAP HANA Cloud Platform also and the HANA Cloud Platform is the key to building up more company-specific or sort of niche applications on the SuccessFactors platform. I’m really excited about the SAP HANA Cloud Platform because it really gives customers who have some more complex things or maybe one-off things, gives them an ability to satisfy those and it opens up the partner ecosystem also to develop some innovative solutions. So, that SAP HANA Cloud Platform is a really important product from SAP, that every cloud and on-premise HR customer needs to get familiar with. And as I mentioned before, you know the on-premise customers need to take a look at this HANA-enabled HR payroll reporting, it’s pretty basic now but if SAP is going to grow it it’s going to mature and get more functional and people should keep an eye on that in 2014.
Dave: Ok, great, great. In the longer-term, how would you characterize the direction of SAP’s overall HR roadmap? There’s a lot of things going on right now, but are there sort of things you see that you like for the long-term or are there directions you’d like to see SAP moving into, areas of functionality or things like that?
Steve: So, I think SAP is going in the right direction longer-term. You know, they’re building up their cloud functionality for HR and that’s a good thing. They were probably forced into that a little earlier than they wanted and maybe a little bigger than they wanted, just due to industry competitive pressure, but it’s a good thing. \But they have an interesting balance to strike; SAP has— and I hear numbers from 10,000 to 14,000, depending on who I listen to, HR customers worldwide. And while a good number of those customers are starting to implement SuccessFactors to replace some or all of their SAP on-premise software, there’s a huge installed base still left out there on-premise. So, I would guess that a lot of those customers value SAP’s approach to integrated time-management payroll and benefits, which so far is not available in SuccessFactors, those are more of an outsourced option, so the product line has split and SAP is going to need to satisfy both segments for a good number of years into the future.
But, I think that they’re committed to their customer base, you know, for those customers, and there’s a lot of them, who will be on-premise for a long time, I think SAP is committed to supporting them but it is going to be a stretch, it’s going to be an interesting ecosystem with SAP HR and SuccessFactors for a number of years into the future. Now the move to cloud is undeniable, I’ve said that before, and I believe that still, but these things take a while to play out fully through the whole SAP customer base.
Dave: Ok, ok. Lastly, there’s a lot of activity these days, so there’s also probably some questions from the SAP customers as to what’s the best move for them in the HR space. So what, typically, what piece of advice do you have for SAP users as they’re heading into 2014 when it comes to the HR space?
Steve: Well, the best move for any given customer might not be the best for another customer so just because all your neighbors are doing something doesn’t mean you should do it also. You need to do what’s right for you, which means that you have to determine what your needs are. And that’s an important first step in determining what you want to do with SAP and SuccessFactors HR in the future. So, I would say get some guidelines, stay up to date with SuccessFactors and HANA functionality. Both of those are important for the future, I think they’re the two key things for SAP HR customers to look at for future innovation and functionality. Make a plan for the future with those two technologies in mind, but make sure you anchor that plan on returning value to the business. It’s much better to have a plan based on creating business value than something that’s based more on technical change. You know, you can put in SuccessFactors, you can put in some HANA functionality, but if it’s not put in with an eye towards delivering business value and business results, it’s going to be harder to justify, the change management’s going to be more difficult, and you’re not going to get the value. So, take some time to figure out, you know, for your particular business, what can you do with those two technologies to provide business value? Where’s the business value in this project? And focus on that. And also, when you do that, when you focus on the value, it gives your team good goals to guide them through the process, it gives them something to kind of sharpen their focus on, to make sure that they deliver something that’s meaningful to your company.
You know, focusing on business issues and business value and then working on the technology to support that is not new. I mean, it’s really, those are things that have been good advice for the last 10 or 20 years, Dave. So, I guess I am kind of old-school in that regard, I’d, you know, put in the technology to support your business and to produce business value, not just for technology’s sake. It was right back in the 90s, and it’s right today too.
Dave: Yeah, I’d say it’s certainly advice that bears repeating, for sure.
Dave: If you want to hear more from Steve Bogner, you can meet up with him at HR 2014, he’ll be participating in a couple panel discussions and also presenting on managing complex global payroll scenarios in SAP and the dates for that conference are March 11th-14th in Orlando. Steve, I appreciate you joining us today. Steve Bogner is the Managing Partner at Insight Consulting Partners and an SAP mentor. Thanks for joining us!
Steve: Thank you Dave, I really enjoyed it!