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HR Connections - Amy Grubb on SuccessFactors Talent Solutions

by Amy Grubb

September 17, 2014


In the latest edition of HR Connections, Amy Grubb of Cloud Consulting Partners joins SAPinsider to discuss SuccessFactors Talent Solutions. Topics of this conversation include:

  • The new Goal Management user interface
  • Latest on SuccessFactors' Acceleration Project for Performance Management for V12
  • Other Performance and Goal Management new functionality
  • Skill set requirements for implementing and maintaining SuccessFactors Talent Solutions
  • Use of the SuccessFactors competency library

For more information be sure to check out the replay of the live Q&A Amy Grubb hosted recently.


Ken: Hello, and welcome to HR Connections, an SAPinsider podcast focusing on the latest developments and hottest trends in the HR space. This is Ken Murphy, with SAPinsider, and today I’m pleased to be joined by Amy Grubb, CEO of Cloud Consulting Partners, which is a full-service HCM consulting firm specializing in SuccessFactors implementations. Amy is a frequent speaker at SAPinsider’s HR conferences, as well as an HR expert and a co-author of the book SuccessFactors for SAP ERP HCM, and an instructor for SuccessFactors University. Amy, welcome to the podcast.

Amy: Thank you Ken, it’s good to be here. Thanks for having me.

Ken: We have the pleasure of speaking with you today as you’re on your way to SuccessConnect, I’m sure when you’re there talent management, especially talent management in the cloud is going to be a hot topic.

Amy: Yes, I expect so, I’m excited to get there and I know they have a lot of really good topics on the agenda around talent management and talking about the new features available in SuccessFactors as of the August release.

Ken: Can you, just to start, share with us and our listeners a little bit about those new features?

Amy: Sure, well as it happens over the weekend I was just looking on the second edition of our book coming out for the end of the year, so I’ve been reviewing all of the features that SuccessFactors has released in their product since last August. I was really amazed to see just the amount of functionality that has been added in each of the different modules, I know, you know with particular modules, like they just released a new user interface for their Goal Management module, to version 12 of Goal Management and it looks very similar, very complementary to their Performance Management version 12 product. It’s very nice, very slick and user-friendly, lot of graphics and now pictures of people now makes it a lot more personal experience for users, and that very well complements the Performance Management version 12 functionality.

You know, SuccessFactors has worked hard over the past year on what they call their acceleration project for PM v12, the shorthand for that, which has focused on bringing a lot of the configuration options and features that existing customers were used to in their previous version 11 product of Performance and bringing that forward into their new version 12 product. So I was very pleased to see that, I think a lot of existing customers have been a little hesitant to move, to upgrade to version 12, just because of the, not all the features that they were used to or that supported their process, the performance process, were available.

SuccessFactors has done just a great job of making those features now available in version 12. Performance and goal management is really where SuccessFactors started as a company and as a product and it really remains the sweet spot and just the heart of the product and there are so many rich and robust features built into both of those products that for those folks who haven’t made the transition to the cloud yet maybe are a little apprehensive, to really encourage them to take a look at both of those modules because things like the Writing Assistant, where it provides you starter comments that you can take and build on to personalize either your own comments in an employee’s performance review, or if you’re a manager, helping you provide meaningful feedback to your employees, that’s a huge win I think for any HR team to provide that really useful tool for their managers and employees and for completing a performance review, which I think we all know is a rather not fun experience.

Ken: It sounds like with these new features and functionality that you described, it really might mitigate those last concerns or those holdouts of moving talent management to the cloud, does that, you know, hammer home that, you know, this really is the optimal time to do that?

Amy: I certainly think so, but again, I’ve been on board with cloud for a long time and I’ve been implementing SuccessFactors for more than eight years, so I’m a fan, and I don’t make any secret of that. I am seeing more and more traditional SAP on-premise customers making the leap now. I think talent management in particular is, it’s a good way to kind of start your cloud, transition your journey into the cloud because many times what I find with my clients is you know, they may not have a system to manage goal setting and performance management, or succession planning, a lot of times I find you know a lot of my clients will start implementing SuccessFactors Succession, because they don’t have a system, it’s all a manual process done on paper and it’s very time-consuming and labor-intensive, lots of room for human error, data manipulation, so it’s a prime candidate for moving, you know, moving into a system that really provides you best practices in terms of how to do succession planning, gives you access to data that—gives your managers access to data that they’ve really never had access to before, which you know really just opens up your process and gives you a view of your entire workforce that is really, you know, remarkable.

The concerns that people have around security and data, I really see those, especially in the talent management space, I see those subsiding quite a bit, I think people are realizing that you know, the cloud isn’t new, it’s been around for a long time now and despite pictures being linked on the internet, it’s still pretty, you know, it’s secure. And you know, the system, especially with succession planning, a lot of concerns I see is just having that data accessible now to many people, a lot of people maybe are, shy away from that, but you really have the control with role-based permissions in SuccessFactors to tightly control who can see what, who sees that data, you know, and who can have access to it. So I am really seeing a shift toward more and more people kind of jumping in with both feet.

Ken: From a skillset perspective, what skillsets are required say, to support a cloud-based talent management solution, like SuccessFactors, as opposed to the on-premise SAP talent management suite?

Amy: That’s a great question and I do get that question quite a bit. Implementing a cloud solution, implementing SuccessFactors talent management modules is quite different from going through an on-premise SAP implementation, I did that for years before I found the cloud. The implementations are different, and kind of post go-live support and  maintenance are different as well, so until probably about two years ago the only time I ever talked to an IT professional on a project was to get a data file, of employee data, to load into SuccessFactors. I dealt strictly with business and functional resources who owned the process and they maintain system and admin tools, SuccessFactors has put a lot of focus over the last two to three years of moving a lot of the features, configuration features in certain modules, right into the instance and giving customer administrators the ability to create their own form templates, for instance a Performance Management form or a Compensation form, and configure that right in the instance in their one admin interface.

You know, in terms of the skillset, it’s totally conceivable that someone who isn’t a programmer, you don’t need ABAP skills to maintain SuccessFactors, to be an administrator in SuccessFactors, can definitely be a business process owner or someone you know, who supports the business process and very skillfully and with not a lot of effort and training manage that system going forward. What I’m finding though is with some of the larger SAP on-premise customers who are now moving their talent processes to the cloud, they, you know, it’s kind of finding a balance, between what works best in their organization, the delineation of duties between IT and the business.

I find that in most cases, the business owners, they want to be a part of maintaining the system, they like having the ability to you know, make a change to a form template themselves and not have to log a ticket with IT and you know get it in the queue. But again, it’s a balance, so I’m finding you know, a lot of the integration pieces between SuccessFactors and on-premise HCM obviously IT resources are very involved in implementing that and maintaining that going forward, so it’s kind of a, kind of a separation or a balance between IT resources and business folks. A lot of times I see IT involved in designing the security roles in SuccessFactors and maintaining those moving forward, but allowing the business owners and HR or the compensation department to actually own updating those templates, launching forms, helping end users, kind of being that first point of support for end users with questions. So, it’s, there’s no one right answer, but with SuccessFactors, one of the nice things about it is there really aren’t any specific technical skills or training that one needs to have in order to maintain it.

Ken: Can you also just touch on what part competencies play in SuccessFactors talent management?

Amy: That’s a great question, the competency library in SuccessFactors is, it’s part of what they call the platform, so any module that you implement right out of the gate, you’re going to implement the platform along with it, that’s kind of just the base of your system and gives you your employee profile, but competencies are very much part of the platform and they’re used throughout the system, so SuccessFactors is a competency-based talent management system.

Every system comes with a best practice competency library, I think at last count that library had something like 87 best practice competencies, and they’re used all throughout, so they’re used in Performance Management, you can define core values or core competencies on performance forms that everyone is evaluated against. You can define role-specific competencies and evaluate employees depending on the role that they’re playing or their job-specific duties, they come into play in the Development module, so when you are identifying a development need that you have, you need to work on, or if your manager is doing that for you out of a succession planning meeting or just while doing your performance review, you’re going to select one or more competencies, role-specific competencies, that that development goal is going to help you achieve. And then you see them again in succession planning. So there’s also some integration over to learning, you can map your competencies to learning items in the LMS catalogue, and as you’re creating a development goal, you can choose to create a learning activity that is pulled from something in your LMS catalogue, you can search by competency or you can search by item.

So they just, competency is just run throughout the entire system, they’re even used in recruiting management, in order to evaluate candidates against the position that they’re interviewing for, so they’re very important, it’s a critical piece of the system and integrates with pretty much just about every talent management module in the system.

Ken: Great, well Amy, we won’t keep you, we know you’re itching to get to SuccessConnect, so we thank you for your time today!

Amy: Thank you for having me, I really enjoyed it!

Ken: We’ve been speaking with Amy Grubb, CEO of Cloud Consulting Partners, and again this is Ken Murphy, with SAPinsider, and you’ve been listening to another edition of HR Connections. Amy, thank you again!

Amy: Thank you, Ken.

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