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HR Connections - Amy Grubb Discusses SuccessFactors and HR2015

by Amy Grubb

April 22, 2015


Amy Grubb, CEO of Cloud Consulting Partners, joins SAPinsider's Ken Murphy for an HR Connections podcast to discuss SuccessFactors enhancements and to share her takeaways from the SAPinsider HR2015 event in Las Vegas. Topics of this discussion include:

  • Lessons from a real-life customer's business case for a cloud-based integrated talent solution that included tangible metrics
  • Enhancements to Recruting in SuccessFactors, including resume parsing
  • A brief recap of Amy's sessions at HR2015

Ken Murphy, SAPinsider: Hi, and welcome to HR Connections, an SAPinsider podcast focused on the latest developments and hottest trends in the HR space. This is Ken Murphy with SAPinsider, and today I am pleased to be joined by Amy Grubb, the CEO of Cloud Consulting Partners, a full-service HCM consulting firm that specializes in SuccessFactors implementations. Amy is a frequent speaker at the SAPinsider HR conferences, as well as an HR Expert and a co-author of the book SuccessFactors for SAP ERP HCM. Amy welcome to the podcast.

Amy Grubb, Cloud Consulting Partners:  Thanks Ken, it’s good to be here. That’s a mouthful.

Ken: Ha. I mentioned the SAPinsider HR conference, including the most recent one last month in Las Vegas, and I understand you had two sessions there, one making the business case for moving HR to the cloud, and a jumpstart session that was an introduction to SuccessFactors. Tell us how those sessions were received; what were people talking about?

Amy: First of all it was a great conference this year, always good energy when the conference is in Vegas. So you’re right, I did a pre-conference jumpstart that was basically an introduction to SuccessFactors. I think it was called SuccessFactors for Beginners, where I covered pretty much all of the Talent modules within SuccessFactors. I don’t think we quite touched on Recruiting, but touched on all those Talent modules, so Goals, Performance, Compensation, Development Succession, and even a little bit of Learning. And I had 140 people, which was the final count I was told. Way more people than I was expecting so I had planned for it to be a hands-on session – and it was – but a little bit of scrambling in the morning when I found out there were going to be so many people there to get everyone logged into a system. But there was great interest in SuccessFactors. I’ve seen over the past two years especially the interest around SuccessFactors among SAP customers is just growing by leaps and bounds. I think the number of people in my jumpstart session was just one example. I think there were several sessions on SuccessFactors at the conference and they were all very well attended. I had some great questions from my folks on jumpstart day about – I always take a poll of people in my sessions to see who already has SuccessFactors, who’s new to it; and about half the people in the jumpstart session were in some way in the process or had at least one module of SuccessFactors. And the other half were brand new to it and were there because they knew it was coming and they were there to learn. So I had some great questions from people, really great contributions from folks in the room who had already started down that path. So that was really exciting from me, I think that went really, really well and I did get some great feedback from a couple of folks who came up to me afterwards and said they really got a lot out of it. That was good for me, I enjoy hearing that.

My second session was on making the business case for moving HR to the cloud, and that also was very well attended judging by the nodding heads in the room as I was speaking. It was resonating with a lot of folks. What I did there was, I had some overview points but also walked through a real-life customer of mine and the process that they went through several years ago when they developed their business case for an integrated talent solution. It was just a textbook case of what you should do when you’re developing your business case  and the thing that I think was critical for them was that they involved HR, IT, and Finance all together and they were all working in conjunction to come up with the data points and build this business case that had actual, tangible metrics associated with it. I think always having a real-life case study is always helpful to personalize it and give attendees an idea of how they can go about starting down that road.

Ken: Back to the jumpstart session, I’m curious; you said about half the crowd, half the 140 attendees, were in the process of moving to SuccessFactors. I’m curious if there was a particular module that was the most interest among those attendees?

Amy: I don’t really ask what modules what people have, if they have one or more. Typically what I find a lot is that people will start with Performance & Goals module because they’re relatively simple to implement, they are in best practice form. So it’s a good place to start; they have those particular modules –  and I think we’ve talked about this before –  they have a lot of built-in tools and content that really allow customers to get almost immediate return on their investment. A lot of quick hits, easy wins are available by putting in Performance & Goals. Just by making that arduous process of completing a performance review, whether you’re an employee or a manager, there really are some very nice tools that help that along and make it a lot better experience. So that’s where I find most people start. There were a couple diving headlong into Recruiting, and God bless them for that. Recruiting is – I love to configure Recruiting, I think it’s a fun module - but there’s a lot to it. There’s a lot of layers you need to peel back and understand the functionality and the process. But that’s typically where folks start. It’s either Performance & Goals, or there’ll do Recruiting, or some of them will start with Learning. And it really just depends on what their current pain point is. So it really is different by customer.

That’s a question I get a lot of customers who haven’t started yet is “Where should I start?” And I think I spoke last year at the conference in 2014 on that. And there is really no one right answer. For every customer it’s really where do you not have a system? Where do you not have a process? Or what’s the most painful for you right now? Where is your reporting headache in terms of data? That’s always a good place to start.

Ken: I know last year was sort of a big year for enhancements in some of the SuccessFactors modules. Were there any in particular in Performance & Goals, Recruiting, or Learning that inspired more organizations to take the leap?

Amy: Last year was a huge year for recruiting enhancements. The product team worked so hard over the last two years, probably even longer than we realized putting in some really significant enhancements in recruiting last year. Most specifically would be resume parsing, which wasn’t necessarily difficult technically but there were some other proprietary intellectual property issues that needed to get worked out. It’s never good when you have to get lawyers involved, they always slow things down. But that was a huge win for the product and something that was sorely needed. So when a  candidate uploads their resume to their profile in SuccessFactors now, the data will get parsed out – like their work history and education so they don’t have to re-type that. So that was big. I think SuccessFactors has done a lot in terms of online interview scheduling, so there’s a whole new component of letting candidates now own that interview scheduling process so you can set up blocks of time when your interviewers are available, and candidates can see that. Obviously those candidates that you’ve chosen to interview. And they can then go in and block their own time, what works with their schedule, online based on what’s available, and then manage that. So if something happens and they can’t come, it just eliminates a lot of phone calls, a lot of emails back and forth, a lot of very manual and repetitive work trying to get people scheduled for an interview. So I think that’s huge. This year they’ll be adding Outlook integration to that feature which I think will make it much more robust, and I think more people will adopt it at that point. I think those – there were a few other things added – were just nice little enhancements that really catapulted the Recruiting product I think to the next level. I do think that folks are recognizing that and choosing to implement Recruiting more often than I’ve seen in the past.

Ken: What about for this year and what’s on tap for SuccessFactors? Anything new coming out we should be on the lookout for?

Amy: That’s a great question. They’re in the process right  now of delivering all of their One Voice calls, or they call them for consultants the Internal Readiness Reviews. So reviewing what’s coming out with the quarterly release next month, so there will be a release in May with new enhancements. And I actually haven’t had a chance to catch any of those yet so I don’t have an answer for you there, but there definitely will be some positive enhancements and I think they’ll push forward some more of the integration with SAP, make that easier. So I definitely think they’ll be some good things released this year – it’s still early. We have this release and two more left to go.

Ken: Your book, SuccessFactors for SAP ERP HCM was released in December? How has the reception been?

Amy: Yes, the second edition was released in the beginning of December and that was kind of an update, if you will. I think there had been five quarterly releases to SuccessFactors since the first edition was published. So it was incorporating a lot of the big enhancements and changes that came out in those five releases and then adding that to the book. I think the reception has been good, if I can judge by my royalty checks it does pretty well. And when I meet people they do mention that they just purchased it or they pre-ordered it, I love those people that pre-order. But it’s been well-received. I think the challenge with any print material related to SuccessFactors is pretty shortly after it comes out it’s pretty much a little bit out of date because those quarterly releases never stop, they keep coming. Which is one of the great things about cloud solutions. Again, the book thing was a great experience and I loved working with Luke (Marson) on it, on both versions. It’s been a really great experience for me, I had never written a book before. It was a lot of work, but it’s been fun. It’s been a really great experience overall and everywhere I go – I was just in Australia for about 10 days and when I meet people all over the world it’s one of the first things they mention to me.

Ken: That’s good to hear when you’re in Australia.

Amy: It is, yes. I’m heading to Nice in June to speak at the HR2015 event there, and if last years’ experience was any measure I’m sure I’ll get a few folks that come up and mention the book to me at that conference as well. It’s a little strange going all over the world and meeting people I’ve never seen before but who are familiar with me because of that.

Ken: We will look to see you then in June at the SAPinsider HR event in Nice.

Amy: Yes, I’m looking forward to it. I’ll be delivering my jumpstart again there, the Introduction to SuccessFactors. And then I also in Las Vegas I was part of a panel discussion led by A.J. Whalen on debunking the top 10 myths about the cloud, and that was fun. And I think that’s on the docket for Nice as well. I’ll definitely be there delivering my jumpstart. It’ll be interesting. We’ll see what the interest level is, how many people show up this year.

Ken: You can report back to us to see if you beat the 140 attendee mark.

Amy: That’s a lot to deal with, but it’s all fun. I love it.

Ken: Amy thank you for joining us today.

Amy: Thanks Ken.

Ken: Again this is Ken Murphy with SAPinsider and this is HR Connections an SAPinsider podcast focusing on the latest developments and trends in HR, and we’ve been speaking with Amy Grubb, the CEO of Cloud Consulting Partners.

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