It sometimes seems the SuccessFactors community is only talking about implementing new modules. Is there really nothing customers need once SuccessFactors Recruiting, Employee Central, Goals and Performance or other modules are up and running? Many policies and practices including SuccessFactors professional certification suggest: not really…

There’s Some Demand for Post Implementation Services – Most Notably in Reporting

However, the great feedback we got in just one area suggests otherwise: ever since my colleague Chris started blogging about SuccessFactors reporting tools we had a whole bunch of live customers asking for help with DashboardsBIRT reports,ORD or Employee Central Advanced Reporting. Other topics live customers seem very much interested in are

– improved integration with SAP on-premiseConcurFieldglassS/4 Hana or 3rd party solutions including electronic HR files / archiving systems. So, if one relatively small service partner can find such a gap, there must be some reason.

– pro-active help in keeping up with the innovation delivered with quarterly packages and other ongoing improvement.

In the Old World, Experienced Consultants Worked Mostly with Experienced (i.e. Live) Customers

I’m fully aware that comparing SaaS / PaaS solutions with the old world doesn’t always make sense, but allow me one thought about the past: When I started in SAP R/3 HR in 1996, implementation projects were the biggest part of my job, though with payroll involved, annual updates started to take up some time soon enough and HR reports were always a topic customers appetite for grew as we went along.

Fast forward 10 years to 2006 and there were not that many implementations left to be done (at least in Germany, where I worked at the time) and those SAP HR implementations left were often decided primarily on price – leading to a focus on junior and offshore resources and the asap methodology easily interpreted to make low quotes and create huge change request bills (great to see SAP didn’t take this model into the cloud and replaced it with a more agile approach with SAP Launch aka BizExpert). The best consultants with strong experience where picked off by experienced customers, who, after 10 years of live operations, needed experienced consultants to add value, and also knew how to spot them and had the most challenging jobs – often cross-process:

– improving integration of SAP HCM with other modules and 4rd party systems

– getting value adding HR analytics

– authorisations re-design driven by ever wider ruse of the HR system through ESS/MSS

– system consolidation: often merging separate SAP HR systems for various countries into one global system

– optimising systems to improve user acceptance and / or maintainability

– fixing cheap implementations…

Sure, the SaaS concept of SuccessFactors leads to much less need for all kinds of technical support services – even now that it’s adding PaaS. Also, leveraging innovation coming in through quarterly updates is easier than in the old world. Yet, there still is a clear need for help in process improvement and in using the full potential of SuccessFactors. The number of customers still using PM v11 in Successfactors Performance & Goals, although they are not 100% happy with it and could benefit from PM v12 Acceleration is just one small example I’ve come across a few times recently.

Consultants and SAP Partners are Incentivised to Focus on New Implementations

HCM_Journey_1Why do so few SuccessFactors consultants seem interested in helping customers to get more out of what they already have? One reason could be that the incentive system set up by SAP is focusing on implementation and ignoring optimisation, unless HCP is involved:

– Want to achieve the SuccessFactors professional certification, which SAP is pushing customers to demand? Get 3 new implementations of the same module done. Achieved fastest by jumping to the next client on go live day, so you’ll never learn, how your implementation stands the test of time

– Want some extra revenue? Become a VAR and earn commission on each new subscription. Nothing to be made from lingering with the client after go-live…

– Want any kind of SuccessFactors certification? Focus on one or few modules. Cross process knowledge is not really asked for. The Big Picture is for the Sales guy, if at all relevant.

– Want to impress a recruiter? Give her a high number of full cycle implementations…

So, naturally, anything but implementations becomes a second priority. Sure, SAP have upped their game considerably with the new support model. Right thing to do! And strategically, SAP has to drive new SuccessFactors implementations, because now is the time when market share in the HR cloud market is determined and competitors don’t take any prisoners pushing customers into ambitious rip-and-replace projects without any safety net.

It’s Kinda Normal for This Stage, but There’s Business to be Made With Live Customers

But for customers, it can be difficult to find innovative partners to help them gettingmore Bang for their subscription Bucks after go live. Added to scarcity is the problem that the experience and qualities they are looking for in this case are only partially represented by SuccessFactors certifications.

So, SAP got it all wrong? Certainly not! They need to start somewhere and as emphasised above it’s the right focus for them. I’m almost certain it’ll shift over time and the re-design of support was already one such step.

Customers need to be aware, as always, what they are HCM-journeyreally looking for: the person with the highest number of implementations on their CV may not always be the answer to their challenges. Obviously I’m not arguing experience is not important. It’s the the right kind of experience that is important.  If integration of SuccessFactors with SAP on-premise is your problem, the consultant, who’s done 5 standard implementations and left the difficult questions (like integration, process decisions, analytics, post go live user adoption) to others, is not necessarily better than the one, who’s done one implementation, but solved integration for 5 customers. And we also need to be clear that the implementation is, after all, not everything, but the first leg of a journey of innovation. The difference to the on-premise world is that they will find it much easier to keep up with the innovation they pay for, but it will still take some effort.

While this is all happening, I got an appointment booked with my colleague Chris for some more knowledge sharing in reporting tools. There’s a lot coming at our small team … 🙂

Sven Ringling is Director of iProCon, a SAP consultancy specialising in HCM, Global Rollout, SuccessFactors, Concur Cloud Transformation and HRIS Strategy. Visit the iProCon website to find out more or connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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