The topic of “should-I-stay or should-I-go” to the cloud for HR has been a hot one for SAP customers recently. Last week, SAP announced its plan to build a new on-premise HCM for S/4HANA and DSAG (the German-speaking SAP user group) released its HR-focused survey where most respondents planned to stick to on-premise HCM at least partially. At the same time, SAP also unveiled its Upgrade2Success program, a set of tools and services intended to ease the transition from on-premise SAP ERP HCM to SAP SuccessFactors in the cloud.

Originally tabbed as “HCM Bridge to the Cloud” before the change to the more ambiguous Upgrade2Success, the program will include predefined configuration accelerators, process libraries, and integration and data migration tools, personalized road maps for HR transformation, business case support to demonstrate ROI of the project and what SAP calls “attractive commercial terms that reflect existing investments.”

None of these components are new, according to Stephen Spears, SAP SuccessFactors chief revenue officer. The Upgrade2Success program is simply a collection of those existing services presented in a single place.

“What I was encountering as I looked at customers like Hershey that had gone through the process of going from on-premise into SuccessFactors, what I couldn’t find is a nice set of repeatable steps to transition to the cloud,” says Spears, who spoke to ASUGNews recently. “Customers will be able to go online and say here’s what I’ve got—now where is your business case, here are industry best practices, here’s the time that will take out of a standard implementation then make the transition from that point into traditional SI [system integrator] model or an actual offering with structured elements.”

The SAP Partner Role

On the surface, Upgrade2Success looks like it might be filling a role that SAP SuccessFactors partners would otherwise be doing, and in the process taking revenue out of partner pockets. Spears doesn’t see it that way, given that with around 14,000 SAP ERP HCM customers, the number of full transitions to SuccessFactors is relatively small.

“What’s interesting is that over the course of the last five years, we have only seen 500 to 600 customers migrating to [SuccessFactors] from [SAP ERP HCM],” says Spears. “We are going to create a ton of work for SIs.”

SAP’s strategy for enabling partners in the Upgrade2Success program will involve “clear guidance” on implementation practices, convincing the partners that this won’t encroach on their business and getting partners to recognize there are a massive number of on-premise HCM customers that are unsure how to move to the cloud, explains Spears.

“SAP has been slow to adopt mandatory success for partners,” says Spears. “When you look at the partner ecosystem, it is big and vibrant. It’s really easy to understand how things get out of control.”

With many partners building up their SAP SuccessFactors teams, but thus far relatively few projects, there is concern for the quality of implementations going forward—especially if Upgrade2Success brings in more projects, as SAP hopes. Ensuring that implementations go well is more than just giving partners a set of guidelines, posits Sherryanne Meyer, ASUG HR community advocate.

“I don’t think ‘clear guidance’ comes in the form of a package of tools and services,” Meyer says. “Project success will be reliant on a strong staff of experts who are really there to help customers. That’s a variable SAP will need to manage.”

Bottom Line for ASUG Members

SAP ERP HCM customers who are interested in moving to SAP SuccessFactors don’t really need to reach out to SAP about the Upgrade2Success program, it will be integrated into SAP’s sales pitch. It won’t be free—it will be an option when buying the software, but certainly an option SAP will push. Again, there is nothing necessarily new here, these are things that SAP has offered before that are packaged together for the first time.

Finally, even if Upgrade2Success offers better preparation and guidance for a cloud migration, it will still be essential to pick the right implementation partners. As with any project, customers should still do their due diligence in partner selection—like any large ecosystem there are good ones and less-good ones. Ensuring that a cloud upgrade is a success will come down to more than just help from SAP.