ASUG in Review 2016: SAP HR and SuccessFactors

December 21, 2016 by Craig Powers

Data Point: Sun Communities estimates it saved 2,700 employee hours with SuccessFactors Intelligent Services

Of Note: SuccessFactors Employee Central, SAP’s core HR suite in the cloud, passed 1,000 customers in early 2016, but the vendor set a goal of 2,000 by year-end (they number was 1,350 at Q3’s end)

Quotable Quote: “CRM is all about understanding the customer and looking for patterns of engagement. We are looking at how that applies to HCM [human capital management].”—Yvette Cameron, SAP SuccessFactors senior VP of strategy, speaking to ASUGNews at the HR Technology Conference in October

2016 in Review

In 2015, SAP made it clear that SuccessFactors, and the cloud, is the future of its human resources software. As 2016 began, SuccessFactors was united, branding wise, with its SAP cloud app counterparts, officially becoming “SAP SuccessFactors.” SuccessFactors also became one with the SAP family by briefly housing the S/4HANA public cloud go-to-market team, before that segment branched out on its own later in the year.

This came as SuccessFactors Employee Central, SAP’s cloud HR suite, topped 1,000 customers for the first time, putting it in in the ballpark of cloud HR competitor Workday, which also reports “over 1,000” customers. Workday is just one of many competitors in a crowded HR software market, and that’s why Mike Ettling, SAP SuccessFactors president, brought on Yvette Cameron, former lead HR analyst at Gartner, as head of strategy at SuccessFactors. Her role is to assess what’s coming next in HR software, and then, to make sure SuccessFactors is ready for it.

Cameron’s biggest focus appears to be on the intersection of customer relationship management (CRM) and HR processes (see quote at the top of the page). She sees applications of CRM principles in expanded use of analytics for HR, as well as using the same strategies for identifying influential fans of brands to then find influential employees.

It will be interesting to watch whether more CRM influence does indeed begin to show up in SAP’s HR innovations in 2017 and beyond.

But What Was New to SuccessFactors in 2016?

By SuccessConnect 2016 in August, SuccessFactors had begun delivering on some of the product promises the SAP business unit made at the previous year’s event. These commitments included SuccessFactors Intelligent Services automation, which Sun Communities used to automate its employee termination process. That led to the aforementioned 2,700-employee-hour savings. SuccessFactors’ Ettling says the vendor eventually plans to offer 400 total automations with Intelligent Services, after the initial release of 25.

The biggest announcement at SuccessConnect might have been SuccessFactors’ new “lift and shift” option for moving payroll to the cloud. This allows customers to keep their existing SAP payroll implementation, but still move it off their own hardware, as opposed to completely shifting to the Employee Central Payroll, a full software-as-a-service (SaaS) product.

Other 2016 announcements included the recent addition of a mentoring tool to the SuccessFactors Succession and Development module, as well as a website-building wizard for recruiting. Additionally, SuccessFactors made diversity and inclusion a focus in 2016, and intends to build machine learning-based software to help companies create more diverse workplaces.

What Customers Were Up To in 2016

What happens when you are in the middle of implementing SAP HCM on-premise and SAP decides that cloud is the future of its HR offerings? If you are PepsiCo, you bag the on-premise implementation and start rolling out SuccessFactors instead.

One of the allures of cloud products that might motivate a move like PepsiCo made is the promise of automatic software updates. At SuccesssFactors, those updates came every quarter in 2016. However, just because the vendor rolls out new functionality, doesn’t mean customers will automatically adopt it.

Take the contrasting experiences of Sun Communities and Brooks Brothers, for example. At Sun Communities, the HR department goes to great lengths to try and prepare for every new SuccessFactors update that is thrown its way. At Brooks Brothers, the rollout of new functionality is a slower process. Either way, it goes to show that change management is an important piece, no matter how ‘easy’ it is to upgrade software.

As for broader trends, we asked ASUG members what they were doing, and plan to do, with their HR software. As expected, the overall movement is toward the cloud. Are you one of those ASUG members looking to move to SuccessFactors? Good news, ASUG rolled out Partner Place this year, to help you find that perfect systems integrator. Give it a try, and maybe your company will find itself in a success story when I recap 2017.