Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Over 9000 professionals have SAP PI In Their LinkedIn Profile

SAP PI is a key integration technology used to connect SuccessFactors Talent Solutions with SAP ERP HCM. There are thousands of SAP PI installations in the world. I was wondering about how many professionals have SAP PI in their LinkedIn Profile. It is 9283. That gives me a rough idea about the level of support available for customers around the world.

It is nice to know that some of these professionals have started identifying themselves as SAP SuccessFactors integration experts. I encourage you to do so if you have done an integration. The demand for such professionals within customer and partner organizations is very high. Even SAP and SuccessFactors professional services teams might be interested in your services.

I also recommend that you get formally trained  in Dell Boomi integration middleware technology. Someone with SAP PI and Boomi skills is going to be in demand for the next several years within the SAP SuccessFactors customer community..

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Thinking Fast And Slow

I have been reading the book Thinking Fast And Slow  by Daniel Kahneman for a while now. While it is a thought provoking book, it is not an easy read. I believe that the book helps you identify how people think and identify those who are more likely to become successful at work and life and people who are less likely to succeed. A useful skill to have, I think.

In the video below, Charlie Rose talks to Mr. Kahneman. The conversation makes it easy to understand the concepts in the book.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Technology Advances Will Radically Change Truck Drivers' Jobs

A few days back I wrote a post saying that there are over 200,000 professionals who identify themselves as SAP HR professionals. Several colleagues responded saying that there is a big disruption coming for all these colleagues and they need to learn how to apply their skills in the new world of cloud HR powered by SuccessFactors.

If you think this is a hard transition, I want to point you to another area where the transition is going to be harder. There are over 5.7 million truck drivers in the US. In the next two decades their job are going to be systematically eliminated or radically changed by self-driving truck technology. This is not science fiction. Mining companies in Australia have already deployed self driving trucks and it is a matter of time before this technology is deployed to all commercial trucks. Technology to remotely drive these trucks is also not unthinkable. Compared to the disruption that awaits commercial truck drives, the disruption faced by enterprise software professionals looks like a cake walk.

Picture from

Monday, July 22, 2013

SAP SuccessFactors Integration Single Sign-On Works Both Ways

SAP America is an SAP-SuccessFactors Hybrid customer. We use SAP ERP HCM for employee administration, compensation and payroll and SuccessFactors for talent management needs including Goals Management, Performance Management and Social Collaboration.

Today I got an email from the compensation team with an update to my compensation. My compensation information is calculated in SAP Compensation and displayed as part of my employee profile in SuccessFactors. When I look for detailed compensation information, such as stock option plans, SuccessFactors points me to the Employee Rewards page, which is handled by SAP and connected to stock option plan systems, employee stock purchase systems and share matching plan systems. When I switch back and forth between these systems, I do not think or care about where it is hosted. It may be hosted in the cloud by SuccessFactors or it may be hosted inside the SAP firewalls. The experience of an employee is seamless. The SAP and SuccessFactors integration teams have done a good job.

This is something I have mentioned to customers many times during my presentations and conversations. It is good to see it at work within SAP and SuccessFactors. The document that explains how to do this is the SAP SuccessFactors Single Sign On Cook Book. You can find the document in Service Market Place. I also posted the document to the partner exchange Jam group. if you are a partner and need access, please contact my colleague Bryan. Bryan dot hart at sap dot com.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Thinking In Pictures

Temple Grandin, is a gifted animal scientist who has designed one-third of all the livestock-handling facilities in the United States. She also lectures widely on autism--because Temple Grandin is autistic. She thinks, feels, and experiences the world in ways that are incomprehensible to the rest of us. I believe we can learn from and adopt some of her approaches, even if we cannot think like her in pictures.

Thinking in pictures and using pictures to convey information leads to innovative and simpler design of systems. I have used this approach for a while now with significant success.

Here is a TED talk where she talks about thinking in pictures.

After I wrote this short post my colleague Mark Finnern asked me about some situations where thinking In Pictures helped me at work. Here are the examples.

Thinking In Pictures for Solution Architecture
I draw a picture and encourage colleagues and customers to visualize a solutions rather than show PowerPoint slides to them. This approach significantly reduced the time taken to make a purchasing decision.

Conversation Using Pictures for Training
I also used a picture based approach for training purposes.

Thinking In Pictures for Innovation
I have written more about this and other concepts in the book "Look and Flow".

Deep Vs Modest Integrations

Recently, I shared my findings about the number of average integrations to a Core HR system and the number of average vendor systems to which such systems are connected. Naomi Bloom, whom I admire and respect a lot, added very valuable commentary to that information.

She said that certain systems such a talent management systems need to be deeply integrated or unified with the Core HR system. Some systems, such as stock options management, need only a modest integration. I learned from customers I work with that this is their desire as well. They look for deep integration or unification for talent management solutions and modest integration with all other systems.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Having A Big Picture On The Wall Enriches A Work Session Significantly

Yesterday I had a chance to discuss the future solution landscape of a customer with the HR and IT leadership team members. The SuccessFactors regional sales manager invited me to present the HCM road map to this customer. When the participants heard that I work with other SAP customers who added SuccessFactors solutions to their landscape, they wanted me to share my experience with them. I did that. We also discussed their current landscape and their future landscape.

Rather than show a bunch of slides, I drew a simplified version of their current landscape on the white board and then went on to draw the potential future state with their guidance. This exercise of quickly painting a big picture of where we need to be on the wall, significantly improved the conversation through out the day. The exercise of drawing the current state and the end state took about 45 minutes.

In every subsequent session, almost every participant referred to the picture on the wall, while making decisions and recommendations. I believe the picture sped up decision making and improved clarity of thought in the room.

It reminded me of something my psychology professor taught me in college. She told the class that the most efficient way to do anything, say read an article for example, is to skim the whole article quickly to get a rough idea of what it is and then dive into the details to understand them and discuss them.

It sounds so simple. And yet, very few of us do it.

PS: I have noticed one thing. When ever I do such sessions, some of my colleagues who are not familiar with this approach watch me nervously. Once the session is over, most of them recognize the value and invite me to do the same in other sessions. Some may not be comfortable with this approach and may not invite me to participate in their pursuits. I am fine with it.

Core HR Systems Are integrated With 15 Systems On An Average

I have been studying the system landscapes of several SAP customers in the past few months. I learned that on an average a Core HR system is integrated with about 15 different vendors systems. A few weeks back I mentioned that the number of average integrations per customer is about 60.

Examples of a vendor system are

  • performance management systems, 
  • recruiting systems, 
  • onboarding systems, 
  • benefits management systems, 
  • stock options management systems, 
  • rewards and recognition management systems, 
  • payroll systems, 
  • employment and income verification systems
This is based on several customers of varying sizes. What do you think? Do you see a similar number of vendors systems integrated with Core HR systems.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

77,000+ SAP HR Professionals On LinkedIn

Over 77,000 professionals identify themselves as SAP HR professionals in LinkedIn. There are over 14,000 such colleagues in my extended network alone. Most of them work at customer organizations. A significant portion of them work for SAP partners and a small number of colleagues work at SAP.

I believe that any product management person, who wants his or her strategy to be successful, should take into consideration the people who's career depends on his or her decisions. When I make my product direction and road map recommendations to product teams, I keep these colleagues in mind. While everyone understands that human capital management is moving to the cloud, there is a human factor that needs to be considered and steps need to taken to take this large, vibrant and high quality colleagues along. I think everyday about how my recommendations to current SAP HCM customers and my decisions at work affect these colleagues' work and career.

This was one of the reasons I was keen to take on the responsibility for SAP SuccessFactors integrations training sessions and SAP SuccessFactors integration Jam communities. Some good work has been done this year. We have trained over 600 colleagues for a total of over 2000 course hours. All these training sessions have been recorded and are available from Jam communities for SAP SuccessFactors colleagues and partners. All these training sessions are available for free to all SAP SuccessFactors colleagues and SAP SuccessFactors partners. If you need access, please email my colleague Bryan. His email is bryan dot hart at sap dot com.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

LinkedIn Should Have A Rate The Recruiter Feature

Like all professionals, I get invitations to consider positions by recruiters. Some of them are from experienced executive recruiters and some are from inexperienced and even lazy recruiters with no clue what they are looking for. I wish there were a 'rate the recruiter' feature or some other feature to see the reputation of a recruiter before responding to a request. Zillow has it for realtors. Angies list has it for professionals. Why should LinkedIn not have it for recruiters?

I think it will make the talent market more efficient.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

How Consumer Products Designers Use Personas

I have learned a bit on using personas from consumer product designers. In a Wall Street Journal article today I saw an interesting example of using  personas to understand the behavior of consumers and depicting them via illustration to describe those personas quickly and efficiently. You can read the article here.

The personas below are women using household cleaning products and their style of using them. The illustrator is Asaf Hanuka, the renowned illustrator.

Illustration from the Wall Street Journal

I have been using the persona driven approach to design, communicate and even train colleagues successfully for a while now. Enric Gili, Eduardo Salamanca de Diego and I wrote about our experience in the book Look and Flow.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Parked Scooter in Amsterdam

I was in Amsterdam sometime back to speak at the HR Insider 2013 conference and meet customers. I landed on Monday afternoon and went to the city to force myself to stay awake and beat the jet lag. Amsterdam is full of bikes and scooters. This one was parked near a small bush. I did not have much time to sketch the landscape like I did in Prague. But I had to at least sketch something when I visit Vincent Van Gogh's country. It will be disrespectful not to do so. I considered sketching the canals. But I am yet to learn how to sketch water with pencils. I will try that sometime in the future.

Parked Scooter in Amsterdam.

Street With Tram Cables

I enjoyed drawing the overhead cables the most. The way the the tracks on the ground and the cables above converged into the distance was particularly interesting to draw. The stone paved street and the details in the building were interesting too.

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