Thursday, January 23, 2014

Two Paths To Full Cloud HCM

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

SAP Jam Adoption Models

Monday, January 13, 2014

Fitting Images In A Circle In PowerPoint

I fit images and illustrations in a circle in PowerPoint while telling my product stories. He is a short video on how I do it.

Monday, January 06, 2014

How SAP Uses The Integration Between SuccessFactors Learning and SAP Jam

I have written and spoken many times about the integration between SuccessFactors Learning and SAP Jam. It is the most compelling integration use case for Jam at least in the people management area. To show that we use this often at SAP to our advantage, I created a video of the internal implementation of SuccessFactors Learning and SAP Jam.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Stages In The Decision Making Phase Of Your Journey To The Cloud

Warren Buffet once observed that he always buys companies that have such a fundamental advantage over other companies that an idiot could run them because sooner or later an idiot might run the company. He also does not keep a calculator or a computer in his desk, preferring to do most of the calculations in his head, while making decisions for his multibillion dollar investments. In short, he focuses on key business criteria and seeks significant business advantage before looking at the current stock price or other details.

While your information technology investments may not always be multibillion dollar decisions, it helps to take fundamentally correct high level decisions that put you in an advantageous position, before jumping into the details such as feature comparison and technology choice. I have observed that the SAP and SuccessFactors customer organizations that took a three stage approach in their decision making phase and focused on the big picture had a higher rate of success in their cloud projects.

Unfortunately I have also seen organizations that focus on the details first and lose track of the big picture. Such projects almost always get delayed, fail and end in acrimony. I try to politely excuse myself from engaging with such organizations, when I can.

The three stages that the successful companies went through are business architecture review, product review and solution architecture review.

First is the business architecture review stage where a business architect from your vendor or management consulting organization should conduct a workshop to identify your business problems. Most large software vendors have a team that can do this. Your consulting partners might be able to do this as well. SuccessFactors will conduct this workshop for you free of cost if you ask for it.

Second is the product review stage where you see the products that can solve your problems and see a demo of it. All software vendors can do this for you. This is the most common one of all. But if you did not go through stage one and are not sure what your business problem is, then this stage will be counter productive. You may end up buying a product because it looks cool. Not because it solves a problem for you.

Third is the solution architecture review stage. This is the stage where a solution architect from a vendor or a partner organization will discuss your current landscape with you and identify your current landscape and map out your future landscape, one you should aim for a few years into the future. The solution architect will also discuss high level deployment models and integration requirements. Most large software vendors and implementation partners will have the skill to conduct this workshop for you. SuccessFactors will conduct this workshop for you for free if you have already gone through the first two stages. Ask your account executive for it.

To get the best value out of these workshops, please conduct them in the order I listed. Mixing them up may not provide value. Worse, they may be counterproductive.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Middleware Technology Options for Integrating SuccessFactors

There are multiple middleware technology options available for customers who want to integrate SuccessFactors with on-premise SAP or 3rd party cloud applications. I put together a simple diagram to depict all the the middleware technology options provided by SAP for integrating SuccessFactors across all deployment models.

It is important to keep in mind that not every prepackaged integration supports every integration middleware technology today. The support depends on the deployment model. Sometimes the support for a certain middleware technology may be on the road map. Please discuss this with your technical solution consultant before picking an option. You can also ask Solution consultants and partners (if you are working with one) for their recommendation based on your deployment model, implementation schedule, current landscape, in-house expertise, and business needs.

Customer are welcome to use a middleware technology of their choice
Another important thing to note is that many SuccessFactors customers use an integration middleware technology other than the ones mentioned above for business reasons. While it might cost them a bit more to implement the prepackaged integrations on a middleware technology of their choice, they take such decisions to keep their landscape simple and take advantage of existing skills within the organization..

SAP customers use many different middleware technologies
I have discussed integration middleware needs with hundreds of customers. Majority of them also use technologies other than the three mentioned above. I also found out that almost all customers use at least two different middleware technologies in their landscape.

My opinion about prepackaged integration design
Bulk of the work in any integration is usually not middleware configuration. Bulk of the work is identifying the field mapping and ensuring that the right data flows from the right source to the right target. I believe that it makes sense to create prepackaged integrations that do not depend too much on the features of a particular middleware technology. Such integration design will enable customers to switch from one technology to another, should the need arise, easily.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Customers See Analytics As A Stepping Stone To Talent Solutions Suite

A few days back, I wrote about a trend where customers see the Talent Hybrid deployment option from SuccessFactors as a stepping stone to Full Cloud HCM deployment option. My colleagues who worked with customers in the industries where there is a big talent retention problem have recommended Workforce Analytics as a stepping stone to the full Talent Solutions suite. Customers have taken this route and are happy with the approach.

Such customers are implementing workforce analytics in the cloud first, getting insight from there and then expanding their talent solutions foot print in the cloud. With such successful implementations, they become good candidates for the Full Cloud HCM deployment model in a few months.

Who Should Consider The Full Cloud HCM Deployment Option

SAP ERP customers who do not use SAP HCM for their people management applications today, are good candidates for and will greatly benefit from the Full Cloud HCM deployment option from SuccessFactors.

When an account executive and a solution consultant discuss deployment options for a customer they should explore two important factors. The first one is the current landscape. The second one is pain points in the employee administration area. Doing this due diligence and having this discussion internally before recommending a deployment option for the customer will greatly benefit the team. The same holds good for partners who want to make a recommendation for a customer.

If you are wondering about the advantages a customer has while going with SAP and SuccessFactors for Full Cloud HCM, here are a couple.

Something Foolish, Something Creative and Something Generous

Benjamin Graham, the author of the book "The Intelligent Investor" hoped every day to do “something foolish, something creative, and something generous.” His book has been the bible for value investors for over 60 years. I have it in my library and read it for his investing insight and attitude towards life.

In his book 'Antifragile', Nassim Nicholas Taleb talks about building systems that become stronger when there is volatility and disorder. His insights were particularly useful for me when I went through the months when SuccessFactors became an SAP company.

In the book, 'Rich Dad Poor Dad', Robert Kiyosaki talks about the things the poor and the middle class do not teach their kids. I have heard about this book a lot from my business school friends who are now fund managers. I read it recently to verify some of my investment strategies. While he is a controversial figure, there is a lot you can learn from his experience.

'The Back of the Napkin' by Dan Roam is a book for those who want to communicate with simple pictures. I practice this every day at work. It is my best known secret weapon. So obvious and yet seldom followed.

'Little bets' by Peter Sims was very useful to learn how successful people test the waters with their ideas by making little bets before taking big risks with them.

The one piece of advice I try to keep in mind  is to do something foolish, something creative and something generous every day. I hope you get to do that too. I wish everyone who takes the time to read what I share, a very happy and prosperous new year.

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