Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Level 2 Presentation For SAP SuccessFactors Talent Hybrid Deployment Model

I recently update the level 2 presentation for the SAP SuccessFactors Talent Hybrid Deployment model presentation. It is now available in the internal and partner Jam groups. There is also a white paper that describes all the process integrations in detail.  It is also in the Jam groups.

In this presentation, you will find process diagrams for all packaged integrations that support the Talent Hybrid deployment model. Here is an example of the variable pay integration.

Help Customers Do Things Better

A few weeks back my colleagues from the integrations and extensions team and I were discussing the  main purpose of the team. We discussed that our main goal should be to help customers do things better with the technology and tools we provide them. This will be the guiding philosophy that influences our decisions and investments.

I wish you all a happy and joyful new year.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Rethinking Computers While at Graduate Design School in IIT Bombay

When I was in graduate school at IIT, Bombay (Now Mumbai) many years back I was tired of all the grey computers around and decided to infuse some color into them. So I designed two products. One for children and one for business professionals. I sent them to a student competition hosted by the Lucky Goldstar (LG) group of South Korea. Both the entries won me international student design awards. LG invited me to Seoul for the award ceremony where I was their guest for 3 days.

I was browsing through the design catalog they sent me recently and decided to share them. I called the first one Interact. You could think of it as an iPad connected to a projector using software similar to WebEx or Adobe Connect.

I modeled it for the executives at LG and the judges and explained to them how it might work using the photograph below. They were all using Intel 286 based computers at that time and loved the idea of a slim tablet light computer connected to a projector which is also a computer. I believe the idea was about 20 years ahead of its time.

I called the second one CD-Brain. I thought that a computer could help kids develop their knowledge without boring them to death. Here it is.

JobPts - Motivation, Recognition and Rewards as a Service

I was writing the release highlights for integration and extensions the Feb 2015 release recently. Andy Yen, who own the release highlights for frameworks and extensions suggested that I highlight a certified extension application available in the HANA Cloud Platform (HCP), called JobPts. It is a motivation, rewards and recognition application built on the HANA Cloud Platform using the SuccessFactors Employee Central extensions for HCP. It is pretty cool. Check it out. You can learn more about it in the HANA market place.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Portrait of a South Indian Woman

When I was in school, I was inspired by an Indian artist called Maniam Selvam. I copied his style of drawing and drew many sketches on scraps of paper. Here is a portrait of a South Indian woman. It is done with sketch pens and water brush. You can see Maniam Selvam's drawings here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

SuccessFactors Compensation and Integration Best Practices Package

For many months now independent SAP consultants and SAP HCM consultants have reached out to me asking me how they can start learning SuccessFactors implementation. They ask me about learning to configuring the appropriate SuccessFactors product and in some cases integrating the product with SAP ERP HCM or SAP ERP. Some even complained to me about the lack of publicly available paid training material.

We always had implementation content. But such content was available only for SuccessFactors consultants and partners. That is starting to change. My colleagues in the SAP best practices team are starting to make such detailed step by step implementation content available publicly to everyone for free. This is good news for SAP HCM partner organizations who want to make the move to SuccessFactors, independent SAP HCM consultants and even fresh graduates who want to understand the basics of implementing SuccessFactors.

SAP best practice package for SuccessFactors Compensation
My colleagues are starting with a best practice package for SuccessFactors Compensation and SuccessFactors Compnesation integration with SAP ERP HCM. You can access the package from  

This package is not only a step by step implementation guide for compensation and compensation integration, but also good learning material for beginners. 

Book on SAP SuccessFactors Integration

SAP Press has announced a book on SAP SuccessFactors Integration. It is authored by many experts who work for SAP and partners. I am one of the authors. We have attempted to provide a reliable source of integration related information for those planning to move their human capital management software to the cloud. Almost all authors and contributors are hands-on experts with multiple integration implementations under their belt.

I have posted the preface of the book here to give you an idea of what is covered. Please note that it might undergo minor changes during the review and editing process.

I think this book will be a good complement to the book on SuccessFactors HCM Suite written by Luke Marson and Amy Grubb. I believe that these two books together will spread the knowledge and skill required to move human capital management systems to the cloud.


In a January 2014 article in the Wall Street Journal, Marc Andreesen, the Internet pioneer and venture capitalist compared the cost of starting a technology company today to the cost of starting  a technology company in the 1990s. He said that if you wanted to build an Internet company in the 90s, you needed to buy Sun servers, Cisco networking gear, Oracle databases, and EMC storage systems and spend a ton of money just to get up and running. He said that today’s companies can go to Amazon Web Services and pay per use to get the same services for about 1000 times cheaper. Such reduction in cost is speeding up the progress of technology and pace of innovation.

This innovation has revolutionized the consumer software industry and is spilling over to the enterprise software industry starting with customer relationship management, expense management and human capital management. Today, almost all innovation in the areas mentioned above are being done by vendors who provide their software as a service rather than as a package that can be installed behind the firewalls of an organization.

This journey to the cloud, for most areas of enterprise software, is inevitable. However, unlike consumer software where the costs for consumers are low and switching technology vendors is easy, enterprise software investments are huge and costly to abandon. So while the journey to the cloud for some customers will be swift, for some it will be in stages. This is one area where integration plays an important role. Integration can help organizations start their journey to the cloud from a place of their choice and at a pace of their choice.

In this book, we attempt to explain the evolution of enterprise software and how integration content and technologies from SAP and SuccessFactors can help you make your move to the cloud. We have split the book into multiple chapters. Each chapter addresses the needs of a specific audience and a specific set of topics.

Chapter 1 is about the evolution of Human Capital Management Software architecture, the current trends and SAP’s strategy to respond to those trends. If you are a chief financial officer, a chief information officer, chief people officer, vice president of human resources or director of information technology, this chapter is for you. We provide an overview of what is happening in the human capital management technology industry and describe how the technology landscape is evolving. We then discuss SAP’s strategy to respond to this evolution and talk about how SAP is helping you move to the cloud with various software deployment options supported by integration content and tools. We end the chapter with the integration road map published by SAP supporting the various deployment models.

Chapter 2 is about how information technology teams within organizations and software technology service providers can help customers make their journey to the cloud. If you are chief information officer, director of information technology, a partner in a software consulting firm, a solution architect or vice president of professional services in a technology service firm, this chapter is for you. We start by talking about who is moving human capital management software to the cloud and elaborate on the factors driving the movement of human capital management to the cloud. We then talk about the three main stages in the decision making phase of the journey to the cloud. The three stages are the business architecture review stage, the product review stage and the solution architecture review stage. We end the chapter by talking about the advantages of following the process and the risks you can minimize by following the process.

Chapter 3 is about the Full Cloud HCM deployment model of the SuccessFactors HCM suite. We start by discussing the architecture of the Full Cloud HCM deployment model and the target customers for the deployment model. We then detail out the packaged integrations that support this deployment model. Finally we cover the integration technology options and the roadmap for pre-packaged integrations.  If you are a  chief information officer, chief people officer, vice president of human resources or director of information technology in an organization running HR technology that is more than 10 years old, or have problems with employee administration and data consistency,  then this chapter can tell you how you can take a huge jump in technology and user experience innovation while reducing total cost of ownership for human capital management software at the same time.

Chapter 4 is about the Talent Hybrid deployment model of SAP and SuccessFactors. We start by discussing the architecture of the Talent Hybrid deployment model and the target customers for the deployment model. We then detail out the prepackaged integrations that support this deployment model. Finally we cover the integration technology options and the roadmap for pre-packaged integrations.  If you are a  chief information officer, chief people officer, vice president of human resources or director of information technology in an organization running SAP ERP HCM for employee administration and looking to move or adopt talent solutions in the cloud, then this chapter is for you. We tell you how you can start small with one or more talent solutions in the cloud and expand your talent solutions cloud foot print while reaping the return on your investment in SAP ERP HCM for employee administration. We also discuss how you can make your move to the Full Cloud HCM deployment model, once you are comfortable with the cloud. Finally we discuss the situation where customers have multiple SAP ERP HCM deployments and talk about how they can be connected to a unified talent solution suite from SuccessFactors.

Chapter 5 is about the Side-By-Side HCM deployment model of SAP and SuccessFactors. We start by discussing the target customers for the deployment model and discuss the packaged integrations available.

Chapter 6 is about reusable custom templates for integration that SuccessFactors professional services teams maintain and the application programming interfaces (APIs) provided by SuccessFactors for building custom integrations. This chapter also describes the best practice packages called Rapid Deployment Solutions (RDSs) available to implement the packaged integrations. If you are an integration designer, HR business analyst, integration consultant from a customer or a partner organization, you will find this chapter useful. The information in the chapter will help identify the vendors for whom custom integration templates are available and plan your implementation projects accordingly.

Chapter 7  is about integrating talent solutions from SuccessFactors with 3rd Party applications. SuccessFactors talent solutions including SuccessFactors recruitment management and the SuccessFactors Learning have packaged integrations and professional services delivered integrations with 3rd party applications. If you are a customer considering SuccessFactors talent solutions, you will find this chapter useful while reviewing the products and planning your implementation projects.

Chapter 8 is about implementing integrations in a Talent Hybrid model. In this chapter we discuss specific examples on how SuccessFactors modules are integrated, when an hybdrid model is implemented. The chapter will contain specific examples, tips & tricks and best practices that were followed while implementing the integrations. Where possible sample code will be provided and discussed. This chapter is meant for HCM functional consultants who configure SAP and SuccessFactors systems, technical consultants who configure middleware technologies to implement the integration and ABAP programmers who extend the integrations  to suit customer needs.

Chapter 9 is about implementing integrations in a Full Cloud HCM model. In this chapter we discuss specific examples on how SuccessFactors modules are integrated, when a full cloud model is implemented. The chapter will contain specific examples, tips & tricks and best practices that were followed while implementing the integrations. Where possible sample code will be provided and discussed.This chapter is meant for HCM functional consultants who configure SAP and SuccessFactors systems, technical consultants who configure middleware technologies to implement the integration and ABAP programmers who extend the integrations  to suit customer needs.

Chapter 10 is about migrating large volumes of data to the cloud during an implementation. Even though it is a topic adjacent to integration, it uses technologies and processes similar to integration. Like integration, it is also often overlooked while planning an organization's Journey to the cloud. This chapter is meant for solution architects, system administrators and project managers.

SAP SuccessFactors - Talent Hybrid Integration Hands On Training

Many independent SAP HCM consultants and SuccessFactors consultants mentioned to me that they would like hands-on training for integrating SAP with SuccessFactors. Many of them did not work for partners and did not have access to appropriate systems.

My colleagues in SAP Education have addressed that problem. They have announced a course where they will teach the concepts and provide hands-on training for integrating SuccessFactors talent management suite with SAP ERP HCM. This deployment model is called the Talent Hybrid deployment model. You can see the details of the course here.

I highly recommend this course for independent SAP HCM Consultants who may not have access to SuccessFactors systems normally. It is also valuable for SuccessFactors consultants who many have access to SAP systems normally.

You will not only learn the concepts and configuration steps, but also meet other experts and potential employers there.

HR Insider 2015 Las Vegas Registration Discount

HR Insider 2015 Las Vegas is from March 3-6, 2015. You can save $200 using this link

I will be speaking on the topic of SAP SuccessFactors integration strategy and road map.

2015 is going to be an eventful year for the integration and extensions team. Apart from building integrations between applications, we are also investing in APIs, extension frameworks, and features that simplify integration in the SuccessFactors Suite.

I worked on my presentation recently and shared some info about how Employee Central can connect with Fieldglass. 

I look forward to seeing you there if you are going.

Monday, December 08, 2014

How To Get Your Twitter, Blogger and SAP Jam Influence For Performance Appraisal

I was writing my 2014 performance appraisal today and decided to take a different approach to reporting my work. Normally I write about the things I have done, products i designed, events I spoke at and number of enablement sessions I conducted and so on. This year, I decided to talk about the real measurable impact rather than just report the quantity or work done.

I share a significant amount of work related information via twitter. I find twitter to be an effective way to share information even with colleagues in my own organization. I wanted to convey the value of my work on twitter to my colleagues and manager.

I went to and looked at my activity for a month and calculated my overall impressions based on that information and manually added this to my self appraisal.

I have seen some managers in SAP asking their team members to tweet five times a month and setting similar arbitrary goals. I don't think that counting the number of tweets matter. Instead counting the number of impressions is a better way to measure the twitter influence of a person.

Since most of my posts on blogger  are work related, I added the number of views on blogger to my performance appraisal as well. Instead of mentioning the number of blogs, I added information about the number of views.

Blogger stats page gives you analytics about the number of views on each post and month. I took that information and added it to my self appraisal.

To convey my influence within SAP, I used SAP Jam to convey the number of views this year for all the assets that I manage in the internal integration Jam group. I ran the monthly consumption report and downloaded the resulting Excel file. I summed up all the views and added that information in my performance appraisal.

There were over 20,000 views of all the assets I directly or indirectly created and promoted. This is a very useful Jam report. You may be wondering why such information cannot be incorporated into the performance system directly. I think it can be done and will be very valuable for customers and employees. Building such a feature might significantly improve the value of SAP Jam for SuccessFactors performance management customers.

For example SAP Jam should be able to calculate the influence of a person withing an organization based on the assets created, participation and provide an influence score. This score can then be made available via an API, which can then be obtained and displayed in the performance evaluation report of an employee and even on the profile of an employee.

Will these significantly affect my performance rating? I think it will have an influence on the rating. My job is to do the work and quantify the work. It is up to the managers to decide the value of such work. It is clear that twitter and Blogger among other social media tools have the necessary analytics built in to measure reach. Similarly, SAP Jam has pretty good reports to measure reach within an organization's boundaries.

I think SAP Jam should make some of this metrics available via APIs so that forward looking product managers in the SuccessFactors talent solutions area can make innovative use of such data.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

The Customer Engagement Executive for SuccessFactors Cloud Customers

In the SAP Cloud Customer Office there is a role called the Customer Engagement Executive (CEE). I believe that this is a very valuable role for customers and SAP SuccessFactors employees. The Customer Engagement Executive acts as the champion of the customer within SAP and SuccessFactors,  and becomes the single point of contact for the customer once the cloud software is made available for the customer to start their implementation. The CEE engages during the onboarding phase and stays through the execution and adoption phases until the end of the contract.

I have had good personal experiences with these colleagues. When a customer reaches out to me and asks about multiple areas for which there are multiple product managers or leaders, I connect the customer with the Customer Engagement Executive. This ensures that the customer gets what they want and at the same time I don't drop the ball on my current assignments. Many customers have a dedicated CEE assigned to them. The services of the customer engagement executive is one of the several cloud services available to customers who choose cloud products from SAP.

When you consider buying a cloud solution, it is important to consider the services provided by the vendor after the purchase. Although every SaaS vendor knows that service is important, not every vendor has the organizational manpower, global reach, experience and expertise to provide such services. It is a bit like buying a car. A particular car may be good. But if the car manufacturer does not provide service stations in the city or country you are in you may be better off buying a car from a a manufacturer who can support you through out your ownership of the car.

Providing such good service is good for the service providers too. Car manufacturers know this very well. That is why most manufacturers provide free or subsidized services for a certain period that keeps the customer coming back into the dealership regularly. This also ensures that they are aware of the customers problems and can sell the customer more cars when he or she is ready to buy one. Everyone benefits from good service.

If you are customer or a partner, check with your account executive to see if there is a CEE assigned to you. It is useful to have a CEE to help you reach the right people inside SAP and SuccessFactors.
If you are an SAP SuccessFactors colleague who wants to help a customer but do not have the time to bring all the experts together, consider reaching out to the CEE and connecting the customer with the CEE. SAP and SuccessFactors colleagues, check this page for more details. Check the white paper there to read about all the programs and the people responsible. You need to be on the SAP network to see the page.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Keep Lights On , Innovate and Do Crazy Foolish Things

David Ludlow, Enric Gili, Andy yen and I met today to discuss the plan for cloud technology and user experience area for 2015. While breaking down our work we decided to keep 70 percent of our planned capacity for keeping the lights on, to do things that bring money to the company. 20 percent of our planned capacity will be spend on innovative ideas and projects. These may or may not yield fruit, but are worth trying. 10 percent of our time will be spent on things that are foolish or even crazy. These are the kind of projects you want to hide from your boss until they are successful.

The Most Brilliant Feature In SAP Jam - The Invite Button

In my opinion, the most brilliant feature in SAP Jam is the 'Invite' button on left hand side of every jam group. Administrators can enable any member of a Jam group to invite any one to join SAP Jam. This feature empowers group members to invite anyone with an email address to join the Jam group from inside or outside the company depending on the nature of the Jam group. It is possible to track who invited who.

This is good for user growth and quality participation. Here are some interesting thoughts. There are 15 Million user in Jam. Let us say about 10 percent of them, about 1.5 Million users are using external Jam groups where they can invite anyone inside or outside the company to participate. Let us say that every one of them invites just 1 new person per year to join Jam. In three years this alone will add close to 5 million users to SAP Jam. That is smart product thinking. The operations team and the revenue team may or may not like viral user growth. But that is their problem.

It is surprising that talent management product managers don't make use of this invite button feature to improve adoption of their software. I guess they are not compensated based on viral user growth. Smart teams will figure this out soon and gain an advantage over others in the talent management space. Who wants to go first?
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