“How to start a revolution: round up a Rockstar team of humans.”

Ya gotta have heart

Chairman, Bill McDermott made a point of telling the story of his first meetings with Lars Dalgaard, founder of SuccessFactors, to discuss the acquisition of SuccessFactors by SAP.  Bill recalls Lars saying: “You gotta protect the heart!” 

Bringing the love

How do you keep passion for software alive? By talking about culture, service, individuality and wellness. Add in a little Michael J Fox to make us laugh and cry. Show us a star innovator in your company whose aspirations include being one of the first humans living on Mars (Dr Adriana Marias). Demonstrate your organization’s commitment to society (Camilio Herrera speaking about A Bottle of Light). And create a bond between all the attendees by officially indoctrinating every one of them into the #HRPunks group – t-shirts included. 

AdrianaMarais_StefanRies_smallerHow can you resist SAP CHRO Stefan Reis when he appears for his keynote attired like a punk rocker – eyeliner and all? …or Greg Tomb, when he literally comes out on stage with a megaphone after A/V teams resolved an uncomfortable 20 minutes of silence? And then there was the unanticipated round of applause for CEO Bill McDermott when he told participants: “Every person in the company has to feel like a big person in the company.”

It was like a peaceful uprising of humanity among attendees saying,  “The old ways won’t work anymore. We’re different.”  Exactly the message SAP wanted us to get.

Growing the SuccessFactors tribe

An unprecedented (and estimated) 4,000 individuals attended this annual reunion of the SuccessFactors tribe. One hundred ten customers presented their SAP SuccessFactors experiences, gold-level+ sponsoring partners spoke about their solutions, and SAP served up hands-on product training, roadmaps and user case studies. Customer advisory boards met with product leaders to evaluate future product enhancements.  A solution showcase featured SAP and sponsors available for demos and conversation throughout the event. 

For those customers who haven’t yet “drank the Kool-aid” and moved to SuccessFactors, this year’s SuccessConnect included a pre-conference focused on helping decision makers understand the impact of moving from SAP HCM to SuccessFactors Employee Central HR Core and Payroll.  


One thing I would like to see at SuccessConnect is the opportunity for non-sponsoring individuals and partners to play a role in education. There’s something missing when all experiences can’t be shared.

Nevertheless – there was content all HR aficionados can and should embrace.

The facts 

  • Two years from now — by 2020 — millennials and gen Z will represent 50% of the workforce. We need to give them what they need to be productive – that is, the kind of customer experience they are used to in their everyday lives.
  • 40% of the workforce is external to the company. They take care of your customers. How you manage them matters.
  • 35% of your employees say their jobs are harming their physical or emotional health. Result: disengagement, lost productivity and high turnover.
  • By 2030 the global talent deficit could surpass 85.2 million workers. It will cost 8.5 trillion in lost revenue potential.
  • The #1 concern of CEO’s at being successful in the future – having the right talent in the future.

Innovation, SAP Style

Amy’s Top 3 

This year’s top products keynote had more authenticity and simplicity than previous years as Amy Wilson, Sr. Vice President of Products for SAP SuccessFactors demonstrated her team’s top three development successes. Here are the highlights.Amy Wilson Mobile First


SAP SuccessFactors’ developments in recruiting acknowledge the importance of delivering seamless and personalized candidate experiences.

Candidate Relationship Managment (CRM) is built directly into SuccessFactors’ solution – so every customer will immediately get the value.

A single candidate profile is now facilitated so that no matter where you are in sourcing you will be looking at the same information.

Collaboration features are included so that sourcers and recruiters are all working together.

Career Site Builder gets more personalized. It is expanded so that you can create micro sites and landing pages for specific purposes to engage different kinds of talent pools.  And coming soon: SAP wants to take this same framework and bring it to inside of co. – engaging internal employee community.

People Analytics

Powered by SAP Analytics Cloud, People Analytics will replace separate products for Workforce Analytics (WFA), Workforce Planning (WFP) and Reporting. For those of us focused on the entire ERP platform – this innovation answers the need for a single product across the entire suite of SAP ERP products. A migration plan for WFA and WFP customers plus modern features like the following will spur customer transition to People Analytics.

  • One stop shop to create and consume analytical insights.
  • Complete end user control – no more you get what you get.
  • Voice interactivity  – ask your data questions and data will answer you.
  • Smart insights with a single click.
  • Visualizations included in an extensive library to tell your story your way.

This is the first time in HR tech history that your planners and analysts and leaders will have one experience in terms of creating and consuming analytical insights. ~ Amy Wilson, Senior Vice President of Products, SAP SuccessFactors

Performance Management

A lot of customers I know are still sitting on the fence, not having modernized their performance management to the style enabled by Lars Dalgaard’s (founder of SuccessFactors’) original product. My advice: catch up. In the last year, SAP introduced Continuous Performance Management – a concept which is growing in use. This year, Amy introduced Performance Management that puts more control into the hands of the individual, breaking away from a top-down only approach, and maximizing the latest technological innovations.

  • A mobile-first approach – tapping into natural tendency and behaviors in ways that are not the same with desktops.
  • Artificial Intelligence that serves up content and education related to my goals.
  • Collaboration allowing workers to share goals and then learn from each others’ experiences by connecting via Microsoft Teams or Slack.
  • Graphics show progress towards goals.
  • SAP’s Digital Assistant allows me to use my voice to ask a specific question. [Read more about the Digital Assistant.]

My vote for top innovation: People Analytics 

I expect this innovation to lead to more robust and meaningful conversations and intelligent decisions about Human Resources around the boardroom table.

ISO Payroll

The not-so-sexy HR products – core HR master data and payroll – were featured at SuccessConnect, but payroll successes and innovations did not dominate the conference.   Only 16 out of 221 sessions covered Employee Central in total. In our analyst meetings, “mum” was the word on any future “next generation” payroll.


Who’s using Employee Central Payroll (ECP)? Here are the stories SuccessConnect shared:

  • Tapestry, a $1 billion dollar global holding company of brands Kate Spade, Coach and Stuart Weitzman, joined the keynote to speak to how and why they modernized.
  • AllianceRX Walgreens Prime, a new joint venture, brought 4,000 employees up on Employee Central and Employee Central Payroll (ECP) in four months with new policies, benefit plans and more.
  • IBM spoke to their use of Point to Point integration in a project with Walgreens.

What’s the roadmap for ECP? Frans Smolders and Robert Moeller — two product experts I count on to give it to us straight – delivered the update for payroll. You can always find up-to-date roadmap presentations on SAP.COM. Here’s what I believe is important for customers to know about ECP:

  • Remove one of the major hassles of on-premise payroll by using ECP + BSI SaaS. There’s no separate tax server needed. BSI maintains content.
  • Customers who are moving to Employee Central (EC) should consider moving to ECP simultaneously. The reasoning: you will need to build integration to your existing (on-premise SAP) payroll — and it is actually easier to integrate EC with ECP.
  • Moving to ECP is a system transformation and migration – not a re-implementation
  • SAP’s Payroll Control Center uniquely addresses the administrators role in ensuring on time and accurate payroll by simplifying monitoring, reconciliation and quality control.
  • Time and attendance management are fully part of EC and integrated seamlessly with ECP. Awaiting development is the ability to allocate costs to time segments – but the team is working on that solution.

What SuccessConnect lacked in glitter…it made up for in bedazzling

There were no amazing, startling revelations at SuccessConnect 2018. This is intentional on SAP’s part. Product managers I spoke with say they have been prioritizing customer needs — including improvements in service and support.  This makes sense as the SuccessConnect audience is really largely existing customers.  

The most interesting bedazzling is coming from SAP’s new open HR community where organizations of all sizes are coming together to solve critical issues facing HR today: well-being, pay equity, real-time feedback, unbiased recruiting, predictive performance and internal mobility. We had the pleasure to meet and talk to some of the innovators themselves during analyst meetings. Customers will find the new apps as these become available on the SAP App Center. Look for products like

  • Plum, a cloud software that uses artificial intelligence and industrial/organizational psychology to help predict potential in workers.
  • HiredScore, a product that leverages big data and predictive analytics in talent acquisition.
  • Thrive Global provides apps that help us set boundaries and recharge.

Unprecedented levels of innovation are happening in HR technology today. We’re bringing together organizations of all sizes from enterprises to startups, to co-create simple solutions to these big problems and we believe this community-based approach is going to be the de-facto model going forward. ~ Jason Chapman, Vice President of Corporate Strategy, SAP

In summary, 

  • You’re in strong technical hands with SAP .
  • Gartner Research may have pointed to weaknesses in SAP SuccessFactors’ service scores, but SAP had already been implementing an action plan by the time that report was released.
  • There’s nothing startlingly new in Core HR or Payroll – except that the business case for moving to cloud for these seems to be getting stronger.
  • Recruiting and Performance Management are getting big makeovers. Developments are forward-looking for these HR processes whether through the SAP Community or via SAP themselves.
  • Analytics for HR just joined the decision sciences for the rest of the organization with SAP’s launch of People Analytics.

I’ll be visiting five cities across the U.S. in October and November 2018 hosting a

free one-day ASUG Experience: Essentials of SuccessConnect 2018 

Come and meet SAP product experts, get your questions about the above answered, learn from other customers’ experiences and earn SHRM credits, too.

Register in advance at ASUG.COM

Read more about SuccessConnect 2018 here:

Announcement:  SAP Builds New HR Community with Simple Solutions to Big Problems  (Also on SAP News Center)






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