I spent last week in (un)sunny Scottsdale, Arizona at the groupelephant.com Client Advisory Board (or ‘CAB’, as it is colloquially referred to).  (It’s the first time I’ve ever been there that it rained!).  groupelephant.com (yes, it’s all lowercase) is best known in the SAP world for its EPI-USE trading brand.  EPI-USE specializes in HR/Payroll and is one of 16 trading brands that are groupelephant.com companies. groupelephant.com is also the founder of the ‘Elephants, Rhinos & People’ (‘erp.ngo’) initiative that is one of the subjects of SAP’s current worldwide ad campaign.

It was like a family reunion with some of the best talent in the SAP Human Capital Management ecosystem. It was an opportunity to uncover emerging trends with fellow customers, software developers and consulting partners; and to share experiences as we all examine the change from SAP ERP to S/4 HANA with different solutions for Payroll and HR master data.

What’s your roadmap?

On top of everyone’s mind is where SAP is going with Payroll and Time Evaluation. If you’re looking for an SAP roadmap to follow, I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed. There is no one right answer.  Customer roadmaps are exceedingly individual these days. You’ll need more than one or two webcasts or conferences to educate yourself on what options best suit your organization’s needs and how to map out your own personal timing. (That’s what I’m here for!)

Time Management and Employee Central

Kronos may have a new relationship with SAP; but customers continue to build and use SAP time evaluation. Purdue University, an EPI-USE client, was in attendance at the Scottsdale CAB. They recently moved to S/4 HANA and SuccessFactors Employee Central (EC). EPI-USE provided their clock application on top of EC time entry and Purdue did away with Kronos. If you are an ASUG member, you can get a look Purdue’s landscape in the ASUG Higher Ed Community’s March Town Hall. 

Migration made Simpler: No re-implementation required

Tom Gross of EPI-USE Labs demonstrated their answer to what he says is one of their clients’ wishes: PRISM Payroll Migration Service. If you are familiar with EPI-USE Labs at all then you will understand when I say that PRISM combines several proprietary EPI-USE Labs software assets, including the SAP-certified tools Data Sync Manager™ and Variance Monitor™with EPI-USE payroll expertise to move on-premises SAP Payroll to SuccessFactors’ Employee Central Payroll (ECP) quickly and easily. There is no re-implementation required. Not only has PRISM demo’d well, but EPI-USE’s clients have actually used it and are reporting excellent results. (How often do you hear that in HCM software-land!?)

To gain a better understanding you can listen to my friend and colleague Danielle Larocca explain the PRISM process in this short video here: https://www.epiuselabs.com/prism.

EPI-USE implements S4HANA with SAP HCM on-premise

I caught up with Keith Harmon – one of EPI-USE’s S4 and public sector specialists, who introduced me to clients that recently went live with S4HANA using EPI-USE as the system integrator. There’s a webinar explaining how conversion to S4 HANA works – complete with lessons learned- on the EPI-USE website.

PRO TIP: SAP HCM and Payroll work fine on S/4 HANA.

Although moving SAP HCM to S/4 HANA is not the SAP-recommended solution, this strategy did streamline Purdue’s migration from their SAP ERP platform. First they migrated their complete ERP environment to S/4 HANA. In a second phase they migrated HCM from S/4 HANA to SAP SuccessFactors.

Taking the pain out of the test plan

You know how testing can really disable a project timeline and how no one ever wants to write test scripts and keep those updated. . . ever? iLAB, also a groupelephant.com company, to the rescue! I had an extended conversation over breakfast with iLAB’s CEO Jethro Lloyd, and his colleague Gerry Bailey of iLAB USA, about all things testing and about the social and political climate in South Africa and about the state of Indiana. With iLAB, Quality Assurance is all they do and their model is to come into your project team, learn with the team and then create your end-to-end testing processes. Totally worth the investment, in my humble opinion.

Getting data out isn’t enough

As we in HR have been migrating HCM to the cloud, it has become increasingly difficult to know how to get data out of our hybrid systems conglomeration. If we are going to influence and drive decision making, we need not only the data; but the ability to construct strong stories. Enter Mico Yuk, CEO of BI Brainz, another groupelephant.com firm. If you don’t know Mico – get acquainted. She is not only brilliant, but warm and funny, a mentor in the business intelligence community and a role model for women. Mico’s business, BI Brainz is now a sister firm to EPI-USE. Like iLAB, described above, BI Brainz is not a tool. It’s a methodology to help you define and deliver meaningful analytics.

We humans aren’t the only ones migrating

One of the many pleasures of joining the groupelephant.com people at their CAB is listening to Jonathan Tager, the Group and EPI-USE CEO, and his team talk about their ‘Beyond Corporate Purpose’ hybrid business model.  This year we were able to experience – through film and first-hand accounts – the migration of 53 elephants from South Africa to Mozambique, through the Group’s ‘Elephants, Rhinos & People (‘ERP’) initiative. The ‘P’ part is reflective of their poverty-alleviation based strategy to the protection and preservation of elephants and rhinos in the wild.  Watch the video to learn how this ERP initiative is being powered by SAP – and learn how you can help at ERP.NGO.

Last but not least . . . the people

The best part about events this size is the opportunity to really engage with fellow customers, partners and SAP colleagues. Andreas Elkeles, one of the original developers of SAP Payroll, reminisced with Patricia Meo of American Airlines about the early days he spent in at American Airlines’ Tulsa, Oklahoma site eating Mexican food, building the payroll solution and returning home to Germany only once a month.And this reminded us of the long journey so many of us have been on with SAP, the careers and friendships SAP has catalyzed.

At the CAB, groupelephant.com announced an exciting technology partnership between ‘ERP’ and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (‘ERAU’), focusing initially on technology enhancement for ERP’s drone-based elephant and rhino monitoring work, but there is so much more that is likely to emerge from the tie-up.  

We met new friends embarking on new journeys to cloud and young students from ERAU who are making a difference in space, cyber security, engineering and aviation. Gertrud Beisel shared recent experiences in developing time management for the new world of Employee Central. Vicki Farnsworth, (executive director at Purdue) a long-time associate whom I’ve known “virtually” through Americas’ SAP Users’ Group, joined me with Dana Evert – a new found friend of mine and HR executive at ThyssenKrup – and data storyteller, Mico Yuk, CEO of BI Brainz, to share how “Women Get IT Done”. Alex Chudnovsky, David Ludlow, and other SAP alumni were on hand to share the experience. And, of course, the many talented and loyal individuals from EPI-USE and other groupelephant.com brands themselves were on hand.

We may migrate to new and different systems, but we’ll always have that same innate curiosity in common for us all – what makes things work and what could make things work better?

Thanks, groupelephant.com and EPI-USE for bringing great minds together.

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