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HR Processes Transformation

Some SAP SuccessFactors implementations can fail to achieve their intended aims if sufficient planning is not carried out. However, if an implementation is carefully carried out with plenty of time allocated to planning, educating stakeholders like employees and management, following SAP’s Implementation Design Principles and using SAP Best Practices, then SuccessFactors can dramatically improve a company or organisation’s HR processes, and improve business outcomes.

The integration of workforce data can inform strategic decisions about the direction and expansion of the company’s activities, and also ensure there is a workforce with the right skills ready to meet the requirements of operating a larger organisation.

SAP provides three valuable sets of resources which can inform and accelerate an implementation process: the SAP Implementation Design Principles, the SAP Activate Methodology (which is the roadmap for the implementation process ), and SAP Best Practices: context-specific configurations based on feedback from a wide variety of businesses.

SAP Best Practices can be considered a starting point for the configuration of an instance of an SAP solution such as SuccessFactors Employees Central. Preconfigured blocks can be combined to suit the requirements of a business, significantly reducing the time-to-value of an implementation project. They are best used in combination with SAP IDPs and the Activate Methodology.

This week IgniteSAP is going to introduce some of the key components of a successful SuccessFactors implementation: preparing for an implementation process, managing the implementation, realising, and testing the implementation is fit for purpose.

Preparing the Ground

In essence the preparation phase consists of defining various aspects of the project and making sure that all those involved in the implementation, and those who will be using the resulting instance of SuccessFactors all have a clear and distinct understanding of what changes will be made.

Sharing an analysis of the existing HR system, and how it could be improved will establish a common ground from which to work.

Defining Goals and Roles

The first task is to establish a core team to carry out the implementation process, with a single project leader who is accountable for the project’s success, and a clear hierarchy among whom tasks are allocated. At this stage lines of communication should be set up so there is no potential for misunderstandings during the course of the implementation.

Now the goals of the implementation should be established. SuccessFactors consists of a series of complimentary HR solutions so it is necessary to make clear exactly what is being implemented and what the scope of the implementation should be.

Is the project intended to automate HR functions? Is it primarily intended to implement SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central, or will it also include SuccessFactors HXM Suite, People Analytics or SuccessFactors Onboarding and Learning? How will the integration with other ERP functions be handled?

It is crucial that stated goals of the implementation project align with business goals. The implementation team must share the business’s vision of the future HR processes as they relate to the fundamental priorities of the business as a whole. What is the context or purpose of the implementation? Is the business expanding its workforce to cater to new markets or lines of business, or expanding internationally?

The implementation team would ideally include a Customer Team consisting of members of the existing HR team or management, but certainly there should be a high degree of interaction between the customer and implementation team members. A Customer Team would be best placed to cover areas such as preparing HR data for migration.

Establishing a Project Timeline

Once the scope and organisation of the project is clear, a schedule for the process can be created. This can be used to make sure that the project stays on track and those contributing to the implementation have regular opportunities to provide reports on progress, which emphasises the accountability of each member of the team.

By planning a schedule of analysis and assessments like quality control checks, the project can stay on track, and also self-regulate so that the delivery of each aspect’s quality can be tested: so that sub-standard work does not become a problem or hold up the schedule unexpectedly later on.

Stakeholder Participation and Change Management

It is necessary to explain to everyone involved with the business why a change needs to take place, and how SuccessFactors will be beneficial to the business and to themselves personally. To begin the leadership should be made aware of these benefits and they can help convey this to the employees.

The various stakeholders should be brought in as participants in the planning process to some extent. They can provide valuable context for the planning stage and help make clear the business’s goals.

At the executive level they can make sure the project is allocated enough time and resources to achieve its stated aims, and in the event that the complexity of the project demands more time and resources then it is easier to make the case for this if they are on board from the beginning and kept up to speed with developments.

The value of current employees as stakeholders should not be underestimated. What do they consider important? Will they be able to make use of the new implementation in such a way that it provides a return on investment?

Education of all employees regarding the structure and functionality of the SuccessFactors implementation is vitally important because in the end they are the ones who will be interacting with the system. They are the end users for whom the system is being created. Training of employees is therefore a necessity and should be included as part of the preparation for the implementation. Time will be needed to bring this about so it needs to be included in the schedule of work, and the business at executive level needs to know this is part of the process from the beginning.

Enablement and Access

During this early phase of the project teams must establish access to the cloud system, and develop a plan for the project launch. The team must verify that they have the relevant skills and resources to carry the project through to completion. Checks must be made on the current ERP system and infrastructure to see if the prerequisites for integration are met before proceeding to the next phase of the project in which more details like configuration values are identified.

Further considerations of Customer Requirements

After the initial preparation has been carried out and feedback from stakeholders has been taken into account, implementation teams should be able to answer the following questions: Is the design fit for purpose? Is the design appropriate for the business scenario? Will it sit well within the overall system landscape? Is it future-proof regarding the roadmap for the SuccessFactors product?

Preparing for Data Migration and Integration

One key area to investigate is to what extent the operations of the business are going to be affected by the implementation process. The implementation team should ensure the project requires only the minimum of business disruption.

Requirements for the setup of the organisation and access to master data should be identified and provision should be made for these. The team must review all other data requirements for operation and begin data cleansing to reduce the workload of migration. Migrating data from other systems also requires some preparation. If the implementation of SuccessFactors needs custom extensions then these will need to be managed and prepared for.

Realising the Implementation

In the next phase the Implementation Team and the Customer Team will work together make final adjustments to the system configuration for SAP SuccessFactors. The most common use cases will be familiar to the Customer Team so their input will be invaluable at this point. They will also will load data, and the data integrations will be created.

Monitoring and testing is a large part of the workload in this phase and the Customer Team will need to test data for accuracy and relevance for reporting. System generated emails will also need to be checked, as well as parameters such as IDs and passwords. Test scripts can be made for later use in quality control and testing.

Project teams will also check reporting tools, and the data incoming from other system sources to SuccessFactors. The final sign-off on this phase must not happen without a last round of testing concerned with integration with other systems.

Simultaneously with this work, SuccessFactors training of employees will continue and Administrators of the new system will be appointed and trained, as well as support staff.

System Administrators for the instance of SuccessFactors would preferably be given the opportunity to participate in relevant SAP Learning Journeys such as the SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central Learning Journey, and acquire SAP Certified Application Associate and Consultant status with SAP Global Certification.


Prior to the Go-Live customers and the implementation team will continue training and monitoring of the implementation. A meeting to discuss the Customer Success organisation should be scheduled. The organisation should be prepared for the production cutover and the hand-over to support.

Post Go-Live

There is often a spike in demand for support after a launch so resources should be in place to deal with this. This is particularly relevant with HR solutions as they have a high number of users.

Although the best implementation strategies will include SuccessFactors operation and maintenance training in the project timeline, it is essential to continue some training after the launch so that users of the system become familiar with it.

The customer should schedule regular reviews of the SuccessFactors implementation (including employee feedback) to help future-proof HR functions as the business context for the HR solution will be constantly in flux, according to events in the wider world.

Are you an SAP professional specialising in SuccessFactors or any other SAP module? Would you like to find the ideal contract for your skill set? IgniteSAP can help you achieve your career ambitions so reach out and contact IgniteSAP