Twenty years ago, I began my career in human resources. During that time, I’ve administered a dynamic range of on-premise HR ERP systems, such as Lawson, ADP, PeopleSoft and Oracle. This time in the trenches has given me a great perspective on what it takes to make an SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central (EC) project successful.
Recently, I co-presented a webinar on the Benefits of Current State Analysis when Implementing SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central where I talked about preparing for an implementation and the important questions to ask during an EC project kickoff.
In this blog series, I’ll share some observations gained from my years as both an HR practitioner and consultant to help you on the journey to the HR cloud. In Part 1, I’ll cover what to look for when you engage an EC implementation consultant. In Part 2, I’ll talk about the top reasons for timeline extensions during EC implementations. Part 3 will cover the most valuable client project team roles, and in Part 4, I’ll discuss the three most challenging aspects of an implementation.
SAP SuccessFactors requires consultants to have a certification prior to being able to access the back end of the instance. This provisioning access allows the consultant to make the needed configurations and perform system tasks. There are two types of certifications:
Associate: Available to anyone, this intensive class comes with an eighty-question proctored exam that must be passed in order to achieve the certification. To achieve this level, I feel it is important for the consultant to have an HR practitioner background, as well as experience using the product from a functional perspective.
Professional: After the Associate Certification is secure and the consultant has led and successfully executed two Employee Central installations, and co-led at least one additional installation, an application can be submitted for a Professional level certification. SAP SuccessFactors contacts the customers to validate the successful execution of the project and from there awards the Professional Certification. The Professional Level certification ensures that the consultant possesses experience with the tool that can only come from working on an implementation project.
Once a consultant has gained a certification and works on a few implementation projects, they will need to pursue the ongoing education required to maintain their certifications. Each quarter, SAP SuccessFactors releases new functionality to enhance the system or fix existing issues. To ensure consultants understand this new functionality, they must pass the Employee Central Delta Exam, which assesses proficiency with the changes. These delta exams must be completed by a certain date in order for the consultant to maintain their certification.
In addition to the technical expertise required for the implementation of Employee Central (which is an acquired skillset), there are other key attributes that can help to identify the right resources for the job.
- Human resources functional business experience: A consultant with a good understanding of HR business processes will be able to recommend the best solutions for your organization. In addition, if they are a seasoned professional, they will be able to suggest business process improvements based on actual experience.
- Industry experience: Find a partner that has a mix of industry experience and can discuss best practices and design solutions that have been proven to work for others in your industry.
- Actual consulting ability: Not everyone with strong technical knowledge of the system makes a good consultant. Your consultant should also understand the implementation process and ensure it aligns with your organizational structure and goals. Work with a partner that takes the time up front to understand your needs before moving forward with configurations.
- Breadth of Experience: Consider the experience the consultant has with other modules, such as Talent Management, Learning, Onboarding or Recruiting. They’ll need to understand how these modules work with Employee Central, and at least have access to experts who can assist with these integrations.
- Flexibility: The consultant must be willing to be flexible. Schedules, might not perfectly align, and opinions may differ, but with the right project team and the right attitude, a lot can be overcome.
Not only is it helpful to understand the certifications required of your SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central implementation consultant, but you should also consider the depth and breadth of their HR experience. Ultimately, it’s about trust. Choose a partner that is comfortable with asking questions and pushing back on the answers. Be wary of consultants that over promise or dismiss your concerns. When you trust your consultant, you can also trust that the process will achieve your desired outcomes.
Stay tuned for Part 2, where I will talk about the top reasons for timeline extensions during EC implementations.