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How to pick a SuccessFactors implementation partner

Selecting the right SuccessFactors implementation partner is a critical step in the journey to deploying the system. Check out these six tips for finding a partner.

Selecting an SAP SuccessFactors implementation partner for an HR transformation can be more daunting and challenging than selecting the HR software. So, it's important to be strategic about the selection process.

Most vendors have an array of different specializations, geographic coverages and industry specialties. Not every partner will work best with your organization. When selecting a SuccessFactors implementation partner, there's no such thing as "one size fits all." Yet, there are steps business, HR and IT leaders can take to find the right partner.

Here are six of them.

1. Understand the internal SuccessFactors implementation team

Having the right breadth of skills on your team to support the SuccessFactors implementation partner evaluation is critical, and that means the right mix of HR and IT roles.

HR doesn't always run or manage the partner evaluation. IT can also be the gatekeepers of this process. In organizations that have an HR-IT team, the IT team is instrumental in choosing an implementation partner.

Within HR, sometimes a chief human resources officer or HR director may be part of the team. In some cases, senior HR management team members just below that level may drive the selection process. They may bring in the right members of the wider HR team to work on the selection, as well.

Because there is no cut-and-dry process that is common across organizations, company leaders should make sure to have the right mix of people for their organization.

2. Get recommendations

HR and IT departments and SuccessFactors implementation project leaders can ask the account executive and customer engagement executive from SAP SuccessFactors if they have a recommendation for a partner. These contacts should also share why they recommend that particular implementation partner.

A recommendation often comes based on how friendly an implementation partner is with SAP, but that shouldn't matter. A potential implementation partner's friendliness doesn't affect the quality of work. HR and IT leaders need to know that a partner is being recommended for material reasons based on provable facts.

Another option for finding a partner is using independent ratings sites for human capital management implementation partners, such as Raven Intel, to see what experiences other customers have had with implementation partners.

3. Check for recognized expertise and professional certification

SAP awards the designation of "Recognized Expertise" to partners that have three certified consultants and get three or more satisfactory customer references for a specific software application or set of software applications. Currently there are four designations that a partner could earn pertaining to one of the following modules:

  • Employee Central and Payroll
  • Learning
  • Recruiting and Onboarding
  • Talent

Partners with a designation in the software area that HR or IT leaders wish to implement have certified consultants and completed projects that SAP has verified. Contractors or former consultants who didn't transfer their certifications to their new employer will still count toward the criteria of this designation.

Consultants with certification in SAP SuccessFactors can obtain professional certification after meeting several criteria, including verification with customers. Professional certification means that -- among other things -- a consultant has completed three projects and has served as a lead consultant on at least two of them. This information must be verified by the SAP customer company.

As an SAP customer company, an organization can review the number of professional certifications on the SAP SuccessFactors Community.

4. Check for expertise

Proof that a company's potential SuccessFactors implementation partner has delivered success at a client is critical.

For example, IT and HR project leaders will want to review references and ask specific questions to other organizational leaders who have worked with a potential partner. One caution is that even though the implementation partner may get a good reference, it's important to see how many of the team members from former projects will work on your project. While it's not always important to have the entire team, knowing that key team members will be on the upcoming project can help ensure the same leadership.

HR and IT project leaders should check out each consultant on a site like LinkedIn to see if they are an employee or contractor. Verify that their experience matches what's on their resume. Using contractors isn't always problematic, but it could be unsettling if the entire project team is made up of contractors.

Some partners -- particularly, niche partners -- have one or more experts or thought leaders who can bring tremendous value to your project. These experts will often produce SAP SuccessFactors and HR-related content -- most likely, in the form of blogs, videos or articles. Thought leaders will often come recommended by other industry experts.

5. Review a partner's requirements understanding

A partner that can bring value to your project will understand your requirements and provide a scope that aligns with your needs. They will want to speak to you and discuss your needs and challenges; this is something you should give every potential partner the opportunity to do.

You should also review a potential partner's implementation approach. Ask the team how they approach an implementation, how it is structured, and what tools and accelerators they bring to the table. Often a bare-bones approach means that the organization conducting the implementation will need to take responsibility for aspects of the project that the partner should be providing.

6. Don't always choose the cheapest

The price offered by a SuccessFactors implementation partner should be comparable to other partners. However, the cheapest partner isn't always the best. To get a quality product, it's usually necessary to pay an equivalent price. HR and IT project leaders should check what the potential partners are offering as part of their proposal and what you're getting for the price. Typically, if a partner is bidding a lower price than others, they are cutting corners or -- worse -- will short-change you once the project begins.

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