New customers who are live with one or more modules in the SAP SuccessFactors human capital management suite often...
face challenges supporting a system that is new to them. With SuccessFactors skills being scarce in the market -- particularly for companies looking to hire a full-time system administrator -- it can be difficult to assemble an expert SuccessFactors support organization for the system.
However, the biggest challenge facing users right now is how to manage quarterly releases. With every release comes a swathe of new features and functionality that can potentially enhance your current setup. Yet, it can be difficult to understand what is new in each release, how it may affect your system and what effort is required to implement a feature.
Likewise, if you decide to switch on one or more features, then the time to gather requirements, configure, go through iterations of reviews and testing, and move to production can take the entire three-month period between SuccessFactors releases.
So, what are the best ways to manage SuccessFactors support after the system goes live? Here are five steps you can take.
- Appoint at least one power user/human resource information system manager and system administrator. Having dedicated individuals be the "owners" of the system will help to drive the ongoing evolution of the system based on changing business requirements and what's learned from using the new system. These owners will also help to review and advise the business on quarterly releases.
At least one system administrator is required -- even if on a part-time basis -- to manage such activities as resetting passwords, launching or supporting annual HR cycles (e.g., performance management or compensation management), performing periodic foundational and master data maintenance (e.g., modifying a department, updating the bank master, updating payroll calendars), monitoring workflows, etc.
Ensure you have a governance structure in place for system changes. While the SuccessFactors system is designed to make it easy for business users to make changes to the system configuration or to build integrations in the Integration Center, there should still be a robust governance structure for SuccessFactors support in place. This governance structure should define the entire change control process, including the following:
- How changes are identified within the business;
- Who submits changes and to whom;
- How changes are reviewed and approved for their impact on existing processes and for risk analysis; through a change review board, etc;
- What the follow-up process is for gathering the full requirements and how these requirements should be captured;
- Which users will perform the configuration and unit testing;
- Which users will perform the user acceptance testing;
- Which users will perform the integration testing and regression testing (where applicable);
- What the sign-off criteria are in each instance;
- How and when the changes are moved into production;
- Who will update training materials; and
- Who will create the communications, and how will changes be communicated to employees.
With such a governance structure in place, changes are approved and made only after the proper assessment of their impact and risks, and the changes are only made by appropriately skilled users.
A similar governance structure can be used for managing quarterly releases.
Assign someone to manage quarterly releases. Managing quarterly releases is one of the main SuccessFactors support challenges facing users after the system is live. With releases coming every three months, users need to be on top of releases -- especially when they have deployed multiple modules.
Having a dedicated individual that can act as the liaison between SuccessFactors release information and the business means that the relevant information can be identified and passed on to the appropriate employees in a format suitable for consumption. Becoming accustomed to how information is disseminated by SAP makes gathering, sorting and distributing relevant release information a smooth process.
But reviewing information isn't the only aspect of quarterly releases. There is also the assessment and configuration of features that need a deeper review, or that you want to implement in your system. Quite often, you can't assess a new feature without at least configuring it in your preview instance. Such an assessment will usually define how the feature will work in your system, what the impact of the feature is and how long it will take to implement. You can then create a plan to manage the process.
Make good use of your Customer Engagement Executive (CEE). All customers are assigned a CEE by SAP to support them after go-live. Usually, CEEs are briefed by the SAP partner about the implementation to understand how the system is configured and which features the customer is using. Part of the CEE's role is to advise customers on the new features and functionality that are released each quarter and to guide them on upcoming changes to SAP's products or services.
Consider buying a dedicated SuccessFactors support offering from a SuccessFactors partner. Many SuccessFactors partners, including my company, iXerv, offer dedicated support offerings that provide varying levels of system support, depending on customer needs, and quarterly release management.
Supporting a new system isn't easy, but with the right governance and a dedicated team, SuccessFactors support can become a more manageable activity for your organization.
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