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SAP's Fieldglass buy raises a multitude of integration questions


SAP's acquisition of Fieldglass will help SAP round out its HCM portfolio, but the move raises a lot of questions about how SAP will integrate it with other parts of its portfolio, according to one consultant.

"Managing contractors has been traditionally a bit of a challenge in SAP HCM. Trying to squeeze them in as employees-but-not-as-employees, trying to find right ways of putting them into the org chart, etc., so they can be managed from an organizational perspective has always been a bit of a tricky challenge," said Luke Marson, a human capital management (HCM) consultant.

Late last month, SAP announced it was in the process of acquiring Fieldglass Inc., a maker of cloud-based software used to monitor temporary, or contingent, workers.

"Non-payroll workers represent a third of the workforce, and traditional HR solutions don't cover it, nor do traditional procurement solutions. [That's because] it is a different type of buying cycle that occurs," said Tim Minahan, chief marketing officer for SAP cloud software.

But just how SAP integrates Fieldglass with SuccessFactors Employee Central will be interesting to watch, Marson said.

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"It's a tricky scenario. I think contingent workforce management has to be part of [SuccessFactors] Employee Central, but having a standalone solution to manage it would be useful for other parts of the business where maybe they don't have SuccessFactors or even SAP for their core HR," Marson said. "It's a delicate balance with how they manage this."

SAP has said that it intends to integrate Fieldglass with its Ariba Network because of the procurement aspect of contingent workforces, as well as SuccessFactors, raising even more questions about integration.

SAP and SuccessFactors customers will no doubt want to learn more about the new capabilities Fieldglass brings to the table, Marson said, and how it helps form a more complete picture of a company's workforce. SuccessFactors already includes some functionality for contingent workforce management, but it is limited.

Specifically, companies will want to know how they're going to manage temporary workers in a separate system, but still pay them in their SAP ERP payroll, Marson said. They'll also want to know how they can perform analytics and other reporting on a total headcount that includes permanent and temporary workers.

About the expert:
Luke Marson is a principal consultant and director of cloud HCM and related technologies at HRIZONS LLC, an IT consulting firm, where he focuses on SuccessFactors Employee Central and extensibility and integration technologies. He speaks and writes about SAP HCM and SuccessFactors extensively and co-authored the SAP Press title SuccessFactors with SAP ERP HCM and authored the SAPexperts Special Report SAP and SuccessFactors -- An Overview. Marson is also an SAP Mentors.

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