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How to pick a SAP SuccessFactors implementation partner

SAP SuccessFactors implementation partner

If your company has decided to go with SAP SuccessFactors for your human capital management (HCM) solution, you’ve made an excellent choice. As a one-stop shop where you can manage everything from recruitment to succession and everything in between, SAP SuccessFactors has everything you need to find and engage the top talent in your industry.

But now it’s time to choose an SAP SuccessFactors Implementation Partner. Your choice of a partner can make the difference between a successful implementation and abject failure.

Set your eyes on course for success when you follow a few easy tips to help you find an implementation partner whose goals fit your own.

Check for SAP Certifications

SAP certifications form the foundation of trust between a company and an implementation partner. SAP makes your decision easier by rewarding partners with three certified consultants and three satisfactory client references with a ‘Recognised Expertise’ designation.

SAP awards implementation partners at the company level this designation for excellence in any of four modules, which include:

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

Individuals, on the other hand, can earn certifications at either the Associate or Professional level. To qualify for an Associate certification, a person must have taken and passed an SAP SuccessFactors course on a specific module.

To earn certification at the Professional level, the consultant must have completed training in their chosen module at the Associate level and led three SAP SuccessFactors projects during the past three years.

The consultant’s client must verify that the applicant’s projects were successful. Additionally, the applicant must stay current on certification and delta assessments to make sure that their training is up to date, including the latest SAP features, for their chosen module.

Look at Potential Partners’ Depth of Experience

Like the proverbial nail that fell out of a horse’s shoe and gave rise to events that turned the tide of an entire war, single points of failure can increase your risk of overall failure significantly.

Ask your prospective partners whether they have multiple consultants with certifications and a solid record of success in each SuccessFactors module. Additionally, since SAP modules share data and connect with each other, does every member of your potential partner’s team understand how to take the best advantage of that process?

Assess Your Prospective Partner’s Cloud Mindset

As a 2014 SAP blog post pointed out, many SAP SuccessFactors partners have difficulty adjusting to working in the cloud. That fact hasn’t changed, even though cloud-based solutions are becoming more common.

Unfortunately, some providers still think in terms of on-premises solutions. Getting up to speed with the capabilities and deployment of cloud solutions makes a partner a better choice for a company that's focused on the future.

But that’s not all. Without a cloud mindset that thinks, “How can I expedite the implementation process by moving most of the process into the virtual realm?” your partner won’t be able to bring the full power of the cloud to bear on your implementation.

Make sure that your interviews cover your prospective partner’s cloud experience. If their corporate resume includes mostly on-premises implementations, move on to the next candidate. You need a leading-edge partner to optimise your SuccessFactors solution for the 21st century.

Ask Yourself, “Will My SAP Implementation Partner Be a Good Cultural Fit?”

Capability is one thing, but can you form a successful working relationship with your prospective partner? A SuccessFactors implementation isn’t a one-off happening.

Your SAP provider may be working with your teams on an ongoing basis – tweaking your solution to your every need, helping you scale when you’re ready, and adding new capabilities. And don’t forget the support you’ll need along the way.

For that reason – like any other ongoing business relationship – your chosen partner should fit in well with your company culture. Bring some of your other employees in on the interview process so that you can get a better sense of whether a potential partner will be a good fit with your company culture.

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Determine If the Prospective Partner Focuses on Educating Its Customer’ Teams

During the interview process, ask each prospective partner how important it is for them to empower your teams with the knowledge and skills to manage the solution going forward. Ask them to provide evidence (and client testimonials) that they focus on knowledge transfer from their teams to yours.

If their conversation revolves around their company, you can bet that they’re probably not focused on your needs. They’ll be likely to work for their own long-term benefit (and bragging rights) rather than your own.

On the other hand, if the partner’s representative focuses on your needs and shows you how they’ve empowered their other clients’ teams to maximise the benefits they get from their solution, put them on your shortlist. They’ll likely look out for your teams’ success, too.

Look at Your Resourcing Requirements for the Project

What benefits do you want to get out of your SuccessFactors implementation? Whether it’s global experience and capabilities, experience in serving clients from your industry, or extensive support, you need to learn whether a potential SAP partner can meet those resourcing needs.

Choosing a partner with niche experience can bring a rich range of benefits to your partnership. If they have specific industry experience that can help you get the most out of SuccessFactors, they might be a better option than a partner without any knowledge of the day-to-day challenges you face.

Even more importantly, you need to meet their consultants personally. Are they on the same wavelength as you in terms of their willingness to work with your teams and deliver the resources you need?

Look at a Potential Provider’s Ability to Customise Your Solution

Even though you selected SAP SuccessFactors, there isn't only one way to implement the solution. SAP Activate is the gold standard methodology for SAP SuccessFactors implementations. However, how it is used can significantly differ from partner to partner, project to project. Some important questions you should ask your potential partner are

  • Do they have a best practice template solution?
  • Do they use accelerators? These can include a template solution, test scripts, integration frameworks and more.
  • What does the partner expect your team to do? For example, their standard could require a customer to have their own test manager. Do you have one? If not, how does that impact the price and timing?
  • Can the partner be flexible on the delivery model to align with your business? Yes, they can implement the module in ten weeks, but do you have the resource availability to keep up? What about your endorsement cycles internally? Does it allow you enough time?

Make sure that the implementation partner you choose understands your needs and will deploy only what you need. However, your needs could change – so choose a provider that can fortify your solution in the future.

Ensure That Your Partner Can Provide Proper Governance

Don’t make the mistake that so many companies make – looking only at the solution. In addition to focusing on the solution itself and how your partner can optimise it for your needs, look at a potential partner's governance capabilities.

During your interviews, ask what your partner can do to mitigate risk, manager, and user issues. Do they have the capability or desire to work with you on escalations? Will one of their representatives be willing to sit on your steering committee to advise you on proper governance?

With all the sensitive data human resources and payroll departments handle, robust security is a must. Additionally, when you combine that risk with that of remote workers and bring-your-own-device policies, you need a partner with the experience to provide robust governance and teach your teams proper security protocols.

Put an SAP Expert in Your Corner

The Discovery Consulting team has helped companies in a broad range of industries find, hire, and inspire world-class teams with customised SAP SuccessFactors solutions. Get in touch with us today to learn how we can help you steer your company into the future.

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