HR outsourcing and SAP….

Decided it was time to write a post more related to my day job…I had a look at the post on systematicHR. I won't comment on detail on HR-XML, cos I need to get up to speed with it again (I was closely involved 5 years ago, but not really since) , but I will comment on changes I see happening in the HR outsourcing-BPO space.

Over the past couple of years at SAP we have been very successful with our BPO programme. (no, not SAP as a BPO provider!) but BPO providers using SAP technology – Convergys, ADP, Arinso, EDS, ACS, LogicaCMG, Accenture, T-Systems, and TATA. As well as country deals such as BASF IT services here in Germany. These guys are realising that maintaining mainframe or old HR software is not their core business. They are in the service business, not the software business. We also have alot of cool technology to support shared service delivery, and obviously the strong integration back into the customers SAP platform.  We also have a strong team in place to support and drive this line of business. (some of the guys come from the provider space)

I've watched with interest the movement from BPO providers like ADP being key competitors of SAP to quite suddenly being a key piece of our HR-HCM strategy. Opening up the product has also meant opening up our go to market model, providers like ADP are now offering services to customers on a global scale using the SAP technology as an enabler for growth…. . From the press release in Nov last over 32 companies and 190 000 employees are already on the GlobalView platform, from movements in the market I see this as a solution to watch. I expect these numbers to grow really rapidly, as the ADP machine rolls this out globally.

I'm also very impressed with Convergys. The mega deal with Du Pont will run on an SAP platform. Karen Bowman is developing Convergys into a significant global player.

The customer now has the option to run SAP inhouse, or in via BPO, so this should remove those batch flat file worries that systematicHR was concerned about. A mix and match between BPO and inhouse is much easier, as the newer integration technologies (netweaver etc) create a much more flexible platform. (for instance inhouse talent management, but with realtime integration to BPO based HR transaction data)

Without much marketing or fuss, we are becoming a significant platform for HR BPO in the global and large customer space. As new developments rollout, SAP powered solutions will also play an increasing role in the mid-market. We have a model in place now that makes sense for SAP, the providers and is compelling for the customers. We hope that SAP will become the dominant HR BPO platform, and I think we are well on the way to getting there.

This is probably my last post for a week or so, as I'm off snowboarding. (I am the world's worst snowboarder) We are going to Obertauen in Austria, so I will practice my german queueing (read elbowing) skills too. I have been told by my wife that  blogging is not allowed. I will be forced to drink Jaegermeister instead.

technorati tag:


Compliance again… But not Orson Welles’ SOX

SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley)  has made the word "compliance" almost trendy, in that compliance officers can now get dates and meet girls and stuff,  but in the clamour of section 404, seperation of duties and so on,  it is easy to forget that there are other laws requiring vendor and customer attention.

technorati tag:

 I was in a meeting here at SAP and I thought I heard someone say  "Roseweed".  I figured we had some film buffs in the product name concoction department. (it sounded much better than sticking a "my" in front of an Acronym, but that is a rant for another day…). As the token HR guy in the meeting I kept quiet, luckily. they were talking about RoHS/WEEE

Seriously though these are two very significant EU Directives. (I lifted the text from the hi tech industry site on

RoHS. Restriction of Hazardous Substances RoHS will apply to manufacturers of electrical and electronics equipment that do business in the European Union (EU). As of July 1, 2006, RoHS will prohibit the sale of electronics products that contain more than 0.01% of cadmium, mercury, lead, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs), and polybrominated diphenyl/ether (PBDE). Violations can result in stiff penalties, significant loss of sales, and a negative impact on brand perception in the environmentally conscious European market.

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive — WEEE establishes rules for the collection, treatment, recycling, and recovery of electronic waste in the EU. The directive states that electronics manufacturers and importers must manage and pay for the recycling of electrical and electronics waste. Member countries must meet WEEE recycling targets by the end of 2006.

There is an interesting article in the IT Director that covers the WEEE issues in the UK. (A Directive is a European Union legal instruction, binding on all Member States but which must be implemented through national legislation within a prescribed time-scale.
at a country level) Like trains, they are often late to arrive in the UK.

Manufacturers and retailers have to make significant changes to business processes, products and the systems that support them. At SAP we have done a lot of work to adapt our solutions to help customers cope with these regulations.

There is also a lot of interest in REACH, another environment planned directive that has major implications for the chemical, food and other industries, not just here but globally. The folks in birkenstocks here in Walldorf are following these development closely as they may impact our industry solutions and even the core ERP applications. (for those interested here is a fascinating enviro blog Grist  – delightfully written)

If you are interested there is a whitepaper here from SAP that is worth a peek. 

Another area that is hot in compliance is emissions management. We have an x-app here developed together with technidata. These guys are also experts in RoHS Weee and so on.

If you look to Virsa for SOX and financial and Technidata for enviro. compliance , I think this is what SOA is all about in practice. I have been trying to understand Netweaver, SOA, ESA and so on for sometime, with fridges and so on,  but when you see this kind of development, it all starts to make sense. Netweaver for me is mainly about leveraging SAP core applications, SAP's years of experience with niche expertise in a technically effective, efficent, sustainable way. It isn't about bespoke application anarchy, or a best of breed application lovefest. (There is an interesting post by charles on SOA)

SOA and ESA will change a lot of things, but deep industry and functional knowledge will always be at the heart of SAP's success.

Sandboxes….and the law continued

This is on from the post where I raised the data protection law issues of  "we’ve created a simple, one-click process for cloning your entire Salesforce deployment an exact replica that includes all customizations and data." Sfdc offering. (see the other post for all the details)

This was picked up by Niel  last night. But as I was wading through some stuff on messrs Sarbanes and Oxley,and I thought "hang on" this may be more than just a "EU privacy thing"

Almost everything gets linked to SOX today so I may stretching this stretching this a bit (repeat: I'm not a lawyer), but surely there is a SOX management of internal controls issue here too. All sorts of confidential information such as pipeline would reside in the "exact data" you would be extracting. Even some of the configuration would be confidental in nature. I suspect most auditors would be very uncomfortable with this sort of "exact data" residing in a sandbox, with all sorts of IT bods accessing it. The issue becomes worse if you are then using this "exact data" to test an interface to an appexchange application. Who knows where it may end up being passed to….

If I look to the Numerix comments on  Niel, your company notes some sensible best practice.

Limit Real Data Exposure. Information used in testing efforts can be exposed to numerous groups: internal testing teams, outsourced testers and consultants. In addition, information such as payroll checks and invoices, are likely to be printed as part of the testing process. Making information available to this growing number of teams increases the likelihood of falling out of compliance with legislation, including HIPPA and the Data Protection Act (UK). So, limit access to real data and scramble data early in the testing cycle.

As part of such an offering, SaaS, or otherwise, I'd expect to see a strong scrambling feature and clear guidelines on handling test data. Perhaps these are part of the offering? If they are, surely they should be positioned in the marketing?
technorati tag:

Enterprise RSS, web 2.0 and HR

I've always thought I'm pretty up to date on HR related technologies. I've been a good boy, reading the analysts, keeping an eye on the competition, and trying to figure out what we are doing here at SAP. (often the hardest job)  However, since I started looking at the blogsphere, I have realised there is much to learn. zoliblog led me to innovation creators.  Thanks. The world is so much bigger than my cosy ERP space.

This whitepaper is well worth a read it it provided me with a wake up call.  The collaboration tools that have emerged in the social web, as Rod notes, is  moving fast to the enterprise space. Collaboration, Knowledge management and the like are due a serious second coming. I'm not sure that open source will drive all this into the enterprise, but the concepts are thought provoking.

Much of the HR technology discussion with customers here in Europe is still on whether to do Employee Self Service or not! (see my earlier post on Banking and HR). Transaction processing is clearly moving to shared services and-or BPO (subject of a future post) We need to move the discussion on a bit me thinks.

I'm not sure that many HR folks out there grasp how these socialising networks will fundamentally change recruiting, learning, succession,and intra-company networks and structures. Microsoft's recruiting seems very impressive. Their folks get it. see Stroud's blog. 

These solutions are sure to shake up the enterprise apps space. The SAPs, Microsofts and Oracles will adapt. But this stuff will hit the niche HR guys hard, I'm not sure they can finance the shift.

technorati tag:

Sandboxes….and the law.

First up I’m not a lawyer, I’m one of those odd people who have an information technology law degree, but aren’t lawyers. have just announced a sand box solution.  (saw this on the big endian blog, which I linked to from Jeffs  blog.) This seems to be a copy of a live system into a test or sandbox environment.

To quote from the site “In response to customer requests, we’ve created a simple, one-click process for cloning your entire Salesforce deployment an exact replica that includes all customizations and data.” (judging that it is also offered on the UK site and the German site, SF plan to offer this in Europe too)

At least over here the terms sandbox and live data probably shouldn’t go in the same sentence. The data captured in CRM systems is typically personal information. (according to the UK Data Protection act of 1998 personal data “means data which relate to a living individual who can be identified”)

Under UK Law I reckon this sandbox of “exact data” would be illegal under the Data Protection act of 1998. (similar laws exist across europe,as they derive from the same EU directive)  Data protection is sometimes referred to as Privacy, especially in the US.

To quote:Iain Bourne of the government’s Information Commission said: “Firms should use dummy records for testing. If live records are in use, that is something we’d be interested in.”

The law provides powers to fine the data controller and to shut the system down if necessary.

Understanding the mass of law that impacts software globally is not easy. What may be perfectly sound business practice in country A is illegal in country B. That is why things like global HR systems and global CRM are complex. The German user group have a 120 page guide to the legal issues around this just for CRM. Data Protection law is a big, messy complex area. Too many software firms, consultancies and customers don’t take it seriously enough. 



a feeling of embarrassment that leaves you confused, or the big word of the day

The Financial Times reported on an  interview with an Oracle Executive today. "SAP has definitely benefited from what happened with the PeopleSoft merger, especially the uncertainty around that," Oracle executive John Wookey said. "There was an 18-month discombobulation in the marketplace. It hurt PeopleSoft; it hurt us."

For those of you that don't use this in everyday conversation, when used as a noun discombobulation means "a feeling of embarassment that leaves you confused." 

Exactly what happens when you go shopping and then wonder where the 18 Billion went….

technorati tag:


Mendocino. Most of you will have heard about this joint SAP-Microsoft development. There has been so much PR and analyst commentary on this. If not then check out the stuff on, the SAP community and the microsoft site.  there is a demo you can download.

I'm  sure it will be a big hit with customers when it rolls out later this year. Its beauty is in its simplicity. I showed it to a room full of HR folks recently and one of the audience remarked "is that all?" His colleague answered him back better than I could ever have done. he said "exactly."

Simple transactions delivered to the user so that they don't even realise that they are "in SAP" It is a really simple way to demonstrate what an enterprise service is all about. Delivering the process to the people that need it in a way creates the least effort. 

My big worry is the name. I hope those responsible for naming it will call it something simple. Mendocino is just the code name. Howcome in the software industry code names are much simplier than product names? In spy novels it is the other way around.

technorati tag:


A non-SAP post. The sun is shining in Walldorf, Spring is in the air.One of the things that I miss living in Germany is cricket. Well, resting in front of the TV of a weekend in front of the cricket, corridor cricket with a rolled up magazine, a wastebin as the wicket, a piece of paper covered in sticky tape as the ball.

The web is a saviour at bringing ball by ball commentary, either text based or via radio to my desktop though. Cricinfo is my favourite web site in the world.  It is comforting to have a ticker reminding me of the score, except when the bl**dy Australians are winning. It doesn’t distract, merely informs…5 day cricket is a fine thing. The world would be a better place if everyone played it.

I’d like to ask all cricket lovers to start peppering their blogs with cricket related metaphors. I’m tired of stepping upto the plate, making first base, being at bottom of the ninth and coming out of  left field. We need more leg-breaks, plumbs, stroked through the covers, sticky wickets, googlies, wrong uns, chinamans(men), doosras, picking seams, all ends up, long hops, square legs, back over the bowler, and ducks (australian ones)

Oliver, my 11 month old son, shows every promise of being Germany’s opening bowler, he will bat at number 4, and field at cover point. 


HR (well mySAP ERP HCM) and Adobe forms.

Sometimes people still ask me "what exactly is Netweaver?"  It is alot easier to explain now than a couple of years ago, (partly because we have had some serious practice and 170 metric tonnes of ppt) but there are a lot of cool examples in the application today that wouldn't have been possible BN. (before Netweaver) Showing beats ppt anyday.

The Adobe forms stuff is a good example. This is revolutionising a lot of the more complex HR processes. 10 years ago we would have locked some very clever folks in birkenstocks in a room and said come up with a forms handling tool. Instead, we now work with the people that really understand forms and develop a significantly better solution in shorter time. In this case, Adobe.

It provides the bedrock to manager self service, and the new Administrator role. For those consultants and business analyst types reading this, I suggest you learn more about this tool, as it will change HR admin processes fundamentally for the better. ERP2005 makes a lot more use of this technology than in ERP 2004. the underlying Netweaver stuff also makes it much easier to develop bespoke forms.

The Visual composer developments, using Macromedia, (now merged with Adobe)  are also really impressive. Check out this SDN blog from a few months ago for a funny (well developer funny) look at the macromedia awards 

I'd love to see some more customer examples of Visual composer or flexible forms. If you have any screenprints send them on over. 

technorati tag:


The Deal Architect blog by Vinnie Mirchandani recently looked at Analytics. Here are my two pennies' worth.

At SAP we spend much more time talking about analytics to customers today than ever before. Analytic software has come on leaps and bounds over the last few years. (not just the SAP stuff, but then I'm biased). The challenge isn't getting the data out anymore, or putting it into nice graphs or charts. It is that analytics really only starts once you have the results.

Innumeracy is a big issue, especially with many of the HR management types I deal with. (Fabulous book on innumeracy by Paulos made me wake up after avoiding the topic for 20 years- math teacher and I didn't get on at high school)

I spoke with  a senior HR guy at a major German auto manufacturer a few months ago. He was doing some tremdenous stuff on the implications of the ageing workforce, combining it with all sorts of demographic and market data and providing his board with some key scenarios to ponder. He could talk about causality, statistical significance, probablities, deviations and the like.  Analytics is a tremedous competitive advantage for this company. The difference between him and most "end-users" of analytics was vast, but then he had a PhD in statistics.  He could also explain things to people who didn't.

technorati tag:

There is an Australian, Peter Howes, who is on a mission to fix HR innumeracy. I hope he succeeds.

Bluntly put: Analytics is only as good as the person doing the analysis.

technorati tag: