Transparency, performance management, HR and the Cluetrain.

At India’s HCL Technologies, workers get to grade the boss, and everybody can see the ratings. Read the full story over on business week.

Instead of asking why should you open up performance management for everyone to see, I’d suggest you ask, “why not?” What is the point of having an elaborate recording keeping system if it is kept looked away?  Imagine how much more seriously managers would take 360 degree feedback if it was open for the whole company to see? 

Do you know of other companies doing this? 

Nayar, the CEO had this to say.

“I believe this whole concept [of making management more accountable to workers] is going to get accepted as a way of life … Talent is only becoming scarcer and scarcer.”

Cluetrain meets HR. Cool. This fits in rather nicely with what James wrote a couple of weeks ago.

Most people, I suspect particularly the generation that went to college in the last ten years or so, will want to work for employers that trust them, not those that try and control them. They will also want to work at places that allow them to use the tools they know make them productive. Forget ROI studies- this generation doesn’t need, expect or want someone else to tell them whether web services might make them more productive. It would be like saying no you can’t use a pen- you have to use this chalk and slate. Forget the phone we have this cool pigeon service…

Web 2.0, Enterprise 2.0 and so on are not matters for IT professionals to decide, really. They are questions for managing directors and human resources professionals. If you want to hire top talent you need to trust people and help them become even more effective. Shutting things down won’t cut it. Is training required alongside the trust? Absolutely. Does your corporation need clear policies about acceptable behaviour, online and off? Obviously.

HR departments today are faced with a simple choice. Are they for or against openness and trust? Every other policy decision is just details.

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Performance management, Berlin, and an acquisition….

A big part of my job is helping SAP customers connect with each other. This week on Thursday and Friday I’m facilitating a workshop on performance and organisational management in Berlin.  The focus is on performance, mbos, objective setting, bonuses  and the like, and how to make these work better.  Practical, nitty-gritty HR reality. 

The agenda looks great, with speakers from Shell, Danfoss, InfoHRM, Institute of Employment Studies,  SAP internal HR, Henkel… full agenda here. It is a chance for HR professionals  and experts to learn from each other, mainly through conversation really. Product features are not on the agenda, but experience is.  (drop me a note if you want more details) 

  For those that knock best practice, we aren’t blindly suggesting there is “one best practice”  but  hopefully by bringing customers together we help them realise that gosh someone else had a similar challenge as I have today, and they fixed it. 

My colleague Jürgen Daum will pick up on the need for HR and Finance to collaborate better. Finance performance management tends to ignore people factors, and HR often loses the connection to the business drivers. Both can learn from each other.

Being off the grid last week in Les Gets,  I read very few posts, but I did read James’s take on the SAP acquisition of Pilot  He nails it.  

Pilot is a nice bite-sized chunk for SAP, with plenty of room for upside growth- it only has 150 customers now, but with access to SAP’s salesforce and distribution channels we can expect significant growth in the near and long term, because organisational overlaps are minimal.

For those who like sentences with lots of commas and subordinating conjunctions here is the official press release.

Jonathan Becher,  CEO at Pilot has a blog,  check it out. -especially the post about teaching elephants to dance.  Here at SAP we could always do with some dancing lessons.  It would be fabulous if Jonathan and his team could wander over to SDN-BPX in the analytics corner too. 

I also  look forward to seeing how Pilot  and SAP HCM performance management can work together, because the HR performance management space is really hot at the moment.  I’m interested in Jim’s  and Jason’s take on this.

SAP’s acquisition strategy isn’t about buying customers or “securing” maintenance revenue streams. It is about filling white spots in our product offering quicker than we could build it, and bringing in an outside-in thinking to starship enterprisey. 

All that SOA stuff that we keep harping on about helps SAP integrate this sort of acquisition at a technical level faster, making this sort of “tuck-in” move much more viable. Take GRC as an example.  With Virsa we have been able to make huge technical integration strides in a very short period, expand the solution and also effectively ramp up the field to sell and support it.   With this experience I’m confident that we can do the same with Pilot.


German IT departments and SAP related innovation

Just about everytime I visit a customer, I’m impressed with the add-ons that they build on top of SAP, often with SAP tools.  Usually these remain hidden under a bushel, either deliberately (perhaps because of a perceived competitive advantage), or because no-one talks about it beyond the company borders. We vendors should do a lot more to highlight customer driven innovation, because there is lots of it out there.

Two examples of innovation.

A few years ago, many of the German Multinationals spun off their IT departments into separate companies. These firms then charge the other members of the group for their services. Some of these firms have developed successful secondary businesses providing implementation and hosting services to other companies. BASF, the world’s biggest chemical company is a good example of this BASF IT Services has a very successful SAP based payroll and HR service. They have been running SAP for years themselves, so they have turned this competence into thriving business. They run the SAP German pension engine on behalf of several other German employers, and the HR systems for many of the local towns and authorities. …  Over the years they have established themselves as a key SAP partner, especially in the German speaking market. They are growing outside of Germany too. BASF have been one of the pioneers of Kiosk based Employee Self Services in factories, and it is really impressive to see the stuff that they have added to the standard.

BASF IT Services was created in April 2001 with the consolidation of BASF’s IT units in Europe. Including the results for 2005, the subsidiary has to date made savings for the BASF Group to the tune of some 300 million euros.

Impressive, customer-driven innovation. Driving down costs for BASF Group, adding to the bottom line, and providing a service to the broader supply chain.

Just up the road from SAP is the pretty town of Weinheim. 


Well worth a visit if you like quaint half-timbered houses and old castles. It is also home to Freudenberg, World leaders in  seals, vibration control components, filters, automotive carpeting reinforcements, engine compartment insulation and auto headliners, lubricants and release agents. Freudenberg produces nonwovens for the textile and clothing industry  and Freudenberg nonwovens are used as carrier material for roofing membranes or for insulation and soundproofing in metal-profile ceilings. Freudenberg’s  rubber floorcoverings are laid in airports, hospitals and other public buildings. They also make really funky cleaning products. It is a family business that is probably why not many folks outside Germany know about them.

They have also spun off the IT department into a separate business called F-IT, and turned strong internal SAP competence into a successful services business.

I read today about F-IT producing a new X-app, called Dispute Management. The press release is in German, but I’ll vaguely translate a bit here.

F-IT has used the SAP Netweaver Visual Composer to built a new application, Dispute Management. The integrated SAP solution connects heterogeneous data sources, and provides a user friendly graphical interface.  The solution has been certified by SAP as part of the SAP xApps (Packaged composite Applications framework.)

This is great. Customer-driven innovation, using SAP tools.  I’d love to see more companies doing what F-IT has done, take in-house SAP competence and turn it into a valuable service, or better still product. 

The German SAP consulting market is highly competitive, partly because of this IT service company model. It probably explains why the big SIs have less market penetration here than elsewhere.


An HR blog well worth a read….

Donald H Taylor, to give him his full title, has a fine HR related blog.  There aren’t enough HR folks blogging. We need more Donalds and systematic HRs

Donald has an interest in Human Capital reporting, as I do.

Via the Taleo blog, I stumbled across the latest Hewitt Research. It is great to see us getting to the point whereby HR investment decisions can be related to business performance.

Results showed that the flow of pivotal employees – defined as employees in the top quartile of their peers in pay progression – into and out of an organization is a strong predictor of changes in Cash Flow Return on Investment (CFROI[1]) and shareholder value. 

This is good for the accountants, but it is even better for the HR folks who have a modicum of financial savvy. Head into your next meeting armed with the Mckinsey Talent Study, the Watson Wyatt Human Capital index etc and your own data and blast them with facts.  


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A cunning plan.

I moan a  lot here on this blog about the lack of marketing focus the core applications get at SAP in comparison to all the Netweaver and SOA platform stuff.  Either someone in marketing is reading my blog (Gartneresque probability of 0.1) or there is a cunning plan that I’m not aware of. (Gartneresque probability of 0.99)

Not one, but two  press releases focused on HCM on the same day. And timed to coincide with a major HR conference in the US.  I guess I need to eat some humble pie.

SaaS. I dont really get it.

I've read a fair bit about ASP, on demand, SaaS, (and now heaven forbid SaaS 2.0). I'm stumped. (yes, a cricket metaphor again)

I'm trying hard to understand what the differences are between what does and what ADP has been doing since the late 1940's (well, 1957 when they moved to punchcard computing).

Other than alot of hype and acronyms, I can't find any differentiating factors, except that ADP do payroll, car dealer services and brokerage services and have had 167 or whatever quarters of continuous growth, and are very very profitable. Also ADP seems to have a more quietly spoken, mild mannered CEO.

You may have missed the deal announced today in Leo's speech at Sapphire with IKEA (35 countries, 85 000 employees).  (There are now more users on the ADP-SAP global view platform than there are users.)

ADP's 50 years of service delivery experience powered by SAP technology.

Imagine ADP start doing CRM.


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This is my first day back at work for nearly 3 weeks  (thank you german labour law). more about that in another post once I have been through the email torrent. It was weird not accessing the web or the blogsphere for this time. no doubt there will be much to a catch up on. I will watch the sapphire blogging thingy that Jeff has arranged with interest

Mendocino is now called Duet. (hmmmm).  It is better than, but as my mate  phillip noted it does have more than a tinge of Kenny Rogers to it.

I have presented it to several customers over the past six months. It does hit the right note. (aaaah)

The website though, is great. Check it out  (see if you can see the mac in the demo!) 

ngiya ekhaya (or I’m going home)

Back to my roots:

I'm really excited to be going back to South Africa tonight, for a mix of holiday and and a little work.

The holiday will involve catching up with my brother and his family, seeing my folks, old friends, watching some cricket, riding a mountain bike recklessly,and introducing my kids to the joys of a very long deserted beach. Plettenberg Bay here we come.

On the work front, I'm speaking at the HR special interest group meeting in Johanesburg on the 11th of May, and meeting a couple of South African customers.(if there are any SA customers or partners out there reading this, come along, or drop me or Adam Sentonaris at SAP Africa a note and we can set up a meeting)

I'm always amazed that the innovation and energy levels when I go back. Down there at the tip of Africa, lurk some of the best SAP implementations in the world. For instance, Employee Self Service adoption in the SAP HR customer base in South Africa is higher than that in the UK! Sasol, ABSA, Standard Bank, Telkom and others run SAP shared service setups that impress me tremedously.  South African customers are often the first to ramp up new technologies, SASOL is speaking about Mendocino at sapphire for instance. I'm looking forward to meeting more customers and learning what they are up to.

Instead of SA customers coming to Europe and the US to learn about best practice, I'd like reverse the trend. The next time a conference organiser is looking for best in class SAP implementations, take my advice and head south!

South African HR practice generally can teach the world a lot, I'll post more about this soon.

If you are looking to offshore HR IT on SAP, I would seriously consider South Africa. Strong technical skills at a good price, good english language skills, excellent SAP ecosystem, HR people who understand HR and passionate about getting the best out of people. I'm suprised one of the BPO providers hasnt done this.

I also need to learn more about what is going on with other South African IT innovations. For one, Umbuntu looks very interesting. SAP Research is also doing some cool stuff down there.

My blog will be a little quiet…

a conference rather than an unconference

The unconference seems to be a rather trendy thing at the moment. The esteemed web 2.0 types seem to always be invited to them. Hugh of gapingvoid fame has done a cartoon about them. But I don’t think they have hit Walldorf or perhaps even Birmingham yet. From what little I have read, they remind me of the mad hatters’ tea party, the unbirthday.


 Anyway, I’m lucky enough to be attempting to force ESA  on an HR audience at this event, a conference. It is in Birmingham, UK, rather than Alabama.

This is not just a shameless punt for the conference organiser, Thomas Cook, although he does put on a good show. If you are interested in HR and its future you need to hear Graham White. He explains how technology has changed his HR function radically.  He is the head of HR at Surrey, and it the best HR speaker I have ever heard.  (And I have heard many)

You can also get to hear about Mendocino and other tidings of joy. The nightlife in Brum is suprisingly good, especially compared to Walldorf.  My liver has just reminded me that I was foolish enough to go out with the folks from SAP Russia and their customer. But the less said about that the better.