To the max.

Building product, once you get beyond the brain wave stage, really requires customer input. Not all customer input is made equal though. What makes a massive impact is when you find that customer that shares your goals, your vision,and brings that dose of realism and practicality to the party. Treasure those customers. They don’t come around often. I’m enormously grateful for those customers that have played that crucial role in our success to date.

Last year we announced the Klaus Tschira award. I’ve written about this a couple times. Klaus meant a great deal to me. He inspired me early in my career, and his wisdom, kindness, and humility have continued to influence me even today. He was a remarkable man in so many ways.

tschira

So it was really cool today to see Shakti Jauhar and PepsiCo to win the award. It is a pity that Shakti never met Klaus, I reckon they would have got on fabulously.

Our partnership with PepsiCo and Shakti goes back to early bet Shakti took with Lars and the team. Since then Shakti has collaborated, cajoled and coerced us to build Employee Central into a solution capable of handling the largest global processes. Without you and your team, our product would have not become what it is.

It seems appropriate to include a photo of Shakti with Murali. Murali is the lead Product manager on Employee Central, and his partnership with Shakti is the Leitfaden that runs through the heart of the product.
IMG_3418

To Shakti and all the team at PepsiCo, our deepest thanks and gratitude from all of us here at SAP SuccessFactors. We consider you a partner and a friend.

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London here we come

Next week is SuccessConnect. I have been to a goodly number of these now. My first one was as an analyst. The event was in Amsterdam. I remember an excellent, if somewhat extended keynote from Lars.

I’m looking forward to being on stage with Dave Ragones. Over the last year or so I have learned more about the management part of product management and getting things done from Dave than I have from anyone in my career.  James Harvey, our Engineering, Operations and Service Delivery head will join us in the keynote too.

We have an awesome line up of customers, and SAP colleagues. And we will be making a special award. The demos will rock, thanks to Abhijit, Martin and Gerald, and the cast supporting them.   A special thanks also to Helen Arnold, who now leads the SAP Data Network. We are working on some funky stuff with Helen’s team that we will chat about and show. There is a buzz at SAP about Leonardo, so we will look at how that will benefit SuccessFactors customers.  But I don’t want to give it all away here.

I will also get to spend time with our new leader of product management and product marketing,  Amy Wilson. I have known Amy for years. She helped build the Workday products into a formidable competitor, and having her lead our team will only make us stronger.  I’m biased, but I don’t think there is a better product team in the HR Tech industry than the one SAP SuccessFactors has assembled. Welcome Amy.

The day one keynote will be led by our own CHRO, Stefan Ries. He is of the staunchest supporters of our product, and he can be our fiercest but fairest critic  too. Our partnership with our own HR department has helped make better product. Thanks Stefan and team.  His keynote is packed to the brim with customers.

With a bit of luck I might even get to say hello to Richard Branson, but that would be a bonus.

The rest of the week will be filled with customer meetings. I think I have at least 14 meetings. The names that were prospects last time are live customers now. I get to hear from them what’s working well and what could be better. I’ll get to bump into many other customers and partners too. I’m especially curious to catch up with extension partners like James from Enterprise Jungle. Extensions are going mainstream. sweet.

My one disappointment is that I don’t get to see the breakout customer sessions. When customers get up and present what they do with our stuff, and we get to see how the software makes their organisations better, it is the best vindication.  My special thanks to those customers like Lionel Safar from Essilor that tell their stories.

The real reason I’m going to London though, is to watch the cricket. India v South Africa at the Oval. Now that will be magnificent. Watching  De Villiers dispatch Ashwin  nonchalantly over the Vauxhall end, or  Kohli’s off stump spiral in the air from a quicker Radaba ball will make my day.  Seeing my colleague and friend Murali’s face when that happens will make my year.

 

 

4 years in.

It was 4 years ago, give or take a day that I joined SuccessFactors to lead Employee Central Product Management.  At times it feels like yesterday, at times it feels like forever.   There are a few things I wish we could do over, but I feel a sense of pride, looking back at how far we have come.  EC now has close to 2000 customers over 16 million users, and is  localized for 82 countries.

I work with remarkable people, and I’m still learning something new everyday.

5 years ago, few people outside SAP SuccessFactors believed that SAP would dare to disrupt itself by building a cloud core HRMS, but we did. I remain emmensely grateful to those early customers that took the bet with us, and to the SAP leadership that backed us.

While we now have more go lives in a week than we did in our first year, I look back in gratitude to the work we did with companies like Timken, Amway, Densply and CEVA.  And telling your 12 year old that Man City uses the product scores lots of “my dad is cool” points.

Product management is picking from the infinite list of market, customer, prospect and executive demands, and applying a finite engineering capacity to that list. The build plan is where all those decisions come together and today is the build plan meeting for 1708. Dave Ragones and I now lead product for all of SuccessFactors, and thanks in the main to Dave’s precision and relentless Kaizen mindset, every build plan is tighter.  Doing this at scale is hard, but thrilling. If both sales and engineeting are equally unhappy, it means we are on the right track.

SAP’s ability to disrupt itself continues to impress me.  Yesterday I spoke to the German User Group, I was stunned how quickly the German SucccessFactors user group has grown. Customer after customer stood up and introduced their projects. From the middelstand to the big globals, I kept hearing we are live, or we are implementing this new feature.

This morning I had a breakfast session with the QA leadership. Quality engineers and testing experts are so vital to successful cloud computing.  This meeting reminded me that I need to spend more time listening to them.

I also caught up with the PM looking after our new org management solution. As a german colleague said, this thing is geil, saugeil.

We get to stand on stage at SuccessConnect in a couple of weeks to showcase our progress, but we stand on the shoulders of our customers, our colleagues and our partners.  It sounds corny, but it’s true.

Next week I’m at Sapphire, and I’m looking forward to catching up with customers, partners and colleagues. If you are there, and would to meet, ping my via your favourite communication mechanism, and I try and make a plan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A conference, cupcakes, and a sprinkle of serendipity.

Last week I was at the HR Tech Europe Conference. A mighty fine event, although I spent most of it in a meeting room. I did escape for 20 minutes to present with Simon Bouchez on our new Work Connect solution, Business Beyond Bias, and the cool mobile stuff we are doing with Apple. As always, these events are an opportunity to catch up with colleagues and customers old and new.  Marc Coleman and team run a top notch show.

Having Serco and BAE Systems speak at the event was excellent. Customers make the best story tellers.  Seeing the digital boardroom in action on our stand was pretty neat too. Watching customers and prospects reactions to the product demos is illuminating.  Continous Performance Management, Mentoring, the New Org Chart all got lots of smiles. Our products have come a long way since I was last at this event in London.  I bumped into several partners, all eager to tell me about go lives, and things they need us to build. Our ecosystem is thriving. Thanks also to ATK for the after party.

Sometimes twitter has a lovely serendipitous juxtaposition of tweets. Other times it is plain weird. As I was boarding the flight back home, I noticed this pairing.

live

Shakti from PepsiCo and Chris Paine, a partner (Discovery)  in Australia celebrating go lives. Chris pinged me later, and we briefly chatted about how he took two Aussie companies live on EC and other modules, with deep SAP ERP integration. Chris, next time I’d like a cupcake too.

We hit another milestone the other day. We had 2 million log ons in a day. All in all, a good week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 years in, 12 releases and Sapphire.

I joined SuccessFactors just before Sapphire in 2013. The 1305 release was pretty much baked, and I spent the first few weeks getting to know my new colleagues, and reconnect with those that I had known from my earlier times at SAP. Moving from talking about software as an analyst to being responsible for making sure SAP SuccessFactors built the right stuff was a steep learning curve, and one that I’m still on. I learn new stuff every day, and my curiosity has not been sated. I continue to make lots of mistakes, but hopefully not the same ones. I’m lucky to be surrounded by clever, determined and open minded people. That makes my job a lot easier.

At times it feels like yesterday, sometimes it feels like a century ago. Since the 1305 release, we have shipped the best part of 6000 enhancements. Some large, some small. Most of what we have built, we built it by listening to customers. This week, before Sapphire, we finalizing the 1608 build plan. The scope and scale of the build plan is far bigger than it was 3 years,ago and we continue to Kaizen (is that allowed as a verb?) the process, but we ask ourselves the same questions. Who are we building this for? Why? How can we simplify it, how can we make it easy to deploy?

As I was writing this post, I reflected back on what I wrote when I left Gartner, and I’m pleased to report that my expectations have been met. Over the last three years there have been many highlights. I think of sharing the stage with Plan, one of the world’s leading charities, or EC hitting the 1000 customer mark, the Brook Brothers moment, or seeing the next generation of leaders develop in product management team.

This year at Sapphire I’m looking forward to meeting partners,colleagues and prospects. We have a number of exciting announcements on the product side, and there is one in particular that I’m very excited about. More than that though, catching up with live customers is what makes these events worthwhile. Seeing Woolworths Australia, Timken, PepsiCo and several others on stage will make the trip to Florida all the more worthwhile.

There are many sessions going on, have a look here.

Some of the session descriptions a tad cryptic, but if you read the session details you will able to pick out the ones that work for you.

If you want to meet up at Sapphire, work through your account manager to set up a meeting, or ping me directly.

Employee Central Momentum

I had been meaning to write about EC momentum for a little while, and the press releases this week makes this week as good as any to do. Here is the juicy bit from today’s earnings announcement.

Human Capital Management Shows Strong Momentum

Customers are increasingly turning to SAP to manage their global workforce, both permanent and flexible. The customer count for SuccessFactorsEmployee Central, which is the core of our Human Capital Management offerings, surpassed 1,000 for the first time in the fourth quarter. SAP is winning against its key HCM competitors, especially in markets outside of the United States. For example, Lufthansa selected SAP SuccessFactors. SAP’s innovations in HCM will further increase SAP’s differentiation and drive market share gains.

Over a year ago, I wrote about the trajectory EC is on (Thank goodness for spellcheck, as trajectory remains a very awkward word to spell). 1000 customers. Sweet.

I’m writing this on way back from the sales kick off in Barcelona. It was fun meeting up with a bunch of happy and fired up sales folks and partners. I heard about successes in UK, Russia, Germany, France, Czech Republic, Portugal, Switzerland, and the UAE is totally rocking. Belgium too. It was especially nice to see the SAP South Africa gang. I’m expecting a gangbusters year from them.

The feedback on roadmap was gratifying, and it helped vindicate a couple of decisions we made last month. After a couple of days of tapas and sunshine, it is time to head back to Germany and focus back on the build plan for 1605 and 1608.

This morning on the plane, I thought about some of the EC customers that impacted my day in some way.

The coffee/s I drank, the toothpaste I used, my shaving stuff, the shower and sink manufacturer, my socks, my shoes, my jacket, the weather app I checked on, the phone network, the lenses in my glasses, the fridge in the hotel room, my briefcase, the elevator I took to the lobby, the tyres on the taxi that took me to the airport, the fizzy water I drank, the football boots worn by the dude that scored the goal in the Spanish league last night, the bolt holding up the roof in airport terminal, the yoghurt I had for breakfast, the shop I bought it in, airline that is flying me home, the satellite guiding it, the seat I’m sitting on, the publisher of the book I’ve just finished reading, and the maker of the guitar that David Bowie* played on the single I’m listening to as I write this. All of these companies run EC.

While it is great that the SAP press department has called out EC’s success in the press release and EC has featured prominently in the last couple of earnings calls, I’d like the mention the successes we are having with the other SuccessFactors products.

Onboarding is the fastest growing product in the portfolio, and has smashed every expectation. The feedback from the early adopters of intelligent services and the integration center is very encouraging. The multiposting acquisition is already gelling. I’m fired up to work with Simon and his team. More than ever, I’m convinced that we have the right approach and mix of organic and acquired innovation.

In the hotel in Barcelona last night I caught up with a start up partner, Enterprise Jungle. The CEO took a very early big bet on SuccessFactors extensibility with MDF and the HANA Cloud Platform, it was lovely to hear how that is now paying off. He explained how they are building a specialized offline and mobile performance management application with HCP for airline pilots to use, it enables them to rate the crew and other colleagues, then automatically syncs up with EC, Talent and even CRM. I also heard from Benefitfocus, Workforce Software and Docusign about the strong progress we are making together.

A few years ago, the early adopter customers helped us get this product off the ground. To all my colleagues, whether at SAP Successfactors or in the partner community, thanks for your dedication. You should be proud of what you have accomplished. More than anything, it is by listening to and learning from customers that we have achieved this milestone. There is still lots to do, but the trajectory remains on track.

 

*So long Ziggy Stardust, you made the world a better place. For Bowie fans, have a listen to this.

All Blacks, Presence and Kaizen.

At SuccessConnect in Rome this week, I got to see an excellent presentation by the Harvard Prof, Amy Cuddy. Check out a version of the talk here . Fascinating stuff about the body language and how to use the postive reinforcement of good posture. I learnt loads. thanks Amy.

Amy showed a video of the All Black Haka from the 2011 World Cup final. It is  a very powerful expression of barely controlled aggression.

The Haka is delivered with precision, prowess,  power and passion. It feels as if the might and will of the whole New Zealand nation is channeled through the dance.  It seems seeped in a deep tradition.

Let’s step back 4o years or so.