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Keeping the Success in Success Factors Implementations

It’s hard to argue with success, and SuccessFactors has had plenty of it after moving into SAP’s product suite at the end of 2011. They currently have over 20 million subscribers across 3,600 companies and have been named as a leader in 10 industry analyst reports over the last year. Companies are not only looking to SuccessFactors to help facilitate their talent management functions, but many are interested in SuccessFactors’ full-suite of Human Capital Management (HCM) capabilities.

For many companies, implementing a cloud-based solution like SuccessFactors is a brand new experience. Companies are wrestling with scope, timelines, methodology and expectations, which ultimately impact project success. We recently sat down with one of Clarkston’s HCM experts, David Watts, to help us understand more about preparing for and managing a SuccessFactors implementation.

As you work with clients on these implementations, what are the biggest misconceptions?
One common misconception is that cloud-based solutions, like SuccessFactors, can be implemented very quickly. The quick, slam-it-in approach that many consulting firms are touting for cloud-based solutions seems short-sighted. Typically these approaches overlook critical areas like testing and documentation, creating the potential for long-term problems. Also, the lack of formal project management and change management, including training, often create very serious execution challenges that can be the ultimate downfall of a project’s success.

Another common idea is that these projects can be executed with little consulting support. As I recall, some thought the rise of ERP solutions would require much less in the way of consulting services, compared to the previous generation’s custom applications. Although some may still argue that cloud-based solutions need only minimal consulting assistance, I would challenge that a system needs to be designed and configured to automate defined, reliable and consistent processes. I’ve now witnessed multiple occasions where consultants are hired only to configure and turn on SuccessFactors, with no strategic process design based on industry best practices. The results are less than optimal, and organizations are left with an overly constraining tool that at best maintains the status quo.

To continue on the topic of process, the last misconception is that cloudbased solutions are quick, easy fixes for serious underlying business process problems. Consider the hiring process. If that process is poorly defined, always changing, and rarely meeting the needs of the business, then the implementation of SuccessFactors’ recruiting solution will fail. Not because the solution is bad, but because the solution cannot possibly provide benefits to a poorly defined, always changing, ineffective process.

For more, please download our report.