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SAP/SuccessFactors — Help Me Count The HRM Codebases

Shall We Leverage Your Code Or Mine?

[Update 12/5/2011 @ 1:40 PM EST — After an always great conversation this morning with Paul Sparta, Chief Integration Officer at SuccessFactors, here’s his update (as confirmed by Paul) on some of the important product and technology questions arising from the SAP acquisition of SuccessFactors:

1) “SAP and SFSF are committed to providing a high degree of speed and transparency in regard to future product and technology plans post close. The team is hugely excited about the breadth and depth of assets that both parties bring to the table, are committed to bringing a complete suite of applications to the cloud, and recognizes the complexity and effort involved in doing so.”
2) “The team also believes that its go-to-market position today is broadly the best in the industry, despite the broad set of different technologies and delivery models.”
3) “The deal isn’t closed yet, and the companies will operate independently until the deal closes. This is to be expected, so many key decisions will not be made until then.”

Of course, there are many unanswered questions, including the “how”, “what”, and “when” of everything from product roadmaps to go-to-market across all their combined HRM-related products, and those answers are what we really need.  But, if you take Lars and team at their word — and we’ll all be watching this closely — those answers, per Paul, will be forthcoming soon in 2012.  End Update]

I’m working on a mega-post about the SAP/SuccessFactors deal, but in the meantime I could use your help in making sure I’ve got the full list of HRM-related codebases that must be addressed — strategically and tactically — as a part of this deal.   Much of this post is written from (my aging) memory, old notes, and possibly conjecture, and I’m sure it’s flawed.  Your help in getting this right and up-to-the-minute would be much appreciated.

So far I’ve counted (but this is based on information gathered after the Plateau acquisition by SFSF but without benefit of knowing what dramatic changes, if any, may have been made by SFSF/Plateau in the last few months):

  1. Plateau LMS on-premise — this is the codebase that was the heritage of Plateau in the LMS business long before it became SaaSy, which it did with an architectural overhaul and adding talent management modules to its LMS prior to its acquisition by SFSF — the generous view (prior to the SAP deal) was that SFSF would support those on-premise customers and this codebase while working hard to migrate as many of them as possible to a SaaS LMS codebase even as some competitors were getting pretty snarky about SFSF’s having lost their SaaSy street cred by doing so.
  2. Plateau’s newer and quite SaaSy integrated talent management with LMS codebase just prior to its acquisition by SFSF — here the general view has been that SFSF stopped all marketing through sales of Plateau’s talent management modules, but I’m not sure for how long SFSF is (or was, before the SAP deal) committed to supporting existing customers (were there any?) who weree using the pre-SFSF acquisition Plateau talent management modules.
  3. Then there’s SFSF’s core, organically grown code base, to include Employee Central (although this may well have been built somewhat separately and it certainly required significant extensions, however underestimated, to the talent management object model) as well as all the talent management modules — all of this is SaaSy but does not have the most modern architecture (e.g. business rules are embedded in procedural logic rather than being entirely abstracted to effective-dated metadata) or object model (e.g. it doesn’t address both job and position as the separate and critical objects that they are), although I suspect that the SFSF/Plateau codebase rationalization efforts (pre-SAP deal) would have been considering how to infuse the best of SFSF’s core with the best of Plateau’s (#2 above) — and now I’ve used that fuse word.
  4. SFSF’s acquired codebases beyond Plateau, which I’m lumping together because, important as they were, they were more add-on or enabling technologies rather than purely HRM functionality codebases — nonetheless, these acquired codebases will need some level of attention post-SAP/SFSF deal closing.
  5. SAP BS7 — this is SAP’s current licensed/on-premise HRMS codebase, with its enormous heritage, breadth of functionality, globalness of business rules/regulatory and compliance support, etc.  I can’t imagine that SAP is going to mess with this, having now extended support through 2020, until they’re ready to replace it with their not yet obvious next generation codebase (but more on this in my mega-post which may be like waiting for Godot).
  6. SAP R/3 — SAP made some important changes in its core HRMS object model some years ago, e.g. to handle multiple concurrent positions, as well as incorporated the full NetWeaver underpinnings, which then became part of their BS-sequenced releases, but I believe there are still SAP customers running on various earlier R/3 versions for which SAP provides at least basic regulatory/compliance support and, therefore, which codebase is still being supported.
  7. SAP Career OnDemand — this is reported to have been built on the Business ByDesign architecture but with sufficient use of or similarity to the BS 7 HRM object model to enable an easy attachment of Career OnDemand (and such further OnDemand HRM modules as may have been planned) to BS 7’s HRMS — while I think this codebase will be killed off early days in the rationalization of SAP/SFSF’s HRM codebase assets, there’s a lot of really valuable ideas/learning here that I hope will be conserved.
  8. SAP ByD — last but by no means least, the HRM components of Business ByDesign which, while not ready for enterprise prime time, are nonetheless their own code base which competes, at least spiritually, with SFSF’s modest Employee Central.  

With many thanks to http://perro.si/spaghetti-code for the amazing illustration and discussion on his post.

Full disclosure — Neither SAP nor SuccessFactors nor Plateau have been Bloom & Wallace clients over the last many years although I have done work with SAP as recently as Q1/2007.

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