Or: “How to crash one of the most mature planes on the market by putting a steam train driver into the cockpit”
It is amazing and encouraging to see a surge in uptake of SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central Payroll (ECP), manifesting itself in a large number of agencies reaching out to iXerv for resources based on our recent ECP implementations and ReX (SAP Recognised Expertise) status. ECP is an excellent solution and for any organisation previously using a fragmented payroll landscape, immature payrolls from new-ish cloud ventures, or outsourced payroll services, it can be a real game changer for the better.
Sadly, many of the agencies contacting us ask about project rescue rather than implementation – and that’s for no fault of the solution. It rather looks like a lack of basic knowledge, so here are a few fundamental pieces of advice:
The Expertise You Need
- You need a mix of new skills and proven hands in a battle tested technology. Let me call it “the cloudy bit” and classic SAP payroll implementation skills.
- The “cloudy bit” comprises, most critically, the integration knowledge (no – it’s not the same as core hybrid integration with SAP on-prem and Dell Boomi is not the best practice for this. And neither is SCI, even if you call it by its old name HCI). Whilst data integration is often aiming at the wrong tool, UI integration is sometimes completely forgotten.
- The other big element of the “cloudy bit” is the Payroll Control Center (PCC). ECP can be used without, but it’s the PCC that allows you to run a modern, agile and yet safe payroll process with a UI that doesn’t provoke a heart attack with your average uni graduate these days.
- Sure, you also need some SuccessFactors Employee Central (EC) expertise in the mix. If you implement EC in parallel, that will be your EC consultant. If you implement Employee Central Payroll after EC, then you need an EC consultant on board. Be prepared to make some fundamental changes, if the initial EC design did not account for payroll requirements by having the SAP payroll specialists on board.
Hotter than Ever: Good “Old” SAP Payroll Skills and Understanding the Payroll Process
- But it’s not all about “the new stuff”. Payroll is still a complex process and as Employee Central Payroll is using the trusted SAP HCM Payroll engine proven in thousands of customer environments, it still requires the “old” skills and local payroll expertise. Just because it’s a cloud solution, it doesn’t make any recent graduate from a different continent an expert in UK or Mexican payroll in SAP. And just because it’s called “cloud”, this doesn’t mean you don’t need to talk to the local payroll team speaking their language (I’m not referring to English or Spanish here, but to Payrollish, an exquisite language that comes in many local dialects).
- Interestingly enough, the complaints I hear are as much about lack of integration knowledge as they are about lack of core payroll knowledge.
How not to fix it
- You don’t tend to get these skills in one person. So, if I hear an agent, advisor or transformation manager say that their client needs an ECP expert to fix a project, I somehow get the feeling that this not going to be a fix at all. It’s the mindset that started the problem in the first place.
- Finally, a project manager with the right experience and good common sense can make all the difference. It doesn’t necessarily have to be someone with previous ECP experience. There aren’t that many. But a good understanding of cloud core HR and payroll projects, ideally both in a SuccessFactors / SAP context, would be good.
There are always things that can go wrong, even with the right team. But whenever I heard about failure, delay, struggles, most of the simple points mentioned above have been ignored. And this is sad. Let’s face it: there is no better global payroll solution than SAP Payroll and Employee Central Payroll takes that maturity into the cloud. The achitecture may look a tick more complex that you’d expect at first sight, but it’s this architecture that makes it possible to run this proven payroll with a modern cloud style UI and a modern process.
It is sooo worth it!
Done properly, it will put your internal payroll team into a position to beat providers of outsourced payroll services in most cases on efficiency, agility and reliability. So, you should be boarding this flight with confidence, after making sure you have a pilot in the cockpit (if you have an ambitious train driver hanging around, make him or her a trainee pilot).
Enjoy the journey!
Sven Ringling is Head of UK/Europe at iXerv. He has over 20 years of HRIS experience, working with organisations that need to optimise their HR & Payroll processes or want to drive Digital Transformation in the cloud.