SuccessFactors November 2013 Release

successfactors.jpgWhenever I see a new release from vendors such as SAP SuccessFactors I think of current and future SuccessFactors customers and how they can best benefit from the new functionality. I try to put myself in their shoes to understand how the November '13 added features can help both employees and human resources (HR) professionals. Also, there are a few questions that ensue when taking a look at the discussed functionalities:

Offline Learning for iPad: This is good news, since one of the main challenges for mobile apps is to make content available offline and synchronize automatically when an Internet connection is available. This will be very practical particularly for field workers who sometimes encounter limited access to the Internet. The press release does not mention when or if the feature will be available for Android or Microsoft.

Mobile Onboarding: This feature that makes a lot of sense, as when someone joins a company, they are given various documents, training material, manuals, websites, portals access, etc. Delivering at least some parts of the onboarding on a mobile device makes for a more flexible onboarding process, especially for employees who like to blend the personal and professional. The press release does not specify if this is BYOD compliant and whether it is device-agnostic.

Employee Self-Service (ESS) expands to support payroll deductions and advances, which allows employees to, for example, edit deductions or set repayment schedules. While it is nice to give employees more freedom, the degree to which this will impact the work of managers or accountants that control payroll was not discussed.

New Career Worksheet allows employees to see the opportunities offered by the company that they work for and how to get there. What is not clear is whether these types of recommendations are based on the employees' skills, past experience, etc. Also, it is not clear whether the tool is able to suggest career paths that are radically different from what someone is currently doing.

Skill Self-Assessments: When using LinkedIn, one may notice that many individuals are not always able to evaluate themselves accurately. This new option offered by SuccessFactors will prove to be very useful as it allows an individual to mirror his/her own self-perception against others—a “reality check.” I would be interested to see if the software is able to provide root-cause analysis when there are large gaps between self-assessment and peers and managers assessment.

SAP Jam Work Patterns: Most people’s work is either repetitive or can be summarized in a pattern, so the idea to create these patterns is definitely useful. Two challenges with this feature are that 1) a pattern is usually an approximation of reality and 2) it is difficult to match the way an employee wants to work with how the company wants him/her to work. To address these challenges, SuccessFactors applied the Pareto principle, which asserts that for many events, 80% of effects come from 20% of the causes, and as Sameer Patel—responsible for SAP's Enterprise Social and Collaborative Software Business—stated in a Twitter conversation:

All new features have been made available for Enterprise Edition customers as of November 15.
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