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RebuildHR Manifesto- Part A

I have implemented global SAP HR projects for almost 15 years. During this time, very little has changed with HR and SAP HR. There were some cosmetic changes (HR to HCM) and some incremental changes (seeing your manager’s goals and setting your own goals for the year). I always felt some gap in HR/ HR systems as compared to consumer technology. For example: Why not email a photo, taken using a ubiquitous cell phone, of required document than faxing? How can the world of HR use the technological innovation? My tipping point came when I watched the movie ‘Moneyball’.

‘Moneyball’ (the movie and the book) is about how Billy Beane, the General Manager of Oakland Athletics’, rebuilt his baseball team on a lean budget using data analysis in selecting his players. He did not believe in the traditional scouting method. Nor did he believe in many of the player statistics as they did not correlate to their real performance. He used new player metrics (Sabermetrics) developed by Bill James that showed the true contribution and skills of the player. The results were astounding. Oakland Athletics created history in 2002 by winning 20 straight games, an accomplishment unheard of but what was fascinating is that his team had the lowest payroll. Boston Red Sox, understanding what Billy Beane had done, copied the approach. They went on to win the World Series in 2004 after a gap of 86 years!

US baseball’s origin can be traced back to 18th century, and the ‘World Series’ started in 1903. Traditional scouting techniques seemed the only way to find baseball talent. Bill James saw the inherent flaws in this technique and started to write about it, but baseball insiders couldn’t see it. Computers became available to do data analysis and crunch number and showed that Bill’s assessment made sense, but still the insiders refused to see the facts objectively. Finally, Billy came and executed on new model using technology. Now, why are we discussing this and what does this have to do with HR or HR systems like SAP HR?

Introduced around 1995, Core SAP HR hasn’t changed much. Since then, Steve Jobs came back to Apple and created iPhone. Mark Zuckerberg left college to create ‘Facebook’. Jack Dorsey lead ‘Twitter’. During this people-centered technological upheaval, SAP HR was just tweaked. I think most of the other systems are very similar and essentially execute the same HR processes, maybe slight differently. It seems that HR itself, as a function, has changed very little. Most data collected by HR drives administrative processes. Statistics and analytics that come from this data can not drive talent management or employee engagement. HR talks about building teams all the time, but how do you measure success of team building programs? How to measure what employees do differently if they become good team players? HR talks about employee engagement. How can it find out the degree of employee engagement? The lack of data and data models prevents HR from measuring key skills of the employees. But the same employees create an unbelievable amount of data when they leave the office. They tweet millions of messages every day post thousands of picture and posts on social media sites like Facebook. How can this phenomenon of creating and sharing data, willingly, be replicated for work, in the context of an office, a company ?

Big data, social media, cloud computing and mobile connectivity are going to help bring about HR transformation. HR has to rebuild itself from the bottom up. HR can analyze social data, provided by employees using their mobile devices, to improve personal productivity and lead the use of wearble computing which leads to higher company profits.

– Mobile devices enable employees to capture data easily and efficiently

– Mobile social apps help capture the relevant data

– BigData/ Analytics helps crunch and analyze this data (collected by crowdsourcing)

– Cloud computing makes this analysis/ feedback available anywhere, anytime

– Wearable computing (like Google Glasses)

The dreams of HR visionaries can become reality as the technologies have converged. It’s time for HR professionals to understand technology to see what moon shots are now possible. It’s time for HR professionals to become the ‘Billy Beane’ of a company. They have to build new HR systems that captures more relevant data, engages employees,  predicts true talent and directly impacts company’s bottom-line. It’s not a time for incremental changes, it’s not a time for just a little transformation. It’s time to rebuild HR from the ground up using all the technology we have. It’s time for a new ‘RebuildHR’ Manifesto.

To be continued…



Wikipedia, Billy Beane, (as of May 13, 2013, 19:11 GMT).

Wikipedia, Bill James,  (as of May 13, 2013, 19:14 GMT).

IMDB, Moneyball, (as of May 13, 2013, 22:00 GMT).

Wikipedia, History of baseball in the United States, (as of May 15, 2013, 02:45 GMT).

Special thanks to Martix Rexroad for his insight and feedback.


With the advent of cloud computing, what’s the future of SAP HCM consultants? Part 3 (Final)

I have talked to many SAP HCM consultants. Most of them are aware of the changes and confused. SAP has always been about integration but now we hear about hybrid solutions. For example: store the core employee data in SAP HCM and interface with SuccessFactors’ functionality of on-boarding, talent management, compensation management. Some companies integrate SAP  finance, production planning, material management, human resources and other functions but what will be the impact of hybrid HR solution. There are many thoughtful questions but few good answers as things are still evolving. Cloud computing is a disrupting technology and has changed HR solutions and in turn the SAP HCM consulting. The consultants need to keep calm, carry on with their current work and understand the new normal proactively

  1. Networking – provides a good way to stay connected to your contacts. Your connections can offer insight and information that can help you. You can also reciprocate the same.
  2. Learning –,, and other sites have a lot of information. You can follow industry experts and companies to learn about the trends as well as new detailed information.
  3. Certification – Certification is not always required but it can come in handy. Though it might not always be obvious how useful they might be, there is definitely no harm in getting certified.

SAP HCM Consultants (Functional)

The good news is that there are many transferable skills.

  1. Leadership, Team work and communication These skills are transferable.
  2. Project management This is also transferable with some knowledge of the new system that you are implementing.
  3. Documentation and testing These skills are transferable though a little system knowledge might be helpful.
  4. Business analysis – This skill is transferable. Cloud solution also requires HR processes analysis and requirements gathering.
  5. Gap analysis and configuration – This requires the knowledge of the new system. Understanding the cloud based solution is the key. If you plan to switch to the cloud, then you should take up some training or be a part of a cloud project. There are no courses available to public and training is only provided to the vendors/ system integrators.

SAP HCM Consultants (Technical)

There are specific challenges to this role as the cloud solution grows but it provides big opportunities. There will be a lot of work in transition and upgrade projects. But as more and more technical work is outsourced, technical consultants might need to add skills (though this might be a boon to technical consultant where the outsource work is going).

  1. Leadership, Team work and communication These skills are transferable.
  2. Project management This is also transferable with some knowledge of the new system that you are implementing.
  3. Documentation and testing These skills are transferable though a little system knowledge might be helpful.
  4. Development (Programming): Though the basic programming concepts might be transferable, the detailed coding will not. ABAP programming is SAP’s proprietary language.
    • You can move to other SAP module if you would like to continue within SAP environment
    • You can also pursue other upcoming SAP technologies like SAP Mobility and SAP HANA.
    • You can move to cloud solutions and learn the new system by getting trained or being part of a cloud project. There are no courses available to public and training is only provided to the vendors/ system integrators
    • You can learn more by following people and companies on twitter/ LinkedIn. I have a twitter list that might help to get your started

If you have any feedback, please feel free to give your comments here or email I wish you all the best.

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