From On Premise to the Cloud: Five Steps to Guarantee Your Upgrade2Success

Moving your on-premise core HR system to the cloud is an important project and all the experts can agree that making this migration is inevitable. The benefits of doing so are many: lower total cost of ownership, speed to innovation, user adoption, compliance, and more.

These benefits are mostly well known, however connecting these benefits to other areas of the business is super important when creating a business case to make this decision.

HR isn’t an island; a project like this isn’t an HR project. It’s not an IT project. It’s truly a business project and needs to be evaluated as such. Your core HR system touches absolutely every single aspect of the business. It is arguably your business’ most mission-critical application. If that sounds scary, it’s not meant to be. While we have all heard horror stories of implementations gone wrong, vendors failing to deliver on promises, project team frustration, and burnout, there are steps that can be taken to help ensure your Upgrade2Success.

Allow me to take you through my top five. Of course, there are more than five steps to take, but if you take these critical steps you can rest assured that your chances of an Upgrade2Success are increased significantly.

1. Align Your Stakeholders

I stated earlier that your core HR system touches everything. It impacts job postings, benefits, stock options, finance, supply chain, safety, logistics, workflows, authorizations, scheduling, mergers and acquisitions, and so much more. This point is worth repeating: If you are leading or sponsoring this project, make sure this gets to the CEO because this isn’t just an HR project and it’s not just an IT project either. It’s a business project, so it’s important to align all of the key stakeholders.

2. Clarify Project Goals

Clearly establish the common business goals associated with the project. Identify areas of risk, establish the must-have improvements and the nice-to-have improvements and — once again — don’t isolate HR goals in this step. The entire business has areas they would like to see improved and much of it is a result of an existing core HR system that is either poorly configured, isn’t user friendly, is outdated, or has limited functionality, so work with your line-of-business managers, IT teams, project management, leadership, finance, and more. This doesn’t mean everyone gets a final say and that the solution will magically solve everyone’s problems, but my message is about setting a baseline for success and what to measure against.

3. Look at the Current State

Get into the weeds. For existing on-premise SAP clients this means looking at all of the following in place today:

  • Reports: What reports come out of the system today? As importantly, what reports don’t but you — and others per the above — wish would? Why is this important?
  • Infotypes: What are the current infotypes? Have they been customized? Why?
  • Integrations: Make a list, create a map. What integrates to what? It doesn’t hurt to understand why these connections are important.
  • Customizations: How is the system customized today? What workarounds are in place? And why?
  • Extensions: Does the current system have a capability gap and therefore are third-party tools used? Time systems or benefits systems are a frequent example — was this third-party tool used because of pre-built APIs or integrations making it easier and less costly to manage? What are these? Are they performing as desired? Do these solutions need to be considered and re-evaluated as part of this project? In many cases, the new cloud solutions can do what two or three systems used to do. Look at the whole picture.
  • Forms: Create an inventory of all the forms out there, and include any spreadsheets within the organization. What are they? Why are they important? Can they be replaced by the new cloud core HR system?

4. Plan for the Future State

In step three, under each area of review I emphasized the importance of asking why. That’s not to be confrontational, it’s because I have seen over and over again that existing processes are in place either because “we have always done things this way” — and no one knows why — or because the existing systems “won’t do what we need it to do so we had to get creative.”

Replacing your core system is a unique, once-in-a-decade or even longer opportunity to really streamline and standardize. In fact, SAP SuccessFactors has created the SAP Model Company for HR solution, an off-the-shelf, out-of-the-box, pre-configured solution leveraging best practices and learnings from the millions of users and thousands of companies using the solution today.

It’s not a mistake that step three of this process is a deep dive into your current state. Once you have established this and you understand how things are set up today, you can map that current state to a desired future state — or in this case SAP Model Company for HR and create a gap analysis to focus on the areas which need to change. When we have done this for clients in the past, we’ve seen an 80 to 90 percent fit to best practices, meaning you can use SAP’s infoporter tool to automatically move the current configuration to SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central and then focus on filling the gaps. This saves a tremendous amount of time and money and reduces the risks associated with this project exponentially.

5. Build the Budget and Business Case

Make sure you consider the entire budget when planning this project, not just the software and services. SAP has teams and tools in place to help guide customers through this process. There are so many things to consider, and even after you consider everything, 99 percent of the time there are things that arise — unexpected costs associated with situations that are out of your control, project team staff turnover, for example, which impact the time and budget associated with these projects. There are some best practices that suggest adding a percentage of the total licensing and services costs to projects like this to help cushion the unexpected. My point isn’t to automatically add 10 to 20 percent, but unexpected costs happen almost every time and if you don’t plan for it, it can come back to haunt you.

I hope you found the above to be helpful. I am convinced that if you follow these five steps, you will be successful. If you are an existing on-premise core HR customer and are interested in making this transition, please remember SAP has invested a ton of time, money, and resources into the Upgrade2Success team to make sure you are successful. To learn more, check out the resources, including a global series of roadshow events, here.

Don’t forget to register for SuccessConnect in Las Vegas, taking placing September 11-13 at the ARIA Resort & Casino. Whether you are staying on -premise or thinking about moving to the cloud, we’ve got you covered. From a special Upgrade2Success pre-conference training to informative breakout sessions and networking, you will learn about innovations and roadmaps you can take advantage of now for your current on-premise system. See you there!


Adam Greenberg is vice president of Strategic Accounts with the Upgrade2Success program.