“Don’t Mess with Payroll”—and other Lessons from SAPinsider HR






I attended the SAPinsider HR conference in Las Vegas this last week – and the energy of the audience was contagious. Let me share nuggets of what I gleaned from attendees:

  1. If your production environment is on-premise, you will not be planning any rip and replace strategies in the near term; while aspects of an ERP may in fact be more cumbersome than desired, that working business infrastructure is not up for replacement.

  2. If, on the other hand, your talent management applications (learning or hiring management, for example) are on-premise, you are not only possibly ripe for replacement, but very likely seeking a Cloud-based solution rather than on-premise software.

  3. If you are part of the 44 percent[1] who are planning to replace an HRIS system this year, you are seriously investigating a Cloud solution.

  4. Payroll is generally scary.  If users have a working solution today that covers their global payroll needs, they are unlikely to replace it. Two scenarios, however, lead to payroll replacement:  companies that are replacing an older on-premise system that had embedded payroll, and those simply contemplating a change of payroll providers; these seem “up for grabs,” as the saying goes.

What does all this mean? 

First, the understanding of what software-as-a-service (AKA Cloud computing) has grown exponentially. Today’s HRIS/HRIT professionals in general exhibit solid understanding of the concept, the advantages and sometimes-radical changes that may emanate from cloud computing. 

Second, the two fears about Cloud computing –“Is my data safe?  Can I keep employee data private?” are oh-so yesterday.  Today’s buyers are in the main comfortable with both the security of HR and talent management in the Cloud, and the ability to keep it private via multi-tenant solutions.

The SAP HR Future

SAP CEO Mike Ettling stated in his keynote that the company would support its on-premise HCM solution until 2025, giving its 14,000+ users ten years to consider a move to the Cloud-based Employee Central, the product that SAP is putting its longer-term Core HR development Euros into. 

 Today’s HR and HRIT professionals at the conference seem to be very serious in their commitment to the concept of talent management. They are also savvy buyers—and looking at the SuccessFactors’ Cloud solutions in many cases as a replacement for on-premise learning, as one prominent example.

Will the Cloud be a solution for everyone? Absolutely not. There are reasons why an organization might not be bounding to the Cloud. For example:

  • The company currently has extra capacity in its data center and an internal IT staff which is not utilized 100 percent.

  • The organization is a highly complex setting with rigid compliance requirements.

  • It is an environment that require extensive customization to meet its business needs.

  • It is an extremely high-secure environment (for example, federal security or top-secret defense sites).

  • The company is located in as region with a highly unreliable communications infrastructure.

Our research shows that 52 percent of buyers planned on using Cloud-delivery as a criteria in the next HCM purchase; 41 percent indicated that their HR strategy had shifted to such Cloud support.[2]  These statistics were borne out in the views of conference attendees.


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[1] Investments in Human Capital Management Systems 2014. Katherine Jones, Ph.D. Bersin by Deloitte. 2014. 

[2] Ibid.

Christa Degnan Manning

Vice President, Solution Provider Research Leader / Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Christa leads technology and service provider research for Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP. In this role, she helps businesses align their workforce support strategies with appropriate third-party software developers, service partners, and governance models. A 25-year technology industry veteran, Christa’s expertise assists organizations in creating functional capabilities and employee experiences that increase productivity, engagement, and workforce efficiency. Frequently cited by business and trade media, she has presented market research on business to business trends, leading practices, and expected challenges and benefits at industry and user conferences globally throughout her career. Christa has a bachelor of arts in English from Barnard College, Columbia University, incorporating studies at University College, University of London. She also holds a master of arts degree in English from the University of Massachusetts and has completed executive coursework on business metrics at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

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