Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Customer satisfaction via SaaS in HCM

Classically, larger organisations are accustomed to driving nearly any business requirement in to their ERP implementations regardless of whether or not that capability existed off-the-shelf. This is not news. However, with SaaS solutions beginning to seriously penetrate large organizations, there does not yet seem to be a proper balance between accepting the best practises (fuzzy edges and all) of SaaS solutions and addressing all of an organisations business requirements.

This leads to an irritating situation all around. Specifically, if an organisation evaluates SaaS vendors against robustly documented business requirements, inevitably SaaS solutions fall short due to the wide variance in business processes. Unfortunately, some organisations choose to utterly ignore their own business requirements, assuming that the price/benefit of SaaS is so good, and that adopting embedded best practises is just something they'll have to do.

This leads to an often huge customer satisfaction issue for organisations as they begin to realise "My SaaS talent management application does not support all sorts of things that my old on-premise application did." The next comment often goes back to the vendor, "Your application sucks. At first it was easy, but when we tried to do some of these more advanced things, you can't help us much at all. Furthermore, you jerks told us in the sales process that you supported all of these best practises, now I think you were just lying." Of course this is an extreme example, but it is absolutely more prevalent in HCM vs. SFA/CRM.

The point is, large organisations MUST take ownership and responsibility for what they are getting from a SaaS vendor, then hold the vendor accountable to what they delivered. But, they cannot foist responsibility for lack of buying diligence on to the vendor. Companies who are satisfied with their SaaS vendor are overwhelming those that went in with their eyes open, knowing what they would get, and how they would get it.

Just because one wants it cheap, easy, and effective doesn't necessarily mean one will get it that way. Unfortunately, this is the way most SaaS vendors sell. Why, because ignorant organisations continue to buy this way.


Anonymous said...

The important data point in your piece here is the perception of difference between these issues HCM and SFA/CRM. I'll raise a question. To me, this means (a) that the buyers are different, or (b) that the products are different, or (c) both. What do you think of that?

My experience is that salespeople are generally more process-oriented in their thinking whereas HR has a tendency to be more task-oriented. Sales is a process from prospecting to close and effective salespeople manage it as such, and can adapt to work with, through, or around their SFA/CRM system. To be fair, they also typically find a more receptive ear higher up when changes are wanted, compared to HR which sometimes has a hard time getting themselves away from the kids' table.

As for HR, my experience is that there is a lot of point knowledge about how to carry out individual tasks, and you can give them a 37-step process to follow to do some little update in the ERP, while salespeople need a sign on their desk reminding them to login to the CRM system.

However, I've also gotten the sense through the years that HR has more difficulty understanding the larger picture of how all those higher-level tasks fit together, and when the HCM system cuts across those in new ways, vendors and internal leaders alike can be overcome by the wall of fog. What begins as an openness to change and best practices becomes a strident defense of the old way of doing things.

To be fair to HR, the details often matter more than they do in SFA/CRM, where errors and omissions can be fixed after the fact with less gnashing of teeth by the offended party. To the extent that everybody likes to glide over the details that aren't quite polished enough, this is an area where serious corrosion can begin.

TechSphinx said...

Anonymous, these are great points...and true in my opinion. Unfortunate realities for HCM are:

1. SFA/CRM is fundamentally simpler and more uniform than HCM/Talent.

2. HCM/Talent users in an organisation are generally less apt at dealing with more complex solutions than other functional areas like supply chain or finance. This makes them especially susceptable to both hype when selecting an HCM/Talent solution, and disappointment when they didn't realize how complicated their own business is.