Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Ascendia Solution Consultants?

When it comes to understanding the unique South African business and regulatory environment, no one does it better than Ascendia. Over the past 15 years,Ascendia’s founders have gained deep insights into the South African employment market by working closely with various local companies and government organizations to streamline their human resource practices. Click here to read more.

What is SuccessFactors?

SuccessFactors is on-demand business execution software. Business execution software is an evolution of talent management software. Business execution software combines people performance and business alignment to provide the tools to execute on business strategy more successfully. SuccessFactors is basically a management consulting methodology in a box and focuses on key strategic operational pain points such as better measuring an organisations top performers and weak performers, helping establish a systematic approach to individual goal alignment with corporate goals, implementing pay for performance, succession planning and much more.

Why SuccessFactors?

SuccessFactors is recognized by top analysts as the global leader in talent management and business execution software. It has the largest and most sophisticated software as a service (SaaS) platform in the world, is used by more than 30 fortune 100 companies and has a more than 95% customer renewal rate. Click here to read more.

What is so important about Business Execution?

Business execution is the art and science of getting things done. In today’s world, it’s very hard to have any sustained competitive advantage from superior strategies alone. It’s easy to copy a competitor’s strategy, but much more challenging to keep pace with a competitor’s high performing execution. Improved business performance is not just about leadership and management discipline; it is heavily dependent on execution.

Execution is the biggest problem in business today:

  • The Harvard Business Review recently published findings that breakdowns in execution lead to a 37% value loss (the so-called execution gap).
  • A recent study of CEO’s showed that 3 of the top 10 concerns focused on execution and the ability of the organisation to adapt and change quickly.
  • 70% of CEO failures are due to poor execution of good strategies – Fortune Magazine

What core benefits can business execution software bring to my organisation?

  1. Helps you get everyone in your company focused and aligned on the right work
  2. Gives you the ability to get your employees coached up so they do the right things as effectively as they can
  3. Helps you do a good job of retaining your top performers
  4. Helps you do a good job of losing your bottom performers

What other benefits are there?

In addition business execution software helps companies:

  1. Drive business transformation
  2. Communicate strategy faster
  3. Focus on strategic priorities
  4. Complete more projects
  5. Increase percentage of high performers
  6. Reduce percentage of low performers
  7. Reduce staff turnover
  8. Reduce external hiring costs
  9. Create a high performance culture
  10. Provide clarity and direction to all employees
  11. Replicate best practices
  12. Increase internal job fill rate
  13. Boost productivity
  14. Facilitate data driven decision making
  15. Optimize the work that people are doing
  16. Break free of the forms automation paradigm and drive real business results

What hard numbers do you have to support the return on investment?

There have been two separate customer studies conducted by independent firms. One by a top 3 management consulting firm and one by Saugatuck. Both of these studies demonstrated a significant, consistent and measurable advantage gained by SuccessFactors customers.

A top 3 management consulting firm conducted an independent study of 527 SuccessFactors customers and found the following:

  • Faster communication of strategy change (Average 1 week, High 8 weeks)
  • Increased time spent on strategic priorities (Average 5.5%, High 40%)
  • Increased project completion (Average 13.8%, High 67%)
  • Productivity improvements (Average 2.9%, High 5.4%)
  • Revenue added to profit (Average 1% High 3%)

Saugatuck performed a study of 157 publicly listed companies using SuccessFactors to investigate whether or not there is a relationship between adopting SaaS Human Capital Management solutions and superior revenue growth. The study compared the financial results of the companies employing the solution against industry norms.

The study found that users of the SuccessFactors solutions experienced an average revenue growth over the previous twelve months of 15.4 percent. This compares to an industry average growth of 10.6 percent. Notably, for the subset of enterprises that had been using SuccessFactors solutions for at least 36 months, the average revenue growth was even greater, at a total of 56.6 percent for SuccessFactors users compared to a total of 45.2 percent for the industry.

SuccessFactorsâ„¢ customers’ net income also grew at 39.7 percent compared to 16.5 percent for the industry over the preceding twelve months – a growth premium for SuccessFactorsâ„¢ customers approaching 140 percent. The research shows that firms that deploy On-demand Performance and Talent Management solutions have higher financial performance than the industry norm. More importantly, the research suggests that the improved financial performance grows over time after the HCM solution is deployed. The data suggests that many companies achieve on average, up to 2 percent higher annual revenue growth within three years of deployment relative to the industry norm, with some firms achieving 3 percent or higher.

Saugatuck attributes the improved financial performance of the SuccessFactors customers to two factors: Efficiency gains resulting from process improvements in key Performance and Talent Management areas and effectiveness gains resulting from improved execution of business strategies. Over a 36 month period, utilizing our solution, SuccessFactors customers saw an increase in revenue growth over industry norms of 11-12% Over a 36 month period, utilizing our solution, SuccessFactors customers saw an increase in net income over industry norms of 23-24%

When you look at the results of the two studies above over so many samples the only consistent factor was investment in SuccessFactors. In addition, SuccessFactors also analyzed the share price of listed customers using the solution between October 2008 and April 2010. During that time customers using SuccessFactors significantly outperformed the NASDAQ, the S&P 500 and the DOW.

Do some customers experience higher results than others and if so why?

The consulting firm study mentioned above found that it depended on how long customers had been using the product and whether they used it for process automation, HCM management or strategic use:

The longer they had SuccessFactors the higher the results were, and the more strategically they used the product the higher the results were.

For example: for productivity, customers that only used SuccessFactors for process automation got 0.8% increase in productivity. Customers who used it for human capital management got the average 2.2%. Customers who had a strategic use to really drive their business with business execution software got a 5.4% increase in productivity.

Why Does Execution Break Down?

According to Kaplan & Norton (the inventors of the balance scorecard):

  • Only 5% of the average company’s workforce actually understands the company’s strategy and goals
  • 84% of companies say they are not using their workforce to its full potential
  • 50% of the average workforce’s capacity is wasted
  • 86% of the average workforce is not motivated

What is the strategy execution gap?

It is the loss of value that occurs when strategy is diluted due to poor execution. According to the Harvard Business Review 37% of the value of the average company’s strategy is diluted due to poor execution. The key factors attributing to the value loss are:

  • Poor communication of strategy
  • Lack of clarity on day-to-day actions
  • Inadequate performance monitoring
  • Unclear accountability

How Can you Help us Bridge the Execution Gap?

We do this in two ways:

  1. By making sure every team and person in your organisation is aligned with the right objectives
  2. By ensuring world class people performance

In short we help you:

  • Align your employees to key business objectives
  • Arm your organisation to deliver impact
  • Incite your teams to accelerate results

What is business alignment?

Business Alignment is what executives do – make sure everyone in their organization knows what they need to accomplish to achieve the best possible business results, and has the tools to do so. Research shows that the vast majority of workers (95%) have a poor understanding of their organization’s strategy – especially as strategy evolves ever more rapidly – and waste massive amounts of time (50%) on nonproductive work. Business alignment solutions put the workforce to work on the right things – every day.

What is people performance?

People Performance is how work gets done – by making sure the right people are in the right places within your organization and that they are motivated to execute aggressively, rapidly and consistently. Studies show that almost all companies (84%) believe they are not using their workforces to their full potential so it’s not surprising that most workers (86%) are not motivated to get the job done. People Performance solutions help companies get more from their workforces by ensuring talent is used strategically and the workforce is incited to greatness.

Why do I need business execution software?

You need business execution software because:

  • You’re already spending a lot of money on your strategy
  • You’re spending vast sums of money on your people
  • You almost certainly have a significant value loss due to inadequate systems to ensure your people execute on your strategy

Why has talent become so critically important to every business today?

Because decades of efficiency improvements across entire industries have driven productivity gains that have had the effect of leveling out competitive differentiators. It’s simply the evolution of industry. Supply chain, manufacturing, distribution, ERP systems – what’s left to improve? with all other competitive differentiators neutralized, people are the final remaining factor that can provide a sustained competitive advantage. Companies have realized that the closer you come to fully aligning employee performance with strategy, the greater the chance of achieving your objectives.

Why don’t companies have tools to measure talent?

Most companies today have extensive tools and measures to analyze and track their business results, but very few have systems and business processes that provide detailed insight into understanding and influencing how employees drive these results. Few leaders can truly say “I have tools that tell me what everyone is working on and how well they are performing.” This lack of insight into people performance is amazing considering that people are the company’s largest cost and have the greatest influence on company performance.

What is SaaS?

SaaS or software as a service is a recurring subscription based model hosted from our secure IBM datacenter and delivered on-demand.

SaaS means you have:

  • No hardware purchases
  • No software installations
  • No network setup
  • No ongoing system upgrades
  • No patches

How does SaaS compare to the costs of on-premise software?

With on-premise software there are:

  • Greater upfront and hidden costs during implementation.
  • Greater on-going maintenance costs – organizations managing on-premise enterprise software burn over 75% of their total IT budgets on simply maintaining their current enterprise software infrastructure.

Why is SaaS the preferred model for talent management?

SaaS has many benefits over traditional on-premise software and is recognised by industry analysts as the preferred model for delivering talent management applications. SaaS offers:

  1. Transparency and Lower TCO – No hidden costs or fees. No hardware or infrastructure. Fixed-bid implementation model prevents costly overruns.
  2. Rapid Deployment – By eliminating the upfront work required to setup hardware and install software, you can reduce your time to go live and start driving value more quickly.
  3. Reduced Administrative Burden -All network maintenance and upgrades are managed on an ongoing basis so your IT staff is free to work on other strategic initiatives.
  4. Configuration not Customization – Highly configurable applications provide a tailored solution without customizing the code. Get the benefits of customization but avoid the costs of deploying and maintaining custom code.
  5. Faster Innovation – Since all customers leverage the same code base, new features can be easily delivered every month at no additional cost.
  6. Advanced Security – Secure and reliable software and SAS70 Type II certified data centers protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of customer information.
  7. Rapid updates and enhancements (every 30 days)
  8. Customer Control – Because we are a subscription based business we have to earn your business each and every year so we share aligned incentives to make you successful

Does on-demand always mean SaaS?

No. A true SaaS solution like SuccessFactors employs a multi-tenant architecture. A multi-tenant architecture leverages a common code base and server infrastructure for all customers to maximize efficiency and performance. Many ASP Application Service Provider vendors claim to offer SaaS when in fact each customer is deployed on isolated servers and across disparate release versions with custom code. Maintenance becomes unwieldy and results in slow performance, poor customer service, and costly upgrades.

What about security? Will our sensitive data be safe?

SuccessFactors is well positioned to provide data security solutions that are simply too time consuming and expensive to deploy within the framework of a single organisation.

Your data is protected by:

  • Access control and physical security
  • Application security
  • Data encryption / Cryptographic controls
  • Anti-virus security
  • Network protection
  • Information security incident management
  • Backup, failover and redundancy

What is the technology architecture?

The software is a SaaS multitenant solution built on Java and part of a single instance code base.

What are some of the Technical Benefits?

In addition to the direct business process and financial savings, there are a number of technical benefits associated with acquisition of this product.

  • One user interface, with dashboards, for multiple managerial processes
  • Can be accessed anywhere with only an internet connection
  • Minimal internal IT support or resources required
  • SaaS architecture designed for application availability, rapid response, peak-load management and reliably
  • Electronic routing process saves on administrative overhead and streamlines approval process:
    • Process for tracking and approval
    • Electronic storage/filing of records
    • Automatic email notification
    • Quick access to current and historical information from either the office or from home

What are the advantages of SuccessFactors unique hybrid multi-tenant approach?

Retains the advantages of a highly scalable and secure multi-tenant model with an identical schema at the database level; while still offering customers the ability to experience an application that is highly configurable.

How are your Implementation services delivered?

Technology implementation is included in every deal. The On-Demand model provides a fixed price, rapid implementation timeframe of between 8 & 16 weeks with minimal resource requirements from the client. This means there are no hidden costs or costly delays. In addition we provide optional business transformation services that focus on business process best practices.

What are the reasons for failed implementations?

Although more than 95% of clients renew their contracts some failed implementations inevitably occur. After analyzing the cause of failed implementations the following two factors were identified:

  1. Lack of executive sponsorship.
  2. Company underestimates the amount of change management required to automate performance and goals.

Because Ascendia is committed to the success of each and every implementation it is important to ensure with each new client that there is an executive level sponsor and that the HR leadership is committed to driving change.

What are some reasons that have made SuccessFactors successful for other companies?

Below are some direct quotes from SuccessFactors customers:

  • Brought the focus onto optimizing and measuring our most important asset
  • Allows us to delegate responsibility to our management while still having a sense of being in control
  • It has helped us initiate culture transformation
  • It has meant that most employees now understand our strategy
  • It helped to elevate our HR people into a strategic role
  • Enables us to objectively evaluate performance
  • It enabled us to coach or manage out lower performers
  • It’s made it really easy for everyone to get feedback on how they are performing
  • It’s given us transparency and enabled us to make better decisions about our people
  • Lets us look at our entire labour force in 5 minutes and get a birds eye view who is doing what and how they’re doing
  • Gave us the ability to pick up the phone and talk to people about their background and experience and be more in touch with our people
  • Means we can drill down on any employee and look at their performance and their achievements towards the goals we set for them
  • Provided one place to manage the entire career development process
  • Gives us a unique level of insight into our organisation
  • It has saved our managers time and taken paper-work off our HR departments desks
  • Helped us better understand who is out there, who is ready to be promoted, who is available if a slot opens, who is prepared for future business needs

Why are customers choosing SuccessFactors for talent management over SAP and other traditional vendors?

  • Analysts – 10 out 10 strategic HCM market reports rate SF as leader and SAP as 2nd tier.
  • Market Share – SuccessFactors market share in HCM is 10x that of SAP’s.
  • Market Share – More SAP customers run SuccessFactors than SAP.
  • Lead Customers – SAP’s two largest customers, both with HQ in  Europe, run the full SF suite for their entire staff.
  • Alignment & Performance – SF Performance Mgt. is the best product in the market.
  • Alignment & Performance – SAP Talent Management is nowhere after 7 years, with only 200 live customers.
  • R&D – SAP R&D has been unable to deliver successful products beyond core ERP. It will not reach parity with SF.
  • R&D – SAP customers use specialized vendors beyond core ERP.
  • Business value – SF Business Alignment and People Performance is best-in-class.
  • Business value – SAP HCM is built for Transactional HR, the strategic components are immature.
  • Usability – SuccessFactors usability is top rated.
  • Usability – SAP usability open issue since the 90s.
  • Usability – SAP users still need workshops to manage stress.
  • No. of Users – SF targets the entire organization with users at all levels.
  • No. of Users – SAP targets power users for each sector the enterprise.
  • SaaS – SaaS is the preferred delivery mode for Talent Management.
  • True Integration – SF suite addresses the critical integration points across modules relevant to users.
  • Implementation – SF implementation takes 85 days on the average.
  • Implementation – SF offers out-of-the-box certified integration with SAP HRMS.
  • Implementation – SAP implementation takes years and cost $10Ms -$100Ms, 4x the license value. Consulting hourly rate is $400.
  • Functional Upgrades – SF customers benefit from functional improvements five times a year, at no cost.
  • Functional Upgrades – SAP customers implement enhancements every 3 to 5 years. Each upgrade takes up to 1 year to implement and cost millions.
  • SF Business Model – SF manages EU data center, backups, security, compliance, and upgrades for its customers.
  • SF Business Model – SF cost is pre-defined.

How does SuccessFactors reduce costs?

By helping you lower costs in the following five ways:

  1. Take out bottom performers
  2. Reduce turnover
  3. Reduce recruiting costs
  4. Reduce legal costs associated with compliance
  5. Lower administrative costs associated with processes that we automate

What impact can SuccessFactors have on the HR department

To quote Bruce Richardson chief research officer AMR Research. “For those of you that are in HR I hope you’re excited about this. What we’re seeing is a transformation or the continuing transformation of your role of being even more strategic as we go forward. There’s going to be a whole new wave of tools to help you be an effective change agent. I think it’s a very exciting time.”

Where is the software hosted?

Secure data centers in top-tier hosting facilities in multiple locations in the US and Europe.

Are there any industry user forums?

There are more than 10,000 online customer community members tagged by industry to support customer interaction within a given industry.

What support is there for equal employment opportunity best practices?

The software supports EEO-compliance including through ad-hoc reports.

How does business execution software break down organisational silos?

Business execution software is designed to break down the silos between the multi-layers of an organization. The software provides the “one to one” and “one to many” connections needed to maintain transparency throughout the organization. If nothing else, “doing the same thing over and over again” will be a thing of the past.

What does it mean when you talk about Moving Mountains?

When we talk about moving mountains, we’re talking about moving the distribution curve of performance within your company — not by playing the numbers, but by creating real increases in individual performance levels. Every company has a distribution curve of their individuals’ performance levels — but it’s a question of how well you can see it and how accurately the picture describes the reality.

Why is an integrated approach key to strategic HCM?

Competencies must be consistent across the suite so that employees can be assessed, promoted and compensated based on those competencies that have been proven to affect bottom-line results. Pay for performance must be embraced so that employers can direct and achieve corporate goals, promote positive turnover, and retain top talent by compensating preferred behaviors and results based on objective performance metrics. HR and business leaders must have a view into the organization. Without complete visibility it is difficult to assess overall strengths and weaknesses of your workforce and measure the bottom line results of performance and compensation systems.