SAP Announces RISE with SAP for HXM at SAPPHIRE NOW

The RISE with SAP program has now expanded to include SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central and the rest of SAP's HXM suite.

by Craig Powers, Senior Research Editor, SAPinsider

SAP kicked off its most prominent event last Wednesday morning, and for the second straight year, SAPPHIRE NOW is virtual. The HR-focused keynote is scheduled for June 9, and the newly announced RISE with SAP for Human Experience Management (HXM) offering is sure to be discussed. I spoke with Jill Popelka, President of SAP SuccessFactors, about the new program.

“RISE with SAP is all about helping our customers and their journey from on-premise to the cloud,” said Popelka. “We recognized as we were developing the RISE with SAP offering that every business transformation is a people transformation, and you have to really focus on the people element for your business to be successful.”

Three Options for RISE with SAP for HXM

RISE with SAP is a program that offers subscription bundles of cloud offerings, so it makes sense that the cloud-based SAP SuccessFactors and the rest of SAP’s HXM suite join the RISE party with the SAPPHIRE NOW announcement of the expanded RISE with SAP program. SAP will offer three different HXM bundles, all of which include at least SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central, SAP Work Zone for HR, and Qualtrics XM for IT.

The base HXM bundle aims to build a foundation for improving employee experience by offering core HR capabilities and an employee system of record, a customizable interface for employees to access their applications, and a means for measuring and analyzing employee experience.

Beyond that, companies can also choose one of two paths: a skills-focused package that includes SAP SuccessFactors Learning and Skillsoft content or an operations-focused offering that brings in SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central Payroll and Time Tracking.

Rise with SAP for HXM packages
(via SAP)

Here’s a rundown of the products included in the various RISE with SAP for HXM packages:

  • SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central is a cloud core HR solution (all three packages).
  • SAP Work Zone for HR was released in the last half of 2020 and is an integrated launchpad for all the apps an employee will use (all three).
  • Qualtrics XM for IT is an experience management solution for employee feedback and sentiment analysis (all three).
  • SAP SuccessFactors Learning is the SAP SuccessFactors training and learning module (Reskill to Innovate).
  • SAP Content Stream by Skillsoft is a catalog of pre-built learning content (Reskill to Innovate).
  • SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central Payroll is SAP’s cloud payroll offering. It shares many similarities with SAP on-premise payroll but without the need for on-site hosting (Operationally Transform).
  • SAP SuccessFactors Time Tracking, announced back in January, brings expanded time and attendance capabilities to the SAP SuccessFactors suite (Operationally Transform).

SAP SuccessFactors has many Talent Management and HR modules, including capabilities in performance management, recruiting, calibration, succession, and more. So, why is Learning specifically the talent module to be included in the RISE with SAP offering? Popelka said it comes down to what is vital to a business aiming to transform.

“With any transformation, there are generally skills that are needed to help along the path of that transformation,” said Popelka. “We also recognize that over the course of the past year, we’ve had a 30% increase in uptake of our Learning solution”.

Popelka also noted that Qualtrics is included to allow companies to get feedback on their employees’ processes while using SAP SuccessFactors. The feedback capabilities have now been embedded throughout SAP SuccessFactors modules.

What Does This Mean for SAPinsiders?

SAP reported having over 4,000 SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central customers back in October. While that’s a big number, it still is likely much less than half the number of total on-premise SAP ERP HCM clients. So SAP is hoping RISE with SAP for HXM can help transition those to Employee Central in the cloud while also bringing in new business from organizations on non-SAP HCM systems. What does this mean for you as an SAPinsider?

  • Identify the HR needs of your organization. If you are considering a move to the cloud for HCM with Employee Central, figure out your needs and goals of transformation. Is employee experience central to your potential transformation? Is employee learning a need? Is access to the necessary applications a pain point for employees? What about operational processes such as payroll and time and attendance? These are important questions to determine if a RISE with SAP for HXM package works for your organization. If your needs align with a RISE package, then there is potential to save some headaches around managing multiple SLAs — those should be bunched together in a single account with RISE.
  • Ask potential HCM implementation partners if they are offering RISE packages. Popelka said that SAP SuccessFactors will provide implementation services for RISE, but partners are also crafting their own offerings that align with the Rise packages. If you are interested in pursuing the RISE route, it is worth seeing what the ecosystem offers.
  • If you are already an Employee Central customer, the RISE program isn’t for you, but it might provide some insight into SAP’s HCM (or HXM) future. RISE with SAP is about bringing new core HR customers into the cloud — so if you’ve already made that move, this is not relevant. However, what you can glean from this is SAP’s overall strategy for HR transformation — including sentiment analysis, integrated digital workspaces across applications, upskilling, and lifting operational functions into the cloud. Knowing this can help your team build its HR process and technology roadmaps.
  • This is one more option for those looking to make a move before SAP’s maintenance deadline. The end of mainstream maintenance still looms. If you are an SAP ERP HCM customer, you probably know by now that SAP is ending mainstream maintenance for that solution in 2027, with an option to extend maintenance for an extra fee to 2030. This RISE with SAP for HXM program offers another avenue with added features in employee experience if you choose to move core HR to the cloud with Employee Central before mainstream maintenance for your on-premise system goes away.


Craig Powers Research Analyst, SAPinsider
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Craig is an HCM and GRC analyst for SAPinsider. He has covered the SAP technology ecosystem, including an emphasis in SAP SuccessFactors, for more than eight years. In that time he has forged important relationships throughout the industry, worked with customers and vendors to optimize investments in enterprise technology, and helped to tell the important stories along the way. Follow Craig on LinkedIn and Twitter for more HCM and GRC insights.

Jill Popelka SAP SuccessFactors.
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Jill Popelka is the President of SAP SuccessFactors. She is responsible for strategy, customer success, and business health for SAP’s largest cloud line of business. Jill is passionate about People and helping customers achieve value from their People solutions. Prior to her current role, Jill served as Chief Operating Officer of SAP SuccessFactors. In this role, she oversaw all operational functions of the business. Prior to that, she was the Head of SAP SuccessFactors Sales for Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ). Jill has a reputation for relentlessly doing what’s right for our customers and has driven customer-centric behaviors across a diverse and complex region. Along with her team, Jill achieved incredible growth for SAP SuccessFactors in APJ. Jill began her SAP career in Consulting Services. With a deep understanding of how to achieve successful implementations, she helped customers across all industries as they transformed their business with SAP. Jill has assisted in building a strong customer base and driving business outcomes within the SAP ecosystem for over two decades. Jill joined SAP from Accenture, where she spent many years orchestrating and leading successful SAP implementation programs for customers in North America. She understands the elements critical to success in adoption of SAP solutions and enjoys helping customers achieve their business outcomes. Jill graduated with a bachelor’s degree in International Studies from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. Jill and her husband, Jimmy, have two children, Cole and Kalie. Cole plays football and enjoys his math and technology classes. Kalie enjoys volleyball and watching college football, and she is currently on the International Volleyball Club Elite Team. Jill loves spending time with family, traveling, reading, and grilling out with friends. She also loves running and CrossFit.