SAP Pushes Back

By Ed Frauenheim

Oct. 3, 2007

Lawson and Workday have big plans for their new human resource management systems, but Oracle and SAP—giants of the core HR software world—have no plans to fade away.

    SAP says its software can accommodate modern corporate practices like matrix systems for managing people. This is true even though much of the data model of the core HR product has remained the same for about 15 years. SAP has steered clear of a major overhaul of that data model to avoid causing significant disruption to customers when they upgrade. But that hasn’t prevented the Germany-based firm from staying up to date with its software, says David Ludlow, SAP vice president for human capital management strategy.

    “Over the years, we have made the necessary changes to modernize it,” he says.

    SAP also offers a warning of sorts to Lawson and Workday: Keeping core HR and payroll applications current with country and state legislation around the globe is no easy trick.

    SAP charges HR software product managers with monitoring U.S. federal and state laws and has a full-time employee focused solely on shifts in payroll laws.

    “It’s getting more complicated. You’ve got changes to existing rules all the time,” Ludlow says. “It takes a tremendous amount of resources on our side.”

Ed Frauenheim is a former Associate Editorial Director at Human Capital Media and currently works as Senior Director of Content at Great Place to Work. He is a co-author of A Great Place to Work For All.

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