An Interview with SAP Mentor and HCM Consultant Jarret Pazahanick
I wanted to continue with my theme of SAP related interviews and was lucky enough to catch up with recently appointed SAP Mentor Jarret Pazahanick. Jarret is an HCM Certified Consultant who has specialized in SAP Human Capital Management (HCM) since 1998. He is a subject matter expert in US Payroll and the Employee Interaction Center (EIC) and Managing Partner of EIC Experts.
Over the past 13 years, Jarret has completed 18 high profile, full life cycle SAP HCM implementations for global Fortune 1000 companies. He is SAP HCM certified, ASAP certified, a HR Expert author, ASUGnews contributor, and a moderator and gold level contributor on the SAP Community Network.
Jarret has some great views and opinions on SAP as a whole and I hope you find this interview interesting.
How long have you been involved in SAP?
I started my SAP career in 1998 by being sent to the SAP Partner Academy in Toronto and getting my SAP HR Certification. I had a unique background prior to that as I had worked in the grocery business from 16 to 28 years old as well as have a Bachelor of Commerce degree with a major in marketing. The first computer training I ever attended was at the SAP Partner Academy and although I was drinking from a firehouse for the first few years my non IT background gave me a unique perspective that has really helped me a lot in my SAP career.
Briefly describe your current role and areas of specialism in SAP HCM & Payroll?
My core role is helping large global customers implement, support and maximize their investment in SAP HR technologies. I would consider myself a subject matter expert in US Payroll and the Employee Interaction Center (EIC) though I have also done several Enterprise Compensation Management (ECM) and Personnel Administration projects.
What was the earliest version of SAP you worked on and what was your role?
It is interesting as when I graduated from the Partner Academy all I knew was that I didn’t want to do SAP payroll as it seemed to difficult. Of course when I found out my first assignment was going to be as a payroll consultant for a large global Fortune 500 SAP company I got a crash course in being adaptable. My first project was on R/3 3.1F so I never got the chance to experience the wonder of R/2.
You’ve got an impressive track record (18 full lifecycle implementations) of SAP Payroll & HCM, how did you come to specialise in this area?
Like many others I specialized in the area where I got my first exposure and experience which in my case was US payroll. It is interesting though as after doing many payroll implementations I had a chance to start working in other areas of HCM such as the Employee Interaction Center and Enterprise Compensation Management each of which had a steep learning curve but I wanted to continue to adapt and grow my SAP career. I think it is very important to take advantage of the opportunities to learn and grow as you move through your SAP career but also having a core area of specialization can be very valuable in the marketplace.
Where do you think SAP is going in relation to HCM On Demand and how is this being received by the end user?
I have been fortunate enough to be part of the co-innovation programme for Career OnDemand for the past 18 months and see it from both the SAP customer perspective and partner perspective and am extremely impressed with the offering. SAP is planning to release it’s first HCM OnDemand offering called Career OnDemand in the first half of 2012 and I think it will be extremely well received by customers and end users as it is the best new offering I have seen in my 13 years of working with SAP Human Capital Management. As far as where SAP is going with the HCM OnDemand Suite, they have a clear roadmap and are already starting the next offering but unfortunately, due to an NDA, I can’t say much more.
One interesting thing to note is that SAP is using Co-Innovation Methodology to build the OnDemand products and I recently wrote an article called SAP’s Golden Opportunity to use Co-Innovation to make better software which gives my insights on how valuable this could be for SAP: http://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/scn/weblogs?blog=/pub/wlg/26494
What about Mobile in SAP HCM and how long until this is standard in Global Corporations?
I think over the next 3-5 years within HR, 80% of the people will access enterprise software via a mobile or tablet device with the remainder using traditional means. This means it is going to be a real battleground between SAP and their competitors and I have been publicly critical of SAP in how slow they have been release mobile applications for their HR customers. They are planning to release their first HR applications next month though my understanding is there may be a combination of SAP and 3rd party licensing so it will be interesting to see how the adoption is in the marketplace. Given my views above it is an area that I plan to watch very closely over the coming years.
What part has Social Media played in your SAP career and more recently in your role as an SAP Mentor?
I am a strong believer in the benefits that social media can have for SAP professionals and think it played an important role in helping me become an SAP mentor. I have an article in the upcoming SAP Mentor Quarterly which goes into a lot more depth on the topic and have written 7 articles on the benefits of social media on the SAP Community Network so you can tell it is an area I feel passionate about. I have slowly built up to 1,760 followers over the past two years and can be found at SAP_Jarret for anyone that is interested.
There is something unique about twitter and the method of communication that you have to experience for yourself before you can truly understand it’s potential. I often get asked what type of people use twitter as they must have a lot of spare time on their hands but I think it would surprise you that most of SAP Senior Management, ASUG Leadership, SAP Mentors, Industry Analysts, senior consultants and SAP Clients are actively posting information and their views on SAP on a daily basis. It doesn’t surprise me that most of the SAP Mentors are very active on Twitter and you can follow the SAP Mentor account or get a list of all the SAP Mentors on Twitter if you would like to follow any of them individually. I am a big believer that social media for SAP professionals is only in its infancy and that twitter and other platforms such as G+, Linkedin and Facebook are only going to continue to grow in popularity and importance.
You’re well known on Twitter but what do you think of Google + and how it could be used in the workplace?
I joined G+ the weekend it was launched and like some of the functionality such as hangouts, conversation threads and no character limits. I have tried to be active posting three or four of the favorite articles each day with some additional insights but I have yet to see the adoption from the rest of the SAP community as Twitter is still the place to be. I will be keeping my eye on G+ as I think it has a lot of potential but until it achieves critical mass with people in the enterprise software space it will be a secondary place I visit.
How long have you been an SAP Mentor and what do you see as your main responsibilities now you are one of the Mentors?
I was selected as an SAP mentor this August and am what they call a “cub” which I think over time once I prove myself turns into a wolf . There are two selection/nominations cycles each year typically before SAPPHIRE and SAP TechEd and this had been my 4th time being nominated so needless to say I was extremely excited when I heard the news.
The interesting thing is that there aren’t defined responsibilities of being a mentor though a base expectation is that you continue to do the things that got you selected. A few additional things I would like to do over the next year is work with Nathan Genez and Gretchen Lindquist to bring an Inside Track to Houston, contribute to the Mentor Quarterly publication and help organize the 4 other SAP HCM mentors to bring a unified voice to SAP in that area.
I guess you’ve got to love SAP to become a Mentor, if someone paid you £1M would you ever work for one of the competition?
This may sound strange but who I really love is my customers and want to ensure they get the most value out of their software investments. My SAP career has been very good to me and I don’t envision making a change but would never say never on working for the competition. Something that isn’t mentioned often but is important is that the true SAP experts not only understand the software but the underlying business processes which would obviously make the transition to another software solution easier for them.
In your opinion does SAP need to acquire a Hardware company to compete with Oracle or can they rely on the success of HANA to lead the market?
I read a Bloomberg article last week where they asked Bill McDermott about a large hardware acquisition and he said “I don’t see where hardware is going to give us an advantage.” I agree with this and think SAP is on the right track with their on-premise, OnDemand and on-device strategy with the key being the execution and speed to market. I will leave the HANA analysis to the true experts but so far it looks like it is off to a great start with a real solid pipeline.
You have been known to be critical of SAP with some of your blogs? Tell me a bit about that and the reaction you’ve had?
It is interesting as I have written 41 articles for the SAP Community Network and only two of them Why Workday is a Major Threat to SAP and SAP Certification Sale is Bad News would be considered critical. My goal in writing these articles was to cultivate open dialogue to hopefully foster improvement within SAP and is something I would like to see more community members do. If you have a gifted child you don’t spend every moment telling them how great they are and the SAP Community network should be no different. It is important to note that a majority of the time when I am critical of SAP I do this through back channels and not publically as it can be very draining.
Tell me some of the things you are currently working on that we may not know about?
Outside of working with my SAP Customers and the SAP Mentor program there are a few other things that keep me busy. I am the managing partner of a small niche consulting company called EIC Experts that I co-founded with my partner Chandan Gopalani in 2006. I recently did my first podcast on “The Future of SAP HCM” and it is going to be a monthly series focused on SAP HCM and a great group of people are involved. We are about to publish our 8th article on the Employee Interaction Center in the HR Expert publication and I recent got selected to be on the leadership team of the newly launched ASUG Leadership 2.0 which are going to hear a lot more about in the coming year.
What do you do when you’re not working with SAP?
I enjoy spending time with my wife Karin and two kids, Kody is 5 and Haley is 4 who as you can imagine keep us pretty busy. My hobbies are reading about stocks and investing, playing golf, watching my Minnesota Vikings and traveling.
And now a few quick fire questions:
iPhone or Android? iPhone
Wine or Beer? Spirits preferably Vodka
Football (Soccer) or US Football? US Football
Twitter or Facebook? Twitter
I would like to thank Jarret for his time and hope you have found this interview interesting. If anyone has any comments on this please post below and I’m sure Jarret will do his best to respond.
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