Did Apple kill design? and implication for HR solutions

I was recently reading a piece by two former Apple designers on how Apple is giving design a bad name by focusing more on the “beauty” rather than on the efficiency: Apple is destroying design. Worse, it is revitalizing the old belief that design is only about making things look pretty. This relates completely to my personal experience with iPhone: how many how of you knows that you can “undo” by shaking your phone?


More seriously, it made me reflect on HR solutions and selection process. I am involved in over 40 vendor selection process per year. And most of them now include a “Proof of Concept” day with users. I am a strong believer that it is a must have in any selection process. But most of the time it ends up in a beauty contest because there is not enough time to drill into details of the end to end process or not enough anticipation on the content. Remember not all that glitters is gold!

My favorite quote in the article is: Design combines an understanding of people, technology, society, and business. The production of beautiful objects is only one small component of modern design. So true! At SAP, Product Managers like to remind that they are designing what people need and not what they want, same as did Henry Ford.

henry ford

So, where am I heading? Well, you – HR practitioners – have the task to select the best solution for the years to come. Your timing is pretty short. And beauty should not over shadow the efficiency and outcomes. Below is a summary of everything that the design of the solution shoud cover:


So, here are some ideas to bring back the global view:

  • Ask the vendor: what is your design philosophy? ie beyond the user interface. What do you want to achieve?
  • Make sure you have “killer scenario” rather than a beauty contest: what are your current pain(s)?
  • Think « outside » HR too: your solution will be the backbone for many others
  • Multi-device access is a must: but the use cases need to be beyond the hype and be realistic to your policies and maturity as well

Here are a few examples picked up from recent RFPs that capture the essence of good design on HR:

  • Modern solution needs to be extensible: one of the goals for a global HCM solution should be to reduce the shadow IT components (i.e. any Excel or SharePoint based applications you built for HR needs). True extensibility should let you configure new parts in the solution. One global customer had a request: being able to track a volunteer log. Because it is important for them and they have a strong focus on giving back. And so we show them how to do it easily and with simple configuration. By leveraging true extensibility, you are upgrade proof, consistant in security and no integration!


  • A typical recruitment process has many interactions happening with third party solutions. For example, a candidate is likely to use a social network profile to apply. But which one? Depending on the geography, it is will not be the same. In France, it will be Viadeo. But in Germany and Eastern Europe, it will be Xing. Can your vendor be your global business partner?
  • applyEmployee and manager self-services are a key element of any HR transformation business case. How do you make sure ESS and MSS will deliver on their promises and not break the process? Take this example: when adding a dependent to an employee record, you need to be able to add an attachment, but also in many countries to declare a fiscal status. If this cannot be achieved in one step and if you need to do that in different local system, well, your process is broken. The data will need to be completed by a different operator and cause frustration. This will drive down user adoption but more importantly your efficiency will decrease dramatically.


Does this make sense? What are your experience(s) with vendor selection process? And more importantly after go live? Where the promises of the nice UI meeting your expectations of end to end process?

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How Apple is giving design a bad name inspiration for this article

The value of localization for HR and HR Systems by me

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The value of Localization for HR and HR systems

Getting the Core HR right is not just about having some fields and self-service. It is more about making sure you can understand your workforce (demographic, mobility, cost) but also making sure you can stay compliant and up to date with the latest changes happening in all the countries you are in! Indeed, localization will bring value not only for corporate but for all! It will drive adoption and enrich the solution as well.

I  give you some insights on how to assess you are on the right track and make saving for your company.

Step 1: Knowing where you are

Recently at a customer event, one of the speakers admitted that they believed they were operating in 40 countries, after roll-out, it turned out it was closer to 50! It is not just about missing 20% of your company’s operation but more importantly ignoring potential key people and opening breaches for compliance.

So, now, your turn! Can you map all your entities?


Step 2: Doing some math around localization

A simple formula for calculating the cost of « unlocalized » solution is:

COST = # of days to localize X average cost per day of solution developers 

Just do a guess-timate for all your countries and for 5 years…yes, it often gets close to the million euro! If you want to be more comprehensive, just start adding cost of non compliance or cost of manual headcount for managing local policy which you don’t automate yet.


And some years are bigger than others. At the moment, there is not just a trend but a big wave upcoming for e-filling (eSocial in Brazil, DSN in France, etc.) and they will stretch your current system(s).

STEP 3: Get the right tool to stay up to date

A lot of providers will tell you that they do it. Sure…Easy to say, harder to prove! Some simple questions you can use to validate good localizations:

  • Are the localizations for employee data?
  • Are the localizations for foundation data like legal entity too?
  • Do you speak my languages? English? French Arabic? Chinese?
  • How does the vendor inform you? and how can you easily apply the changes?

Be very specific in your question and ask for all your countries! As it is all adding up to potential headaches and gets you closer to the million euro:)

At SAP, we cover all this! For France for example, we have code INSEE for Job but also SIRET for Legal Entity! and the list goes on for +73 countries!

And for ease of use, we just reversed the workload and we put is on us to analyze the configuration you are running and push the right updates to you.


Time for a « localization » sanity check?

So, hopefully those 3 easy steps started some reflections on your next move and the often underrated value of true localization for modern HR!

Core HR is only a start, but what about looking at benefits and payroll? The value and savings there might be even bigger! Check this video:

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Managing A Global Workforce with Localization by  David Ludlow

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