The suite offers a virtual team room, team calendaring, and instant messaging, which are designed to foster collaboration among employees, customers, partners, and suppliers. The suite also can connect to SAP's learning-management system, which tracks employees' progress in training programs. The goal is to assess employee skills based on job description and have the learning-management system recommend training to help employees do their jobs properly. The suite also includes an expert finder, which catalogs employee skills into a database that can be queried for a subject expert to assist with internal projects.
Giving employees access to information beyond basic human-resources data sets SAP apart, says Paul Hamerman, a Giga Information Group research director. PeopleSoft has an employee portal that integrates with its HR system to let employees access benefits data, and Siebel has a portal and applications that can integrate into a company's HR system to let employees self-manage HR data. But by giving employees access to financial and CRM applications that are pertinent to their jobs, SAP "has a broader cross-functional approach," he says.
SAP's employee productivity suite, which is available in a variety of languages for global companies, also includes HR regulatory requirements, which is an important factor to consider when purchasing one of these systems, says Katherine Jones, Aberdeen Group's managing director of enterprise business applications. The employee-management system should be able to "make sure you have the right health benefits appropriate for who you are in the organization," she says, noting that this is often controlled by law.