In HR departments, the preparation of references is not exactly one of the most popular tasks. It is a thankless job: the coordination effort is high, legal requirements make the preparation of references complex, and in the end only very few employees are satisfied with their reference. At the same time, in times of digitalization and the “war for talent,” there are important strategic tasks on the HR agenda for which there is supposedly never enough time.

 

In this blog post, we will show you how to better organize the creation of job references based on SAP. With a simpler and faster process that is integrated into your SAP system, you reduce the coordination effort and improve the result of your HR work. At the same time, your employees no longer have to wait long for their job references and can look forward to meaningful and high-quality references.

 

No easy task: Creating certificates quickly and legally compliant

We know from discussions with numerous SAP users: The number of references produced each year amounts to around 10% of the number of employees. This means that a company with 5,000 employees produces around 500 references every year for promotions, transfers and employees leaving the company. If we assume a processing time of three hours for each certificate, we end up with an annual time expenditure of 1,500 hours in our example company. This corresponds to almost one full-time employee, whose capacity HR managers would much rather use for value-adding tasks such as personnel development.

 

For HR employees, certificate creation can degenerate into a real stress factor because coordination with all parties involved rarely goes smoothly.

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However, the time involved is only one of the challenges associated with job references. In many companies, reference preparation can degenerate into a real stressor because coordination with all parties involved rarely runs smoothly. In a paper-based process, difficulties in coordination and the limited availability of process participants result in “layovers” that unnecessarily drag out the process and lead to processing times of three to six months. Because of the following stumbling blocks, job references can quickly become a real productivity killer:

  • Complex coordination process: In addition to the HR department, supervisors, colleagues and occasionally the legal department are involved in the process. The coordination between all those involved can be quite complex.
  • Media disruptions in communication: During the coordination process, the parties involved often communicate using a wide variety of communication tools. The interplay of e-mails, telephone calls and meetings causes numerous media breaks.
  • Poor process transparency: If no one knows on which desk the current version of the report is currently lying, chaos is perfect. Manual processes are one of the main causes of a lack of process transparency.
  • Lack of legal certainty: Legal requirements play a major role in the preparation of certificates. Every wording has to be right. This poses a considerable challenge, especially for internationally operating companies.
  • Unsatisfactory results: In the end, a qualified reference should primarily serve employees as support for their personal careers. However, not all employees are always satisfied with the end result.
Challenges When Creating a Reference Letter

If you’re an HR manager and some of these challenges sound familiar, you’ve come to the right place. In the following sections, you will learn how to eliminate many of these stumbling blocks.

DIY mit Employee Self Service

Before you read on: The key to more efficient HR processes lies in empowering your employees through Employee Self Service (ESS). Optimize your HR processes by actively involving employees. This applies to credentialing, as well as numerous other HR processes. In our blog post, we introduce you to the ESS basics.

Efficient standard process: How a professional job reference is created

As is the case with most business processes, the lack of standards is usually the reason for the lack of efficiency in the preparation of references. Yet the issuing of certificates is a straightforward process that is virtually predestined for standardization. Especially with stringent process control that is seamlessly integrated into the SAP landscape, the process time can be significantly reduced. This makes the following process much leaner and faster:

  • Request for a job reference by employee or supervisor.
  • Description of the employee’s tasks by the HR department
  • Evaluation of the employee by superiors and colleagues
  • Composition of the reference draft by the personnel department
  • Legal examination of the formulations in the reference by the legal department
  • Examination of the reference by the work council
  • Approval of the reference by the superior
  • Signing of the reference by the superior and the personnel department
  • Handing over of the reference to the coworker
  • Filing of the reference by the personnel department

While the conventional manual preparation of a reference takes up to three hours of working time, the process can be shortened to an average of 36 minutes by introducing a digital system for preparing references. This value is based on project data collected by EASY SOFTWARE in cooperation with numerous well-known customers over the past years. In the example of the 5,000-employee company, the workload for certificate creation of a full-time HR employee would be reduced from nearly 100% to just under 10% – a gigantic time gain that HR departments can use for strategic tasks.

In addition, a standard process with proven reference templates minimizes uncertainties in wording issues that HR employees often struggle with. At the same time, text modules reduce legal risks because the respective standard formulations can be checked in advance for legal compliance. How can this process now be integrated into SAP?

Automated and integrated: In just a few steps to the job reference in SAP

In order to achieve optimal process support, certificate creation should be based on your SAP system. On the one hand, all master data required for a certificate is stored in SAP. On the other hand, all process participants are familiar with SAP, which promotes acceptance of a digital certificate process. However, certificate creation is not integrated as an end-to-end process in HR systems such as SAP HCM and SAP SuccessFactors. This gap is closed by add-on solutions such as EASY’s software for certificate creation.

  • If an employee wants to request a reference, he or she starts the process with SAP Employee Self Services (ESS) or in the SAP SuccessFactors employee portal.
  • The HR department receives notification of the employee’s request for a certificate via the SAP system.
  • The HR employee first decides on a suitable template and then selects the appropriate text modules with a mouse click.
  • The data available in the SAP HCM or SAP SuccessFactors HR master data, such as name, date of birth, and length of employment, can be transferred directly to the certificate template.
  • The supervisor uses a numerical evaluation system to specify the evaluation for the employee, and the conversion to text modules runs automatically in the background.
  • In the next step, the system automatically informs superiors, other employees and the works council according to predefined release rules.
  • Once the certificate has been created, the employee can view and confirm the certificate via SAP. The certificate is then archived securely and automatically.

The days when employees had to wait a long time for their certificate are thus over, and HR departments benefit from lean, largely automated business processes.

Thanks to SAP integration, HR departments benefit from the legally compliant creation of certificates based on a standard process and certificate templates.

  • Managers can easily and intuitively evaluate their employees during the certificate creation process and approve or reject draft certificates via SAP MSS.
  • Employees who are entitled to an individual reference can start the process and find out about the processing status at any time.

This makes certificate creation in SAP a win-win situation for everyone involved.

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About Thomas Meysel
Thomas Meysel has been product manager for EASY applications since June 2016. In his spare time he travels as a passionate hobby chef and author of cookbooks on East African cuisine. If the cooking results are unsuccessful, he reduces his frustration by going to the Borussia Dortmund football stadium.
Thomas Meysel
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