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Rania Khoury
HRIS Manager at a engineering company with 5,001-10,000 employees
Real User
Top 5
Stable solution with automatic interlinking and reporting features
Pros and Cons
  • "This solution has automatic linking and reporting features. Upgrades are hassle-free because you don't need to change everything from scratch, when compared to Meta4."
  • "The process for long modules needs to be improved, because compared to how it's done with a competitor (Meta4), the competitor's process was simpler."

What is our primary use case?

We first deployed the employee center: It's all the data related to the HR master data. We also embedded inside SuccessFactors all that is related to work permits because we have around seven countries in the Gulf area e.g. Oman, Qatar, and UAE. In terms of module, we care about the residency visa and labor card because it impacts the payment methods.

For our recruitment module, we also deployed this solution and we tried to consolidate the recruitment process across all our branches, because each branch has its own process. They can skip one step, but we defined it. We defined the rules in a unique way that caters to all our branches.

We also deployed the performance operator where we cleaned up all our job titles and assigned the correct competency in coordination with our HR directors. I did all of this inside the SuccessFactors system. Now, we are ready to go live once the top management decides to launch the performance operator. It can be the end of this year. If they're not yet ready for this system, the launch will be next year.

We also deployed the time management module for the leaves. It can be accrued or credited at the beginning of the year depending on each branch. We deployed this module to be able to track the vacation balance, sick leave balance, maternity leave, etc.

The last module we deployed is the talent and development module for setting the performance goal for each employee. We also defined the succession plan and development. We still need to identify our employees. We have 6,000 employees across all the geographies, but the platform is ready and configured.

This is only from the SuccessFactors side. From the payroll side, we deployed in UAE, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. IBM developed for us for Lebanon and Iraq because they are not standard. We also deployed it in India. These are the countries in our project scope.

What is most valuable?

From the HR side on which features were most valuable in this solution because I was responsible for the HR and payroll modules. During the payroll in Meta4, I used to write an outside API to read the result of the payroll and dump it to another software: the accounting software. There is a GL posting that hits from GL after each payroll.

Now, in SAP, which is connected to SuccessFactors, this interlinking and posting is automatic. I don't have to follow up with each branch on the rules and variables to do it. It's embedded. We defined it once and once the payroll cycle is finished, it hits the final module on the corresponding GL that we defined and mapped. This is the first feature I found valuable.

Another feature I found valuable was in the project module system because we also bought and utilized the project modules in SAP. It read from the HR side all the components that can constitute the cost of an employee. It means we used to calculate the dry cost manually based on some data that existed inside Meta4 and I used to prepare it for Meta4, but when we shifted to SAP, we required that all data should go out of SAP only, so no more Excel and other files.

We set up this solution to automatically calculate the dry cost based on the employee's salary, the cost of the employee's and his family's visas, the medical insurance, life insurance, etc. We calculate the dry cost by discipline and by employee category or job level so that the calculations reflect on the project module. When the employee fills in the timesheet, his hourly rate reflects immediately from this intermediate calculation.

These two features are automatic.

What needs improvement?

The process for long modules needs to be improved, because compared to how it's done with a competitor (Meta4), the competitor's process was simpler.

I am satisfied with SuccessFactors, at least 85% satisfied. As for additional features that could be included in the next release, I developed a portal for life insurance. I asked for the medical insurance, but they did it for me in the HCM side, from the payroll side. It would be nice to have it in SuccessFactors because some branches, countries, or companies may need this info in case they want to go up to the cost of the employee, and usually any insurance cost is part of your employee cost as well.

Another feature I was asking for which they asked me to develop outside as they can only extract the data for me, is the CV builder: the CV for mass builder, not the CV content because they have the data and I added two screens only. I asked to have a CV like the World Bank format which has a columnar way, but they weren't able to achieve it.

I don't know if it's because we didn't buy the business intelligence module, or because the reporting tool in SuccessFactors is cloud-based, it's always limited and you need to build your own sophisticated report layout outside.

For how long have I used the solution?

I used it with IBM and we tested it in each branch, with all the HR users and payroll users, but effectively it was used from August 2021.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

In the HR module, yes this solution is stable. It has been three months since we ran the payroll from SuccessFactors. We are not facing any software issues. We are facing issues with a change mind of our users in some branches, but not in all the branches.

For payroll in terms of stability, I built the payroll engine for the Gulf area so when you're the developer, you're able to help the end user and you keep on developing the solution the way they want it.

Now we deployed it the standard way and we just added some small configurations for the countries in scope, except for Iran and Lebanon.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We stuck to the standard as much as possible so if any new version comes, or if there's any new enhancement to the software, we won't need to change much during upgrades. To be frank, in Meta4, when I used to develop based on our end user requirements and when the service pack used to come with each upgrade, it took me multiple months to analyze what I've changed and what objects I've touched. Here, we apply around 85% on that, so I think we will not face this issue.

For the configurable countries like Lebanon and Iraq which we built from scratch, the system will not be scalable because any change will need to be done inside the development. I think IBM did it in a modular way, to only add the new changes, not to change everything from scratch.

How are customer service and support?

Generally the IBM team's technical support was very friendly. Even after they left and went on to other projects, they still answered me in a friendly way. They are no longer on contract with us, but whenever I face any issues, they're still helping me. They are friendly. Now, if they want to take it up to SAP, it's very typical that we have to escalate by priority. It can be low, medium, etc., but similarly, we didn't face issues with their technical support.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I used Meta4. It taught me a major lesson. I liked the solution and I know now that the new version may be similar to SAP because they have the performance calibration which didn't exist before. I developed it with two guys and embedded in the solution, but now I understand that the feel and look changed. I think if the company didn't decide to go buy an ERP solution to have multiple modules, I would have suggested to upgrade to Meta4 if we want to keep the HR solution as the standard one. I liked it so much.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of this solution is hybrid. I don't know if it's complex because I'm not a technical person to judge, but I can tell it's hybrid. We have a cloud solution which is SuccessFactors, and we have an on-premise payroll.

SAP has an integration module called HCI that IBM helped build between these two separate solutions, one being on cloud and one being on-premises.

What about the implementation team?

We implemented it through IBM. I like the team. They are very professional, and I feel that they're number one, to be frank. I used to work with seven consultants on the HR module and their leader on the HR module, even the project manager, all of them are very lovely. We had to make changes many times, but they accepted it with a lovely attitude. They have a high level of professionalism. I don't know if it is just my luck, or if they are really up to this level.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I evaluated Meta4 and was able to use it for three years.

We also evaluated four software. One of them was Microsoft, but from day one, they didn't arrive and they didn't come to the demo, so it was out from day one during the vendor assessment session. We also compared Oracle, SAP, and Deltek.

We did a comparison matrix on the various requirements that we asked for from the three vendors and we evaluated those three and we compared the scores. Other modules were also compared in their scope like the project module, CRM, and finance. The highest marks went to SAP. We did the comparison mathematically.

What other advice do I have?

I was in the blueprint phase since 2019, then during 2020, we did the implementation with IBM systems integrator. I was the lead on the HR modules but as functional lead, not as technical, because I played double roles. The role from my company's side is to give all the business requirements and do the testing with the IBM team. Being in the subleader role, I need to give them the requirements in their terminology because I didn't work before on SuccessFactors. I wasn't a user. I was learning while providing all the requirements, and testing.

During 2020 up to mid 2021, in August, we went live. Allow me to highlight that we went live for eight countries in scope for the Payroll HCM, and also went live for more than 12 countries in terms of SuccessFactors employee data. I am now supporting our company's HR users.

It's on cloud and I don't have access to the cloud to know which version. I need to go back to shared document. I don't have it in front of me. I think it was the most recent version because to be frank, even during the UAT (user acceptance testing), they stopped us for a couple of days to upgrade. I think they installed the latest version on cloud.

We have defined four or five roles as the users of this solution. The HR manager who has access to everything and all the modules. The recruiter who only has access to the recruitment module. In terms of the employee data, we defined four roles. We defined the time administrator role who's responsible for checking the leaves and following up with the leaves. The line manager is the one who approves the leave for his employee, not HR, because he is the one who knows his team more and we have people onsite for the engineering company.

We also created the HR officer role who can help in filling information related to the new hires, or the visas, or the CVs, but he doesn't have access to the salary data. Then, we created the HR admin, who can access the salary data on top of the previous role that I listed. The last role is the payroll manager who has access to a specific screen in SuccessFactors called One Time Payment, which usually hits the payroll in the other side. For this we planned it only for the top layer, or top role, which is the HR payroll manager. This is how we manage it.

Deployment and maintenance of this solution is handled by me and two colleagues. They help me with the data migration for all the countries and we distributed the countries for payroll testing. Our contract was eight countries in scope. I took four countries and they took four countries. For the recruitment module, performance appraisal, and succession plan, I was handling it in parallel to the follow-up on data migration and on the payroll configuration.

As for plans to increase usage of this solution in the future, it has only been three months from the time we went live. We are still focusing mainly on what is related to payroll, especially because we are approaching the end of this year and some branches have annual taxation e.g. India, Lebanon, and Egypt. We first need them to practice the payroll side very well, plus, they've still been committing some errors not because of the system, but because of their old ways. They're used to recalculating and deleting the result in the payroll archive. Now it's forbidden, so we are facing the issue mainly in Saudi Arabia and Iraq to change the end users' ways.

Some other branches, they are understanding. They are on track and they now ask for reports e.g. headcount reports. They are on track from month two. The next stage, maybe next year, my plan is to increase the level, particularly the HR user level to start to be responsible for their tasks, plus, to start to prepare for the performance appraisal, which mainly is not handled by the regular HR user. It will be handled just by HR managers and directors.

We need to prepare the KPIs with these HR directors. This will be the plan for next year because the top management asked for it.

Everything related to contract terms or money, it's our IT director who deals with it. My section is under IT corporate services. I'm aware from the communication that we have professional licenses for some, while for some, we have the regular licenses. I know this because they keep on asking me to reduce my HR users who have professional licenses, while other users will have a different license. In terms of licensing costs, I don't have that info.

I will tell anyone who needs to implement SuccessFactors that they first need to be familiar with the terminology used in SuccessFactors. Our company helped us by sending us to a training that served as our introduction to SuccessFactors before we started the implementation, so when we started the implementation, I was already familiar with the terminology used by IBM. People looking into implementing this solution should at least receive preliminary training.

Another advice I'd like to give is for them to really be ready for the blueprinting when preparing the solution document and the design document, because what happened to us was we went for five months during this phase parallel to the training so everything came in a rush e.g. information overload. I was the only one who attended the training for three months and in the end, I had to ask for help. That's why I asked for two people to help me because I cannot handle it all the time and I cannot attend two classes at the same time. This is my recommendation: to really have their team ready and to be familiar with all of the HR modules.

I am familiar with Meta4 and what I've been asked, so I am familiar with the business processes, but I only need the technical terminology and the screen names in the new software like SuccessFactors. I know what my company needs and I want to replicate it in SuccessFactors in case it was not clear, so let them be ready in terms of processes and be very detailed during the preparation of the solution documents.

You'll discover during the implementation, during the explore phase or the document preparation, that usually an implementer can only go by the book. He doesn't accept change, even when you are not sure about the explanation.

We worked with SAP India. SAP prepared the document for the solution while the implementer was IBM. Because the IBM team was very friendly, we were analyzing again that maybe we committed a mistake because there was a misunderstanding with SAP India and we want this requirement. They were open to revalidating the requirement. This is a very critical stage.

The last point which I faced in my country is that it's important to have mature HR users. What made this project hectic for me was that the HR users themselves weren't matured enough to do the testing themselves in their branches. You need to be present in each session. My recommendation for any other country or any other company is to have mature HR end users in case of multiple branches.

I'm rating this solution an eight. It's used worldwide and meets all our requirements.

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Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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