IT Hero: SAP HR Support Guru

Pat Phelan
VP, Market Research
3 min read
IT Hero: SAP HR Support Guru

David Melling, principal support engineer for SAP HR/UK payroll on the Rimini Street team, has specialized experience that clients depend on as they navigate the frequently changing UK regulatory environment. It’s expertise like his that contributes to Rimini Street’s 4.9/5.0 average customer satisfaction score and creates a loyal client base.

Melling has been implementing SAP systems since 1998, when he did his first implementation as part of a payroll team for a UK railway company. After 18 months working on building and configuring that rollout, Melling was no longer satisfied doing payroll timesheet management. After that, he launched a career as an SAP consultant, first at UK consultancy, Logica, and then at IBM. For 15 years after that, he ran his own company doing HR and payroll implementations and then moved to Rimini Street in 2018 as a way to reduce his travel away from home.

Now, he is able to work from home while deriving great satisfaction from solving the puzzles his Rimini Street clients bring him every day.

Day in the life

As the sole Rimini Street specialist in UK payroll, Melling has extensive subject-matter knowledge that allows him to help many clients quickly. He closes an average of 350 cases per year, a large number; many of these cases he closes within 10 minutes. Others can take as long as eight months to close and involve recruiting other team members to offer their expertise about potential solutions.

He works closely with the tax and regulations team because new payroll regulations are released every year that generate updates. If a client has a problem with any of the updates, Melling is the first point of contact, and he relies on his team for help when needed.

An example is the recent change in security protocols for the UK tax office, which altered the rules for submitting payroll files. One client needed a fix that required building a proxy server between an older SAP system and the UK tax system, for which Melling recruited Rimini’s advanced technology team.

“I would have never been able to understand that, but I still have to own the case, manage it, and make sure things are happening,” says Melling. “You become like a project manager at times with some of these cases.”

Much of the work Melling does plays out in one of two ways: troubleshooting when the SAP system is not working as it should and helping when clients don’t know how to make the system do what they want. The second category of problems should really be handled by second-tier support teams, says Melling, “but everybody at Rimini has at least 10 years of experience, so [clients] know we’ll be able to help them, and they come straight to us.”

In some cases, clients fail to understand why the system is calculating payroll a particular way or are not sufficiently familiar with UK legislation to see why certain processes are required. Melling spends substantial time educating clients and answering their questions.

Solving puzzles and nurturing relationships

For Melling, the greatest job satisfaction comes from the challenge of problem-solving, especially in the case of issues that aren’t easy to figure out.

“When you get a case coming that’s one you can get sunk into, they’re the kind of ones you look forward to getting,” he says. “It’s like solving puzzles — ‘Why’s it doing this? Why’s it not doing this?’ That sort of problem-solving is the part of the job that I really enjoy.”

That attitude has contributed to his success, as has his understanding that the job is based on client relationships at its core. As a specialist, he enjoys a relatively small client base and knows most UK payroll clients by name. Building a basis of trust goes a long way toward enabling smooth partnerships when the thorniest support problems arise.

“When things go well, great,” he says. “But when things don’t go well, you’ve got that relationship with them, and they’ll know you will have tried everything you can do.”

He remembers a recent case in which he couldn’t solve a client’s problem because it was an issue with the code in the company’s HR application, called “the kernel,” which consultants like Melling aren’t allowed to touch. Even though Melling couldn’t fix the problem, the client went away satisfied because they trusted that he had tried everything else before concluding that the kernel was really the issue.

“If you haven’t got that relationship, I would imagine they would think you’re trying to fob them off and get rid of them,” he reflects. “Building those relationships is crucial to doing well and getting good feedback from clients.”

And thanks to experienced staff like Melling, good feedback from clients is nothing unusual at Rimini Street. Clients keep coming back to us because they know they can get expert help with any issue they have with their SAP applications.

You might also like: