Human Resources

SAP SuccessFactors Q&A: Your SAP SuccessFactors Questions Answered by Luke Marson

Recently, we asked you for your pressing SAP SuccessFactors questions so that Luke Marson, SAP SuccessFactors expert and author of numerous SAP PRESS books, could answer them. Here’s what he had to say.


Q: We're getting ready to implement both SAP SuccessFactors and SAP S/4HANA. What are some best practices to ensure a successful setup that will allow for easy integration between the two systems?

It is important to approach the design of SAP S/4HANA and SAP SuccessFactors jointly. If you are not implementing SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central and are using the SAP HCM on-premise solution, then the integration will be the same as the Talent Hybrid model provided by SAP today to integrate SAP HCM and SAP SuccessFactors Talent solutions.


With Employee Central, there is an overlap of specific fields and data elements that needs to be incorporated into Employee Central to enable data to be replicated into SAP S/4HANA, such as the organizational structure and person and position attributes.


If you are implementing Employee Central Payroll, then you should also consider if any customer-specific cost center attributes need to be configured in Employee Central for the flow of data through Employee Central into Employee Central Payroll and back into SAP S/4HANA Finance.


Good luck on your implementation!


Q: Is SAP Cloud Platform Integration the best solution for middleware between SAP applications such as SAP SuccessFactors and SAP S/4HANA?


There are many integration middleware solutions that offer different value propositions for customers, but SAP Cloud Platform Integration provides packaged integration content for integrating SAP SuccessFactors and SAP S/4HANA that will save a significant amount of time, effort, and cost versus building the integrations from scratch on another middleware platform.


Q: I use the SAP SuccessFactors Learning LMS daily and am very comfortable with it, but when new things come up, I don’t always know the most effective way to attack it since I’ve never had formal training on using Learning. What do you suggest to use for training so I can fill in the gaps on the SAP SuccessFactors Learning module?


SAP Learning Hub is the home of all official training courses available for all of the SAP SuccessFactors modules. There are a number of individual courses and the Learning Journeys provide a roadmap of courses that lead to certification. These are available to anybody through a paid subscription.


Customers have access to free administrator and enablement trainings for all of the SAP SuccessFactors modules in SAP Learning Hub, including a set of trainings for SAP SuccessFactors Learning. These should give you a great starting point to get a deeper understanding of how the solution works.


Q: According to you, which is the best HCM software—Workday or SAP SuccessFactors?

The million-dollar question! Each customer has their own unique requirements and needs that will determine which system is better. I’m hard pressed to answer, because it really depends on your organization.


There is a lot of hype about Workday and its UI looks very attractive, but customers need to look past the marketing and perform a detailed analysis of the processes, features, and functionality provided, as well as how the system integrates with other systems. While Workday is clearly up there with SAP SuccessFactors as one of the leading HR platforms, I often hear complaints about the usability of the UI and, while there are murmurings about SAP SuccessFactors’ ability to integrate with other systems, it should be said that Workday’s “Power of One” mantra fails to mention that they have made—and therefore had to integrate—more acquisitions than SAP SuccessFactors, so there is much more than meets the eye.


With that said, I always recommend that customers do a detailed deep-dive into the best HCM systems on the market to make the best choice based on what they need.


Q: Are there any helpful workarounds or shortcuts you’ve come up with to make your daily life in SAP SuccessFactors easier?


My workarounds and shortcuts have evolved along with the solutions. With such things as the Action Search and the current version of the Admin Center, I can access most features quickly and easily. I would definitely recommend activating useful tiles in the Admin Center and the homepage, particularly if you are an administrator.


I would recommend looking at using homepage tiles to provide users with useful messages or announcements. In general, optimal configuration of the homepage makes it easier for employees to access tasks they use regularly.


Using an inbound OData API integration in Integration Center can be an easy way to get data to move around the system.


In Employee Central, I really like recently introduced Manage Workflow’s UI and find it very easy for managing and working with existing workflows.


Q: How has SAP adapted SAP SuccessFactors for the current worldwide pandemic situation?

When SAP SuccessFactors launched Human Experience Management (HXM), they began to integrate Qualtrics into the product suite to enable candidate and employee listening at various stages throughout the candidate and employee lifecycle.


Qualtrics launched a number of solutions to help employers during the pandemic that can be integrated into different business processes.


Some SAP SuccessFactors implementation partners created free COVID-19 related offerings, while some of its product partners offered their products for free to customers for a limited period of time.


Q: There are a handful of SAP SuccessFactors modules; which one do you think is the most important for a general HR practitioner to know?

Which module is most important depends on your focus as a HR practitioner, but, if I had to choose one, then I would say Employee Central is one of the most important modules. In order for you to fully manage all aspects of HR—from hiring through to talent management to analytics—you need to have a solid foundation and the ability to easily manage your people data. Employee Central offers that and is the gateway to building out your talent management and employee experience processes.


Q: How does Qualtrics fit in with SuccessFactors?

As mentioned in a previous question, Qualtrics integrates into SuccessFactors in many parts of the employee lifecycle. For example, during the hiring process a candidate can receive a survey to complete about their experience. This could also happen during onboarding. In another example, Qualtrics can be used to gather feedback during the annual performance cycle.


This data can then be aggregated with other responses and combined with data to enable deep analysis of the response trends. The resultant analysis can then be used to drive decisions around those processes or improve specific processes.


Q: What was your most challenging SAP SuccessFactors issue and how did you overcome it?

This is a tough one. Like many projects, I’ve had numerous issues to overcome. There are always situations where something tough gets thrown in your way and you have to use your resourcefulness to find a solution. Due to the evolving nature of SAP SuccessFactors, many of my issues of the past can now be solved using standard features and tools in the system.


The biggest issues I see on projects are less about the system and more about the way the project is set up or the expectations. Customers having an adequate number of resources on a project tends to be a big issue.


One of the other challenges I see is when customers select the lowest bidding partner or don’t do their due diligence on a partner. Usually this means either paying a significant amount more in change requests during the project or the customer ends up with a lousy solution that needs to be cleaned up afterwards. And in some cases, both occur. Sadly, I’ve had to come in and clean up a lot of projects where the customer picked someone cheap. When I looked deeper, the customer had picked a partner whose team didn’t have the right skills for the job just because they were one of the cheapest bidders or because SAP had recommended them. Always do your homework!


Both of these are much bigger challenges than whether the system can do A or B.


Q: I would like to know if it is possible to translate the SAP Jam Interface and add a new language (Armenian) in the existing language packet?

Unfortunately, it is not possible to add language to SAP Jam. At the time of writing, SAP Jam supports 56 languages, but, unfortunately, Armenian is not one of those supported languages. The list of supported languages can be found in SAP Jam Collaboration User Guide on the SAP Help Portal.


Q: How do you think the recently announced Qualtrics IPO impacts SuccessFactors?

SAP is planning to put Qualtrics to IPO while retaining a substantial shareholding, which could have many outcomes. Qualtrics is going to remain independent, so its future strategy may or may not align directly with SAP’s strategy in one or more of the many areas in which Qualtrics has solutions.


With SAP retaining a large shareholding, they should continue to develop integrations and include Qualtrics in its strategy. However, Qualtrics will be largely free to partner with other vendors too and integrate with those solutions.


Ultimately, it’s quite early to tell, but overall the short- to mid-term impact should be minimal versus what would’ve happened if Qualtrics remained a wholly-owned subsidiary.


Q: We use Onboarding and have heard about the new Onboarding 2.0 version. Should we upgrade?

The new Onboarding 2.0 module is taking the product in a positive direction, as well as integrating it a lot more deeply with the rest of the SAP SuccessFactors suite. Due to the newness of the solution, it is not yet completely on feature parity with Onboarding 1.0 and some of the localizations will only be made available in the H2 2020 release and the 2021 releases. I recommend performing a review and comparison of how you use Onboarding 1.0 and what Onboarding 2.0 offers to see if it is a good fit for you right now. You might find it becomes a good fit after the H2 2020 release or after one of the releases next year.


Q: What is Employee Central Payroll? I’ve heard it is just hosted SAP Payroll.

While it is true that the Employee Central Payroll engine is the SAP Payroll engine, the solution is somewhat different from just a hosted version of SAP Payroll. The key differences are the Payroll Control Center UI used for payroll management processing, the deep integration with Employee Central that does not leverage middleware, and the standardization of the system that makes maintenance easier. I recently wrote an overview article on Employee Central Payroll that you might find interesting.


SAP SuccessFactors: An Introduction
SAP SuccessFactors: An Introduction

Take a tour of the SAP SuccessFactors suite! Discover what SAP offers for cloud HR: personnel administration, payroll, recruitment, onboarding, learning, workforce analytics, and more. Learn about integration tools that connect your system to SAP ERP HCM and SAP S/4HANA. Consult expert tips for your implementation, and see how SAP SuccessFactors can improve your HR operations!

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Luke Marson
by Luke Marson

Luke Marson is a leader, architect, principal consultant, and globally recognized expert for SAP SuccessFactors solutions and is a certified professional in Employee Central.