Cetrix Blog

Integrating SAP SuccessFactors

Paul Nilsen - Apr 20, 2018 9:02:32 AM

SAP SuccessFactors was founded in 2001 and acquired by SAG AG’s US subsidiary, SAG America, in 2011. It provides Human Capital Management (HCM) cloud solutions, covering the needs of 45 million people/employees in more of 6,000 organizations worldwide, according to Gartner, Forester and IDC.

HCM features

SAP SuccessFactors HCM suites support all your HR activities and processes, such as core HR, payroll, talent, and workforce management in a single unified platform with analytical and dashboard capabilities, through serval HR software modules.

Some of these modules include:

  • Core HR and Payroll
  • Time and attendance,
  • Learning and development  
  • Performance and competition  
  • Recruiting and onboarding  
  • Workforce planning and analytics

Fig 1, SAP SuccessFactorsImage 1: SAP SuccessFactors

While HR has been a quick adopter of cloud based solutions -  and this trend is on-going as it is noted here and here-, factors such as quick and easy adoption to changes in local regulations,along with technical limitations, may lead to a hybrid environment with both on-premises and cloud components.

Fortunately, many HCM platforms come with the following options:

  • Point-to-point integration. While effective for small environments with limited interfaces,  the interfaces can become chaotic, non-easily managed, and expensive
  • On-premises integration platform. Although this is an integrated and robust solution, it does not provide flexibility and low cost of ownership, requiring large-scale operations that have the IT resources to support it  
  • Cloud-based integration (iPaaS platforms) enabling development, executing and governance of integration flows. This option provides flexibility you need with  the low cost of ownership you want, without needing significant IT resources.

SAP SuccessFactors also provides open, industry-standard integration, technologies, API, and events.

Extending SAP SuccessFactors Functionality

You can extend SAP SuccessFactors’s functionality by integrating it with other HRM applications with the following functions.

Payroll

Payroll application is the one of the most important functions of HR as every employee should be paid accurately and on-time.


Application Features

  • Easily adjustable to local laws and legislation changes
  • Strongly customized
  • May address only to local market
  • May use technologies that are either outdated or obsolete

Integration Features

  • Hybrid, since payroll may implemented on-premises
  • Extra security layer for sensitive data
  • Bi-directional integration

Business processes

  • Financial data (month closing statements etc)
  • Employee benefits
  • Expenses management
  • Time attendance
  • Employee lifecycle (changes, pay increases etc)


Identity Management

Employee changes should be interfaced with the directory service as the identity management source.


Application Features

  • User creation in active directory after employee embarkment
  • IM source for managing access level in organization IT infrastructure and applications

Integration Features

  • Hybrid, since directory services may be either on-premises (Active Directory) or in cloud (Azure Active Directory)
  • Real-time, for security reasons, especially in user disembarkments

Business processes

  • Employee embarkment, disembarkment
  • Employee organizational changes




Benefits Management

Benefits may include health and life insurance, stock options, leased cars, etc. which may or may not be provided by different partners.


Application Features

  • Heterogeneous environment, implemented in general in different platforms and applications

Integration Features

  • Hybrid, in general
  • Difficult to implement and to manage without an unified platform, providing agility and scalability
  • Bi-directional integration

Business processes

  • Employee organizational changes
  • Organization chart changes  
  • Benefits compensation to payroll


Time Management

Including simple clock-in, clock-out systems up to advance access control systems, all provide employee time attendance information.

Application Features

  • Difficult to be customized from the interface point of view
  • May use technologies that are either outdated or obsolete

Integration Features

  • Hybrid, since time management systems sre usually located on-premises
  • Bi-directional integration

Business processes

  • Employee organizational changes (eg changing location)
  • Employee time attendance - integration with payroll-


Pre-hire Screening

HR often uses recruit agencies to evaluate candidates.


Application Features

  • All pre-hire screening (background checks, profiles, resumes, etc.

Integration Features

  • Cloud integration
  • In-general heterogeneous environment
  • Bi-directional integration

Business processes

  • Candidate employee information

ERP

ERP and HCM are major systems within an organization, and you can integrate them in several ways.


Application Features

  • Core business applications, covering all financial transactional and analytical processes

Integration Features

  • Hybrid integration, although cloud is not excluded (cloud erp)
  • Bi-directional integration
  • Well-established integration technologies, especially with SAP

Business processes

  • Journal entries (period closing)




 

Fig 2, A typical SAP SuccessFactors integration

Image 2: A typical SAP Success Factors integration

Key factors for SAP SuccessFactors Integration

Every integration project faces challenges during implementation. The major challenges for SuccessFactors integration are illustrated below:

Fig 3,   Major factors for Successfactors integration

Image 3 :  Major factors for Success factors integration

Organization Integration Strategy / Planning

With Cloud-based applications, such as SAP SuccessFactors, you should consider the integration platform architecture first. Often taken for granted, point-to-point is not an option in projects of this scale. Therefore, you must choose between hosting your own integration platform on site or going with a cloud-based one (iPaaS). Cloud-based solutions provide several benefits over on-premises ones, but your final decision should depend on:

  • Alignment with your organization’s integration strategy
  • Total cost savings, including ownership costs, operational costs, consulting fees etc  

Centralized management and monitoring

HCM integration may cover a variety of platforms and applications, hosted either on your own network or the cloud. Additionally, you may do it within your own organization or across your partners.

Enabling the central monitoring and management feature assures your ability to recognize and troubleshoot issues. It also provides traceability and log features (such as execution points, duration, data in a drill down manner) that will be helpful in terms of auditing.

Not Integrating-open platforms

Depending on your local laws and adoption level, your payroll systems may be the leader in your market, but not the technology used. Also, while time attendance systems measure time events accurately, they may have not focused on technology evolution..

In all these cases, you may need to strongly customize your integration with HCM.

Real-time Interfaces

Real-time interfaces may be key factors in the performance and availability of your integration platform. Processes such as employee disembarkment, are time critical since the user locking should be initiated in real time in every involved system.

Availability may also be important on batch mode interfaces. Your organizations may have large data volumes which may slow down integration performance even in batch mode.  

Developing, Testing and Deploying

Development should be easy and quick, and should be done using high level tools that provide reusability based on industry standards. Testing should be performed in quality environments when feasible, and in simulation when not.

Your integration platform should also provide deployment methods so you can push any newly develop modules into your production environment as quickly as possible (eg a publish/subscribe mechanism between testing and production).    

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Topics: Application Integration

Paul Nilsen

Paul Nilsen

Paul Nilsen is the director of solution development at Cetrix Cloud Services. He also works with the Solution Development Department at Cetrix Technologies, where he headed the department for three years. Paul has over 20 years of experience in IT, working on software engineering projects, hardware-software product integration, design of special purpose systems using artificial intelligence, and implementing CRM and ERP software systems.

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