Configuring SAP HCM & SuccessFactors: A Comparison

For many customers and consultants it has been difficult to get a full understanding of how the configuration landscape of SuccessFactors differs from SAP HCM. Many customers have concerns about Provisioning and the role it plays in setting up the SuccessFactors instance due to the access being limited only to trained SuccessFactors consultants. Due to the different designs of the systems they do not share the same methods of setup and configuration. In this blog I will attempt to explain the similarities and differences between SAP HCM and SuccessFactors from a setup and configuration perspective.

What is Provisioning?
Provisioning is the “backend” of SuccessFactors. However, it is not like the IMG of SAP – rather it acts more like the Switch Framework and is primarily used to enable different features within the SuccessFactors system. In addition, it is where XML configuration files are uploaded and jobs can be setup. For some modules it is used to setup features in more depth than in others. Generally once Provisioning of the instance has been done it should not be required again. However, there are some exceptions such as quarterly release opt-in features and adding new modules. Many of the technical limitations of Provisioning are being addressed over time with each quarterly release. One example is making changes to the Succession Data Model, which has a Config UI now available for basic to intermediate configuration changes in OneAdmin instead of via XML that must be uploaded via Provisioning. Over time more and more changes will be available via this Config UI.

Configuring SAP HCM & SuccessFactors: A Comparison

Why is Provisioning not available to customers?
Provisioning settings, although simple to activate, often have technical repercussions that need to be widely understood before features should be activated or deactivated. Some features also require multiple activities to be performed to enable them fully or require an additional license before being activated (some of these features have no technical restriction to being activated). In the SAP HCM world it is similar to a Basis consult enabling Enterprise Business Functions in the Switch Framework or configuring switch table T77S0. These are not activities generally performed by customers, although it is not unknown for customers to perform them if they have experienced or qualified resources. There is nothing to stop a customer from hiring an experienced or qualified SuccessFactors resource to Provision their system. The key difference is that SuccessFactors will not provide Provisioning access unless a consultant has completed the Intro to Mastery training course. This protects the customer from having an unqualified resource attempting to make settings within Provisioning that can destabilize their instance.

What sort of things would be configured in Provisioning?
Provisioning is where a consultant can configure the following types of settings:

  • Languages and Language Packs
  • Single Sign-On (SSO)
  • Jam integration
  • Payroll integration
  • Dell Boomi AtomSphere account details
  • Session Timeout warning message period
  • Document Attachment storage and limits
  • Restrict access by IP range

Provisioning is where a consultant can enable the following types of features:

  • Applications (e.g. Employee Central, Succession, Recruiting, etc)
  • Application-specific features (e.g. Performance Management features such as Writing Assistant, Workflow, and Legal Scan or Workforce Analytics & Planning features such as Ad Hoc Report Builder, Dashboards tab, and Gap Analysis)
  • V12 Revolution UI
  • Talent Search
  • Position Management
  • Metadata Framework
  • Position Hierarchy
  • Web Services and APIs
  • Proxy

Provisioning is where a consultant can upload the following types of files:

  • XML Data Models
  • Competency Libraries
  • Skill Libraries
  • Goal Libraries
  • Templates (e.g. Goal Plan, Job Requisition, or Career Worksheet, etc)

In addition the job scheduler, API debug logs, and advanced API settings can be configured in Provisioning. Notice that within Provisioning the items that configured are overall system settings. The individual application settings are just enable/disable or template/XML uploads. This is because applications are configured within the “frontend” of SuccessFactors in the administrator module, called OneAdmin. Over time SuccessFactors has and will move more and more of the XML configuration to OneAdmin so it can be modified via UI, further giving customers more control over the system.

Within the application both customers and consultants will – depending on their permissions – have access to OneAdmin. Depending on their permissions they will have access to different types of activities. For the purpose of this blog I will discuss OneAdmin as if I had been granted full permissions. OneAdmin is where consultants and customers can configure the following types of features:

  • Applications (e.g. Employee Central, Succession, Recruiting, etc)
  • Application-specific features (e.g. Performance Management features such as manage Templates, manage Route Maps, or manage Rating Scales or Employee Central features such as Employee Files portlets, Workflow recipients, or data propagation rules)
  • Permissions
  • User Accounts
  • Employee data
  • Org Chart
  • Picklists (i.e. F4 Helps in SAP)
  • Home Page tiles
  • Metadata Framework
  • Position Management
  • Dictionary
  • E-mail Notifications
  • Themes and Company Logo
  • Talent Search
  • Proxy

OneAdmin’s features are split by application/process in Company Processes & Cycles. System and employee management activities are within Manage Employees. Both are shown in the screenshot below.

Configuring SAP HCM & SuccessFactors: A Comparison

OneAdmin configuration is GUI based. Let’s look at Foundation Objects – these are the equivalent of Object Types in SAP, such as Organizational Unit (O) or Job (C) objects. Creating Foundation Object data is done through a single screen. In the screenshot below is a Job Classification object, which is the equivalent of a Job object in SAP.

Configuring SAP HCM & SuccessFactors: A Comparison

If we now look at Permissions, these are also configured via a GUI. In the screenshots below, the Manager Role is being configured to permission which effective-dated data can be visible, have its history visible, be edited, corrected, or deleted.

Configuring SAP HCM & SuccessFactors: A Comparison

Even through these brief examples it is easy to get an idea of the simplicity of configuring SuccessFactors and how an administrator user could do the sort of activities that usually require Basis, ABAP, technical, and/or Security consultants to maintain. Over time OneAdmin will become even more powerful for customers.

How Provisioning and OneAdmin compares to the Implementation Guide (IMG)
It’s hard to compare the IMG, because simply the system is configured differently. The settings are done differently and there are very few like-for-like screens. In fact, in preparing this blog I spent a large amount of time trying to find some like-for-like screens in the IMG and OneAdmin and had little success. While it is possible to show screens of different configurations – for example configuring Performance Management templates – there really is a different design behind configuration of the two systems.

One quick example I found to show some difference between the configuration of each system is within the Performance Management process. The following two screens demonstrate creating a Performance Management template in SAP HCM and in SuccessFactors:

Configuring SAP HCM & SuccessFactors: A Comparison

Configuring SAP HCM & SuccessFactors: A Comparison

As you can see, there is little similarity between the two configuration processes and the latter is certainly more customer friendly.