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Employee Central: The answer to an outdated HR system?

Organizations looking for a new HR system might want to take a closer look at the features and functionality in SuccessFactors' Employee Central.

When you need to replace an aging human resources system or increase engagement, it's time to explore your choices....

Let's look at one option -- SuccessFactors' Employee Central -- and why you might consider it.

New design. Employee Central is not meant to be the same as SAP ERP HCM. SAP, the parent company of SuccessFactors, has taken a new approach with Employee Central, building it into a new type of HR system. Although functional overlaps between different HR systems will always exist, Employee Central includes features not found in SAP ERP HCM, including mobile capabilities, workflows, org chart, self-services, GUI-based configuration and flexible organization structure.

However, Employee Central does not have like-for-like functionality with SAP ERP in the areas of time management and U.S. benefits. SAP has introduced this functionality, but because it doesn't meet the needs of all customers, SAP has partnered with the likes of WorkForce Software, Benefitfocus and AON Hewitt to provide rich functionality in these areas. SAP has provided packaged integrations to ensure easy connectivity.

Usability. Employee Central is built with usability in mind, and not as a pretty user interface, but to enhance the overall user experience. By moving away from traditional screen designs -- particularly the infotype design -- and adding a Web 2.0 front end to intuitive screens, Employee Central will be more familiar to users who use Web applications or smartphone apps regularly. In Employee Central complex processes and operational procedures can be performed easily. Even position management is simplified -- yet is extremely robust and rich in functionality. And event derivation enables the event and event reason to be selected automatically by the system without user intervention, making the process of performing actions and data changes easier and more accurate.

Upgrades and innovation. If you are using a version of SAP ERP HCM earlier than ECC6.0 EhP4, you are most likely not using the latest features available to you and should consider upgrading your core HR system to Employee Central. If you are using a version earlier than ECC6.0, you definitely should look at moving your core HR system to Employee Central. Relying on old software versions means relying on old processes and functionality. Can you really get maximum HR value if you are using software that is 10 or more years old? With Employee Central you will receive new functionality every three months -- it just needs to be evaluated and turned on to use it.

Localizations. Employee Central is localized for 71 countries. This covers field selection values; validations; reporting; and data security compliance, which enables compliance and risk avoidance. To achieve this, SAP employed more than 200 people to manage changes in local laws. In 2014 they managed over 1,300 legal changes for HR, payroll, and time and attendance processes.

Integration. SAP has a strong background in integrated applications and has released a range of packaged integrations to enable Employee Central to integrate with SAP ERP and with third-party applications. These are provided on the Dell Boomi AtomSphere middleware, which is included in the Employee Central subscription. Over time SAP will replace this with SAP HANA Cloud Integration, but whichever platform you use, it can be easy to model existing and new integrations to fit your needs. The standard integration templates provided for benefits, payroll, and time and attendance enable connections to be built to these systems in a short space of time.

Extensibility and flexibility. Despite the cloud mantra related to lack of customization, extensibility enables cloud systems to be extended. Although technically not customization, it provides near-customization capabilities in a noncustomizable system. The SuccessFactors Metadata Framework provides a framework whereby customers can create custom objects, screens, rules, alerts and more in Employee Central in a way that is much easier than in SAP ERP HCM or other HR systems. This puts a lot of power and flexibility into the hands of users who need to put custom functionality into a cloud HR system.

Next Steps

Busting myths about SuccessFactors Employee Central

Know your SuccessFactors deployment models

Tips for planning a SuccessFactors HCM implementation

This was last published in April 2015

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Would your organization consider SuccessFactors Employee Central for HR functions?
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Having real conversations, recognition, fair treatment and transparent communication within your team and above them are all ways to increase employee engagement - a tool is not. 

I wouldn't be opposed to evaluating Success Factors for HR functions, but I will say that that name carries a negative connotation at my organization, because all we currently use it for is bi-annual performance reviews. Fun! Fairly or not, just the mention of Success Factors is usually followed by groans :)
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