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Is the SAP SuccessFactors HCM suite ready to be your only HR system?

Steady improvements in core HR, integration, analytics and workforce planning features of SAP SuccessFactors make it viable for all HR needs -- not just talent management.

SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central attracted much interest at the recent SuccessConnect conference in Las Vegas....

The product's evolution into a full-fledged, next-generation core human resources (HR) system has advanced far, a fact customers and partners alike have noticed, and many want to know just how ready the entire SuccessFactors HCM suite is to become their core system for HR and beyond.

Additionally, SAP announced that S/4HANA Finance Cloud, the vendor's cloud-based financials application that is part of the S/4HANA ERP suite, will be available to integrate with Employee Central to offer a combined cloud HR and financials system to the market -- another important development in the evolution of the SuccessFactors HCM suite.

Core capabilities of the SuccessFactors HCM suite

Over the last 12 to 18 months, SAP has stepped up to provide functionality to cover some of the core areas of HR, including benefits, time and attendance and payroll. Employee Central Payroll now boasts 37 countries and with Payroll Control Center and point-to-point integration provides better administration and lower technical debt.

The Global Benefits capability in Employee Central is growing rapidly. For the U.S. -- until recently one of the weaker areas in the offering due to the complexities of U.S. benefits -- Employee Central now supports open enrollment, flexible spending accounts and 401(k) retirement plans. However, to meet all levels of complexity, SAP has partnered with Benefitfocus to bring SAP U.S. Benefits Management by Benefitfocus to market as a solution extension for Employee Central.

Likewise, SAP partnered with WorkForce Software to offer SAP Time and Attendance Management by WorkForce Software as a solution extension for complex time-management scenarios, particularly hourly and unionized employees that may require clock-in and -out capabilities. Time Management in Employee Central already handles time recording (overtime, positive time, and negative time), vacation and sick leave, and leave of absence.

Integration tools abound

SAP offers two integration platforms with the Employee Central subscription: Dell Boomi AtomSphere and SAP HANA Cloud Platform, integration service (previously called SAP HANA Cloud Integration). Many of the packaged integrations have reached a high level of maturity. SAP also offers data migration between SAP ERP HCM and Employee Central.

But Employee Central isn't the only SAP product that has integration offerings. Integration Center makes it easy for administrators and nontechnical users to build outbound flat-file integrations. Definitions are exportable to HANA Cloud Platform, integration service to enable web services-based integration. Another integration tool, Intelligent Services, enables real-time, action-based intersystem communication between modules in the SuccessFactors HCM suite, and the same capability will soon be available to integrate SuccessFactors with external systems.

Talent management features get significant updates

The SuccessFactors HCM suite continues to be seen as the leader in talent management while continuing to add new functionality. The new Continuous Performance Management feature lets organizations move their employee performance management process away from the traditional yearly evaluation to a more ongoing, conversation-oriented approach. Other new capabilities are designed to help organizations battle diversity bias. At the SuccessConnect conference, candidate recruiting management was announced as a future capability.

Embedded analytics, centralized reports aid decision making

Recent enhancements to the user interface (UI) of SuccessFactors HCM include analytics embedded across the suite. Embedded analytics enable users to get access to analytics on various screens, thus enabling in-process decision making. At the same time, all reporting UIs have also undergone a revamp to enhance their look and feel.

In addition, the Report Center combines all types of reports in one location so users can have a single place in which to see all of the reports available to them.

Investigate is another recent analytics enhancement that provides libraries of interactive, drill-down-capable analytics. It enables forecasting and provides predictive analytics.

Headcount Planning a new workforce planning tool

Headcount Planning is a recent feature added to the SuccessFactors HCM suite to enable managers and administrators to plan their headcounts and budgets. Using Employee Central position data, managers can plan for increases or decreases to budgeted positions while administrators can create plans and sub-plans and set cascading top-down headcount budgets for the plans.

Service Center supports HR customer service

The Employee Central Service Center provides a place for shared service centers or centralized HR centers of excellence to process HR tickets and employee questions. Employees can start tickets directly in Employee Central and manage them through the Employee Central Service Center UI.

The SuccessFactors HCM suite is a compelling offering for HR organizations looking to consolidate their HR functions on a single platform. With the coming integration with S/4HANA Finance Cloud, it will enable the "sibling" functions of HR and finance to be managed in closely related applications.

Next Steps

Get more details on the SuccessFactors suite

Plan a SuccessFactors implementation

Learn how to extend SuccessFactors

This was last published in October 2016

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What does the SuccessFactors HCM suite still need before it can be your only HR system?
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SF has still a lot issues to be a serious player as HRIS, meaning EC as central of data:

- EC: hiring process cannot be customized, is too static (4 screens, not less, not more for each employee)
- EC: payroll support must be extended with "mashup" UI which are screen of old SAP ERP inside a browser, you need to publish your own ERP to cloud only for this
- EC: positive time is not possible, SAP offers integration with 3rd party like workforce management software which doesn't mean is really integrated to solution
- There are still multiple modules working separately, ergo, SF is not an integrated suite (i.e. JAM which update information from Employee Profile ONLY once a day. OnBoarding is entire another system with own users, permissions, etc. Same for LMS, Workforce Analytics and Recruiting Marketing for instance).
- Reporting is not integrated along the suite, you need to mix up a traditional plain reports bundle with Analytics, ORD, etc., meaning for instance that you cannot get easily time off information using a classic plain report)
- Integration with other software, even SAP ERP itself is still a pain point. No matter you are using old-days Dell Boomi or SAP HCI.
- New Fiori style is really slow (3/3 customers who activated this, told me are expecting this issue), and still some functionality is not available when you enable it.
- Extensibility through MDF forms or portlets are very poor in terms of visual rules (config ui rules), as they can be deleted from one day to another. Also visual design of MDF is horrible as less, all data cannot be organized, there is no possibility to use tables for instance, and all fields at user level are seeing with field together, with no spaces 

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