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8 keys to Employee Central Payroll implementation success

There are many factors to consider when implementing SuccessFactors Employee Central Payroll. Take a look at these tips to ensure your project goes off without a hitch.

Payroll is a critical business function that can be highly complex, even for a small number of employees. Getting an implementation right is of utmost importance in an area that can cause workforce disruption if things don't work perfectly. SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central Payroll is the leading cloud-based payroll engine offered by SAP as a component of its SAP SuccessFactors HCM Suite. It is imperative to have a well-planned, well-managed and well-executed implementation project if you want your payroll transformation to be successful. Here, we look at eight tips to help make that happen.

Select the right team

Your team is a vital factor in the success of your implementation project. It is important to ensure you have the right number of people available on the project to help define the requirements, design the solution, test and get trained on using the Employee Central Payroll system. You also want to ensure users are involved from the beginning instead of waiting until the user acceptance testing or parallel payroll testing to include them.

More important is your partner team. While Employee Central Payroll is similar to SAP ERP Payroll, there are nuanced differences that your payroll lead consultant should be aware of. You should seek out a partner who is experienced with Employee Central Payroll and has consultants that have led several Employee Central Payroll projects and have a number of years' experience in implementing payrolls. However, not only is the number of projects important but also their quality; you should speak with recent, prior customers to understand if the payroll implementation was successful. Additionally, the Employee Central Payroll lead should have knowledge of Employee Central, the Business Software Inc. tax applications, mashups and the point-to-point replication between Employee Central and Employee Central Payroll.

Payroll Control Center is the front end for Employee Central Payroll and a critical part of your payroll process. The Employee Central Payroll lead should have experience in projects where Payroll Control Center was implemented. This expertise helps them design end-to-end payroll processes that deliver maximum value instead of becoming an afterthought.

Overall, your Employee Central Payroll team is going to include a few types of resources, including at least one ABAP (Advanced Business Application Programming) developer, an SAP Basis consultant and an integration consultant who is experienced with the point-to-point integration between Employee Central and Employee Central Payroll.

Define the scope

Although it's not a critical aspect, it is important to define the right scope for your project ahead of signing a statement of work (SOW) with the implementation partner. Without due diligence, critical features or functionalities can be omitted and will require a change order later -- or worse -- will not be implemented.

It goes without saying that testing the payroll system is one of the most critical activities you'll undergo during your implementation.

It is fairly common for Payroll Control Center to be excluded from an SOW, so be sure to include it. Any integration or development work should be clearly defined so that you are well aware of your obligations in the project.

Perform proper testing

It goes without saying that testing the payroll system is one of the most critical activities you'll undergo during your implementation. When pay is incorrect or late, employees and unions can react badly and disrupt things in retaliation. Also, employees can become disengaged if they think you can't get the basics right, such as their pay. There can also be financial ramifications to your company. Therefore, it's imperative to ensure that your system works properly from day one.

You should appoint an experienced testing lead dedicated to building and executing a detailed and comprehensive testing strategy. In-depth testing must take place across all business scenarios and functionality. Given the complexity of payroll, the number of test scenarios and scripts can be significant.

The critical testing for your payroll system is parallel payroll testing, which involves running payroll in both your legacy system and the new Employee Central Payroll system and then comparing the results to ensure that Employee Central Payroll is producing the correct results. Typically, two parallel payroll tests are executed, but in some cases, there may be reasons to run more tests. The outcome of the parallel payroll testing is the confidence that your Employee Central Payroll system will provide you with the correct payroll once it goes live.

Deal with functionality changes and past errors

It is inevitable when moving from legacy payroll to Employee Central Payroll that there will be functionality differences in how the system works and how payroll is set up and executed. You should plan upfront how you are going to deal with functionality differences -- this is even required when the new functionality makes life easier -- and how you will deal with errors in your payroll calculations. There might be a need to perform retroactive calculations going back a number of years and pay money out to employees because of miscalculations in the legacy payroll system.

Get to know reporting capabilities and options

Employee Central Payroll's reporting capabilities and options are not as strong as in other modules of the SAP SuccessFactors HCM Suite. Therefore, you want to identify your reporting needs early and explore whether you need to invest in a third-party reporting tool, like SpinifexIT.

In Employee Central Payroll, it is only possible to report on data in the system. For combined reporting with data in other systems, such as organizational objects and cost allocation, you need to use a third-party tool or replicate payroll data into SAP SuccessFactors People Analytics.

Get connected

To access the Employee Central Payroll back end, you need to set up the SAP router and VPN from your network to SAP. This needs to be done early in the project to ensure it is ready for the implementation team to start configuring the system. If you have restrictions around VPN access or user issuance policies, consider starting the access process early in the project so as not to prevent timely access to your instance and cause project delays.

Likewise, you need to consider how these access restrictions will impact consultants' access to the Employee Central Payroll system. For example, some organizations only allow VPN access off a corporate device -- usually a corporate laptop -- or do not allow public access to the SAP router. Such restrictions can impact consultants that work remotely and can add unplanned time and expense if access becomes difficult or requires physical presence in a specific location.

Set up hardware

When you use Employee Central Payroll to print checks, to pay advices or to file W-2 tax forms, you need to set up the check printing hardware and the SAP spool functionality. This work needs to be completed with the support of an SAP Basis consultant. While it is not complicated, if you don't plan for the work accordingly, it can eventually cause delays when you need to test and use the printing function.

Manage updates

After your Employee Central Payroll system has been provisioned by SAP SuccessFactors, the first step is to get the latest support packages added. You can do this by raising a ticket in SAP One Support Launchpad or through the payroll system information screen in SuccessFactors -- where you can also review the support packages. In addition, you should apply all necessary Employee Central Payroll features in Upgrade Center.

This was last published in May 2019

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What are other factors organizations should consider when implementing SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central Payroll?
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Change management team and quality training materials and training is another critical factor
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