Ten Things Id Like to See Added to OrgChart (VSN)
OrgChart is the keystone product in the SAP Org Visualization by Nakisa (SOVN) solution extension. It allows you to visualise any HCM data in an intuitive way. OrgChart visualises your entire structure of organisational units, positions and employees, allowing you to view details, search and export.
From the release of OrgChart 3.0 in September 2010, the product offered much more “out of the box” than previous versions, and the recent service pack (SP1 in May 2011) offers even more. But, of course, I’d love to see even more!
In my last 5 years implementing Nakisa’s solutions and with all the projects that I’ve implemented (some before SAP even made it a solution extension!), here is my list of 10 things I’d like to see added to OrgChart … and yes, these are in my order of preference (with the most wanted first!):
1) Derived Position Hierarchy
SAP best practice is not to maintain explicitly Position to Position (S A002 S) relationships for maintaining your organisational structure unless you have specific requirements that require it. But, in my experience, a lot of organisations still want to be able to provide an easy visualization of the reporting structure to answer an employee’s basic question “Who is my boss?” (Or “Who is Fred Blogg’s boss?”).
Using the Staged approach, this is a relatively small customisation to artificially insert some calculated Position to Position relationships based on a few lines of SQL code. I’ve done this many times on Oracle and SQL Server staged solutions and found it to be easy, quick and well received.
Using the Live approach, the solution becomes harder on older SAP versions … but it is still achievable. Prior to EhP4 you can use a concept in SAP called external classes, which (in short) means you can write some ABAP code to use standard SAP functions to get the parent or child positions from a given position. It changes the behaviour of the evaluation path configuration without having to change anything about the OrgChart application configuration.
In ECC 6 EhP4, there was the introduction of relationship A742 (“Indirectly Reports To”) between the employee’s position and the manager’s position. Also the “Talent Management and Talent Development” configuration (activated by business function HCM_TMC_CI_1 – “HCM, Core Processes in Talent Management”) contains the following configuration step:
The documentation on this step is very clear so I won’t repeat it all here. The default behaviour is “Indirect” meaning that the reporting structure is derived from the relationship A003 (“Belongs To”) between the employee’s position and the organizational unit and the relationship A012 (“Manages…“) between the manager’s position and the organizational unit.
So in 3.0 SP1 using the Live approach, you can create a Position to Position hierarchy via the Admin Console if you are using SAP EhP4, but it takes some knowledge (Nakisa and SAP) to do it. Hopefully it won’t be long before it is there by standard!
2) Position Only view
By default there are 5 views (a view controls the contents of each box in the OrgChart) offered for a position/person node. A common requirement I’ve had is for a new view that shows only position data. In my experience, clients like this because it means they can show (or export) an OrgChart with this view enabled to external bodies (e.g. customers, partners, recruitment agencies, etc.) to give context to their organisation without giving away personal details of their staff.
Below is an example from a 3.0 UK implementation (note the yellow position/person boxes):
3) View in Position Hierarchy
If the position hierarchy is in use, then the ability to use the Actions menu “View in …” function to also link to the Position (to Position) hierarchy directly is needed. At present this is a small customisation involving adding some linktoconfiguration to 2 details XML files and amending one XSLT file.
I know this is logged as a product enhancement, but didn’t make it in to SP1 unfortunately.
4) Embedding of external content
I’d like to see the ability to define sections which allow for bespoke content to be embedded in OrgChart. For example, perhaps I want to embed some dynamic content based on an attribute about an employee or position or link to a SAP WebDynpro, Business Object, transaction or embed the employee’s Twitter feed … the opportunities and uses are endless!
I have a colleague who is doing some great work in this area, but I don’t think OrgChart is too far from being able to offer this in an easily configurable way.
5) Customisation of the Help Panel
Commonly customers want to add/remove content to the help panel. Currently this is not possible (even via amending XML files), but I hear it is coming … and I hope that it will be editable via the Admin Console.
6) Company logo
Currently you can amend the name of the logo file you want to use. I’d like to see the ability via the Admin Console to upload a new image file and to specify the dimensions so it is rendered correctly (currently this requires a small change to items within SettingsResources).
7) Add Position Cost centre (to position details panel) and handle cost centre distribution
Currently the Position/Person details panel has a tab called “Position” which shows a field called “Cost Center” (ID and name). As of SP1, this should be the cost centre assigned to the position (if populated) otherwise it is inherited from the Org Unit assignment. However, I’d also like to see the handling of cost centre distribution (from HRP1018/HRT1018) for positions.
Again, here is an example of UK implementation where I added this functionality:
8) Hybrid – extract only the data required to calculate the analytics
Visualising the data in real time using the “live” approach to OrgChart is the preferred solution. The main barrier is performance, but with the advent of 3.0 (and SP1 in particular), the main functions of the application (chart visualization, details panels, and searching) are now usually performing within acceptable levels. However, sometimes in larger organisations, the analytics can understandably become unwieldy. For example, it is easy to understand that calculating the age ranges of all 30,000 employees in real time could take some time!
The solution is to “stage” the analytics while keeping the rest of the application operating “live” – this is known as a “hybrid” solution. Staging means extracting the data to a database and calculating the analytics once (usually overnight), so that when they are required by the user the calculated values are read (quickly and) directly from the database and hence avoiding long running calculations.
My issue with the current setup is that the range of data downloaded in the hybrid approach is identical to that extracted in the staged approach. I think this is unnecessary and the process could be streamlined so only data needed to perform the calculations are extracted.
In SP1, in the live/staged approach the extraction schemas are identical and extract data from 30 tables. By my reckoning, only 12 of these tables needed to be extracted to calculate the analytics and demographics summarised at Org Unit.
9) Opening more than 1 level of data with one click
Several customers have asked me about expanding multiple levels at once (i.e. as a manager I want to expand all Org Units and Positions for the 2 levels below my Org Unit). I envisage an option from the in-box menu in the chart to expand X levels.
Obviously some thought would be needed on the amount of data that could be opened at once due to the effect on the system performance.
10) SocialLink – Further Integration
SocialLink in OrgChart is a useful concept and LinkedIn integration is already standard, but I think it would benefit from further social media integration in the future. Twitter would be the obvious candidate.
OrgChart is (and in fact all of SAP’s Visualization by Nakisa products are) evolving very fast so I am sure some (or maybe all?) of my ideas plus many others will be available in a version coming to us soon … can you see how I avoided one of the consultant’s worst phrases; “in the next release”!?!