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SAP and SuccessFactors User Experience Integration

Employees and Managers at customer organizations use SAP core HR OnPremise applications and SuccessFactors Business Execution applications to get their daily work done. Employees and managers switch between SAP applications that are hosted OnPremise and SuccessFactors applications that are hosted in the cloud.

Recognizing the need for a seamless user experience while switching between OnPremise and OnDemand applications, SAP has put together a comprehensive plan and roadmap for user experience integration.

There are three parts to user experience integration

  • Single Sign-On.
  • Portal integration
  • Theming

Single Sign-On

A cookbook to enable Single Sign-On has been made available for customers so that they can configure their systems appropriately and make the transitions between SAP and SuccessFactors applications seamless to users.

Portal Integration

Employees and managers can access SuccessFactors and SAP applications from menu items in the SAP portal. SuccessFactors Business Execution applications can be displayed inside a frame in the SAP Employee Self Service and Manager Self Service Portals. SuccessFactors applications can also be opened in a separate window if customers choose to do so.

We have completed the proof of concept for such an integration. My colleagues and I showed concept demos and the proof of concept we created to a few customers and they received it very well. This integration is planned for delivery early next year.

This integration will make the experience of switching between applications hosted OnPremise and OnDemand transparent to employees and managers.

Figure: The screenshot below is from the proof of concept that we did to display SuccessFactors Applications inside the Employee Self Service and Manager Self Service Portals. In the pull down menu you can see that many SuccessFactors applications can be accessed directly from the Manager Self Service pull down menu.



Many SAP customers have customized the look and feel of the SAP Employee Self Service and Manager Self Service portals. Such customers can configure the look and feel of SuccessFactors applications using a point and click interface to achieve a uniform look and feel, across SAP and SuccessFactors applications. This functionality is available today for all SuccessFactors customers from the administrator interface.

We will keep our eyes and ears open for your thoughts and needs and do what adds value.  We will make such functionality available via periodic releases.

In the figure above, we themed the SuccessFactors instance we used to match the colors of the demo portal.

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  • If the examples of ux integration are similar to the ones demo’ed at SuccessConnect, then I wouldn’t use the word seamless to describe them. The SuccessFactors BizX UX is awesome especially the newer employee central components. The same cannot be said of the OnPremise WDA ESS. Even with the HR renewal pack changes the on premise offering is clearly an inferior ux. The most gratingly obvious difference is the use of the flash based Nakisa org visualisation in onPrem and the SuccessFactors chart in SF areas. Having the borders of the two solutions using the same colour does not make it a seamless ux!

    If I had a suggestion on how the integration between the two could be improved, it would be through exposing both sets of functionality to the new NetWeaver on demand Portal. That could then give something that could be described as seamlessly integrated.

    If the UX integration has dramatically improved since SuccessConnect, could you perhaps post some links to the demos?



    • Chris, Thank you for your kind words about the SuccessFactors BizX User Interface. We have done some additional work since SuccessConnect, particularly on the portal integration area. I will share some screenshots of the proof of concept we have done soon.

      I am curious about your suggestion to expose functionality of both SAP OnPremise HCM and SuccessFactors BizX applications in the NetWeaver OnDemand portal. Could you please elaborate?

    • Good comments their Chris. I have to agree with you about the WDA UX. Not just on ESS/MSS either. Agree with the use of the ondemand portal as the easier way to get all this the “seamlessness”.

  • Will be curious to hear and see more about the specifics as well as the timeline as I see this being a very important area for SAP customers that will adopt a hybrid model.

    On a side seamless integration with two products with different code bases is impossible if you asked me….but I know those words are thrown around pretty loosely these days 🙂

    • Thanks! This does look better than the videos that we saw at SuccessConnect. The issues will be of course that when you switch between the WDA onPrem solutions and the SuccessFactors solution, there will still be a glaringly obvious difference. Again, I’d highlight the obvious differences between the Nakisa org charting and the SuccessFactors org charting as one of the most obvious differences.

      One can’t really blame SuccessFactors for this – it is just a result of the way that the WDA solution has been built and Flash components from Nakisa have been embedded to make this a truly mobile device unfriendly platform.

      Going forward however for any kind of integration, not just with SAP but with customer and partner developed extensions, then SAP NetWeaver Cloud OnDemand Portal makes a lot of sense. As a cloud delivered, and browser friendly solution which can leverage the current SSO and integration into SAP system in the platform it could allow if not mash-ups, then at least components from SuccessFactors and SAP to run side by side in the same window. It would allow this in a far nicer looking environment than NW portal has so far managed. Individual components that would need to be added to the SuccessFactors suite from the user perspective could then be added together to allow the user access to functionality coming from multiple sources. Certainly as customers move more into the cloud and away from onPremise, tying all their access to the cloud based and mobile device friendly applications into a solution (NW portal) that is neither, doesn’t make sense to me. Yes there may be some components that for a while will only work on a desktop browser – e.g. CATS. but if there were a platform that could allow partner to build a HTML5 skin for the functionality (perhaps leveraging NW Gateway, probably not due to licencing issues 🙁 ) then we might see a bit more of that seamless integration happening 🙂

      • Nakisa have a new mobile solution called OrgMobile out in Q4, with a talent mobile app to follow in 2013. This removes the need for the anti-mobile Flash component 🙂

        • Slightly off topic but relevant to the overall “hybrid” strategy is will the Nakisa app be officially supported by SAP (if so will have to run on Sybase) or will it be “rogue” and does Nakisa plan to charge customers extra for it.

          • All will be revealed in my forthcoming blog on the Nakisa OrgMobile solution. 🙂

            I understand that the mobile app is free and will plug straight into the Nakisa app, therefore not requiring the Sybase infrastructure that is needed for SAP’s applications.

  • Hi Prashanth,

    A short but sweet blog. I’m glad that SAP are looking at integrating the Portal more than just using a URL iView. As Chris points out, there are a number of different integration scenarios – especially if customers are using elements of OnPrem Talent Management, Nakisa and SuccessFactors. There are challenges with meeting all scenarios, but at least you’re on the right track.

    Best regards,


    • Thanks Luke. Like Chris indicated there will be many different scenarios. We will start with the most common scenarios we encounter now and help customers address unique ones as and when we run into them. Your inputs will be valuable.

  • Prashanth, good to “see” you again.  Very nice short, too the point blog addressing a major concern of customers.  I know some customers have put considerable branding into the ESS and MSS portal applications — and for some of those companies their brand is critical to employee loyalty and motivation (Coca Cola comes to mind).  So – this is a  good path forward for SAP.  It also demonstrates SAP’s committment to attempt to meet customer needs in a hybrid model.  What is unfortuntate is that most of this information does not trickle down to the sales force rapidly enough.  There’s a gap between the sales pitch and what can actually be done. 

    Luke – looking forward to your Nakisa blog.

    Chris — REALLY liked what you had to say about mobile.  I believe everything we’re implementing now should be mobile ready.  In a year or two we will be less and less engaged with the same clumsy laptops we carry around today.

    • Hi SherryAnne,

      I very much agree with you around the mobile space. One of the benefits that customers should/would be expecting from SaaS is a flexibility in UI display capabilities. There should be no reason that SuccessFactors should not be running on a tablet (of any brand). Straight HTML5 representation in browser, with touch functionality built-in. This is why I’d like that the portal that is used to combine the on-premise solutions and the cloud solutions, also be SaaS – it too could be given these mobile enabled properties. (I understand that there is nothing stopping on premise from being displayable on mobile devices, just that it tends to be about 3-5 years behind where consumer tech is). Eventually I’d like that new HTML5 representations of WDA views become available too, so that we can have the seamless integration, but I think that is more likely to come from the partner/customer side than SAP themselves. But I can keep dreaming can’t I 🙂 ?

      And I’m waiting for Luke’s blog too – and Jarret’s thoughts on yet another mobile management solution needing to be plugged into the hybrid world of HCM (OnPrem (Sybase/Afaria, SuccessFactors – custom (being moved to Afaria?) and now Nakisa – custom).

      • I’ll have it ready in October, since I’m waiting on a couple of details around infrastructure – probably the most important details that people want to know! I’ve got the bulk of the detail and will be with Nakisa in the last week of the month in Montreal to discuss a few points. Stay tuned! 🙂

    • Sherry, Thanks for your comments. It is good to hear from you as well. Yes. Customers have invested a lot to embedd their corporate brand image into their ESS and MSS portals. The theming tool, which is part of the SuccessFactors platform, will help customers make all SuccessFactors applications look and feel like their corporate portal.

      About trickling information down to every sales person: There are regular information roll out sessions to all field colleagues. Blogs are an attempt to make information available directly to customers and partners by the product team. Blogs are also to encourage conversation between product team members and customers.

  • Firstly, thanks for the insight into some of the plans in this area.

    I’m sure they must extend further than the 3 points above (you hint at “comprehensive plans”) if the aim is to achieve “seamless” user experience integration between SAP and SuccessFactors in the hydrid approach.

    For instance, as a user, I want to be able to jump around the system but without caring which application I’m in. So, perhaps, as a manager I would be looking at an employee in my team in MSS (SAP), then see this person’s talent information (SFSF), consider them for another position and see this proposed position in the current org structure (SAP using Nakisa).

    On small point on the topic of mobile devices and technology.  I think all technical architects should be aiming to deliver device agnostic solutions that meet published standards (as a minimum).  Then compatibility becomes much less of an issue.  However, there is still a place for some device specific applications for specific uses (e.g. most websites “work” on a mobile device but some have gone further and developed mobile versions or even apps to enhance the user experience).


    • I don’t think we’re going to see that level of (UI/UX) integration 🙁 , but I sure would like to.

      I would like to see a scenario where users can switch between different applications (WDA, Nakisa, SuccessFactors, etc) but I think that, while WDA to Nakisa might make sense, the level of effort to create true cross-platform integration will be well above what SAP intends to spend, especially from an on-premise perspective. We both know that Nakisa’s applications can read parameters (such as personnel numbers, position IDs, language, application-specific modules) but I think it would be up to the developers of WDA or SuccessFactors to provide point-specific areas where a URL can be called (e.g. Nakisa or a WDA). Quite frankly I can’t see this being a priority of SAP or SuccessFactors given that they are positioning SuccessFactors as the go-forward solution, but it’s something I would love to see if SAP want genuine integration between on-premise and on-demand.

      Time will tell, but I think this isn’t going to be a high priority and thus the possibility to realize this might only come at the time when implementations of on-premise is declining. I’d like to be wrong on this one 🙂

  • Hi Prashanth,

    I am probably a bit late to the party here, but would like to thank you for sharing this information and wondering if there is any update now that we are into Q2 of 2013. In particular I am most interested in the SAP Portal integration options. In the comments Luke Marson says:

    I’m glad that SAP are looking at integrating the Portal more than just using a URL iView

    but to me from the screen shot you provided it sort of looks like URL iView integration – can you elaborate on the method used?



  • Hi Prashanth,

    Is the per-delivered user experience integration available now?

    Will there be new Portal theme(s) available?


      • Thanks Luke!

        That was helpful. 

        Also, I am very curious to know if SAP has any plans to deliver any themes in reference to point # 3 (Theming) in this blog.

        Hoping Prashanth can help us here 🙂