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HR Portal-To Be or Not To Be

Finally we do have a choice .

With the very launch of ESS-MSS, a portal has always been an integral part of SAP’s way of providing End User access to HR system. Also it made sense to provide self-services through a web-like interface which can be accessed anywhere without the need of a VPN and additional software.

Now even though portal is the default choice for providing self –services to employees, some organizations might like to limit it to intranet, due to security concerns or in general .In those cases accessing the data through a client software will be faster instead of a portal. We already have SAP GUI for this but then it has never been exciting for end-users to remember those T-codes, so why not use a nifty GUI which has been available for quite some time, Netweaver Business Client or NWBC.

With EhP5 SAP has come up with standard HR roles designed specifically for NWBC.The overall feel is in sync with the signature UI being propagated by SAP. The navigation is quite similar to portal but response time is better which is again, expected.


  • At least SAP ECC 6.0 EhP5 system,EhP6 is also out in the market
  • Additional Configuration for NWBC (available in service market place) should be in place.  There is plenty of documentation available on NWBC configuration.
  • You can use either NWBC for HTML or the Desktop version.


  • The roles uses applications purely based on ABAP stack so no need of Webdynpro java.
  • Skip portal completely so centralized user administration by default.
  • Since applications are based on ABAP so TMS supported and you can say goodbye to NWDI.
  • With Portal out of the picture implementation time will get reduced, lesser overhead, direct monetary benefits in terms of hardware & software.

With all said and done the best part is customer need not have to stress themselves with decision making on whether to choose NWBC or Portal. There is absolutely no dependency or restrictions when come to these two. If you have started with a NWBC based approach but in future want to be able to go the web portal path. Install a Portal and the same applications are available in the form of new Business Packages based on WDA released for HR ex:ESS ( WDA).

Some screenshots for non-believers

NWBC Logon Screen and system configuration screen is quite similar to SAP GUI .There are few tricks here which you will need to know


ESS Role for NWBC along with PFCG role structure.


MSS Role for NWBC along with PFCG role structure.


Quite catchy huh…

Other HR roles are also available and with a PFCG based role customization the life of the basis guy will get easier.

Benefits and prerequisites described are based on my project experience ,you should derive your own or you might have a different opinion too.

As far as I see there are now three real options available with full support from SAP.

  • NWBC based Self Services
  • Portal based Self Services
  • Hybrid Portal using both WDJ and WDA based Services (..there are few services specially country specific services still in WDJ ).

Do post your comments .

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  • Hi Shankar,

    Nice blog, and thanks a lot.

    I am a starter at NWBC I have got 3.0 version and I guess it is a Desktop version.

    Here I am able to call both the Servers either ECC or Portal in this NWBC. I claimed mine is a desktop version because I have seen people installing on each and every desktop as an application.

    I am not sure about the second kind (NWBC HTML), is it similar to the Portal 7.3 version or it is something else ?

    Don’t mind for this free suggestion, please replace the screenshots with a better picture quality, the above are not clear.

    Keep Rocking.

    With warm regards,

    Srikanth Naidu. Akula

    • Hello Srikanth

      NWBC for HTML is just the web version of NWBC.If you are already using the desktop version ,then you should be able to launch HTML version too.Use Transaction NWBC and it should work.


      • Hi Shankar,

        I have gone through the T-code: NWBC, it was nice, the same version is pulled into browser. Seems SAP gonna get the things in hands for all its users. Can assume that one (either end users or consultants) can comfortably work from home with such kind of advancements. SAP Rocks.

        Thanks a lot for your valuable information, appreciate your patience in sharing your knowledge to the world of zeal.

        Best regards,

        Srikanth Naidu. Akula

  • Hi Shankar,

    this is an excellent blog, thank you.

    It is indeed a good question for the Portal/HCM community what is SAP’s forward looking strategy for the Portal product ?

    With SuccessFactors there is no need for the Portal, with SAP’s hosted Cloud Portal there is no need for SAP Portal, so where does SAP Portal fit into SAP’s product road map for the future ? Are SAP making the SAP Enterprise Portal redundant ?

    All the best.


    • Hello Andy

      I guess this would be a good thing for portal to come out of the clutches of ESS 😉 .With SAP  coming with all new tools ,Workspaces, Web Page composer ,ECM using Open Text etc Portal will play a greater role in Corporate Webo”Sphere” .With On Device version and Cloud model in place the game itself might change.


  • Hi,

    Good Blog.

    i want to ask one Question though.

    To use NWBC , users need to Login to R3.

    This requires Professional Licence for Each Employee.(Huge Cost)

    Normaly users access the ESS/MSS from Portal and require only ESS/MSS license.

    Can you throw some light on how you managed this?



    • Hi,

      Thanks for sharing

      Its to see now how success factors integrates with SAP HR seamlessly and when this development will be available in forthcoming EHP releases.

      As it would be really fruitfull to offer the client with an whole gamut of Talent management by success factors.

      As it seems as going forward all the core process like OM,PA,PY&PT in core SAP HR and all the HCM related modules of Talent mgt on Success factors.


      Hemant V. Mahale

    • Hello Rajendra

      I am no expert on SAP Licensing but as far as i know SAP licensing is based on the useful transactions done in Production Environment.You will be assigning only specific HR roles which you have to anyway assign even though you use portal.So you consume only ESS License.And of course NWBC is free !!


  • Hi Shankar,

    thanks for the nice blog bringing NWBC to everyone’s attention. Just one comment though on the “look and feel being in sync with the signature UI”: Things in the UI space are forever changing, and in a few weeks we should see the release of NWBC 4.0 which will run the Corbu theme. This is the same style as the HTML5 Toolkit (aka UI5) and will look totally different from the (now old) Signature Design. 😉

    For more information on the Corbu theme, check out this blog:–corbu-theme-for-essmss

    Anyways, interesting times ahead with ESS/MMS moving into WebDynpro ABAP. Maybe some customers can now simplify their landscapes by decommissioning some portal servers which are only used for those functions?



    • Hi Sascha

      Even though Webdynpro ABAP is nice ,I feel its time we start moving our basic HR processes to mobile.Don’t see any value in logging into a portal to raise a simple request and wait for Manager to take action when he checks his mail and decides to act.And when it comes to mobile ,I am not comfortable with WDA.If I have to go for an easy win then Portal on device is a the solution.


    • Hi Sascha

      Even though Webdynpro ABAP is nice ,I feel its time we start moving our basic HR processes to mobile.Don’t see any value in logging into a portal to raise a simple request and wait for Manager to take action when he checks his mail and decides to act.And when it comes to mobile ,I am not comfortable with WDA.If I have to go for an easy win then Portal on device is a the solution.


      • on top of this it is too easy to say XSS on NWBC and you can remove some portals

        the global organisation needs to have a UI strategy and this normally involves

        1 unique url to do anything sap related and it will be trickier for users if for XSS they must use NWBC, for something else they need to use GUI and for something else Portal

        there needs to be a cohesive UI strategy built around one url for entry and sso to everything else and not different clients for different activities

        and this is SAP Portal’s strength.

        Portal on Device will only add to that strength


  • Dear Shankar, all,

    Shankar, thanks for posting this interesting blog. Indeed, these days, our SAP HCM customers have variety of options to select from as their UI integration layer. The two main options are those you have mentioned – the SAP NetWeaver Business Client and the SAP NetWeaver Portal. Each product and its unique benefits. Customers should decide on their own strategy and according to the strategy decide on which product to use. The good news is that we are blessed with variety of options; each customer can select the one that is most appropriate for their needs.

    I would like to add few words about the long term strategy of the SAP NetWeaver Portal (following Andy Silvey’s post). The SAP NetWeaver Portal is and will continue to be a key component in the SAP UI strategy. The SAP NetWeaver Portal continue to be the central integration layer across all SAP and non-SAP systems, integrating structured and unstructured content into a web-based, role-based… entry point.

    From a strategy perspective I would recommend you to keep an eye on the following direction of the SAP NetWeaver Portal:

    As you can realize, the SAP NetWeaver Portal is a key component in the SAP strategy – mobile, on-premise & on-demand, HANA (on our roadmap as well).

    I would like to invite you to talk with us in person and “play” with all these new capabilities Live in the coming TechEd conference. Hope to see you there! (To schedule a 1\1 meeting at TechEd you are welcome to contact me via my e-mail).



    • Hi Aviad,

      thank you for such a comprehensive detailed reply.

      I have the feeling the latest SAP Enterprise Portal Roadmap documentation available on the SDN is not uptodate in respect of including the glue of where Portal Cloud, and especially for example cloud based SAP supported SAP interfacing applications like SuccessFactors fit in to the on and off premise SAP Enterprise Portal Roadmap and architecture scenarios strategy. Architects in the SAP community are missing detail of how it will all glue together in a real world scenario.

      An example, and there are many, you described above,

      ‘cloud based portal offering with tight integration with the (well-known) on-premise SAP NetWeaver Portal – leveraging existing on-premise customers’ investment in the cloud.’

      What does this mean, Cloud Portal by definition would suggest at the highest level no requirement for On-Premise Portal ?  How do the two work, can you have one or the other or do you need both, why to use one or the other ? What about an on-premise private Cloud Portal ?

      If you use the Cloud Portal, will there be any problems with Latency, from personal experience, in the past when connecting a SAP Portal on one side of the world to a SAP backend on the other side of the world (not recommended) we had to put ‘WAITS’ into the code on the Portal side to compensate for the network delay in the backend replying. How will this be handled with the Cloud Portal ?

      It is very interesting to see the latest blogs and announcements on the Cloud Portal, but from a Basis Architect level I have not yet seen anything detailing how it all glues together, when to use one or the other and why.

      It is however heartening to see your reply and hear that SAP Enterprise Portal is a key component in the SAP strategy.

      Many thanks for such an open and detailed response to my question.

      To be honest I put the question because I know a lot of people who share curiosity as to SAP’s long term strategy for the Portal, on and off premise.

      Thanks again and all the best to you and the colleagues at SAP who are powering us all  forward. Down here in the engine room we look forward with enthusiam to seeing how it will all fit together and how it can be used to enable end user productivity while lowering tco and maximising uptime and availability.


      • Hi Andy,

        Are you planning to attend SAP TechEd (any location).

        If so, I would like to invite you to join our sessions and learn more about the new and innovative offerings coming with the latest releases of the SAP NetWeaver Portal.

        Your questions above are very detailed and I believe that an open discussion will be the best platform to answer them.

        I am, OF COURSE, inviting all the other community members to join our sessions and learn about the new offerings.



        • Hi Aviad,

          thank you for the invitation.

          Much as it would be a pleasure to discuss these items with you at Tech-Ed, due to professional commitments  I have no plans to be at Tech-Ed in the foreseeable future.

          I will however keep a close eye on developments in the Portal Cloud area with interest.

          All the best,


          • OK, I can understand this.

            Please keep an eye on our upcoming posting regarding the new capabilities of the SAP Portal. We are publishing it both in the official channels and on SCN, twitter, and other social channels.



  • Using SAP Portal only for ESS/MSS is like taking a flight to travel a distance of 5 KM. That’s also one of the reasons why many customers were not happy with WDJ ESS/MSS and SAP is now offering it as WDA (if SAP would only stop trying to put everything into ABAP and focus on services you could create ESS/MSS screens with the UI technology of your choice, but …).

    When you need a portal solution, SAP Portal is the best choice for SAP centric landscapes: you can integrate transactions, WDA, WDJ, VC, BAPI/JCa, BEX, BI/BO, Search, KM, etc. and develop your own Java EE standard compliant applications or HTML5 apps, for intranet and extranet.

    That’s were NWBC cannot compete with SAP Portal, and then you do not have a choice anymore.