There are multiple ways to deploy a Human Capital Management solution. One approach is to use a single cloud-based platform for all HR processes across Core-HR, talent management, and workforce planning/analytics. This approach has clear benefits by providing a single platform to manage all workforce-related processes and data.  If customers choose to go that route, SuccessFactors – An SAP Company, has the widest Human Capital Management suite in the cloud today. On the other hand, many organizations across the globe are happy with their functioning, high performing On-Premise Core HR systems. There are many reasons, from “they work” and “they work well” to their ability to support very unique and individual needs that an organization may have.Hybrid Car Image.png


Thousands of organizations throughout the world leverage SAP HCM core HR applications such as employee recordkeeping (“Personnel Administration”), organizational management, benefits, and time management, deployed OnPremise. Hundreds among them use the SuccessFactors Business Execution Suite delivered OnDemand for their talent management needs. One reason they leverage this set up is because they want to minimize disruption in their respective organizations by keeping their, implemented, tried and tested core HR applications stable while adopting rapid innovation delivered via the SuccessFactors Business Execution Suite.

SAP Delivered Integration Delivers Unique Value

Integration is in SAP’s DNA.  When SuccessFactors became an SAP company, we established a strategy from day 1 whereby we would help customers achieve integration across SAP and SuccessFactors, especially for those wanting to leverage their current SAP HCM implementations for core HR processes but adopt SuccessFactors for their talent and analytics processes. 

The integration that SAP and SuccessFactors is providing is based on a deep understanding of each system, the processes they support, and the experiences and best practices gained from our customers who have previously integrated.  Because the integrations are developed and maintained by SAP, the SAP integration and application development teams also have the freedom to make changes to either system to simplify the integration  and extend the processes, where appropriate. This approach gives joint customers a better starting point to integrate the solutions faster and a set of software that is delivered and maintained by SAP so any changes on either side are supported without the need for customers to track them on their own. 

Loose Coupling

This integration is based on the concept of “loose coupling”.  The SuccessFactors Business Execution Suite does not have any cumbersome dependency on SAP HCM – and vice versa. It is loosely coupled with SAP HCM, enabling SAP/SuccessFactors hybrid customers to quickly drive business results from talent management, analytics, and planning solutions in the cloud with zero disruption to their running HR administration and payroll implementations.  This loose coupling also ensures that SuccessFactors applications will not have confusing dependencies on SAP Enhancement Packs or Service Packs.

Loose Coupling also enables joint SAP and SuccessFactors customers to continue to get the most out of their investments of time, money and expertise in SAP, while enabling them to take advantage of the most innovative, industry leading talent management suite in the world. Customers can get the best of both worlds without ripping and replacing existing systems or introduction of unnecessary risk, liability, and costs from switching the underlying platform. 

The Future

Business applications of the future will not be confined to just OnPremise or just OnDemand. Business processes and needs will be supported by a collection of loosely coupled systems residing either OnDemand or OnPremise delivered by one or more providers. Furthermore, the line between human capital management, work management, customer management and other areas will blur forcing customers and software providers to adopt the loosely coupled model.

In the future, systems that support a business process may not always share the same data structure or even the same user interface. SAP has recognized this trend and is investing in technologies that will embrace this future. SAP NetWeaver PI OnPremise and SAP NetWeaver Cloud Integration technologies will bolster the linking of loosely coupled yet meaningfully connected applications.

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  1. Raja Kishore Jogam

    hi David,

    Nice blog that gives some SAP HCM leadership insights. I have few questions and observations.

    1) The only free integration that will be delivered is the PGP encrypted CSV files. The logic of loosly couple makes sense but this is not a real value add as lot of customers already develop similar kind of integration without much effort

    2) When the integratiion is in DNA, Can you explain the logic behind  addititonal licenses and cost for process integration (  SAP NetWeaver PI OnPremise and SAP NetWeaver Cloud Integration) especially when SF talent management  is the go-to solution and not a complimentary or additional  one?

    3) How well is the integration roapmap conveyed to clients? I as an SAP consultant  and SF certified in LMS  have been having trouble understanding the roadmap. 

    4) Is the motto of  on-premise HR core to maitain the existing clients who feel “it Works” Or is it to increase the client base by delivering more functionality via HR renewals in a speedy manner?

    1. Prashanth Padmanabhan

      Raja, Thanks for your comments. I am the solution manager for SAP SuccessFactors Hybrid Solutions for the Americas. I work for David Ludlow, who is the global head of HCM solutions at SAP.

      Response to Question 3: My colleagues and I have been working with customers individually and conducting webinars for large groups of customers to share the roadmap. We will be sharing the roadmap at ASUG Canada Conference next week.  About 50 colleagues from SAP and SuccessFactors will be at HR Technology conference in Chicago next week to personally update customers who are participating.

      Are you working with a particular customer who feels that they are not clear about the SAP SuccessFactors roadmap. I will be glad to arrange a roadmap session for them. Please let me know. You can also see a recording of the Webinar my colleague Heike Kolar did and download the associated presentation here. (login required).

      Response to Question 4: We have thousands of customers using SAP HCM OnPremise and we will continue the current level of research and development for OnPremise solutions. You may already know that we are delivering new functionality for OnPremise solutions every three months. You can see the post by Jarret about the latest innovation here.–hr-renewal-10

      Our research shows that a majority of future innovation in Enterprise Software, particularly in HCM, will happen in the cloud. Customers in certain regions of the world however, are planning to stay OnPremise for the foreseeable future.

      We want our customers to make the move to the cloud if they want it and when they want it. That is why we are investing in the loosely coupled Hybrid approach that David talks about above.

      Response to Question 2: When we took decisions about prioritizing integrations and licensing we worked very closely with customers to understand their needs, their current landscape and concerns. Product managers from SAP and SuccessFactors spent hundreds of person hours with customers to understand their needs. We have a council of customers in our customer value network, who advise us on our roadmap and licensing decisions. I met with all of them just ten days ago.

      We are listening very closely to our customers and partners to take the appropriate decisions about licensing. I will share more when we get close to the release of Integration Package 3. 

      Response to Question 1: You are right. The only standard integration available today from SAP is the file based integration. It is free for customers. No other integration is available yet. I will share licensing information for future integrations once we are ready to announce them.

      Response to part 2 of Question 1: You are right. Some SAP and SuccessFactors customers have created hundreds of custom integrations on their own. I believe that they will continue to do so. We plan to identify the common ones among those integrations and provide them as standard integrations from SAP. This will help customers focus on other integrations which might be unique to them.

      It is interesting to hear from you that customers you know develop these integrations without much effort. We are always on the lookout for best practices. Could you please share your insight about the kind of integrations your customers did and how long it took for them to create those integrations?

  2. Luke Marson

    Hi David,

    Well done at making the leap to contributing to SCN, as many of your colleagues have done. I don’t feel that SAP have really pushed integration as a message since the purchase of SuccessFactors as much as they did before. I would have preferred SAP to say that they believe in integration, don’t have it but will deliver it, rather than say that they have delivered integration. Some of the messages I hear at lower levels in SAP are confused and incorrect, which provides mixed-messages and disappointment to customers who are expecting more than they might receive. I have heard one Head of HCM at a SAP territory say categorically that SAP and SuccessFactors is fully integrated now. This is of course complete and utter nonsense, and is a dangerous message to spreading – particularly in a territory where Workday are so prevalent and will only continue to be prevalent if SAP customers are getting incorrect information.

    I am pleased that many people from SAP are understanding the reaction from the community and are now informing and engaging with us to provide the correct information and messages. However, those at the lower levels and local SAP offices also need the same kind of messages.

    Best regards,


  3. Jean-Bernard Rolland

    Thank you for this blog, David.

    It touches on the very interesting question of “consumability”. Employees have to get solutions centered on the persona, not on the underlying products.

    • Packages of functions centered on roles: manager, employee, executive
    • Consistent views across different “channels”: cloud, on-premise, on-device
    • Harmonized look and feel across different channels
    • Role-based workforce analytics for HR Professional, high level manager or middle managers

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