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Customers who use a hybrid model of SAP ERP HCM for core HCM processes and SuccessFactors Business Execution Suite for talent management processes rightly expect these two systems to talk to each other. And of course, now that SuccessFactors is an SAP company, the expectations on integration of the two systems are even higher.

In this article, I talk to Rainer Faulstich and Markus Trapp from SAP’s “Solution Assembly and Packaging” organization about the recently-released rapid deployment solution to support the integration and help adoption of the hybrid model.

Rainer, Markus, thanks for taking time to talk about the SAP ERP HCM Integration to SuccessFactors rapid-deployment solution released to customers on December 14th 2012. Before we look at the solution in detail: Rainer, please give us a quick refresher on what rapid deployment solutions are all about.

SAP Rapid Deployment solutions provide quick and predictable value in organizations of all sizes and industries. The modular solutions include SAP software, configuration content, materials for user enablement, and implementation services. Rapid Deployment solutions are delivered by the SAP Consulting organization – or SAP partners – with predetermined scope, time, and cost.

Rapid-deployment solutions are innovation enablers for customers in that they help to minimize risk while adopting innovations delivered by SAP. This holds true for integrating on-premise SAP ERP HCM with cloud-based SuccessFactors solutions to run integrated end-to-end processes. SAP has delivered lots of good stuff for these so-called hybrid scenarios during the last 6 months and the objective is to make adoption for the customer as easy and predictable as possible. Rapid-deployment solutions are becoming the new norm at SAP: they simply deliver value rapidly.

Markus, what’s the intent of the SAP Rapid Deployment solution just released?

The main focus of course is to provide customers with smooth integration between the SAP ERP Human Capital Management (SAP ERP HCM) solution and SuccessFactors Business Execution Suite. This should in turn make it easier for customers already using SAP ERP HCM to decide to use the SuccessFactors Business Execution Suite for their talent management processes and therefore to adopt the hybrid model in the HCM area.

What are the typical problems seen in customer installations when it comes to integration, that is: what are the business problems that the solution is addressing?

Customers encounter a number of challenges when it comes to integration, including for example:

• Lack of standard integration content (connectors and mappings)

• Lack of process integration

• Lack of end-to-end monitoring

• Home-grown file-transfer mechanisms that are susceptible to errors

And this is where the solution delivers value to the customer, by integrating a hybrid HR environment of on-premise SAP ERP HCM and SuccessFactors Business Execution smoothly. This means the customer can leverage existing investments in the on-premise world while at the same time consuming rapid innovation delivered via the cloud.

In short, customers can spend less time “managing” the integration and more time using and benefitting from it.

So what exactly does the solution include in the way of services?

Well, the goal is to get the customer up and running in as short a timeframe as possible, so the services offered are geared to achieving exactly that: web services need to be configured; content needs to be deployed for SAP NetWeaver Process Orchestration for employee data, compensation planning data, and workforce analytics; SAP NetWeaver Process Orchestration needs to be configured for connectivity with SAP ERP HCM and SuccessFactors BizX; additional customer-specific extensions to standard content may be needed. And so on. These steps are all included in the scope of the service offering.

As Rainer mentioned earlier: Rapid Deployment Solutions can be implemented by SAP partners, and not just by SAP’s consulting organization, and this one is no exception: in fact, an SAP partner was also involved in the project to develop the solution before release.

And the solution covers all of the activities needed at a fixed price?

Yes, all at a fixed price. And – assuming the customer staffs the project appropriately and is able to provide the details of the process to be configured – they can be up and running with this integration in as little as 5 weeks. Of course – depending on the exact scenario – there’s also some work to be done on the SuccessFactors side. And we are assuming a running configuration on the SuccessFactors side, of course. But 5 weeks is feasible to get the integration up and running.

5 weeks. Impressive. How does that break down into a concrete implementation project?

The first week would typically be spent kicking off the project, including a detailed technical check that the prerequisites are met. The next 3 weeks or so are what we call the “deploy” phase, during which a number of things happen, including activation and configuration of the solution, training of key users, preparing the data as necessary, testing, preparing for the switch to the production environment and so on. The final week of the project sees handover to the customer.

Many customers have already developed their own file-based integration between SAP and SuccessFactors. Does this rapid deployment solution bring benefits for them?

Absolutely. Of course, they do not have to move away from what they are doing. But the template approach provided by this solution is faster and less error-prone than home-grown file-transfer mechanisms. And the use of middleware for the integration also brings benefits: point-to-point integration does not support the different lifecycles of on-premise and cloud solutions. Middleware provides additional flexibility to integrate different data models and makes it easier to implement customer-specific extensions.

Final question for you, Markus: where can customers find more information?

I can point you to the Rapid Deployment Solutions site on sap.com, which also includes a link to a step-by-step guide which provides more details on the steps involved in execution of a project based on the solution.

Important update (19th December 2012): some of the first comments question the prerequisite releases, stating that the package is only released for EhP5 and greater. This is incorrect, based on an incorrect piece of information that has now been corrected in the source document. The prerequistes are as stated at SAPPHIRE NOW in May 2012: all releases from ECC 6.0 onwards (i.e. SAP ERP HCM without enhancement packages, SAP ERP HCM enhancement package 1, SAP ERP HCM enhancement package 2 etc.). I would like to apologise for the confusion this incorrect piece of information may have caused and ask you to contact me directly (paul.hopkins@sap.com) if you have any remaining concerns or questions about prerequisite release levels).

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16 Comments

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  1. Former Member

    Hi Paul!

    As I understand this RDS requires EHP5 or EHP6.

    What was the reason? As I remember, solution was pre announced for ERP 6.0 of any release at may SAPPHIRE NOW.

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    1. Paul Hopkins Post author

      Hi Vasiliy,

      thank you for pointing out this discrepancy. In fact, as I have stated in an update to the original article, the RDS requires ECC 6.0, i.e. it is released for all releases starting with ECC 6.0. A customer does NOT have to be using EhP5 or EhP6 to benefit from the integration, we have made the “hurdle” as low as we can.

      I’m pretty sure I know where you are getting the information re: EhP5 / 6 from, but just to make sure that I root out all inconsistencies re: communication of prerequisities, I’d be very grateful if you could send me a brief mail (paul.hopkins@sap.com) pointing to the source of the inaccurate information. Thanks!

      Prerequisities for integration between SAP and SuccessFactors remain as communicated at SAPPHIRE now in May 2012.

      Best regards

      Paul

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  2. Former Member

    Thanks for posting more info on the RDS – that’s a good bit of progress. It seems to me that 5 weeks is a really optimistic expectation to set for this. It’s problematic any time an implementation timeframe is communicated because the process can be very different from one client to another.

    Some important steps seem missing to me, including formation of the team, testing (unit, QA/integration, and possibly parallel), and change management. I don’t know of any company that would do all this directly in a productive environment – so we would start in development, do the unit testing, move to QA and do more integrated testing there and then move to production when it’s all confirmed and signed-off as ‘ready’. What about training the staff – both in the business unit and in IT? And sometimes it takes 5 weeks for customers to even get a team in place.

    I don’t doubt the technical value of this RDS and that it saves time. But there is so much more to such a project than the technical steps – and we can’t lose sight of that.

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    1. Paul Hopkins Post author

      Hi Steve,

      thanks for taking the time to read the article and post your comment.

      As to the steps required: you’re right to mention all of the steps you mention, they are indeed part of the scope of any implementation project, based on RDS or not.

      However, the list of steps mentioned in the article was not meant to be exhaustive, just an example of the kinds of things covered. The “step-by-step” guide covers all of the steps that you have mentioned (and more).

      >And sometimes it takes 5 weeks for customers to even get a team in place

      Yes, unfortunately that is true…and even then: 5 weeks is fast in comparison to some cases ;-).

      As the article says: “assuming the customer staffs the project appropriately and is able to provide the details of the process to be configured – they can be up and running with this integration in as little as 5 weeks”.

      And I stand by that statement based on what we have done internally and what some of the first customer projects are showing, even if the assumption (the customer staffs the project appropriately) will not be valid in some cases.

      >there is so much more to such a project than the technical steps – and we can’t lose sight of that.

      Believe me, after 23 years in the industry, both on the customer and on the vendor side, I know that ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Best regards

      Paul

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    2. Luke Marson

      Hi Steve,

      You might not have looked at the detail on the RDS website, but as a note to the heading “Implement in as little as 5 weeks”:

      The examples shown in this preview step-by-step guide are for informational purposes only and do not represent any commitments by SAP and/or its partner to deliver these assets. Actual pricing, costs, and implementation results may vary, based on customer-specific requirements and needs.

      I guess that 5 weeks is the quickest time, but it is likely to take longer for some of the more “challenging” customers out there.

      Best regards,

      Luke

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  3. Jarret Pazahanick

    Thanks for the blog Paul and just curious if you could give some examples on whatadditional customer-specific extensions to standard content may be needed. These steps are all included in the scope of the service offering” means for customers.

    Vasiliy it is my understanding that this RDS has the following software requirements which Paul can correct if I am mistaken.

    • Integration add-on 1.0 SP02 for SAP ERP Human Capital Management and SuccessFactors Business Execution
    • SAP ERP Human Capital Management (SAP ERP HCM) in the following versions or higher:
      • SAP enhancement package (EHP) 5 for SAP ERP 6.0, SPS 03 (12/2010) EA-HR 605, SP 05
      • EHP6 for SAP ERP 6.0, SPS 01 (11/2011) EA-HR 606, SP 01
    • One of the following versions or higher of SAP NetWeaver Process Orchestration
      • SAP NetWeaver PI 7.1, EHP1, SPS 08 (minimum requirement for dual-stack deployment)
      • SAP NetWeaver PI 7.3, SPS 05 (minimum requirement for Java-only deployment)
    • SuccessFactors Business Execution Suite 1210

    On a side great comment Steve and I enjoyed your blog Get Real as well


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    1. Paul Hopkins Post author

      Hi Jarret,

      thanks for taking the time to read the blog and post your comment.

      >curious if you could give some examples on what additional customer-specific extensions to standard content may be needed

      You probably know that the integration add-on gives the customer the ability to adapt some of the extraction logic that we provide as standard (using BAdI’s).

      One example I encountered yesterday with one of our largest joint SAP-SFSF customers (>300,000 employees) is the following: the employee/org data extract also contains the field “gender” which we populate as standard with the field GESCH (as in German “Geschlecht”) from IT0002. The customer in question doesn’t maintain this field in the on-premise HCM system, so in this case the field “gender” will be derived from the “Form of address” (i.e. Mr., Mrs. etc).

      Another example would be the population of the custom fields contained in the interface: are they all to be left empty? Or is there other information needed to support talent processes on the SuccessFactors side that need to be extracted from the on-premise world and made available?

      So when I refer to “customer-specific extenstions to standard content”, this is the kind of thing I am thinking of.

      Hope that helps!

      Best regards

      Paul

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      1. Jarret Pazahanick

        Thanks Paul as my question was more around “These steps are all included in the scope of the service offering” as that level of customization (ie Badi) would seem to be specific by client with varying levels of complexity so wondering how that is positioned in this RDS offering as that would on surface be challenging. Any insights would be appreciated.

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      2. Former Member

        Hi Paul, great blog, and thank you for the clarification on the release requirement, for a moment you left me stumped!

        In the country of the above-referred customer, I believe that GESCH is derived from ANRED as a standard logic, no? so as you mention, it is provided to the interface in that form.

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    2. Paul Hopkins Post author

      Hi Jarret,

      yes, you are mistaken on release levels…but the root cause of this piece of misinformation is elsewhere, so don’t worry: I won’t shoot the messenger ๐Ÿ˜‰

      The package is released for all SAP ERP HCM releases on or above ECC 6.0. We will correct and rerelease the documentation that is the base for the incorrect information as soon as possible.

      Please help me spread the (correct!) word and clear up any misunderstandings that may be out there.

      Thanks to Vasiliy for asking the initial question, without which I would not have had a chance to spot the error and take remedial action.

      Best regards

      Paul

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      1. Jarret Pazahanick

        Thanks for the clarity Paul as I was lucky enough to get a briefing on this functionality from the RDS team (under NDA) 7 weeks ago and as you mentioned the SAP documentation will be updated. Great to see the value of the SAP community and comment thread to ensure there is no confusion even on small questions.

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  4. Luke Marson

    Hi Paul,

    Great blog and I’m glad our last blog inspired another Q&A blog – I do enjoy this format and hope that it catches on a bit more in the community.

    One thing I noticed is that you mention NW Process Orchestration. This is the first I’ve heard of this technology being used and adds a bit more complexity to the integration “landscape”. What roles doe PO play vs PI or HCI? Is PO only used for the RDS or will it be usable with the current and future integration packages released by SAP?

    Best regards,

    Luke

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    1. Paul Hopkins Post author

      Hi Luke,

      thanks for your comments. And yes, let’s hope the Q&A format style blog catches on. Then we go down in history as trendsetters ๐Ÿ˜‰

      I certainly didn’t mean to confuse anyone by using the term Process Orchestration, and – and this is the important point – this is NOT new technology or only to be used for the RDS.

      “So”, I hear you ask, “what *is* SAP NetWeaver Process Orchestration?”

      “Well, you can find further details in this SCN article (http://scn.sap.com/docs/DOC-27464), but simply put PO=BPM+BRM+PI…Or rather: SAP NetWeaver Process Orchestration combines SAP NetWeaver Business Process Management, SAP NetWeaver Business Rules Management and SAP NetWeaver Process Integration into one integrated offering.

      For the purposes of the integration between SAP ERP HCM and SuccessFactors BizX, it’s the Process Integration component that’s important here”.

      So, for the purposes of this blog article, there is no difference between SAP NetWeaver Process Orchestration and SAP NetWeaver Process Integration. So a customer using PI (release 7.1 EhP1 SPS08 onwards) has the right “piece” of integration technology in place.

      Hope this helps!

      Best regards

      Paul

      PS: did you like the way I transferred the Q&A style from the main article to the comments?! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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