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Over the last couple of months I have received lots of questions from customers that want to integrate talent data from SuccessFactors talent modules into their SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse. In this blog I will inform you about the technical solution and the value add to your business.

SAP Data Services

In order to set up extraction from one data warehouse to another Data Integration software is required. Therefore, I will start with a brief explanation of the data integration solution SAP offers.

SAP Data Services delivers a single solution for data integration, data quality, data profiling, and text data processing. This solution that allows to integrate, transform, improve, and deliver trusted data to critical business processes.

The Data Services platform provides one development workbench, metadata repository, data connectivity layer, run-time environment, and a management console.  With SAP Data Services, IT organizations can use one single solution to gain access to heterogeneous sources and applications in order to extract data and optimize their data quality.

Predefined SuccessFactors adapter

Within this SAP Data Services platform we offer predefined adapters that serve as a connection between data sources. One of these sources is SuccessFactors. With Data Services 4.1 Support Package 1 a standard SuccessFactors adapter is delivered. This adapter connects to the SuccessFactors API (SFAPI) entities that contain the data. To establish this connection a SFAPI is leveraged as a data source.

The following image shows the jobserver with the established adapter for SuccessFactors.

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This adapter connects to the SFAPI entities and allows extraction via the Successfactors application layer into the SuccessFactors database layer to bring data into the SAP Data Services Designer. This data can be used as a source or a target in a Data Services dataflow. This means that data potentially can flow bi-directional.

The following image shows such a data flow that connects between the SFAPI entity and a database table.

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When data should be extracted from the cloud modules into the on-premise data warehouse this adapter enables a direct connection to the SFAPI entities and allows data extraction. Data can be extracted into either SAP HANA tables or in the SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse (BW). When extracting data into BW, please read the following wiki page: http://wiki.sdn.sap.com/wiki/display/EIM/Loading+BW

One of the features of Data Services is data extraction via job scheduling. This means that jobs can be set up that extract data from the cloud data warehouse. These jobs can be scheduled as often as required.

More information about SAP Data services and the SuccessFactors Adapter:

Use cases

As discussed I have talked to several customers about the desire to extract data. Based on these conversations we have formulated two main use cases.

  1. Consolidated HR Analytics
  2. Cross enterprise Analytics

Consolidated HR Analytics

Before I explain how consolidated HR Analytics in an on-premise data warehouse works I want to point out the capabilities of SuccessFactors Workforce Analytics. This solution comes with so much out-of-the-box content (much more as BW for HR offers), and standard integration from SAP HR into SuccessFactors. Therefore I advise all customers to first look into the powerful platform that SuccessFactors offers before building own integration on-premise. 

That said, for those customers that desire to extract data with the purpose to obtain one consolidated insight across all HR business processes, BW currently provides the most out-of-the-box business content. SAP offers BW content for all HR modules, like time management, payroll, personnel administration, and even talent modules.

However, when extracting talent data from SuccessFactors modules it should be considered if it makes sense to use the predefined talent management infocubes in BW, or to build new ones because table fields between SAP and SuccessFactors do not map 1:1. Therefore, it might make sense to use SAP standard talent management BW cubes as an example, and to create customer specific content in BW. Ultimately, the way the cubes are defined depends on what business questions should be answered with this data.

After data is brought to BW it can potentially be visualized in the recently delivered SAP Executive HR reporting rapid-deployment solution and SAP Advanced HR Analysis rapid-deployment solution. These solutions allow custom specific data models (like the ones that need to be created to integrate the Talent management data) to be included. This approach delivers a dedicated HR cockpit for executives and HR business partners. Directly from this cockpit HR business partners can deep-dive into the underlying data to explore data in greater detail and to support fact based HR decisions.

Cross enterprise Analytics

Most organizations still run finance, manufacturing and other business processes on-premise. Extracting data from the cloud Talent modules into the same on-premise Business Warehouse allows organizations to combine and use HR data with those other business processes. This provides great opportunities. One of the examples is the use of cross enterprise metrics in balanced score cards to provide one clear executive overview about the strategic direction of the organization. 
  
Customers that desire to go one level further, and need more advanced data exploration tools, can use SAP Predictive Analysis and SAP Visual Intelligence. Benefit of having data from cross enterprise processes present in one database is that these solutions will point out correlations and predictions that could not have been discovered with the bare eye.

 

Considerations

As discussed the established connection between SAP Data Services and SuccessFactors is set up via the SFAPI. When customers consider extracting data into on-premise data warehouses they should contact their SuccessFactors support representative to inquire support options and documentation. The support representative can inform about the different entities and provide information that will help to configure the extraction. 

I’m interested in your feedback on this functionality!

Best regards,

Frans 

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22 Comments

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  1. Henner Schliebs

    Awesome blog, Frans (as I have expected from you as a standard “rating”)!

    Let me quickly elaborate a little on the “advanced analytics” perspective you have given at the end, as this is the “latest & greatest” SAP offers regarding Analytics:

    SAP Predictive Analysis is a next generation data visualization, data mining and predictive modeling tool built for “normal” users that do not hold a PhD or are statisticians –> for the smart employee in any given department with a favor for numbers. There is no programming needed like in the tools that so called “big vendors” in this area offer. In addition the visualization is part of SAP Predictive Analysis (in other words: SAP Visual Intelligence is part of the Predictive Analysis tool), so after acquiring your data (Excel upload, HANA connection, any database integration) the HR employee wanting to analyze data can merge various datasets with the support of the tool, e.g. Employee Performance data, Cost Center structures, Revenues, Budgets etc where the common dimensions are intelligently matched to create a single view of the data. Further more hierarchies like geographies or time are created automatically as well. Now you can mine your data and e.g. figure out a correlation between L&T budget and revenues. This is done automatically by the system as well – no need to script an algorithm as they come out of the box. If needed you can connect to “R” (open source platform delivering some 3,500+ algorithms, more than the above mentioned “big players” deliver combined), again, no need to script.

    This example was a simple one. Imagine the possibilities you have if you include external data (intelligently brought in thru SAP EIM technology or other advanced Analytics solutions like SAP Sentiment Intelligence or even Talent Analytics data (external provider of data for employees’ innate traits KPIs) – how great would it be to understand the characteristics of people being successful in a certain role (combine performance with raw talent) and when hiring looking for people with the same? Or uncovering a correlation between people having certain employers in their CV and success in a certain role but not in another? Or the finding that certain activities of employees on certain social media platforms correlate to a higher risk of retention problems so you can proactively manage your high potentials / performers?

    Endless opportunities to arrive at HR Excellence, so you can better support your business – a status so many CHRO want to achieve to get assigned a seat in the board….

    As one of our big partners Deloitte USA does internally: get the competitive advantage during the sales pitch by knowing thru HR Analytics delivered to the sales teams: 360 degree view of the customer: employees having worked for the prospect, prospect’s employees being ex-Deloitte, which consultants run projects within the prospect, how many pitches by now – which were successful and why, which were lost and why etc…. All this thru sentiment analysis (browsing unstructured CVs, the alumni social platform, hourly reporting from consultants and CRM) delivered in dynamic and flexible reports and dashboards of the SAP BI Suite… Easy? Yes!

    More information about SAP Analytics applied to HR challenges can be found here.

    Don’t miss out on the opportunity to discuss with our experts from HCM SOlution Management (Frans, Kouros and JB) or our mentors like Jarret, Luke or others as well as the Analytics folks (me, Charles Gadalla, Tom Davenport). If you need contact to Talent Analytics let me know as well.

    So long,

    Henner

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  2. anandh kannan

    Dear Frans,

    You have summed up a wonderful article on HCM ! It was written precisely even the one who does have knowledge on human chain management can easily understand especially like how to setup extraction from one date warehouse to another and the usage of data integration s/w from SAP data services.It may also be helpful for business analysts to render projects to vendors and sub-vendors based on the skill set of its employee’s.Hence it becomes a boon for HR,Business,cross enterprise and research analysts and a bane to fraudsters .

    With regards,

    Anandh.k

    SAP Consultant/BA

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  3. Avi Luski

    Hi Frans,

    thanks for the Clear info.

    are you familiar with a use of DS to integrate HR code ( EC ) data from SF to ECC-HCM ?

    this is our “strange” case.

    we are trying to avoid the use of Boomi for this purpose ( we are trying to avoind introducing additional tech, in our organization ).

    thanks in advance

    Avi.

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    1. Frans Smolders Post author

      Hi Avi,

      Thanks for contacting me. Data services is great for Analytical content integration, however I would advice looking into the capabilities of NetWeaver PI or HANA Cloud Integration (HCI) for process integration software.

      In addition it makes sense to lok into our standard predefined integration scenarios:

      Hope this is helpful

      cheers,

      Frans

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      1. Praveen Munduparambil Rajan

        Hi Frans,

        We need to extract Learning data from SF into Business Warehouse through Data Service. We are using the DS SF adapter and is using the Bizx url as the web service end point while creating the data store.  We have managed to successfully connect to SF (we could see some of the tables in SF), but when the Jobs are scheduled in DS we are getting Insufficient permission error.  What all roles (permissions) the user id needs to have, so that we can successfully load the tables in DS.

        We are not able to see any learning related tables also. Is it because the learning related data is not present in Bizx. ?

        Thanks & Regards,

        Praveen

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        1. Ben Hofmans

          Hi Praveen,

          For the permissions problem: make sure the user you use to connect to the SF API has the correct permissions set in “Manage API Logon Permission”. In addition to API Login Permission, there are permissions that control access to data in the SFAPI. The permissions vary depending on the data being accessed.

          But you were specifically asking about learnig related tables. These are indeed not exposed through the SF API yet. There are alternatives to extract data from the learning module, but you would need to use a REST based or OData based API (both can be used in Data Services). Please check with your SuccessFactors consultants on what’s the best way to expose the data you need, next you can use the selected API from Data Services to extract tha data.

          Kind regards,

          Ben Hofmans.

          Product Manager SAP Data Services.

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          1. Praveen Munduparambil Rajan

            Hi Ben,

            Yes we are specifically looking at extracting learning related data from SF. If we need use REST based or OData based APIs to extract learning data do we need to perform any specific changes in the SF side ?

            Thanks & Regards,

            Praveen

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            1. Andreas Grabher

              Dear Praveen,

              I’m also trying to extract learning related data from SF. Could you finally get the data out of SF and how did you do that? Any input would be highly appreciated!

              Thanks and Best regards,

              Andreas

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          2. Andreas Grabher

            Hello Ben,

            do you have more information on the REST or OData based APIs? Which data can be accessed using these APIs? Is there a Step-by-Step configuration guide available?

            Thank you and best regards,

            Andreas

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  4. Georgi Pavlov

    Hi Frans,

    Does the DS SF adapter handle transparently the result set length limitation for the SFAPI query operation?

    That is, can I just get all the data by just specifying the SFQL query and expect the adapter to call the query and queryMore operations transparently for me until I get the whole resultset?

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    1. Ben Hofmans

      Georgi, yes, that’s exactly what the DS SF apdater is doing. It hides all the complexity behind the webservice calls. The “query more” is just one example. (another example would be for authetication where DS will handles the session management.)

      Thanks,

      Ben.

      – Product Owner SAP Data Services & SAP HANA Cloud Integration for data services

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  5. Avi Luski

    hi Georgi

    we are not using DS and used PI ( process integration ) SF adapter ( there is an ODATA and SOAP adapters ) and updated DSO in BW.

    we created a fictive “timestamp” and managed it as a delta in BW.

    Good Luck !

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  6. Eriki Gopi

    I am exploring BODS-SF Adapter to pull employee data into BW for analytics. Does the adapter has capability to changed/Delta record extraction?

    Thanks

    Gopikrishna

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  7. Nikhil Sakhuja

    Hi Frans,

    Thanks for the very elaborative blog.

    The blog very clearly specifies how BODS can be used to extract the Success Factors data into BW using pre delivered SFAPIs. I also understand that we can use HCI or PI also for the same purpose.

    However, I would like to know if there are any pre-delivered Success Factors extractors that can be directly utilized for this purpose? If not, is there any roadmap in this direction?

    Thanks & Regards,

    Nikhil Sakhuja

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    1. Avi Luski

      Hi

      there are 2 standard PI adapter ( SOAP and ODATA ) you should check which API you need.

      we are using PI to integrate SF to BW , working very good !!!

      most of the API can expose timestamp and this is used in our case for delta.

      since BW can consume WEBservices ( even without PI ) you can consider this as well but it will be harder to monitor and to customize.

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      1. M Q

        Hi Avi,

        Thanks for sharing your experience. Were the delta’s being handled by PI using dyanmic End Point URL’s?

        As you PI pushes delta loads, how are you handling any need for doing a repair full load into BW?

        Thanks!

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  8. David Cuff

    Hi Frans

     

    My company is busy with a SF implementation of EC, Recruitment, Learning and ECP.

     

    I am trying to understand whether the SFAPI mentioned above is only for Learning or is it actually the BizX platform.  My understanding is that Learning is a separate system so if the SFAPI is part of BizX then we would need to ensure that all learning data required is interface dfrom Learning to BizX.

     

    Regards

     

    Dave Cuff

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