Traditionally any SAP HR implementation, will involve multiple interfaces. These interfaces are typically with Benefit, Time or Recruitment based systems. The key business characteristics of such interfaces are
- Transmission of PII ( personal information, including Social Security Numbers, Salary etc.) data
- Ability to secure information both at rest and in transit
- Ability to transmit high volume of data, typically around employee demographics
- Predominantly file based interfaces
I have been a part of a few such implementations and observe that customers continue to use legacy file transmission processes (mostly FTP scripts etc.) for SAP integration and have not been very keen to use SAP PI. The major concern was the inability of PI (until recently) to support their strong security needs, along with issues related to high volume data transfers.
In my opinion this leads to the following:
- A un-managed integration model, which involves multiple FTP programs, causing a maintenance nightmare
- Lack of central monitoring
- In ability to support orchestration requirements
- High effort to implement non-traditional ( non-file based integration) with cutting edge systems supporting cutting edge technologies like Cloud connectors, Rest based servers etc.
With the recent developments on functionality SAP PI can really be a Savior !
The following features can really help meeting the requirements:
- Security in Transmission
With the availability of the B2B Add-on, SAP PI supports an SFTP adapter for SSH based communication. This is in addition to SSL based FTPS communication which is available with the vanilla FTP adapter. These protocols support the requirements for security in transmission. To add, there is no additional cost associated with the SFTP adapter.
- Security at Rest
Along with security in transmission, there is always a requirement to have encrypted files both within the network and externally. SAP PI supports a PGP module which can be used for the same.
- Re usability – Publish Subscribe Model
HCM customers integrate with multiple vendors for business functions like employee benefits. Most of these vendors require employee demographic information (something like employee master data). SAP PI can be used as a publish-subscribe bus, with ECC generating the data via a generic interface, and PI mapping and transforming it to vendor format
- Cloud Integration/Availability ( Success Factors)
With the advent of Success Factors which is a new cloud based offering from SAP to support global HR foundation spanning across the recruit to retire cycle along with advanced analytic, SAP back-end system need to connect to this cloud based offering. This integration is possible via an on -premise or a on-demand PI solutions. There is standard SAP content available for this, and the integration is via the SOAP – Axis/SFTP adapters
This is in addition to consolidated Solution Manager based monitoring for PI and the Application systems, including defining of Alert Rules for critical interfaces like Payroll.
Overall this brings in the best practices to integration mechanisms by supporting the development of a consolidated message broker.
The additional cost that might be associated with PI, can be far more lesser than managing an unorganized interfacing architecture.