Highlights of the b1402 Release for SuccessFactors Learning
It’s that time again for SuccessFactors, four times a year where updates are pushed out in the cloud for customers of all shapes and sizes. The Learning module was the recipient of quite a few updates in the b1402 release. In this blog I wanted to highlight some of the updates I see as the stars of the show so to speak. Full details on the release can be found through SuccessFactors on the partner portal or customer community pages.
Instructor Biography and Instructor Tile
For customers who track instructors (both internal and external) within the LMS, this new functionality for the Instructor Biography and Instructor Tile will be a welcome addition. Within the Instructor record, you can now store a plain text biography for the instructor (up to 4000 bytes). This is enough space for a short text bio on the instructor to provide users with information on the person’s background. It is recommended to keep these bios to a few key sentences about the instructor.
The biography for the instructor can then be seen in the new Instructor Tile. The Instructor Tile is used to show users who will be teaching upcoming instructor-led offerings. This tile can be used on the Curriculum Cover Page to highlight primary instructors of instructor-led items contained in the curriculum. Secondary instructors are not included in this tile. The tile will display primary instructors with their photo (if provided), name, title, and biography.
Scheduled Offering Tile
Another new tile that is being introduced is the Scheduled Offering tile, which in my opinion is quite slick. This tile is available to use on the user’s learning page with the existing titles. The functionality behind this tile automatically searches for scheduled offerings based on the user’s current learning assignments and curriculum assignments. The tile will then suggest upcoming scheduled offerings for these items via the Scheduled Offering tile. Recommended scheduled offerings that are shown in the tile are geographically near the user and scheduled for the near future. This tile can help users identify scheduled offerings of interest to them without having to manually do their own searches.
The tile looks for the soonest 20 scheduled offerings under the following rules:
- Scheduled offerings in the user’s catalog(s) (i.e. – user must have access to them)
- Scheduled offerings in user’s region (first), then completes search (if needed) without regard to region
- Scheduled offerings for which the user is not already enrolled
- Results are sorted by earliest start date, with the three earliest offerings appearing on the tile which the user can expand to see the full list of up to 20 offerings that are recommended
The Scheduled Offering tile is available for use on the learning landing page, as mentioned previously, and can also be used on the curriculum cover page as well.
Curriculum Cover Page (technically not new)
While the Curriculum Cover Page was introduced in the b1311 release, I do want to mention it briefly here as it can contain both the Instructor Tile and the Scheduled Offering tile that are introduced in this b1402 release. The Curriculum Cover Page allows admins to create custom landing pages for curricula that allow for basic HTML design in order to provide the user with tailored information on the curriculum in a nice, formatted layout. An example of a Curriculum Cover Page with the new Instructor and Scheduled Offering tile can be seen in the screen shot below.
Item Cover Page
While the Curriculum Cover Page might not be new to release b1402, the Item Cover Page is. The idea here is the same though, providing the admin the ability to create a custom cover page for an item with basic HTML editing in an effort to provide further details on the item in a visually pleasing manner. The screen shot below illustrates a basic Item Cover Page.
In comparison to the Curriculum Cover Page, the Item Cover Page can only be branded with custom content (i.e. – your own basic HTML design, images, and links). The new Instructor and Scheduled Offering Tiles cannot be added to item cover pages like they can in this release to curriculum cover pages, but let’s hope that will be made available in a future update.
While SuccessFactors Learning has provided the ability to store and display user photos before, these photos have resided within the LMS directly from a technical standpoint. User photos can continue to be stored in the LMS, but with release b1402, integrated customers can now use personnel photos from BizX so photos do not have to be managed in two places.
Integrating BizX photos in the LMS is pretty straightforward and requires the following:
- The hideUserPhotosGallery setting in the LMS_ADMIN configuration property file must be set to false
- A user’s Native Deeplink User setting is set to No
The locations within the LMS where the user photos are visible have not changed and continue to be the following:
One key point to note, BizX photos are not imported into the LMS database. Each day they are cached, and the server will refresh once a day. When setting up the photo sync, this could mean you may need to wait up to 24 hours to see the user photos in the LMS. When I set this up in my own LMS instance, however, I saw my photo instantly in the LMS (and it didn’t break the screen, so that’s a plus).
Is Supervisor Assignment Profile Attribute
In a previous blog, I discussed the importance of Assignment Profiles in SuccessFactors Learning. In a recent discussion with a client, where I went through what Assignment Profiles can be used for and how they work, a question was asked in regards to identifying supervisors via an Assignment Profile. Prior to this release, there was no straightforward way to identify supervisors in general. Attributes exist for Supervisor ID (but you’d have to call out every individual supervisor here, not feasible), Job Code ID (depends on how your job codes are setup and if they would correlate to supervisors, but again not ideal), and Custom Columns (maybe you are using a custom column to identify supervisors), but none of these provided a standard, straightforward way to call out all users who supervise other users.
In my experience with Learning organizations so far, I cannot recall coming across an organization who didn’t offer some type of training that was meant for individuals in supervisory roles (whether all supervisors or a subset of supervisors). Back to my conversation with my client, unfortunately this was a gap from our recent discussion as they do have supervisor training they would like to automatically assign to users. Now with this new profile attribute in release b1402, the gap is no longer there and the system can provide this functionality going forward. Funny how things work out sometimes. The screen shot below illustrates this new profile attribute for Assignment Profiles.
These b1402 release updates for SuccessFactors Learning are only a small portion of what is being made available in the full release, however, I consider these to be the highlights. As an SAP HCM consultant, it’s definitely a change to get used to four releases a year that are made available to customers automatically without having to go through the pain of an on-premise upgrade, which is a big selling feature of cloud vs. on-premise systems. For anyone reading this blog who is directly involved with SuccessFactors Learning, whether as a consultant or an end user, I would love to hear your feedback on this release and the updates you see as big wins for your purposes.