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How many SuccessFactors Integration related blogs have you seen?  There are quite a few on SCN – a lot of good ones with options, approaches, opinions and suggestions to integrate with SuccessFactors. Most of these options, however, have one eye fixed on SAP HCM and the other looking for the integration options. None of these (or at least I couldn’t find one) have SuccessFactors at the center and talk about various SuccessFactors capability and how each of these can be utilized for SAP or non-SAP integration.


Integration Architect Perspective

From an Integration Architect perspective, understanding of SuccessFactors integration capabilities helps them design the integration landscape with SuccessFactors.

  • Can I utilize a SOA based integration model for this interface?
  • Does my middleware have the capability to do this integration out of box?
  • Should I use an ETL tool instead of a middleware?
  • Where will the business logic reside?
  • Do I need to stage some date?
  • What integration patterns can be utilized?

SuccessFactors Technical Integration Option

In order to understand some of the above questions, you need to understand the technical ways in which SuccessFactors system can integrate to external systems and the advantages(+)/ disadvantages(-) for each of these approaches:


1. SFAPI: This is a SOAP based web-service designed to connect to SuccessFactors tables called Entities or SFObjects. This web-service is stateful, i.e., the web-service must keep track of the session which is maintained using HTTP cookie.

+ SFAPI provides CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) operations to import or export data to or from SuccessFactors.

+ SFAPI calls can be monitored within the instance using SFAPI Audit Log option. SFAPI is capable for extracting almost all types of data SuccessFactors has.

There are a few exception e.g. MDF (Metadata Framework) based objects, e.g. Positions where you need to use another API called OData API.

The session request for accessing SFAPI has to be initiated by external application (or middleware) and therefore the trigger point is not controlled by SuccessFactors.


2. OData API: A newer option provided by SuccessFactors to integrate with the external systems is the OData API. OData is built on HTTP at its core and the OData API is based on REST architecture.

+ It is also the direction where SuccessFactors is focusing their investment which makes it a suitable candidate for your upcoming integrations.

+ MDF objects are also exposed through this OData API. E.g. Position data can be extracted using OData API.

+ With 1408 release, you can also see the OData API Dictionary within the instance.

There is still some data that cannot be extracted using OData API. For such cases, you have to use SFAPI.

– The session request for accessing SFAPI has to be initiated by external application (or middleware) and therefore the trigger point is not controlled by   SuccessFactors.


3. File Based Communications: The traditional yet easy and powerful way to import or export data to or from SuccessFactors is using the File based communication. There are 2 ways in which you can use File based integration:

         

Manual File Based:

+ You may import/export data directly from/ to your local computer where you are accessing SuccessFactors.     

+ You may use Instance as well as Provisioning for this manual transfer.

+ As you use a secure URL to access SucccessFactors, the manual import process uses HTTPS protocol within.

– The greater flexibility also comes with greater risk of exposing data with locally stored files.


Automated File Based:

+ You can schedule file import/ export as batch jobs.

+ This is the only way to automate file import/ export.

The jobs are scheduled using Provisioning which clients usually do not have access to.

This has to be done through SFTP server (FTP support is approaching its end). No other mechanisms like JMS supported.


Other Integration

Various SuccessFactors module specific integration are supported as well. The modules that support other integration are:

  • Learning Management Solution – JDBC based integration
  • JAM – The Jam API provides the skeleton for integration external applications with Jam.
  • Assessment Integration – Event subscription based integration available for assessment vendors like SHL and PeopleAnswers.

Summary

The SFAPI and OData API options does provide service based integration capabilities. But the pull nature of service integration makes it less suitable candidate for a real-time integration (which is not always a requirement for an HR systems). A middleware capable of consuming these services should be able to integrate with SF. Although SuccessFactors/SAP recommends some middleware options for both SAP and non-SAP customers, it would be good to know that the final choice of middleware is not technologically limited.

References:

Testing OData API

Testing SFAPI

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7 Comments

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  1. Luke Marson

    Good summary Prateek. In addition to these are also the Employee Central Compound API, other integrations for SuccessFactors Learning (e.g. for PayPal), and SAP Data Services.

    As a side note, all of these options will be covered in the 2nd edition of the SAP Press book on SuccessFactors.

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  2. Lucian Thomas

    Interesting summary,

    I have noticed that there are built in programs, for example  RH_SFI_TRIGGER_EMPL_DATA_REPL, in the Success Factors (SF) Integration add-on that help with the extraction of data from SAP. However there are a number of fields left out by the export programs for example internal/external work experience, education and courses to name a few.

    One option to retrieve this data left out by the extraction program is a quick and dirty download (from SAP) / upload ( to Success Factors) using a .csv extension file. In my opinion this seems a bit crude.

    Maybe there is something I am missing?

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    1. Luke Marson

      Background elements aren’t included in the add-on, just the basic user import files. You need to build background elements integration yourself, although you can use the SFSF Adapter in SAP PI for this.

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      1. Lucian Thomas

        Question… Once the download of the background elements are completed, I’m assuming there will be need to update these background elements occasionally. Is there any simple way that a download of updated data can be done? Would future automation of these updates need to be programmed by the customer?

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  3. Alim Ahmed Momin

    Hi Prateek,

    I am from HCI background for C4C Sales and know what it takes to integrate On Premise to Web Dispatcher(Load Balancer) to HCI to Cloud and also reverse way. I am new to Success Factors.

    However, I could not find anything in docs OR blogs, mentioned specifically for On Premise to Web Dispatcher(Load Balancer) to HCI to SF Cloud and also reverse way.

    Could you please provide me some link/blog where it explains Success Factors to On Premise Integration points, pre-requisites and all steps.

    Alim

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