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Ensuring the Success of Your SAP® SuccessFactors® Solutions: A Step-by-Step Guide


Adopt Software as a Service to Meet Strategic Business Goals

Software as a service, or SaaS, is an innovative way of delivering applications over the Internet as a service. When administered correctly, SaaS applications save your organization time and money, allowing teams to focus on developing simple, streamlined processes that make sure your business – and the technology supporting it – runs as efficiently as possible. With SAP® SuccessFactors® solutions, you get the functionality and flexibility your business needs to meet strategic goals.


SAP SuccessFactors solutions offer a superior human capital management (HCM) experience –from “hire to retire” – through our integrated talent management and core human resources (HR) solutions. We recognize that effectively administering and governing a configurable SaaS system can be challenging, and it requires a partnership between the customer and the provider. This document helps you determine how best to govern, administer, and monitor your SAP SuccessFactors solutions in order to support an effective HCM and talent management strategy to drive your business toward success.


SaaS applications have a number of advantages over traditional on-premise software delivery. With SaaS, your initial costs are lower due to infrastructure and licensing fees. Relying on SaaS providers frees you from having to manage complex updates and upgrades or having to invest in additional hardware to run the application. SaaS also simplifies the management of your growing or evolving user base, so you have more time to focus on configuring and administering a solution that meets the needs of your business. Your employees can access SaaS applications from any compatible device anywhere, so they don’t need to be tethered to their desks in order to complete important work processes.


SAP® SuccessFactors® solutions offer software as a service (SaaS), so you can deliver applications over the Internet and enjoy inherent benefits over on-premise delivery of software. SaaS applications help you to:

  • Lower costs for licensing, infrastructure, and management
  • Streamline technology processes
  • Reduce IT management effort
  • Allow more time to devote to business at hand
  • Enable greater productivity with mobile access
  • Run your business and technology more efficiently



Investing in a SaaS solution may include risks such as a lack of established strategy, poor data quality, ineffective change management, and the automation of poor or inadequate processes. You can mitigate such risks by employing a proper governance structure.

Despite the benefits of adopting a SaaS model to support your HR processes, software alone doesn’t guarantee the creation and maintenance of effective HR practices that enable your people to carry out your company’s strategy. This requires a cross-collaborative effort that takes time, resources, and planning. If that sounds like a lot of work, it is – but the payoff to your business is enormous. Our mission is to arm you with the knowledge and tools you need to effectively govern your SAP SuccessFactors solutions.

As organizations grow in complexity and expand their use of technology, it makes less sense to give full authority over a SaaS system to one person or team. As multiple work streams come together to ensure the success of a system in supporting your business processes, there needs to be some sort of overseeing body or team.

You and your team need to make decisions in partnership with key business stakeholders and internal customers, both in terms of initial configuration and over time as your company’s strategy and priorities change. In order to be effective, these decisions need to be centralized and made with a holistic view of the system and your HR strategy in mind. These decisions also require a comprehensive understanding of the benefits or downstream impact associated with them – an understanding that is informed from cross-team collaboration and one that will need to be monitored over time.


SAP® SuccessFactors® solutions offer integrated talent management, human capital management (HCM), and core human resources (HR) solutions that support all aspects of recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and managing employees from hire through retire. Enterprise offerings include:

  • SAP SuccessFactors Compensation solution
  • SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central solution
  • SAP SuccessFactors Learning solution
  • SAP SuccessFactors Onboarding solution
  • SAP SuccessFactors Performance & Goals solution
  • SAP SuccessFactors Recruiting solution
  • SAP SuccessFactors Succession & Development solution
  • SAP SuccessFactors Workforce Planning solution
  • And many others

Software-as-a-service applications and the SAP SuccessFactors Mobile solution give you additional deployment choices and functionality.


Follow the Steps to Success


SAP SuccessFactors solutions are most effectively implemented and maintained when a team within your organization is responsible for making strategic decisions. An important function of the governance team is to document any changes to the system along with the business decisions surrounding these changes. Ideally, the team will have a concrete understanding of both the business processes supported by the technology and the possibilities within the technology itself.

Identifying the Objectives of the Governing Board

A governing board ultimately acts as a “steering committee” that is responsible for administering new features, reviewing system functionality, and understanding the holistic impact of enablement, training, and change management. The board ensures that each decision made around the system is viewed from all possible angles, so all benefits or negative impacts are considered in context of the broader HR strategy and work streams.

The governing board also aims to ensure that system functionality and usage within the

organization matches the processes and outcomes your organization is ultimately trying to obtain. For instance, the board verifies that the system designed to support performance management fits with the processes the company has developed to drive increased performance among employees.

Designating Key Stakeholders

The governing board should include key members from various functions who will be most impacted by the system or any changes made to the system. Depending on the modules within SAP SuccessFactors solutions that you’ve purchased and implemented, representatives may include:

  • Business leads
  • Key and “super” administrative users
  • Executive sponsors
  • Legal representatives
  • IT and system integration professionals
  • HR directors, business process owners, or anyone responsible for making key decisions around HR process design
  • An SAP SuccessFactors solutions account manager who knows your system and business goals


Effectively administering and governing a configurable SaaS system can be challenging, and it requires a partnership between the customer and the provider. We offer an effective HCM and talent management strategy to drive your business toward success.


Determining How the Governing Board Will Operate

There are many different ways that you might execute as a governing body, and what works in one organization may not work in others. However, in our extensive experience with customers, we’ve found that the most effective governing bodies have characteristics in common. Specifically, governing boards:

  • Actively participate in guiding and overseeing the implementation of SAP SuccessFactors solutions, signing off on goals at each stage of the implementation and beyond
  • Ensure any changes are properly documented along with the business reasons for the changes
  • Are aware of and proactively manage risks associated with deploying a SaaS solution
  • Identify key performance indicators (KPIs) that determine the outcomes the SAP SuccessFactors solutions seek to impact
  • Continually communicate the vision and business objectives to all members of the project team – this remains at the forefront
  • Support and reinforce organizational changes at each stage of the implementation and beyond
  • Set the appropriate project management structures in place to execute on the project plan
  • Actively manage and plan for new releases
  • Meet at least quarterly to align on key topics

Additionally, effective governing boards discuss issues, challenges, and opportunities related to the following topics:

  • HR program review – looking at what is currently happening in the business and with the company’s HR strategy
  • System projects review and planning
  • Planned communications and trainings
  • Future system enhancements and product releases
  • Resource and budget planning for any changes that will be made
  • Carefully planned and executed system
  • administration
  • Ongoing system activity and usage
  • How best to measure and track the success of the implementation of SAP SuccessFactors solutions

Your governing team should be knowledgeable about the overall role that SAP SuccessFactors solutions play across the organization and how they integrate together as well as with other solutions. Your team should be able to articulate how

business strategy informs HR strategy, which is itself supported by the features and usage of the technology. Essentially, the governing board forms and executes the project plan related to implementing and maintaining SAP SuccessFactors solutions in a way that will best support the needs of your business.


The creation and maintenance of effective HR practices requires a cross-collaborative effort. Our mission is to arm you with the knowledge and tools you need to effectively govern your SAP SuccessFactors solutions.


Figure 1 shows an example of a governing board. Your own organization’s governance team may look slightly different, depending on your key stakeholders and what you want to achieve with your SAP SuccessFactors solutions.

Figure 2 identifies key considerations your governing board members should consider. It also shows a more detailed review of the relationships between business strategy, HR processes, and technology that your governing team is responsible for understanding, articulating, and influencing.






Once the governing board has made key decisions regarding your SAP SuccessFactors solutions, someone needs to ensure the changes are being made and adopted. This is where your system administrators come in. System administrators handle all operations pertaining to the system, including upkeep, configuration, reliability, and ongoing tracking and monitoring of KPIs, such as user adoption and program completion success.

System administration is a complex job that requires a certain skill set and level of interest. Further, system administration isn’t something that should be passed off to one individual – depending on the modules within SAP SuccessFactors solutions that

you’ve purchased, you may need a team of people responsible for maintaining end-user adoption and system upkeep.

Ideally, system administrators are analytical, good problem solvers, able to connect different pieces of information, resourceful, and technically savvy. Additionally, system administrators should

have a good understanding of both the strategic and functional intentions your company has for your SAP SuccessFactors solutions.

Assessing How Many System Administrators

You Need

The ideal number of system administrators varies depending on the size and complexity of your solutions. SAP provides a tool (the admin resource calculator, described below) that can help you uncover your administrative needs.

Regardless of how many system administrators are in place, continual education of these team members around system functionality is critical and foundational to your success. With this in

mind, we urge you to consider allocating dedicated time for these learning activities and also for peer-to-peer knowledge sharing. We also find that the more customers network with other customers

about their SAP SuccessFactors solutions and HR practices, the better equipped they are to make decisions about their current and future system needs.

Considering Current, Ongoing, and Long-Term Needs

Even if you have an excellent team of system administrators today, they may not be the same people administering your system three years from now. It’s important to consider backup and succession plans for these critical roles.

Because system administrators possess such key knowledge, unique skill sets, and understanding of all the intricacies of your system, it’s very difficult to find replacements on short notice. It is critical to map out a short-term coverage plan for office absences and a long-term succession plan for developing and, if needed, replacing your system administrators. It is also critical that any changes to the system are well documented, so if a new person assumes the system administrator role, they are aware of the system functionality that has been implemented.


While there isn’t one best practice that fits all companies, additional decisions that your company may need to consider are:

  • Where should the system administrator sit – within the organization? In HR, IT, or a shared service center?
  • Should one administrator cover multiple products or one product? If one product, should that person cross-train or is it possible to know more than one product in depth?
  • Should administration be centralized at headquarters, or should they be assigned to regions? What are the pros and cons?
  • How will my regional administrators get support if they have questions?
  • If adopting a shared service center approach, what type of governance is needed to ensure the administrators stay connected with what the business line is doing and with process changes?


Your SAP SuccessFactors solutions will change over time as we roll out new features and functionality. In addition to staying up to date and evolving your system, long-term success with this technology also depends on other important factors. Our most successful customers proactively manage, prioritize, and prepare for releases with clear governance, active planning, and defined roles and responsibilities in the process. Dedicated time for review, planning, testing, communication, and change management are keys to your success in the cloud.

Knowing What to Expect with New Releases

SAP delivers major releases of SAP SuccessFactors solutions once per quarter, or four times per year. These releases may contain features that are both universal (automatically applied to your system) or optional (features you can choose to take advantage of but that are not automatically applied). These releases tend to happen over the weekend and during off-peak times to minimize disruption to your work processes, but there likely will be some change to the look or functionality of your system, and this needs to be properly managed.

Preparing for Releases

First, it’s a good idea for your governing team to familiarize itself with the overall product direction and plans for upcoming releases, as the optional features in particular will require some decision making. To help you plan, we provide:

  • Product road maps – updated quarterly
  • Release highlights – one to two months in advance
  • Detailed release information documents – one to two months in advance
  • Release information Webinars – approximately one month in advance

Most clients also receive quarterly updates and a preview and test instance approximately one month prior to that update being released into production. This gives you and your team the opportunity to test, plan, and prepare in advance of those changes reaching your end users.


Next, you might consider ways to minimize the impact of the release during the release window. For example, you can build in time during the quarterly release cycle to test any critical processes, such as interfaces, and any customizations that may have been made to the system. You’ll also want to ensure you’ve communicated to end users about any expected downtime and schedule mission-critical items, such as process completion deadlines, on dates other than the scheduled release dates. Although we do try to schedule our releases to occur outside of regular work hours, we recognize that colleagues working in different time zones may be impacted during their work.

The release information document provides a lot of detailed information, but it may be difficult to know exactly how a new feature will look and feel in your instance, and to what extent it will support your business processes. For that reason, we recommend that you build in a scheduled time each quarter to do prerelease testing in your test instance, where applicable. Having firsthand access to new features makes it easier to communicate any new features to end users and enable them to adopt any changes. Testing any critical processes, such as interfaces, is also an important step in prerelease testing.

Finally, the governing board is responsible for ensuring end users are prepared to use the system, and new features are no exception. A solid communication and change management plan should be built, explaining the change and how it will impact day-to-day functioning for different end-user stakeholder groups. Further, training may be required if new features will require end users to do something differently than they have done in the past. Depending on the size and variance of the stakeholder pool, training may need to be multimodal (for example, through webinars, manuals, presentation decks, “Show Me” videos within the tool, and so on).


We’ve developed a number of resources to help you effectively govern and administer your SAP SuccessFactors solutions. Please get in touch with your customer engagement executive to learn more.

Admin Resource Calculator

The admin resource calculator is a tool designed to help you understand resource considerations when establishing your team for ongoing system administration in support of your solution.

Access the calculator at


Your governing team should be knowledgeable about the overall role that SAP SuccessFactors solutions play across the organization and how they integrate together as well as with other solutions.


Some Additional Resources

Table 1 provides links to resources you may find helpful.


For more information about SAP SuccessFactors solutions, please contact your SAP representative or visit

Table 1: Additional Resources



Product road maps

Release information documents (plus archived versions

Maintenance timing

Maintenance FAQs

Administration and related product guides

Training offerings

Reporting on license usage

SAP® Service Marketplace extranet for SAP SuccessFactors® solutions

Product administration, implementation, and integration information for the SAP SuccessFactors HCM Suite

Other useful resources and guides

Customer community


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