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As the modules and features in the SAP SuccessFactors HCM suite have increased, so have the volume and types of data that are stored in the system. A full suite implementation likely results in the SAP SuccessFactors suite being the system of record for multiple types of data such as HR, benefits, learning, compliance, recruiting, etc. As such there is an increased need to update and access data from the system. In this blog, I’ll look at the various data access tools that can be used to import and export data from the system.

In the diagram below, I show a representation of the tools that can be used. There are quite a few options so it’s not always obvious which one to use. I will review the use case and capabilities of each of these tools, so you can make a more informed decision on which is best for your particular need.

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APIs
SAP SuccessFactors supports both SOAP (SFAPI) and REST (OData) based APIs. Both can be used to extract and update information from the system. In some cases, there is an overlap, such as when accessing Recruiting data, but often, depending on the type of data you are looking to access or update, there may be only one option available. Most of our clients use these APIs with an integration platform such as Dell Boomi AtomSphere®, SAP HANA Cloud Integration (HCI), SAP Platform Integration (PI), or with custom developed applications.

Intelligent Services
Intelligent Services are automated actions triggered by changes to user data in the system. For example, if an employee transfers from Hong Kong to New York, this relocation event can trigger multiple actions in the system, such as changes to manager, address, and compensation. In-progress transactions can be rerouted to the new employee who is back-filling the vacant position in Hong Kong. Not all the triggered actions need to be within SAP SuccessFactors. There is also an event notification that can be used to trigger the execution of an external process (typically in an integration platform) which can update or populate information in a third-party system.

Reporting and Analytical Tools
Reporting tools do not have the same capabilities as the other extractions tools to secure and encrypt the output data. In addition, they have more limited error logging capability and should not be used to build integrations. The reporting tools do have access to the data in the HCM suite. With the exception of BIRT, all the reporting tools are proprietary to SAP SuccessFactors. These include Online Report Designer (ORD), Ad Hoc Reporting, and YouCalc. The Workforce Analytics module (WFA) also has the ability to pull data from SAP SuccessFactors for reporting and analytics.

Integration Center
Integration Center should be the first tool to consider when building an outbound integration from SAP SuccessFactors. It can access all the data available to the OData APIs. You can do filters, sorting, joins, field mappings, transformation, and can output the data in multiple formats. Integration Center also has scheduling capabilities and supports data encryption and since it is accessible to the client via the admin center, it’s a good choice for less complex integrations.

Quartz Job Scheduler
The Job Scheduler is a very mature product and can be used to schedule both uploads and downloads. The scheduler has access to over one hundred predefined batch jobs that can be used for integrations. Their usage will depend on the type of data, module, updates, and exports, and whether the job is a manual execution or a scheduled run. One interesting aspect of the Scheduler is that you can set up a custom Ad Hoc report job to run automatically, so it’s not limited to pre-defined batch jobs delivered by SAP SuccessFactors, but can also be used to schedule custom report executions.

Integration Platform
For more complex integrations where custom logic is needed to update data within SAP SuccessFactors or trigger actions in real time, then an implementation platform such as HCI or Boomi is the best choice.An integration platform can also be used for automating and compressing a business process. For example, when hiring candidates using the Recruiting module, you can reduce the time to hire which can result in lower costs and risks that you may lose a qualified candidate. This capability is also known as auto progression, and is essentially a workflow that automatically routes candidates through the recruiting process based on certain triggers or outcomes.

Another benefit of using an integration platform is being able to extend the system’s capabilities. By building a seamless integration with other vendors, you can offer a service that is not natively available in your SAP SuccessFactors solution. This includes benefits, payroll, background verifications, and assessments. The objective is to summarize all the results and display them in one system so the user only has to go into that single system to complete an action. From a user perspective, even if there are two different systems and vendors, it will appear as a single integrated solution. An integration platform makes it easy to integrate with other cloud based systems.

Conclusion
There are pros and cons to using one data access tool over the other. Your decision should be based on the complexity and the use case, but often the choice may not be that obvious. For example, if you are updating information in SAP SuccessFactors, then you can either use their APIs or the Job Scheduler. Since both SFAPI and OData API are also available for data updates, you will have to make a determination among these three options to select the optimal one. For data extraction, there are even more options.

In my next blog in this series, I will discuss the data access tools in more detail to help identify the optimal choice for your needs. Stay tuned!

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