Embedding Workforce Software into SF Employee Central…for a subset of your organization
The purpose of this blog is to garner votes for an enhancement request I’ve recently submitted to the Customer influence portal on behalf of several of my clients. Rather than simply post a link to my Customer Influence suggestion and ask for votes, I’d like to share some insight I’ve gained, having worked with Workforce Software and SuccessFactors since their strategic partnership was announced in 2014. If you’re not familiar, Luke Marson did an excellent job outlining the initiative in this Q&A blog on the subject.
The gist of it is this: the function used to embed Workforce Time & Attendance into SuccessFactors (Custom External Module) is not tied to Role Based Permissions or People Pools the way Talent Modules and Homepage Tiles are. Once you activate/configure the Custom External Module for Workforce Software (or Kronos for that matter), it’s on for everybody in the instance whether they’re a Workforce user or not. If you want to stagger your WFS roll-out by country or division, every Employee Central user will see the Workforce ‘Time & Attendance’ top level navigation link as soon as the first group goes live. Similarly, if you have a salaried population that uses Employee Central Time Off and an hourly population that uses Workforce Software Time & Attendance, the salaried folks are going to see the link. This limitation is documented by SAP in note # 2369288. Where a limitation is documented by an SAP note is unlikely to be fixed via a Customer Incident so Customer Influence is the best bet in this case.
If the reader’s digest above is compelling enough to earn your vote, please click here and vote for this improvement. For some more of my thoughts and a workaround, read on.
What if Workforce Software is not intended for everybody my organization?
Let’s say that your organization decides to roll out Workforce Software Time & Attendance for employees in Mexico, but chooses to use Employee Central Timesheets in the United States, here’s how it will look:
Using the standard approach, the employee in Mexico will see a ‘Time & Attendance’ link in top level navigation, which brings them to a beautifully embedded Workforce homepage where the user can acccess their timesheet, webclock, bank balances and so forth:
In that same example, here is how it will look when a US based employee logs on. Due to the limitation described in SAP note 2369288, they are still going to see the link to Time & Attendance in the menu bar. Should they click this link, they’ll see…..nothing. Sadly, I checked with several Integration Engineers at Workforce and confirmed that if Workforce user does not exist, we are unable to display even an error messaeg such as ‘You are not a valid Time & Attendance user.’ message.
I can only imagine how much confusion this would create for a casual salaried user simply trying to access their Employee Central Time Off request but a few times a year.
This is going to become an increasingly large problem
The SAP / Workforce partnership is very young. At the time the agreement was announced, Time and Attendance functionality within Employee Central was limited. Extremely limited. If your organization required anything beyond the most basic timesheet or time off request, a 3rd party solution was necessary. Workforce Software filled the gap in spades (and still does). I could rave for days about how impressed I am with the capability of Workforce Software; I have no doubt that SuccessFactors customers with complex time and attendance rules (unionized, hourly, geographically diverse, complex scheduling needs, etc) will continue to benefit from Workforce Software for the foreseeable future.
That said, the functionality of Employee Central Time Management continues to mature, offering a viable solution for customers with more basic time requirements. For more information on this, I highly recommend following Frans Smolders, who does a great job of keeping our community apprised of enhancements to Employee Central Time functionality. As this evolves, more companies will be compelled to use a mix of EC and WFS time solutions across their organization, increasing the number of affected customers.
It just makes sense that we should be able to present the Workforce ‘Time & Attendance’ link to the users that need to access it. If you agree, go here and vote!
For those of you rolling out Employee Central and Workforce Software globally, it’s also worth noting that the ‘Custom External Module’ data element is not available for translation in ‘Text Replacement’. Should a user change their language preference to something other than English, the Menu link will simply read as ‘Custom External Module’ translated into the user’s selected language. In the image below, what should read ‘Time & Attendance’ actually reads ‘Modulo Externo Personalizado’. I don’t view this as an enhancement request; I am pursuing this one as a customer message because this would clearly prevent a customer from being able to go live.
Having established that this is a seemingly trivial, but significant problem, I do have a workaround to offer. It’s far from perfect, but it will buy some time for impacted customers. The simple solution is as follows:
1) Log into Provisioning and ensure that ‘Configure Custom Navigation’ is activated for your instance
2) In provisioning, configure your ‘Service Provider Assertion’ and ‘Custom External Module’ settings as you would for embedding Workforce Software the ‘standard’ way, however leave the checkbox for ‘Enable Custom External Module’ blank
3) In Admin Center, navigate to ‘Configure Custom Navigation’ and create a link to the following URL, where XXXX represents your SuccessFactors instance datacenter, and YYYY represents your Workforce Software datacenter:
4) Set your desired Link Type, Menu Location, and Permissions. Permissions being the key- you are able to specify which roles are able to view your new link.
5) Click the ‘Locales Editor’ and enter your desired translations for the link
6) Log in as a valid user and test. Note that you can proxy in as a user who is valid in both SuccessFactors EC and Workforce, but this is assuming that the SSO configuration is already in place in both Employee Central and Workforce Software policy editor. I’m going to assume that this was all completed as part of step 1 above.
This solution allows us to tie visibility of the Menu item to Role Based Permissions, preventing users from unnecessarily seeing the link in such a highly visible location. It also allows the link text to be translated. From my perspective, the only downside of this workaround is that you cannot present the Workforce Homepage neatly within the SuccessFactors EC banner. It must either consume the existing browser (SuccessFactors) window or launch in a new window. I’m partial to launching in a new window, simply because there is not a reciprocal way to get back to SuccessFactors from Workforce. If you launch in a new External browser window, the user will be signed into workforce via SSO, and retain their EC session.
Worst case scenario, here’s what the workaround integration looks like to an end uesr:
Ultimately, it’s up for the customer to decide what’s best, but at least they have options now.
As stated early on, the entire goal of this post is to generate votes for my enhancement request – for the good of all customers who use Workforce Software within Employee Central (and don’t forget Kronos!).
This is a tiny fragment of a subject I could go on about for days, and I hope you found it informative. We’re just scratching the surface of SAP SF and Workforce integration, so please comment, or reach out to me directly if you have any specific questions or topics you would like to see addressed in future posts.