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Author's profile photo Neetin Datar

HR business process of Hire to Retire in SAP’s Integrated Intelligent Enterprise just got a triple shot of espresso!

By Stefan Rueter, Jochen Thierer, and Neetin Datar, SAP

The current COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our lives in so many ways, including our world of work. While the idea of ‘working from home’ was once a coveted perk, it has now become the norm for individuals, teams, and entire companies, across many industries, globally. The prognosticators of future-of-work are now predicting that this may very well be the ‘new normal’. In such unchartered ‘new normal’ times, among other existential challenges, companies will need to continue to adapt and be hyper vigilant on issues such as business continuity of end to end HR processes; security, identity management, and role-based access & governance of all remote workers, while threading the needle on employee health & wellness, engagement, and overall productivity.

SAP’s strategy to focus and double down on delivering the Intelligent Enterprise is incredibly opportune. One of the key processes of an Intelligent Enterprise is the Hire to Retire business process, which has now taken on an added importance during these ‘new normal’ times. SAP’s Hire to Retire business process runs across SAP SuccessFactors, SAP S/4HANA Cloud, and SAP Identity and Access Management solutions. With the latest product releases i.e. First Half 2020 release of SAP SuccessFactors and SAP S/4HANA Cloud 2005 release (May 2020), this business process just got a triple shot of espresso!

Espresso shot #1: Domain model alignment leads to One Data Model for People Data and Cost Center Data

One of the primary areas SAP focused on for the latest releases of SAP SuccessFactors and SAP S/4HANA Cloud, was domain model alignment, a top suite quality asks from our customers. This is no surprise as data and information is the lifeblood of any digital organization today. Master data represents the single source of basic business data used commonly across all enterprise business applications. SAP conducted a rigorous domain model alignment exercise across all SAP business applications portfolio and has now defined the One Data Model (ODM) for Cost Center Data Model (mastered in SAP S/4HANA Cloud) and People Data Model (mastered in SAP SuccessFactors – Employee Central). These data models will now be consistently used across all SAP and 3rd party business applications as shown in the diagrams below.

One common People Data Model


One common Cost Center Data Model


The benefits of One Data Model for People Data as well as Cost Center Data is incredibly valuable to our customers:

Business Benefits Technology Benefits
  • Consistent (and semantically understood) master data across business applications
  • Enable out-of-the-box SAP to SAP integration and dramatically lower IT costs
  • Power end to end business processes to run seamlessly across the enterprise landscape
  • Consistent APIs based on open standards
  • Enable data driven decision support e.g. CHRO and CFO analytics
  • Foundational to other suite qualities e.g. Identity Mgmt., One Inbox and Cross Application Analytics


Espresso shot #2: One central Master Data Integration service across SAP Business Applications

The latest releases also deliver a central Master Data Integration (MDI) service on SAP Cloud Platform for distributing master data like Cost Center and People Data from the mastering system to the consuming systems. For data distribution, MDI uses the data models defined in SAP One Data Model (ODM). The benefits of having a central master data service are manifold as shown in the diagram below.


Espresso shot #3: One Identity and Access Management across SAP Business Applications

The COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated the digital transformation agenda of enterprises and as such, the urgent need for a secure, reliable and consistent identity and access management solutions. Companies supporting a remote workforce have been challenged with:

  • Ensuring a seamless sign-on experience for all users across the myriad of business applications that they need to access to keep business continuity and get their job done effectively
  • Having proper access controls in place to safeguard company sensitive information while managing user access with minimal disruption and ensuring employee productivity
  • Managing the full identity and access lifecycle i.e. from being newly hired to changing roles due to promotions, job changes, transfers, terminations etc.
  • Ensuring regulatory compliance e.g. SOX and GDPR compliance
  • Increasing enterprise agility while keeping a close tab on IT costs

With the latest releases, SAP has centralized and further simplified the identity and access management. See the diagram below. SAP Identity Access Governance (IAG) application orchestrates authentication and authorization management. Identity Authentication service (IAS) handles the Single Sign-On management for a seamless experience. User access is also handled in an automated and compliant way so that the entire identity and access lifecycle of an employee (from Hire to Retire) can be managed securely and proactively.

Enabling Hire to Retire process to flow seamlessly

The following diagram shows the high-level architecture of using MDI on SAP Cloud Platform with SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central, SAP S/4HANA Cloud and SAP Identity and Access Management applications to make the Hire to Retire business process flow seamlessly.


In the Hire to Retire scenario, Employee Central provides employee (“worker” in MDI terminology) data to MDI, which is then consumed by SAP S/4HANA Cloud and by the Identity and Access Governance applications. SAP S/4HANA Cloud provides roles to the Identity and Access Management applications and provides cost centers to MDI for Employee Central to consume. The Identity and Access Management applications ensure authentication, authorization and SSO management in both Employee Central and SAP S/4HANA Cloud. It also manages the event-based identity lifecycle of employees i.e. from Hire to Retire.

Espresso machine is cranked up and we have further innovations to look forward to  

As you can see, significant progress was made in first half of 2020 in delivering an integrated end to end Hire to Retire process as well as harmonizing a couple of the suite qualities. More innovations (likened to espresso shots) can be expected in the upcoming releases across the Hire to Retire, Travel to Reimburse and External Worker business processes. And across additional suite qualities such as one Workflow inbox, Set up and lifecycle management, Cross-application analytics (e.g. blended CFO and CHRO dashboards) and more.

Undoubtedly, our journey to provide best-of-breed business applications (e.g. Finance, HR, Travel, External Worker) and best-of-suite solutions (Intelligent Enterprise Suite) is becoming a reality. This is terrific news for customers as they look to become Intelligent Enterprises and be the best run businesses during the prognosticated ‘new-normal’ future.

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      Author's profile photo Naga Swathi T J
      Naga Swathi T J

      Very well Written! it gives complete insights and holistic picture of hire to retire by stitching it into intelligent interprise

      Author's profile photo Neetin Datar
      Neetin Datar
      Blog Post Author

      Thank you for your feedback, Swathi! Glad you enjoyed it. We all (including our partners) have a huge role to play in helping our HXM customers connect the dots and become Intelligent Enterprises.

      Author's profile photo Luke Marson
      Luke Marson

      Well written and good to expand on the core concepts. I wrote a blog about the MDI only last week:

      Author's profile photo Neetin Datar
      Neetin Datar
      Blog Post Author

      Thank you, Luke. I know all of us working on the integration topic at SAP really enjoyed reading your MDI blog when you posted it last week.

      Author's profile photo Jason Bjoern
      Jason Bjoern

      Good post Neetin!

      Quick questions:

      1. When and how will all 6-7,000 SF customers be connected to the MDI and IAS?  Is this automatic or will it be a choice for customers?  What's the timeline for this to happen where all SF tenants use by default the MDI and IAS?
      2. For Partners who build on SAP Cloud Platform, will the MDI be free just like for customers who use it for SAP to SAP?  If there's additional license barrier, it will be difficult to adopt since today's REST OData point-to-point APIs are free and managed by the customer (to provide access, etc).

      Technology is great.  But our concerns are on the adoption front.  If it's not automatically applied to all SF and S/4 Cloud tenants by default / by design, and if license / costs become the barrier to use.  Would be great if you can explain more these angles of the technologies.

      Author's profile photo Neetin Datar
      Neetin Datar
      Blog Post Author

      hi Jason, thanks for the questions. We will come back to you soon.

      Author's profile photo Chris McLellan
      Chris McLellan

      I enjoyed reading this. It's great to see we are making real progress here. Thanks for writing this blog!

      Author's profile photo Neetin Datar
      Neetin Datar
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks Chris! Totally agree with you.

      Author's profile photo Ajit Kaicker
      Ajit Kaicker

      Very nice Neetin – glad all your work on Hire to Retire is paying off so handsomely, and I love the way you’ve connected to the IE framework!

      Author's profile photo Neetin Datar
      Neetin Datar
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks so much, Ajit! As someone said "it takes a village" and there is an army of very talented people at SAP that is making this happen. As I said in my blog -- the SAP Engineering espresso machine is fully cranked up! 🙂

      Author's profile photo Pedro Reganon
      Pedro Reganon

      Great post Neetin and Stefan,

      I'm glad I had the opportunity to see this first-hand, it's an incredible work we are doing and I think the market and our customers are not still not aware of the dimension of this.

      Happy to see we have more and more deliveries coming.

      Author's profile photo Neetin Datar
      Neetin Datar
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks Pedro! You have been an incredible ally. Keep up your great work.

      Author's profile photo Paras Arora
      Paras Arora

      Espresso Shot #2 vis. MDI service : is this the plausible future state for on prem SAP MDG ?

      Author's profile photo Neetin Datar
      Neetin Datar
      Blog Post Author

      hi Paras,

      Both SAP MDG and SAP Cloud Platform Master Data Integration service (MDI) are complementary to each other.

      The purpose of SAP MDG is to enable corporate-wide Master Data Management to increase the quality of master data and reduce the impact of duplicates. SAP MDI is more about enabling distribution of master data between SAP-to-SAP systems i.e. the mastering SAP system to consuming SAP systems.

      Going forward in hybrid landscapes as well the sharing of master data will be the primary realm of SCP Master Data Integration. SAP Master Data Governance will continue to be the instance for master data management.

      You may want to check out this SAP Community blog by Markus for additional details. It outlines the difference between Master Data Management (with SAP MDG) and Master Data Integration (with SAP Cloud Platform-based services).