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SAP SuccessFactors HXM Suite Configuration Life Cycle Management

Introduction

This blog post introduces you to the recently published SuccessFactors Implementation Design Principle (SFIDP) document: SAP SuccessFactors HXM Suite: Configuration Life Cycle Management. Implementation Design Principle documents are owned and managed by SAP SuccessFactors Product Management who engage and collaborate with select, interested partners along with SAP Professional Service to tap the rich implementation experience that is distilled in the document after a formalized product review process before wider publication.

This IDP covers what we need to consider when moving configuration across instances concerning which tool is the best for each use case, how best I can do it within the available tools, how I can control the changes in an audit perspective, and also what are the capabilities, limitations and common errors for Instance Synchronization tool.

 

Business Requirements

Currently, we have more than one option to move/copy the configuration from a source to a target instance (Instance Synchronization and Import and Export Data), and to do a complete instance refresh data (instance refresh), and each option has its features and limitations, which creates a challenge for partners and customers to choose from for a given scenario. Because of this, many problems can arise when, for example, the method chosen is not the most appropriate for the scenario, generating rework, often manual, which can affect the project timeline, cost, resources, etc. Before starting any move configuration activity, first, we need to decide how this configuration move will be performed, by using Instance Synchronization Tool, Import and Export Data, a mix of both, or an Instance Refresh.

In the Configuration Lifecycle Management IDP, we covered it by dividing the scenarios into two main areas, Implementation Scenario, and Business as Usual. Before we jump to these, we first need to understand the difference between the available options, which are: Instance Synchronization Tool, Instance Refresh, and Import and Export Data (manual option).

  • The Instance Synchronization is a tool that allows us to move configurations, data (Not all transactional data), and settings from one SuccessFactors company instance to another. It supports one-way and two-way synchronization, object-level permission control, multiple targets per source, and synchronization across different data centers.
  • Instance Refresh is the process of fully overwriting the database schema of an instance with the image of another. All contents of the target instance will be permanently dropped and replaced with the contents of the source instance.
  • Additionally to that we also can move configuration through import/export files, using the Import and Export Data tool, which is the manual way of performing a move.

Now that all the possible tools are clear, let’s focus on what we can found in each main area in the IDP.

The implementation scenario chapter describes, following the security best practices, what is the recommended tool to be used and the other to be followed to migrate each artifact for Employee Central, Compensation, Performance and Goals, Development Plan, Succession Management, and Recruiting Management. Also highlights the alternative tool, if any, and advises the dependency of each one. This helps customers and consultants from avoiding issues related to the wrong import order, which is very common.

Below is an example of the tables available in the IDP. In this case for Employee Central Core (it is divided into Core and Time):

    

 

In the Business as Usual scenario chapter, we will find some use cases such as Reload data from production into a test system, Configuration/Setup of a new feature, Merger, and Acquisitions, and Source Instance Data Quality, where the recommended way of the configuration move is detailed. For these use cases, the assumptions are all the same: the customer has 3 system landscape (Development, Test, and Production), and we distinguish between: Configuration Data (incl. Data Models, Provisioning Settings, MDF objects, Picklists); Master Data (Employee Master Data, Foundation Objects), and Transactional Data (Employee Time, Performance Feedback Documents).

I would like to highlight the ‘Configuration Change Audit Control’ chapter because it addresses topics as to how to keep track of the configuration changes in an effective way using the available functionalities. Currently, we have the Audit Reports where helps us to track data and configuration changes for certain areas as shown in the image below:

 

 

The IDP describes the scope for each type which helps us to understand better in each case we can use this tool to trach the changes.

Also, the document reminders us when using the synchronization tool, to always take advantage of the use of the built-in comparison tool for data models to identify differences before running your sync job (image below).

 

Additional the package’s functionality can be used to record in the description field, all the details about the configuration move (image below). In case there is a service ticket driving this configuration change, this can be recorded in the description of your sync package and used in the future for audit purposes.

 

From this same chapter, we have a second reminder about the use of the provisioning comments box (image below) to document the reasons why we are importing a new version of the data model, for example. With this, we can have a full view of all changes which makes it easy for audit purposes.

 

Finally, we have an Instance Synchronization Tool dedicated chapter where explains in detail its capabilities as Instance Packages, supported artifacts, settings, and provide workaround/recommendation on the move of specific configuration like MDF Data, Workflows, RBP, but also highlight some others and additional attention points concerning the current limitations.

 

Conclusion

This document SAP SuccessFactors HXM Suite: Configuration Life Cycle Management had a valuable contribution from SAP SuccessFactors partners towards authoring and include Abhishek Jain from Rizing,  Jai Karan Korpal from IBM Canada, and Vivian Reynecke and Erik Ebert from GP Strategies.

   

We hope this blog post helped you get acquainted with the basic understanding of the concepts & use cases defined and discussed in the SFIDP.  We recommend you to further explore the document for a full-fledged discussion that will aid you in better product implementation as well as help you align with the industry-leading practices. We look forward to your valuable comments/feedback/queries on this blog post.

5 Comments
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  • Hi Karen,

     

    thank you for your blog.
    In the past the sync tool didn’t work quite well. How are your current experiences?
    What about the upcoming tool Configuration Center? Will it replace the sync tool?

     

    thanks

    Marco

     

    • Hi Marco,

      We see that most of the issues in the sync tool are related to an incorrect order or syncing the artifacts. The tool works well when we respect the order and follow the indications that the IDP highlights.

      The new Package Configuration Manager will not replace Instance Sync, because it will not move the customer’s configuration across instances. The idea of this new tool is to allow you to build pre-defined configurations and use it as a starting point for your implementations. Let’s say that your implementation projects are mostly focused on a specific country, so you can build the predefined configuration based on this country’s requirements, which will help you to accelerate the configuration phase of your project.

      I hope this helps you.

      Thank you.

      Best Regards,

      Karen

  • Hi,

    First of thanks for the overview. It’s actually good to see that over the years we’ve come to almost the exact same process as described with regards to using the Instance Sync for Employee Central. Our experience is as well that as long as you do it in the correct order the Instance Sync actually works quite well and can reduce the amount of manual work during a cutover.

    Just an FYI, we actually did find a way to also sync the “PP3 Configuration”. As with most new solutions of SF the information for this is actually stored in MDF objects. You basically have to sync those in 2 steps:

    • First object needed to sync People Profile: MDFBlockConfig
    • Second object needed to sync People Profile: EmployeeProfilePageConfig

    That’s actually enough, this will have synced the People Profile config without a need to do it all manually (although double checking and validating everything is a best practice as you’ll probably be aware of).

    Hope that helps.

    Kr,

    Bram

     

    • Thank you very much, Bram. Appreciate your contribution.

       

      Let me check this internally and update the document after further tests.

      Once again, thank you!

      BR,

      Karen Perez