SuccessFactors Q3 Update: Platform and Technology02 Sep 2017
Every quarter SAP update their SuccessFactors product line and here is my review for the updates to the platform and underlying technologies.
The underlying platform for SuccessFactors continues to improve and there are numerous changes that will no doubt be deal winners for some organisations.
Admin Centre is receiving some new features that will be of interest to those dealing with security. From the Q3 release it will be possible to view and manage (different permissions) access to Provisioning from within the Admin Centre. Representing a significant step towards drawing Provisioning functionality into Admin Centre this empowers customers with more access control. The addition of IP address white listing can help further manage access; for example to the defined egress points on corporate networks.
Available on request from SuccessFactors comes the facility to “disallow concurrent login session”. This would restrict users to using only one browser session on one machine to access SuccessFactors. I doubt this is of interest to most organisations as concurrent sessions can be useful from a productivity stand point. However there are no doubt some organisations out there where they can’t be ‘too careful’ with the system access and in particular new legislation in Italy makes this essential for users in that country.
There’s an interesting addition to employee data loads to help prevent manager data being overwritten. Many organisations struggle with merging data sets around manager data but now there’s an option to have the NO_MANAGER field entry be translated as ‘don’t overwrite the existing manager’ rather than ‘blank out the manager’. This could certainly make things easier for those organisations who rely on users maintaining their own manager information.
Secure document management is an issue always brought up in project kick-off sessions. Now at last there’s an integrated option in the form of a SAP Solution Extension. SAP SuccessFactors Extended Enterprise Content Management by OpenText is certainly going to scratch the itch for lots of clients (assuming the pricing’s right). Practically every HR department needs, or would benefit from, the efficiency of having an integrated solution designed specifically to measure up to the rigours of HR legal compliance.
Work has continued on the extensions available to SuccessFactors. The most notable of these affects MDF based workflow approvals. From this release generic messages are replaced with object specific ones. This should make it easier to understand and therefore quicker to take the appropriate action against the request. Clarity is always a win.
Integrations are not always the most exciting part of a SuccessFactors release but there are a few rather interesting ones in this release that I think will please quite a few SuccessFactors users and application consultants.
The bugs in the conditional structures within advanced calculations have now been fixed.
Calculated fields can now also support an additional level (taking it to three) of nested conditions enabling more sophistication in condition checks to be applied on these fields. In turn this opens up the possibility of alternative approaches, delivering benefits such as better matching and automated decision making.
Event logs can now be downloaded for analysis by integration specialists which should help speed up the resolution of most integration issues quite significantly. This goes hand in hand with the improvements to the level of detail in the integration error messages. Again, speed to resolution is a key benefit here.
The last highlight is that integrations taking inbound files can now match files based on wild cards (*/?). This means that single integrations can be configured to run against multiple files. This can both greatly simplify some integrations and reduce maintenance overheads significantly as only one integration needs to be developed and maintained.
There are a handful changes to rules going forward. The first couple warrant a check prior to the quarter’s production release.
Firstly the naming of Rule IDs will be much more restricted. Only a handful of punctuation will be valid and rules beginning with “SAP_” will no longer be permitted. Therefore check your existing rule names. Secondly the old country specific fields are being migrated to their new versions in this release; whilst this is automatic it would again be something well worth a double check.
There’s also an improvement to the flexibility of rules that involve effective date based objects. The rules will now have an option to specify a date other than the current date to run the query against. This will present opportunities to gain greater insight into future dated data in a system.
The Application Programming Interface (API) for SuccessFactors is a core technology that receives many updates each release. This quarter is no exception. The themes this quarter look to be around authentication, logging and the more ‘complex’ employees who are on global assignment (GA) of have concurrent employment (CE) resulting in a multi-record existence.
The authentication improvements are relatively broad whilst the logging updates can simply be summarised as “easier to use and read”; speeding up issue analysis and ultimately resolution.
The complex employee updates are focussed on authentication issues and (OData) access permissions. Organisations with API driven integrations will now be able to better tailor them to accommodate such employees.
The last area I’ll look at for cloud platform technology is around some of the changes the end user might notice.
There’s now an option to specify just the home/primary details for complex (GA/CE) employees in the search listings, org chart and employee quickcard. This could be used to simplify the presentation of information about such employees, but additionally will support those organisations where the non-home/primary records are considered confidential.
The standard Blue Crystal theme for the Fiori interface is being taken over by the new Belize (light & dark) theme. Whilst the changes are relatively subtle and have no impact on custom themes customers might want to review the differences in styling and modify any existing theme based on Blue Crystal.
The employee profile PDF generation has also had some attention. Prior to this release the final output could vary quite substantially from the preview with layout issues sometimes making parts of the output unusable. The good news with which to end this cloud platform technology section is that those bugs have now been eliminated.