Q4 2018 : SuccessFactors Employee Central Service Centre - Quarterly Review

The following article was originally posted to the Zalaris UK web site on 13 November 2018.

As 2018 draws to a close, SAP is set to release a good range of feature updates to Employee Central Service Centre (ECSC) users. While information on Ask HR is oddly scarce, there’s plenty of Cloud for Customer updates to keep everyone very happy.

Updates in Cloud for Customer (C4C)

Unlike the Q3 2018 release, there’s a host of improvements for service agents and administrators alike in this Q4 release.

User Interface – Fiori

The previous statements from SAP were that with this release, the service functionality, and specifically the employee support functionality used by the ECSC solution, should be fully supported. While we’ve not seen any official announcement (and we have asked for the confirmation), the Fiori user interface seems pretty good for service - if you don’t try and run it on Mozilla Firefox that is. Doing so introduced lots of spurious spacing in my testing.

In Google Chrome, and as of this release, Microsoft Edge; it looks fresh and clean. Quite honestly, it’s high time the Fiori user interface got to the point where ECSC users can take advantage of all the developments around usability, reporting and processes.

User Interface – Work Centers and Views

Work centers and views may now be reordered and hidden for different roles. With support languishing at the far right of the list of work centers, many of the users with wide-ranging access will surely appreciate administrators shifting the more frequently used work centers over (HTML 5) or up (Fiori).

User Interface – Section Layout

Pages such as the ticket details page now take advantage, in the Fiori user interface, of the default, newsprint layout option. This places sections on the page in a dynamic way, in an attempt to optimise the layout to keep as much content at the top of the page as possible and reduce excessive scrolling.

To me, it just seems like the approach to any modern, responsive design web user interface should be providing. But, at least it is available now.

E-mail Interactions – Signature

Option to add an e-mail signature under templates. While the template editing is available in the HTML5 user interface, the link to add the signature only seems to be available in the Fiori user interface.

Currently, this doesn’t extend the system beyond other templates - which could also include signatures. However, SAP has already noted that the feature to apply signature templates automatically is in the works and that will take this from being a curiosity to something genuinely useful.

E-mail Interactions – Font

The particular font and size can now default, and if a user changes it this will be stored in a browser cookie, and the system will default to this until the cookie is removed or the font and size are changed again, setting a new cookie.

This should help with the consistency of rich e-mail formatting.

Unassociated E-mails

Now shows a CC field in the advanced search. Useful addition as the e-mail channel address may not be in the primary recipient list, and so these can be filtered out more easily now this option is available. Good news for administrators and service agents with high volumes of unassociated e-mails to keep on top of.


Within the Fiori user interface, copying and pasting of content into or from lists, as a tab or semi-colon separated list, is now supported. Those familiar with Excel may immediately realise that it organises data into tab-separated content via the device clipboard, and so is primed for use with lists.

This is a significant benefit for anyone dealing with data entry or extraction by volume and is a great power user feature for SAP to have included in this release.

Updates for searching and insertion into lists is also a welcome addition and should make list navigation and updating significantly faster by keeping the user focus at the top of the page and letting the system do the laborious processing- exactly what computers do best.


Recipient determination has been expanded to include custom roles which means that notifications can now cover a much broader range of recipients.

Also, setting a ticket as irrelevant is now also available as an action. This could certainly be useful for set-ups where automated feeds are using the inbound employee e-mail channel to create tickets, but there’s no way to segregate certain types of e-mail which don’t need to be a ticket. Not a perfect solution, but it may be practical to use a workflow rule to set these as irrelevant automatically.

There are also several additional fields that can be added to workflow notifications, including details of the service agent. While this may help with personalisation, I’d steer clear from passing out direct contact details for an agent in this way. Doing so will almost certainly begin the breakdown of your standardised channels for contacting your HR help desk.


One of the ongoing pain points for users occurs when they encounter object locks caused by their own sessions. e.g. after a crash or a browser switch. This update brings an unlock option that the user is presented with when encountering a lock. It isn’t a frequent issue, but when it occurs Murphy’s Law always ensures that it is a particularly important ticket object record that gets locked. I’m sure most service agents will have a big smile on their face when they first see this feature.

SAP Jam Knowledge Base

The SAP Jam integration for a knowledge base can now be specified such that the knowledge base search can be restricted to specific groups rather than all the groups the user has access to. Being able to restrict in this way makes Jam a much more viable option as a knowledge base as the results sets will in effect be cleaner without additional non-knowledge base focussed groups being pulled in.

Machine Learning

For anyone who has the top tier licensing that enables machine learning in SAP Hybris Cloud for Customer, the similar tickets functionality now falls under general availability (GA). Machine learning driven functionality is the cutting edge for enterprise automation, so while it might not seem notable that this has now hit GA status, it is important to consider that this is now a standard feature and that the subsequent developments are going to be building on the success of this one. I guess it could be considered quietly exciting.

Ask HR

At the time of writing, nothing has been announced about this quarter’s release of Ask HR. The thing I would like to see above anything else is a resolution to the lack of e-mail interaction visibility in Ask HR. This was standard in Ask HR v1, but it took a year for Ask HR v2 to get internal notes and attachments excluded and we’ve been not-so-patiently waiting on e-mail inclusion for another quarter on top of that. Let’s hope that it is indeed available.


Given the lack of news on the Ask HR update I suspect it will only bring fixes, but these are welcome, and one for e-mails would be very nice. Even with all the updates I wrote about in the previous sections, there are many other updates around areas such as the Fiori user interface, provision of support for encrypted e-mail, improvements around analytics, enhancements to the inter-environment transport system and further GDPR capabilities. It’s truly a jam-packed release regarding C4C, with a lot to offer users of ECSC. If you haven’t already looked at these in your system, you really should make the time to dig in.

Author: Stephen Millard
Tags: | successfactors | zalaris |

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