Advanced Reporting & Online Report Designer in SAP SuccessFactors – Part 4

Advanced Reporting & Online Report Designer in SAP SuccessFactors – Part 4

in Aug 08, 2017

The Online Report Designer (ORD) is an embedded reporting tool in SAP SuccessFactors. It’s part of the SuccessFactors Foundation package and is available for every customer no matter which modules you have purchased. The data source is the same as for Ad Hoc Reports (different with Employee Central), but it offers much more functionality. You can enhance your reports with several visual features including custom layout for tables, charts and pivots and you are also able to use cross domain queries. Moreover, LMS reporting is available but I will tell you more about its capabilities and limitations within ORD later.

Online Report Designer in SAP SuccessFactors

Online Report Designer is a fully self-service, easy-to-use, non-technical reporting tool that is available within your SAP SuccessFactors solution that allows you to build your own customizable reports using the data captured across domains. The ORD platform has advanced filters, calculations, and visualizations to ensure that you extract the most valuable data and understand how to most effectively use it to drive your business strategy. Plus, with Report Distributer, you will be able to automatically provide decision makers with the information they need, at the exact point in the cycle they need it.

Important Note: The ORD needs to be activated for your Instance. Please contact your Partner or SAP SuccessFactors Professional Services for help with this.

Data Sources in ORD

The most important thing for you to take away from this article is to understand the different data sources and, after that, how to use them in ORD.

If we talk about List Reports or Detailed Reporting, we use Live Data from SAP SuccessFactors. Actually, it’s the same data source we use if we build a report with the Ad-Hoc Report Tool.

We also have a section called Advanced Reporting, which contains replicated data from Employee Central (EC). In there, you can use MDF Objects, effective-dated information, and cross domain reporting. This data uses either ODS or Realms.

Another data source is LMS (via APIs), which I want to briefly mention here and will talk about in more detail later in this article.

Create reports and queries using different data sources:

  • Ad Hoc (Live Data) via Detailed Reporting query tool
  • Replicated Data Source (ODS or realms) which pulls data from Employee Central (EC) and other modules via Detailed Reporting or Advanced Reporting query tools.
  • Workforce Analytics & Planning (WFAP) via Query Workspace or Investigate query tools
  • LMS (Live Data) via OData for Detailed Reporting or Advanced Reporting

Online Report Designer Basics

I just talked about data sources in the previous section. Now that we have discussed data sources, it’s important to understand how to build a report in ORD and also how to visualise it. After building a Detailed or Advanced Report, you can create lists, charts or pivots in the Report Designer. With that in mind, here’s a brief overview of which steps lead to the next one:

  • Detailed Reporting: create and save queries to use in reports
  • Advanced Reporting: create and save queries when using the Realms replicated data source
  • Report Designer: design reports using components including lists, tables, charts, and images
  • Report Distributor: automate the distribution of reports and queries

It’s important to understand that the Online Report Designer is not the best solution for everything and has its limitations, especially if you want to work with the report after exporting it in Excel. If you are looking for a solution to interface with other systems, I highly recommend having a look at the Integration Center. Ad-Hoc and ORD Reports are not made for that!

Some limitations in ORD:

  • Data Manipulation – Does not support the writing of SQL statements within the query
  • Multiple worksheets are not supported in Excel output
  • Graphs not supported in Excel output (tables only)

Functionality & Features of ORD in SAP SuccessFactors

Online Report Designer is a front-end tool that provides self-service capabilities to build innovative reports. All users who are given permission rights are able to build reports from within the ORD tool. The reports are formatted and presentation ready. This means that you can visualize queries in tabular list format, as pivot tables or in a wide variety of chart styles.

ORD reports are exportable in PPT, PDF, Word, and Excel, and it’s possible to schedule and send via email. Probably the most important thing for customers to understand is the customization capabilities available. You are able to re-label fields, use custom calculations and concatenated fields, use If/Then/Else statements, hide duplicates, transpose rows to columns and much, much more. To get an impression of ORD’s capabilities, I want to show you a report:

Overview of Functions & Features

Because it has so many capabilities, it’s impossible to describe every function available in ORD in detail. I may cover more of the features available in a further article. In “Detailed Reporting”, however, you can build queries in a so-called List Report Component. Setting up filters, aggregations and custom columns will be part of it. And don’t forget the Report Designer Tool where you can create tables, charts, pivots and much more. To give you an idea of the variety of functions available, I want to share this overview with you:


I know this looks like a lot, but it is probably not all you can learn in the Online Report Designer. In a more general summary, I would summarize the features & functionality as:

  • Cross Domain Reporting
  • List Component
  • Calculated columns (formulas, concatenation, conditional logic, etc.)
  • Formatting tips and conditional formatting
  • Subtotals
  • Runtime filters
  • Actionable Analytics
  • Pivot Tables
  • Charts
  • Scheduling
  • Dynamic Sharing
  • Adding the Report to the custom menu folder

Learning Management Data in ORD

The Learning Management Module (LMS) has its own reports built in the Plateau Report Designer (PRD) in LMS. PRD is a modification of BIRT by the way, (and you can read more about BIRT here).

The SAP SuccessFactors Learning Management System is a separate system that is not part of the BizX modules. It’s possible to report in ORD, because it pulls live data from the LMS due to APIs. In the LMS reporting schema, there are “User” tables and “Admin” tables. The Admin tables can be found in the categories that are not prefixed with “User”. The “User” tables can be found in the categories that are prefixed by “User”.

The difference between the “Admin” and “User” tables is that the “Admin” tables will return all data and the “User” tables will only return data from users that the LMS user is allowed to view based on his or her permissions within the LMS system.

Note: Not all LMS fields are available for reporting. For an overview of which fields are reportable and which fields can be used as a filter, you can go here.

Advanced Reporting with ORD in SAP SuccessFactors

When you hear about the Online Report Designer, you also hear about ODS, Realms and Advanced Reports. The similar names cause a lot of confusion, which why I would like to label it as “EC – Advanced Reporting in ORD”.

Employee Central has a special need for data to be consumed in a time respective manner. This is one reason why EC has a special name and area in ORD. Employee Central customers will work with ODS or Realms (depending on the version). SAP SuccessFactors also offers several standard reports out-of-the-box for Employee Central customers in ORD. There are the following data schemas for EC customers in ORD:

For Employee Central, 7 Sub Domain Schemas (SDS) exist.

  1. Foundation Objects
  2. Person and Employment Info (as of date)
  3. Job Information (Date Range)
  4. Recurring Compensation Info (Date Range)
  5. Non-Recurring Compensation Info (Date Range)
  6. Person and Employment Audit Report
  7. Person and Employment Export

ODS History / Background in Advanced Reporting

As of today, ORD and Advanced Reporting with Employee Central should work with Realms. In the past, replicated EC Data was stored in ODS (Operational Data Store).

All EC Advanced Reporting customers have a live data replication between BizX and Advanced Reporting (ODS). Replication is continuously running! Change records are replicated across in a trickle-feed type manner and processed into the ODS. Normally the data will be replicated automatically in minutes, but in case of high traffic and other circumstances it could take up to an hour as the worst-case scenario. That is why SAP typically recommends a replication window ranging from a couple of minutes to two hours.

Employee Central Standard Report Templates for Advanced Reporting

SAP SuccessFactors is becoming popular for its best practice concept with a lot of out-of-the-box content and a great Simple to Run philosophy. You won’t miss them in the Online Report Designer. Again, there is so much functionality available and too much to cover in just one article. But here are the report topics and number of reports that are available as a standard report in Advanced Reporting:

  • Employment Information (11)
  • Benefits (4)
  • Compensation (12)
  • Global Assignments (2)
  • Payroll (1)
  • Personal Information (7)
  • Pension Plans (1)
  • Time Management (6)
  • Position Management
  • Workflow Information (3)
  • Country Specific Report Templates (xx)

Pros & Cons of ORD Reports in SAP SuccessFactors

The Online Report Designer is a great tool and is included in the Foundation package –  available for everyone to use. It closes the gap of cross-domain reporting when compared with the Ad hoc Reporting and it also offers a wide range of visual options. Personally, I still prefer YouCalc for Dashboards. I think the Online Report Designer gets a slight advantage, though, because it is included in SAP SuccessFactors and gets support. Let’s have a look at some more pros and cons of the Online Report Designer:

+ Internal tool with SAP SuccessFactors support
+ Free (part of Foundation) and available for every customer
+ Cross-Domain Reports
+ Basic and advanced options for visualisation
+ Custom columns, calculations, conditions, and logic

– Usability
– Requires learning & skill training
– Limited LMS data
– Performance can be unpredictable

This Article is Part of a Series on “HR Reporting and Analytics in SAP SuccessFactors”

SAP SuccessFactors Training and Demo

You still don’t have enough and want to learn more? We offer various SAP SuccessFactors reporting trainings. If you have bespoke training needs, the packages can be adjusted accordingly. According to your requirements, we can prepare a demo to show how things work and which options you have. Don’t hesitate to contact us to ask for more information and guidance.


Written Chris Wilpert

Chris Wilpert is an SAP SuccessFactors consultant at iXerv. Chris is SAP SuccessFactors-certified in Employee Central, Recruiting Management and Workforce Analytics and holds a Master's degree from Technische Fachhochschule Wildau.

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