An Overview of SAP SuccessFactors Reporting and Analytics Tools

An Overview of SAP SuccessFactors Reporting and Analytics Tools

in jul 26, 2017

HCM reporting is an exciting topic for me and there are a lot of reporting tools to play with in SAP SuccessFactors. Some SAP SuccessFactors modules like Recruiting Management, Employee Central, Compensation and many more already provide some reports and there is a separate module (Workforce Analytics and Planning – WFA/WFP) with a library of more than 2,000 standard metrics, industry benchmarks, and so on. That sounds great in the first instance, but it can be a huge challenge at the same time. In this article, I want to give you a rough overview of all reporting possibilities in SAP SuccessFactors. Later on, I will share more articles to give you more of a deep dive into some of these tools.

Making Sense of HR Reporting Options 

Many HR leaders might ask, “What would I do with 2,000 reports?”. Most companies have strategic goals in place for their business and now it is time to break these down for the HR department. Reports should be simple, easy to understand and fast to get. SAP SuccessFactors provides different tools to create reports and monitor strategic KPIs in HR. Some are already in the system, some you can build and some need extra work or need to be outsourced.

As a human resource manager, you want all the advantages of a modern human resources information system (HRIS). You want employee information, all kinds of reports and a user-friendly system. You need a wide range of reports on a weekly, monthly or ad-hoc basis. Who does not remember having to run several reports at the same time and then manually combining and converting the data to achieve the required result?

This is not only time consuming, but also prone to errors. Another common problem often heard is HR Managers having to wait weeks until the IT department has a resource available to program a new report into their HR system. That’s not exactly the idea of “Ad-Hoc” reporting, so in this article let’s focus on what SAP SuccessFactors can do for us to meet HR reporting requirements.

HR Reporting and Analytics in SAP SuccessFactors Blog Series

Below, I will talk about several different reporting options in SAP SuccessFactors. There are so many features and possibilities with reporting, one article will not be enough to go through them all in detail. Therefore, I have added the following, more detailed blogs to this series here on the iXerv site:

Reporting Options – A Quick Overview

Reporting is critical for daily operations as well as for strategic decisions in your organisation. Nobody want dozens of spreadsheets floating around or having to try to match data from various sources and hope that each is accurate and up-to-date. You want clear, informative reports that are simple and easy to understand and to save them for future reference. The key to this goal is to clearly define the purpose of the report so the user understands which data is used and what outcome is expected.
As seen in the matrix above, reporting can be visualised in different levels and each way can have pros and cons in functionality, flexibility and cost. We will get to know each reporting tool in the my upcoming articles. There are different ways to find the right reporting solution for you in SAP SuccessFactors.

It is not easy to compare the tools. For me, each tool has a unique set of pros and cons and I use them for different requirements. I would summarise it like this:

  • Standard Reporting is a minimum set of reports and numbers people in HR may be interested in. It is already set up in SAP SuccessFactors and easy to use.
  • Ad-Hoc Reporting is perfect to get quick, plain live data out of the system. It’s a nice tool for validating data or the system, its quick results are easy to export using basic filters or groupings. Don’t abuse it for interfaces, though, because the Integration Center offers much better ways to use SuccessFactors data in other systems.
  • YouCalc and BIRT are very similar. They both are 3rd Party Tools, which use Ad-Hoc Data to create visual charts or perform custom calculations. YouCalc Visualisations look better, but BIRT offers more ways to manipulate data and charts (including HTML and Javascript).
  • Online Report Designer (ORD) is a free tool in SAP SuccessFactors and can be used for live data and advanced reporting (Employee Central). With some training, you can build nice reports, but it doesn’t look as nice compared to the Dashboards or BIRT and it does have its limits in terms of functionality if you compare it again with Dashboards or YouCalc.
  • Workforce Analytics is hardcore! Expensive if you break it down to single reports / KPI’s and implementing cost / time, but well worth it if you are a data driven company. Combined with Employee Central, it’s a super powerful analytical tool that can provide insights so you know what to do before problems even occur.

Standard & Ad-Hoc Reporting

You will find some basic reports delivered by SAP SuccessFactors in your Reporting section. This are called Standard Reports (they are labeled Dashboard and Report Center), which belong to the SAP SuccessFactors Platform. They work well if you follow the standard implementation. If you don’t use some of the standard fields that are used in the standard reports or dashboards, the reports won’t work well. Just remember: You can’t change the standard reports or dashboards!

If the standard reports don’t work for you, you can build your own reports. Under Reports => Analytics => Ad-Hoc Reports, you can build ad-hoc reports for each module (Domain). This ad-hoc reporting is really easy to use, but still lacks a bit in design and functionality. I cover further details of the standard and ad-hoc reporting in this article.

Visual Reporting with Dashboard 2.0 Reports

SAP SuccessFactors pre-delivers some Dashboard 2.0 Reports, but not many. Most of them are for the Performance & Goals and Compensation modules. These reports have a pretty nice design. The Dashboards are built using a tool called YouCalc Dashboard Builder (standalone piece of software). SAP SuccessFactors bought the tool some years ago and it seems there are not many people out there who are familiar with this tool. It picks up data from an ad-hoc report and visualises it.

Unfortunately, as a customer, you cannot build your own complex dashboards with the YouCalc designer, BUT you are still able to build intuitive and easy Dashboards with the Tile Builder with some functional limits. I cover more details of what the YouCalc Dashboard Builder for SAP SuccessFactors can do and how it looks in this article.

Visual Reporting with BIRT in SuccessFactors

BIRT (Business Intelligence and Reporting Tool) is an open source project and add-on for Eclipse. In SAP SuccessFactors, you can use BIRT to amend the presentation of your ad-hoc reports. It also gives you the chance to show your data in pivot tables. Data is exported to BIRT and after that you can upload the BIRT Template into your ad-hoc report.

This feature is not completely free, but the BIRT Tool itself is free of charge. You need to contact your SAP SuccessFactors sales representative to talk about a license to use this feature (sometimes it is included in your bundle). I will show you how the templates look and describe more details of using BIRT in a future article.

Advanced Reporting & Online Report Designer

The Online Report Designer (ORD) is a kind of combination of advanced ad-hoc reporting and visual reporting in SAP SuccessFactors. This feature is available and ready to use out of the box. The Online Report Designer is a self-service, easy to use, non-technical reporting tool that can be used by anyone in the organization (subject to permissions, of course).

ORD can be enabled by Customer Support at no extra cost to the customer. It is not as flexible as a 3rd Party BI tool. We talk about two different sources if we talk about reports in ORD. Detailed Reporting are based on Ad-Hoc Report Domains (or LMS pulled via OData) and Advanced Reporting using Realms Schema (old schema used ODS – Operational Data Store), which uses replicated data from Employee Central. In there, you can use MDF Objects, effective dated information and cross domain reporting. We will discuss this further in a future article in the series for Reporting and Analytics in SAP SuccessFactors.

SAP SuccessFactors Workforce Analytics Module

SAP SuccessFactors Workforce Analytics (WFA) provides concrete and actionable insights on workforce data to drive your business strategies today, and help you plan for the future. It helps to increase the effectiveness of HR through a comprehensive library of more than 2,000 standard metrics, industry benchmarks, and HR best practices that help measure the things that matter.

This module also supports cross domain reporting and new charts library with Online Report Designer. You also get the fancy headlines you may have seen in some sales demos. In a nutshell, it is the Rolls Royce of SAP SuccessFactors reporting tools. That also applies to cost, as it’s a separate module subscription and also requires considerable effort to implement.

But you get a lot for that price. You get the upper end of analytics innovation in a lean design, intuitive reports, customised KPIs and the ability to create awareness of problems before they occur. Since mid-2017, Workforce Analytics is also available with HANA. I will talk more about that later.

Report Center – Where you find it all

SAP SuccessFactors has created a place where you can find all Reports, no matter which tool you used to create it. It is called Reporting Center and was released first in Q3 2016. It is the Go-Forward solution from SuccessFactors, a consolidated place for all reports (a “one stop shop”) with a nice Fiori design. This feature should be on everyone’s watchlist, because a lot more will come in upcoming releases.

Beginning in Q1 2017, every customer could activate Report Center and in Q2 2017 they added Report Center Scheduling. So you no longer need SAP Support or partner help to schedule ad-hoc reports.

HR Reporting and Analytics in SAP SuccessFactors: Conclusion

Reporting has never been easy! It is getting better with SAP SuccessFactors, but it is still challenging to find out what you can do and what suits your organisation best. There are a lot of different ways to create reports or build a dashboard to fulfill all your reporting needs and expectations. Some features are free to use out-of-the-box, some require training or support from your partner and for some you need to pay an additional subscription fee.

First of all, it is important to know and describe what you really need, what you expect your reporting to do for you, which reports are “must haves” and which reports are simply nice to have. If you want to know more about SAP SuccessFactors Reporting, keep an eye on this blog as we add more to series.

At this point I also want to inform you that most of the reporting tools (Standard Reporting, Ad-Hoc Reporting, Dashboards, BIRT Templates and ORD) will be obsolete at one point in the future as SAP SuccessFactors announced in 2017 their intention to move to Cloud Analytics (formerly Business Objects in the Cloud).

Reporting in SAP SuccessFactors has a long history and, like SuccessFactors itself, was originally an assortment collection of different tools or systems. So, we do find several different reporting tools with different modules in SAP SuccessFactors suite. Don’t hesitate to familiarize yourself with the tools showcased in other blog posts here on the iXerv site:

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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