I like watching the sea, just sitting on the beach, basking in the sun, staring at the waves for hours and how they mesmerise me. But what is interesting when you sit back and watch the sea for a while is that you start seeing a certain pattern of wave sets and lulls. You might ask what this has to do with SAP’s “Point-to-Point” (PTP) integration between SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central and Employee Central Payroll. But, I want to try and use the analogy of how ocean swimmers use wave sets and lulls to swim faster to the back of the surf and try applying it to our current high tech, ever-changing SAP payroll world.
The purpose of this article is to highlight that PTP is the integration of choice between Employee Central and Employee Central Payroll, to discuss how migration from middleware integration like Dell Boomi to PTP can be done relatively easy with tools provided by SAP and to explain how ECP with PTP integration could make for a better option than hybrid integration with on-premise payroll.
Back to my ocean wave analogy that provides a starting point when considering which solution fits best for an organisation.
The most basic pattern you should be looking for are sets and lulls. Once you’ve identified this pattern, use this knowledge to:
Step 1 – Choose when to enter the water. Swimming in a lull will help you avoid waves.
By identifying a lull in the sea of technology or within the business, it provides for an opportunity to evaluate current systems and processes. During this short interval, have deep conversations about the future of the business and how HR with the help of systems can influence business and improve employee engagement.
Swimming in a lull ….
During a lull and where deep conversations exposes the need for change (forced or un-forced), start proactively developing a transition strategy for the future. The strategic plan could include a transition to some of SAP’s newer offerings, of which the SAP SuccessFactors suite offers many advantages. Although there is a big hype with regards to the cloud, each customer has a different business and therefore it is not a one size fit all solution, so take your time to evaluate all options.
SAP has indicated that support will be provided until at least 2025 and extended support until at least 2030 for the SAP HCM on-premise system, keeping in mind that SAP has already stopped further developments on certain modules for the on-premise system (example performance management). Although this date has been moved time and again, one feels that the clock is ticking on the 30+ year-old solution. SAP has invested a lot to offer customers various options to start their transition to the newer cloud offerings or at least leverage existing SAP on-premise investments by means of integration to cloud solutions. It might be a full cloud strategy, or it might be a part cloud solution strategy (hybrid solution). Two main options for running payroll as an SAP customer is (of course with slight variants offered by SAP Partners in terms of outsourced payroll or MCPO, but this is for another discussion):
- Employee Central Payroll is a hosted SAP global payroll solution integrated with Employee Central. For organisations that wish to manage payroll in-house via a cloud-based solution, Employee Central Payroll offers most of the same features and benefits as SAP’s on-premise payroll solution, but it is delivered with the security, scale, and flexibility of the SAP SuccessFactors cloud. PTP integration provides seamless integration between Employee Central and Employee Central Payroll, with no requirement for middleware.
- Hybrid solution, whereby integration between Employee Central and an SAP on-premise system is done via middleware like SAP Cloud Platform Integration (SCPI).
Step 2 – Choose when to return to shore. Bodysurf a set wave or avoid heavy dumping waves by swimming through the break-zone during a lull.
As I said above, my focus is on payroll and specifically PTP, so please bear with me. In step 2, after evaluation and consideration as to what technology platform would serve the organisation best and before you head back shore, it would be good to consider the advantages and value proposition Employee Central Payroll with PTP integration can bring and how this might set you up to bodysurf a set wave to the shore. Avoid heavy dumping waves by considering the complexities associated with Employee Central and SAP on-premise integrations.
Advantages of Employee Central Payroll with PTP:
- SAP Payroll can be implemented without having to extend infrastructure or support teams.
- Existing infrastructure could be retired, leading to cost savings.
- Seamless integration with core HRIS (Employee Central) – No need for middleware for integration between Employee Central and Employee Central Payroll.
- Easy integration with SAP ERP Financials. The posting into accounting can be done automatically by using corresponding jobs if an SAP ERP Accounting system is integrated by standard SAP interface technology (ALE). ALE for payroll posting is mature and stable, so enhancements are rarely needed.
- Access to latest innovations. Innovation is mostly limited to the PTP integration (being cut off from innovation in integration may also mean being cut off from fully utilising some future innovations in Employee Central).
- Streamline validation, reporting and business processes as Employee Central Payroll offers the Payroll Control Center. Payroll Control Center can contain pre-validation rules and can be scheduled to kick off your payroll at specific times. Payroll Control Center provides structure and automation.
- Quarterly Employee Central Payroll enhancements are released in line with Employee Central enhancements.
- Payroll support can either be in house or left with a qualified vendor.
- More predictable cost model compared to SAP on-premise.
- Preconfigured, standardised integration with most of the mappings between the two systems taken care of in the back ground by SAP.
- Single query executed for replication of employee and org assignment data and can be scheduled frequently.
- Employee Central Payroll offers a higher level of standardisation. It allows customers to configure schema and rules, build custom payroll functions/operations, and create custom payroll reports but doesn’t allow core modifications and enhancement spots.
- Automated creation of records based in information in Employee Central.
- Country-specific data not captured in the standard replication, can be incorporated as part of the replication program.
- Ability to process custom fields directly to generate additional infotypes in Employee Central Payroll.
- Ability to directly access all fields in the Compound Employee API for processing during replication.
Please note that PTP data replication can only be used with Employee Central Payroll and is not available for on-premise or cloud hosted payroll.
Although SAP Time Management is not part and parcel of the Employee Central Payroll offering, it is worth considering the related items that could be, in or out scope for an Employee Central Payroll implementation:
- Access for HR administrators to time related infotypes in Employee Central Payroll
- Leverage standard and custom build interfaces for integrating with Employee Central Payroll (IT2001, 2003, 2006, 2010)
- Usage of other payroll/time related Infotypes (special absences for certain countries, etc.)
- Usage of RPTIME00
- Standard integration (Employee Central Time –to – Employee Central Payroll) using PTP
Out of Scope
- Using Employee Central Payroll as a stand-alone time management system
- Time-related ESS, MSS, workflows and approvals in Employee Central Payroll. No access for employees and managers for these processes
- Using CATS (Cross Application Time Sheet)
- Using TMW (Time Manager’s Workplace)
SAP on-premise payroll systems already in use offer organisations stability with less risk associated to integration as the system has been running for years. Complexities associated with SAP on-premise integration with Employee Central include:
- Connection between the 3 systems (Employee Central, SCPI, SAP on-premise) could be very complex depending on the network configuration, for example; security, SSO, certificates, firewalls, etc.
- No access to modern user interface
- Difficult to embed innovation on a legacy platform
- Ongoing cost, compliance, skills and maintenance burden
- Long term SAP HCM support constraint
- Constraints on employee data replication frequency
- Multiple employee and org data replication programs must be scheduled in sequence of each other
- Replication templates are created per instance and require creation of templates (unnecessary rework and time consuming)
If you are currently running Employee Central Payroll on software component PA_SE_IN using Dell Boomi Atomsphere as the middleware and would like to migrate to integration on software component EA-HRRXX with point-to-point replication, SAP provides guided steps and tools to make the migration process as easy and seamless as possible with the following high-level steps:
- Customizing Data, Business Add In implementations, Application Data (for example key mapping) are transferred to the new system via SAP tools / programs
- Middleware-based integration is deactivated
- Point-to-point integration is activated
Whichever option is chosen, data integration is a critical part of a successful solution.
Step 3 – Get a boost off the beach. Enter a rip current directly after a large set and ride the larger pulse of water away from the beach.
As we strive for simplicity to solve complex problems and find better ways to engage employees in organisations, SAP SuccessFactors provides solutions to do exactly that. They solve problems by offering business best practices that were assimilated from learnings over the years and data collected.
Is it possible for a moment to put the risk associated with moving to a new payroll system aside and consider the following? PTP integration between Employee Central and Employee Central Payroll offers huge benefits and by using this model your new payroll implementation can get a huge boost. Yes, there are some custom functionalities/developments that you will need to re-think and processes that need to be re-worked. But, this provides the opportunity to simplify and adapt existing/old processes. Another factor to consider when moving from SAP on-premise to Employee Central Payroll is the advantage of re-using already developed configuration and certain developments, such as payroll schemas, rules, and wage type configurations.
SAP on-premise integration done by means of the Business Integration Builder (BiB) can take a lot of time to configure, and an estimate of 30% to 40% of project time should be allocated to complete all the related intricacies. With PTP integration, SAP has provided preconfigured methods to deal with each data set coming from Employee Central. You can compare that to SAP on-premise integration where you need to setup template groups, templates per data grouping, and mappings per field (very detailed work).
From past project experience, the implementation of on-premise integration using middleware requires months of configuration and subsequent testing time in terms of setting up the transformation templates, as appose to PTP whereby standard, underlying preconfigured replication programs allow for basic data to be replicated from Employee Central to Employee Central Payroll in a few steps.
Although this might not be the case on all implementations, setting up the connection between Employee Central and Employee Central Payroll by means of PTP is literally a few hours. In contrast, an on-premise middleware implementation could be very complicated. For example, on a specific project there was a delay on the project for 4 weeks while we waited for the customer’s network team to resolve communication issues between their internal SAP infrastructure and SuccessFactors Cloud. Also in terms of troubleshooting, instead of having to look at 3 different systems, with PTP it is only Employee Central Payroll and Employee Central, not a 3rdsystem that is the middleware.
Therefore, by looking at the time spent implementing the SAP on-premise integration to Employee Central, the time could be spent implementing a new Employee Central Payroll system that is current, and SAP supported with ongoing enhancements every quarter. This might sound like a wild statement and it probably is, but the fact that the PTP integration currently receives and will continue to receive developments from SAP, this surely should carry a lot of weight.
Step 4 – Mentally deal with swimming through the surf. If you know approximately how many waves are in a set, it can be of comfort as one wave after another starts to tire you out.
Whichever option is ultimately chosen and how pretty the end picture is painted of the chosen solution, hard work and apt preparation is required when transitioning to a new HRIS system in order to make the outcome a success. Don’t underestimate the challenge of a lifetime. Hard work is required to prepare for such an implementation and organisations should use the lulls they see to have deep and sometimes uncomfortable conversations on how they want to change their organisation or how their current processes and policies could be adapted to fit into a chosen solution. Bearing in mind that SAP SuccessFactors provides a good set of best business practices, these need to be examined and matched to your organisation, preparing all mentally to deal, adapt and be open for change.
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2529973 – SuccessFactors Employee Central SAP ERP integration documentation –
SAP SuccessFactors Integration documentation –
Employee Central Integration documentation –
Employee Central Payroll documentation –
Dries Smit is an SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central and Employee Central Payroll consultant. Located in Cape Town, South Africa, Dries has more than 10 years of experience with SAP and SuccessFactors HCM implementations and support.