SAP SuccessFactors

SAP SuccessFactors


SAP SuccessFactors (sometimes referred to casually by users as “SF” or “SFSF,” although neither are officially recognized by SAP) is an HR tool that provides cloud-based software for human capital management (HCM), using the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model.


SAP SuccessFactors incorporates core HR and talent management features, offering its customers various deployment options that tend to specific solution needs.


Table of Contents

  1. History of SAP SuccessFactors
  2. Core HR
    1. SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central
    2. SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central Payroll
    3. SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central Service Center
    4. Work-Life
    5. Diversity and Inclusion
  3. Talent Management
    1. Performance & Goals
    2. Compensation
    3. Recruiting
    4. Onboarding
    5. Learning
    6. Succession and Development
  4. Reporting and Analytics
  5. Deployment Models
    1. Talent Hybrid
    2. Core Hybrid
    3. Full Cloud HCM
    4. Side-by-Side
  6. Other Key SAP SuccessFactors Terms
  7. Additional Resources
    1. Blog Posts
    2. Books by SAP PRESS
    3. Videos


The History of SAP SuccessFactors

SuccessFactors was founded in 2001 by Lars Dalgaard. It started as an SaaS performance management software, but eventually expanded its offerings by providing business execution software to customers. In February 2012, SAP acquired SuccessFactors, which it renamed to SAP SuccessFactors. The acquisition was largely considered an opportunity to bring existing cloud expertise to SAP’s expanding portfolio and allowed SAP to offer a full, cloud-based HCM suite.


A social collaboration solution, called SAP Jam, was introduced as an integration option in 2012 to help improve the way employees engage with each other and make decisions in the cloud. The tool allowed team members to share ideas, find solutions to shared business problems, align their goals, and more.


SAP SuccessFactors again expanded its offerings to include recruitment marketing and posting, onboarding, and workforce analytics. As of 2019, the latest release of SAP SuccessFactors included functionality updates for the mobile app, SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central Service Center, and the recruiting solution, just to name a few. Architectural enhancements and a new SAP Fiori-based user interface have also been implemented.

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Core HR

The core HR lifecycle within SAP SuccessFactors enables the management of employee data, self-services, payroll, time, benefits, ticketing and issues,  health and well-being, global data protection and privacy, and diversity and inclusion. It consists of several applications and services.



SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central

As one of the core global solutions covering over 90 countries, SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central enables organizations to flexibly manage all of their HR needs. It provides a system of engagement that aligns with modern workforces’ expectations of the user interface and user experience. As an SaaS solution, it can be managed based on the changing workforce structure, with the key functionalities and capabilities that companies need to keep their employee information organized.


SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central also lets you combine data with financial and operational information from external systems, giving you holistic insights that enable users to collaborate with business leaders on decisions.


Furthermore, SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central provides comprehensive, integrated, and searchable employee and organizational information. With position management and organizational charting, users are able to create the right structures for an agile organization that supports departments, teams, and individuals. Smart automation, with intelligent services and HR workflows across system and business functions, enables users to manage processes, not just transactions.


In addition, SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central offers data protection and privacy functions to ensure customers are maintaining data compliance such as consent management, data blocking, data retention and purge, read and edit logging, as well as reporting.


SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central Payroll

SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central Payroll is a global, cloud-hosted solution for all payroll needs, covering over 40 countries. It provides a more maintainable way to manage payroll operations with its vast capabilities, including integration functionalities for third-party systems and user interfaces.


Employee Central Payroll includes a plethora of features to fulfill the needs of payroll processes including (but not limited to) gross pay calculation based on time entered in the Payroll Time Sheet module or third-party time systems, gross-to-net calculation of paychecks, retroactive pay calculation, paychecks and deposit advices (viewable in Employee Central and SAP SuccessFactors Mobile), and end-to-end payroll process interfacing with the Financial Accounting and Controlling modules of SAP ERP.




In addition, Employee Central Payroll integrates with third-party benefit solutions such as Benefitfocus and third-party time solutions such as Workforce Software and Kronos Time Management.


SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central Service Center

The SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central Service Center manages HR and knowledge-based services. It’s divided into two core areas: Ask HR and HR Ticketing.


Ask HR is a portal where employees can research topics in their knowledge base; open a ticket for more information; and email, schedule a call, or initiate a chat session with the helpdesk. Employees are recognized by Ask HR, and their whereabouts within the system are known, as well. This means a user does not have to verify who they are when employing this feature.


HR Ticketing provides a fast and effective way to access employee information and address any issues that arise. Once a ticket is submitted, HR professionals can review tickets, access information, route tickets to the right person or group, and manage or resolve tickets. Another key feature of HR Ticketing is employee data protection that is operated through permission controls.



Employees can keep track of their well-being through various features in Work-Life. Assessments, informational content, and activities are available to improve and maintain the health of employees. Managers have the ability to communicate with employees and get feedback from polls that provide anonymized reports and compare data from different groups within the company.




Diversity and Inclusion

With SAP SuccessFactors Diversity and Inclusion, companies can build and maintain a diverse and inclusive global workforce by using enhanced technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence.

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Talent Management

The talent solutions provided by SAP SuccessFactors cover the entire lifecycle of talent, meaning you can govern integrated, end-to-end talent management programs in the suite. This provides customers with the tools they need to maintain information on performance and goals, compensation, recruiting, onboarding, learning, and succession planning & development


Performance & Goals

The Performance & Goals feature gives organizations an opportunity to deliver more meaningful employee reviews, and uses objective principles to help them align employee goals with business goals. The application comes with a wizard containing design principles that leverage each aspect of design—social, mobile, analytical, rich, and toy-like (termed SMART)—and a library to assign and manage appropriate goals to employees, along with review forms for performance tracking.



The compensation management feature provides access-controlled compensation plans, budgeting, calibration, and viable pay options. Key dashboards and analytics measure the impact of compensation measurements and adjustments on a budget in real time.



The Recruiting solution supports an organization’s hiring process: attracting, engaging, and selecting hires. There are three core modules in this solution:

    • Recruiting Management is a mobile, collaborative recruiting management platform.
    • Recruiting Marketing is a social recruiting marketing platform with a full-fledged and SEO-optimized career site builder.
    • Recruiting Posting offers the ability to post jobs to various job boards.




Onboarding is a solution that provides functionalities for new hires, crossboarding for transfers, and offboarding for departing employees . New hires are able to access the online New Hire Portal, where required documents are kept for completion. This is also where they can interact with colleagues and find overviews of team members and learning plans.


From an HR perspective, this is where administrators can look to give new hires access to the correct information, documents, and people.



The SAP SuccessFactors Learning management system offers enhanced learning experiences through the use of social and mobile features. Supervisors can create courses and programs which have the ability to be assigned automatically to team members. Such tasks can also be tracked with to-do lists, easy links, and status pods.


Succession & Development

The succession planning and career development solution helps identify high-potential individuals, assign successors to key positions, and create development plans for successors. The feature is split into two types of modules: Succession and Development.


The Succession module focuses on the succession planning process. The primary functionality is the ability to use all available data to make key decisions regarding which positions need to have successors, which talent is available and how to identify talent, and how to assign talent as successors for the right positions.




The career development planning module, also known as CDP, manages development activities such as career planning and learning activities. Employees can use this as a platform for handling their careers and choices about the path they want to take within the organization.


HR professionals use Succession & Development as a best-practice solution, as it features organizational charts, talent search, and reports to simplify talent management processes.

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Reporting and Analytics

SAP SuccessFactors' reporting and analytics tools allow you to utilize your workforce data to support your HR processes, discover strategic insights, and power data-driven decision making. HR and business leaders and analysts can create visualizations and tell stories with data to influence with evidence-based outcomes.


SAP has built a single data model using modules across the SAP SuccessFactors suite. Stories in SAP SuccessFactors People Analytics is a platform to create reports, analyses, visualizations, and dashboards with SAP SuccessFactors transactional data.

Workforce Analytics

Workforce analytics empowers strategic analysis by transforming your transactional data into a robust set of time-trending metrics and dimensions. Metrics packs can be implemented that include predefined metrics (i.e., headcounts, promotions, and hires) and dimensions (i.e., locations, business units, and job levels).

Workforce Planning

Workforce planning enables you to plan for vacancies, create new positions, and anticipate workforce needs. Beginning with a strategic analysis of current and future states, you can apply supply and demand forecasts to both your short-term and long-term workforce planning goals.

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Deployment Models

SAP offers four deployment models for some or all of the SAP SuccessFactors HCM Suite: talent hybrid, core hybrid, full cloud HCM, and side-by-side. Here is a brief overview of each:


Talent Hybrid

The talent hybrid model is used when customers use either on-premise SAP ERP or on-premise SAP S/4HANA for core HR processes in conjunction with SAP SuccessFactors HCM Suite for talent management.


Core Hybrid

Customers will use the core hybrid model when they are running Employee Central in the cloud. but payroll or time management in SAP ERP or SAP S/4HANA. This is true whether or not other SAP SuccessFactors HCM Suite applications are in use.


Full Cloud HCM

The full cloud HCM model spans the entirety of the SAP SuccessFactors HCM Suite, which can include Employee Central Payroll. This is the likely model for SAP newcomers to use, as they may not yet have an on-premise record.



With the side-by-side model, customers are able to run SAP ERP HCM and Employee Central in parallel as dual systems of record. Users can integrate and synchronize data between the two systems while maintaining individual master system identities for a defined group of employees.

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Other Key SAP SuccessFactors Terms

The above information provides baseline knowledge for SAP SuccessFactors. Review the following list of additional terms to familiarize yourself with:

    • Payroll Control Center: An add-on for SAP Payroll Processing that allows a more streamlined payroll process to occur.
    • Qualtrics: An experience management solution focused on feedback and surveys that SAP acquired in late 2018.
    • SAP ERP HCM: SAP’s on-premise human capital management solution introduced as part of SAP ERP.
    • SAP SuccessFactors Admin Center: An application used to perform and support administration-related tasks, such as SAP SuccessFactors configuration, user management, and assigning and revoking permissions. Formerly known as OneAdmin.

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Additional Resources

Want to learn more about SAP SuccessFactors? Additional information can be found in the blog posts and books listed below.

Blog Posts

Books by SAP PRESS


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