Your Journey to SuccessFactors: How to Prepare and What to Avoid

The move to the cloud can be a daunting task for an organization without the proper preparation. Understanding what to expect and what to avoid will be the key to a smooth implementation.

How to Prepare

Make sure that you have the right expertise in place

Ensuring that your resources have the right expertise is extremely important to integration success. Whether you are moving just one or multiple HR processes to the cloud, it is essential that the people involved have a significant amount of SAP experience—including integration data between SAP ERP environments and SuccessFactors, as well as HR ABAP programming expertise. Most internal IT teams do not keep someone of staff with these skills, so it is imperative that you engage with a partner that does. In addition, having the correct HR SMEs involved in the project early will help drive out the nuanced requirements during the initial workshops and avoid requirement changes due to missed business processes late in the project when it is more difficult and costly to implement them.

Plan on a significant amount of configuration, development, and testing work

SAP has done a good job of building a framework for integration, but some enhancements and configuration work are needed to achieve true seamless integration. ABAP will come in to play here for the integration and development work. Be sure to allow enough time the test these integrations, as well.

Understand your middleware scenario

Middleware is the software that sits between your on-premise SAP and external systems in order to help shield your SAP environment from any exposure on the internet. Clients typically have one of two middleware types: Process Integration (PI) or SAP Cloud Platform Integration (SCPI).

PI: If you currently have an on-premise SAP ERP environment, you most likely have PI. We suggest keeping this if you already have it, and the SuccessFactors functionality you wish to implement has a PI integration package (Recruiting, Compensation, PM/GM, etc.).

SCPI: This cloud-based middleware is hosted by SAP. We suggest using SCPI if you don’t already have PI as it is constantly being updated with new standard integration packages to third-party systems.

Ask SAP to match your current landscape in the cloud

One of the most common integration challenges is that the client’s on-premise environment doesn’t match the cloud-based one. Clients with on-premise environments usually have three standard computing environments: Development or “dev,” QA or “test,” and Production. Unfortunately, SAP SuccessFactors only has two environments by default: Test and Production. This can lead to some data integrity issues, so we suggest you ask SAP to give you a dev environment so that your landscapes are mirrored between on-premise and the cloud.

Plan your path to the cloud carefully

If you are planning on transitioning everything over to Employee Central (EC), you will not be able to use many of the integrations available in the SuccessFactors Talent Hybrid Solution. Instead SAP provides a new integration package for SAP/EC bi-directional data integration. When moving from SAP on premise to EC, the task is primarily that of data migration, not data integration. The mapping and conversion of all of your data from the SAP data model to your cloud data model with the reverse mappings for replication of that data back to SAP is a complex task that requires a great deal of planning, testing, and validation. Because of this, many companies plan five-to-seven-year roadmaps for a full move to the cloud. This kind of gradual approach is good for companies with large in-house systems so that the data integrity is on point.

What to Avoid

Don’t Get Comfortable!

The project you are about to begin will take longer and will be more difficult than you may have first considered. You must be prepared to be flexible; it is the key to your success!

Remember that just because this is the cloud doesn’t mean that it will be easy. Sure, some aspects are easier than those of an on-premise implementation. However, the underlying business processes stay the same. The processes can be complicated due to all of the requirements that have been implemented over the years. Make sure you plan accordingly so that you have the money and time to properly implement your processes and your software.

Don’t underestimate the project management office

Completing a proper project planning exercise is key. You will need a detailed project plan that outlines your resources and appropriate work time, expectations for the resources, budget, and timeline for the entire project.

Make sure that your partner resource is experienced and certified so that they are properly trained to work on your project. Even though it is a good idea to include plenty of contingency in the project plan, having training resources will make your project go much smoother.

Sticking to the project plan as best as possible is important. Things like scope creep can derail your project very quickly. If something needs to be added to the scope mid-project, have an escalation plan in place.

Your implementation partner should provide you with a project manager who is 100% dedicated to your project. This may add some cost but a cost that is worth it. Think of it as insurance. Your internal project manager should be 50% dedicated to the implementation.

Don’t forget about IT

The IT Department is critical in any implementation. Make sure that your IT resources and stakeholders are fully engaged on the project. Do not make them an afterthought.

Plan for change management
Meet potential resistance head on and consider a change management program. Your implementation partner most likely will not have someone on staff who is an expert in this field, so consider hiring someone or another team to focus on this.

Consistent communication is key to a successful go live. Having an ongoing cadence and message to the stakeholder community during the project and after go live will help you to achieve a smooth go live and increase user adoption.

Do not underestimate testing!

Testing is sometimes forgotten or underestimated in a project plan, but this is one of the most important phases of the implementation. Just remember: You will always need more time!

You partner should manage the initial phase of testing such as integrations, end-to-end process testing, and payroll parallel, if required. But, your participation will go up. You will need to assume responsibility for user acceptance testing (UAT). This is your chance to confirm that your application is working as per your business requirements. Most organizations need help; that is expected. You may find it difficult to write test scripts, so ask your partner to provide a library of scripts that you can pick from and customize if needed.

Cloud implementations have many moving pieces, and it is important that you prepare to the best of your ability before embarking on this journey. If you consider these things that we laid out above, your implementation will be more seamless and less stressful than if you go in blind and unprepared.


  1. 5 Insider Tips for a Smooth SuccessFactors Talent Hybrid Integration
  2. 5 Things to Watch Out for in Preparing For Your Employee Central Project
Michael White

Michael White

As Director of SAP Technologies for GP Strategies’ Human Capital Technology Group, Michael is responsible for managing the technical resources that perform development and integration work in and out of both the SuccessFactors cloud solutions and the SAP ECC software platform. He has been working with SAP software since 2006 in a wide variety of roles ranging from Solution Architect all the way to Software Developer. This gives him a unique understanding of the SAP architecture from both a functional and detailed technical level and enables him to both understand the needs of the customer and immediately assess how the system can or cannot meet those needs. Michael holds a Master of Science in Computer Science and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He has also presented at multiple SAP Insider conferences in both the USA and Europe as well as the Houston ASUG conference.
Michael White
One comment on “Your Journey to SuccessFactors: How to Prepare and What to Avoid
  1. Talenteam says:

    As the recognised leader in talent and learning management system software, SAP SuccessFactors LMS puts your employees at the centre of the learning experience to develop new skills, gain insights and drive people engagement.


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