Michael Wellens is a Principal Consultant and Business Development Executive at Worklogix. He has over 15 years of IT experience including consulting for Fortune 100 companies. He provides subject matter expertise in the SAP SuccessFactors and HCM technology arena and has led numerous full life-cycle SAP projects around the world.
What is the Metadata Framework (MDF) in SAP SuccessFactors? If you’ve been introduced to SAP SuccessFactors, chances are you’ve heard the term “Metadata Framework”. But you may not know the details of what the Metadata framework is exactly. This quick blog will help you understand what comprises the “Metadata Framework”.
To get started, let’s examine the name “Metadata Framework”. “Meta” refers to a greek origin word meaning “beyond”. So the word “Metadata” refers to data beyond the data. Or in other words, Metadata is data about the data. Metadata is data that describes what type of data it is (e.g. a number, or text, or a drop down) how the data looks (e.g. how it is formatted such as a date formatted as 12-31-20 vs. December 31, 2020), what its limits are (e.g. 256 characters long), etc . As the picture at the top of the blog post suggests, a framework is the structure laid out in the initial stages of building a structure. So the “Metadata Framework” is a way to lay out the structure of data in SAP SuccessFactors.
So how do we go about laying out the data structure of SAP SuccessFactors? If you have admin access in the system, you can navigate to the “Configure Object Definitions” screen as shown in the example below. Think of an “Object” as a collection of fields that describe, define, and/or belong to a “thing” in your database/system. Objects could be a chair, a dog, a car, a person or the example below, a position. This screen demonstrates the power of the MDF because you can create objects (as seen in the upper right hand corner under “Create New”, or you can edit existing objects. This ability to create and edit objects lets you store any type of information! In our example, we chose “Object Definition” in the “Search” field and then chose “Position” so we can see how the position object has been defined. You can see below some basic data about the object in general at the top such as whether it is active or not, whether version history is kept on the MDF definition, etc. Below that begins a list of fields within the object and associated attributes of each field such as its technical identifier, length, the type of field it is, etc. Scrolling further down we can even set rules for what happens when a new object is created (such as pre-populating fields) or validation rules to help with data integrity to check fields before the object is saved. We can edit this definition of the overall object and the fields within the object by clicking “Take Action” and then “Make Correction”. Taking a look at the screenshot below, you can start to get a sense of what the MDF is all about.
It is important to note that not all data in SAP SuccessFactors uses the metadata framework. Most Employee Central data is stored in the MDF–but not all. SAP is working on moving the final few pieces into the MDF within the next few releases. Most of the Talent modules and Recruiting still also reside outside of the MDF. However, as new functionality is built, it is created using the MDF wherever practical.
We hope you enjoyed this quick tour of the MDF! You should now have a basic understanding of what the MDF is and how to configure it. Do you need more help with the MDF? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As year-end approaches, it is common for many companies to take a second look at their employee performance and goal setting processes. In the past few weeks, I’ve been helping multiple companies revamp their employee performance processes. While some are just tweaking current forms and processes, others are considering including a new and often enlightening process – 360 evaluations.
What is a 360 evaluation?
The idea behind a 360 evaluation is to get a picture of how others view your performance from all angles. This means that in addition to getting feedback from your manager (top down), you also get feedback from your own direct reports (bottom-up), peers (side), and even external sources (vendors, business partners, customers, etc.).
Why do companies implement 360 evaluations?
Receiving feedback from a variety of sources helps create a more complete picture of how an employee is performing and/or perceived to be performing from different angles. 360 evaluations can help uncover trends and gaps in these different angles. For example, a manager may consider an employee a top performer, but when feedback is asked from peers or external sources on an anonymous basis, the employee might get different feedback (“He’s always on top of his own tasks, but sometimes at the expense of the team as a whole when we need his support”). Similarly, an employee may not be considered a top performer by a manager, but feedback from others could reveal a lot of solid performance feedback into which the manager never previously had sight (E.g. “She’s been so helpful in getting my career on the right path and helping me with work tasks at the expense of her own!”). Allowing this feedback to come to light can help employees and managers work to truly improve employee performance. We’ll take a look in a moment at how SAP SuccessFactors 360 evaluations aid in attaining this kind of feedback.
Walk-through of a 360 form in SAP SuccessFactors
360 forms are launched just like performance forms are. However, it is important to note that 360 forms use a separate screen for launching (don’t worry, this screen pretty much works the same as the other launch forms screen you are used to. After picking a target population, the admin can launch just like a normal performance form.
360 forms will also show up in the performance inbox like other performance forms, but with a different icon. It is important to recognize that 360 forms use a template type than regular performance forms and get treated slightly differently in these respects.
Once the first person in the route map gets the form (in this case the employee), they need to choose who will be involved in the evaluation. The system can be configured to default in people for categories like direct reports, manager, and peers.
Users also have the option to add external participants as shown below by simply providing a first name, last name, and email and then choosing in what category the person should be included.
Once the user is finished adding participants, there is usually an approval step prior to the evaluations being sent out. Evaluations can be designed using sections similar to those you are used to seeing in a standard performance review form. There are sections for objectives, competencies, as well as an introduction and a section for the subject’s information. Unlike regular performance forms that can be configured heavily on the online editor in “Manage Templates”, 360 forms can only be fully setup by partners or SAP (though much of the config is done in the online editor).
For internal participants, the evaluation is sent to the user’s performance inbox like the typical performance reviews where they can then open the form as shown below.
In the case of external participants, after approval of the evaluators, an email is sent with a link that allows external users to access the form. This can be a security consideration for some organizations since the link is only as secure as the receiving email system.
After all evaluations have been completed, the form is put in the completed status and the employee / manger / etc can view the results depending on permission settings. You can see an example completed performance form below.
One key advantage of the 360 form in SuccessFactors over the typical annual performance review is that the 360 feedback comments and ratings can be made anonymous. Obviously the user would know who their manager is, or they might be able to derive who the other evaluators are based on category if there are only one or two – so the forms allow you to configure minimum counts in each category as well as rollups to combine categories to help keep anonymity. The user can click on the link for each reviewer to see the details of each review and create an HTML or PDF printout of the details as shown below.
The form also has a nice detailed report showing the combined feedback comments and overall ratings by category. This can help the employee and manager understand where any gaps between self and manager evaluation ratings may exist along with other types of ratings from other categories. For examplem we can see below there is a large gap between the manager’s perception and the employee and other’s perception of “Prioritizing and Organizing Work”. Perhaps the manager is getting too much priority and the employee needs to focus on the work the team as a whole needs completed!
After this quick walkthrough, hopefully you can now see the advantage of 360 forms as an insightful tool to get employee performance feedback from a variety of sources and understand what a typical end-to-end 360 process looks like.
Do you need help implementing or changing your 360 form or other performance and goals processes? Contact us at email@example.com.
With so many jobs lost, we all need to hunker down and concentrate on keeping our current jobs until things get better right? Nothing could be further from the truth!
Realizing the Need
Just last week, I had a call with a customer who wanted to re-examine their Succession Management process. They had the system set up. They didn’t really use it. Then COVID hit. Like many companies, the organization underwent a lot of changes and left a lot of resource gaps. Now they are realizing they could have been better prepared and are looking to quickly ramp back up their succession process. They are not alone.
Throughout this year, I’ve had the pleasure of serving on HR.com‘s advisory board for Internal Mobility, Succession, and Career Development. The organization just recently published the results of the cross-industry study we board members helped create. From what I see, the survey results are consistent with what I am seeing in the example I described above. Let’s take a closer look at the facts!
First off, most organizations recognize they don’t have an effective succession management and/or planning process in place. In addition to only 40% of companies agreeing or strongly agreeing that their process is effective as shown below, another survey question revealed that only 26% have a succession management system in place.
Furthermore, the survey also found that only about 1 in 5 companies have considerable job mobility within the organization.
At the same time, companies realize that business continuity (e.g. keeping the lights on!) is the most important reason to promote succession management and internal mobility.
Recognizing The Gap
So let’s get this straight, companies recognize that Succession and Internal Mobility are important, but they don’t currently have good systems and processes in place to support them. So why don’t more companies get their Succession Management systems and processes up and running? The problem is, most organizations don’t consider Succession Management important to the organization.
The gap here is that the process really is important for the reasons these companies have already realize and just not acted up (remember what we said about keeping the lights on?). And many companies right now are starting to realize this the hard way during COVID as employees leave both voluntarily and involuntarily and large resource gaps are being felt because of this process gap. I can only attribute this trend to “perception” since the facts point to a real need here. I think it is time to end this perception!
Is It Worth The Investment?
If I invest in a Succession and Development Management strategy, is it really going to work? The answer is “Yes!” The survey found overwhelmingly that those organizations who are internal mobility leaders, it is easier for employees to move to new positions. Making it easy for employees to move from one position to another makes it easier to fill critical roles with people your organization already knows and trusts rather than going through the expense and risk of recruiting externally (which many companies are still unable to do at all at the moment with some still experiencing hiring freezes).
OK, I get it, I need Succession and Internal Mobility! How do I get started?
There’s a ton of ways! We’ve talked a lot about Succession Management – which involves tagging which roles are critical to the organization and identifying how to fill those roles. This can help you define who to develop and what they need to develop. But of course, that means investing in employee development itself! Not surprisingly, the survey found a similar trend here. Almost half of companies reported they did not have a development process or program!
What’s more frightening, is that during the Pandemic, when the concentration should be on developing the fewer employees many companies are trying to make more effective, the opposite seems to be happening. 47% of companies saw decreases in employee development.
At the same time, employee demand for development opportunities has increased! 75% of companies saw that employees are looking for development opportunities!
Once again, there is a huge disconnect which helps explain further why many company strategies are out of alignment with the needs. Only once employees are able to develop their skills and competencies in order to meet the needs of critical roles will they will be ready to start filling those critical roles.
There are a lot of specific strategies companies are using the promote internal mobility and fill their succession management strategies. To find out more information about the different approaches companies are taking to implement their Succession and Development Strategies, you can download the full survey at HR.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to talk more about your strategy!
Companies are hiring! A recent LinkedIn article shows that individual companies are now hiring 10,000s of new employees. This is great news for the economy. We at Worklogix have also seen customers gearing up their recruiting systems. But all this renewed activity in the “New Normal” raises the question “How do we keep everyone safe during the process without sacrificing the candidate experience?” In this blog we share how we’ve helped customers expand their recruiting capabilities with SAP SuccessFactors technology to keep candidates and current employees safe.
Just because there are more people looking for jobs doesn’t mean engagement needs to go down. Quite the opposite–it means now is your chance to engage the most people to get the best talent! If your company isn’t hiring yet, it makes the challenge even more important because without any postings, you’ll need to come up with creative ways to keep people checking back in with your career site. We’ve helped companies integrate with tools like chatbots that interact with candidates to document their interests and create talent profiles that can be used to trigger email updates. If you are wondering how to create talent pools and target them with email campaigns within SAP SuccessFactors, checkout our other blog article “Actively Engage Prospective Candidates with SAP SuccessFactors Recruiting CRM Features“. Email campaign content can range from virtual career fair announcements and updates on postings, to videos featuring real managers describing why they like working for the company and what they are looking for in a good candidate.
Even prior to COVID-19, we’ve been helping customers sift through 1,000s of candidates with automated assessments. With more unemployed people seeking jobs, there is increasing pressure to comb through even more candidates per posting. Automated assessments can take the form of surveys or even Artificial Intelligence. For example, we’ve help customers automatically send out 3rd party survey assessments immediately upon applying or at other stages in the recruiting process. From there, the candidate can either be automatically disqualified or be sorted into different statuses and/or given a rating to easily compare against others. Assessment status and scores can also be integrated directly into the SuccessFactors user interfac as shown in the screenshot above and even sorted in descending order for maximum visual efficiency for recruiters. We’ve also worked with cutting edge vendors to give candidate similar ratings based on resume and candidate profile content using AI technology.
One-Way Interviewing / Virtual Interviewing
As in-person interviewing takes on new risk, many are turning to one-way interviewing and/or virtual interviewing. We’ve helped customers setup their SAP SuccessFactors systems to automatically trigger 3rd party video interviewing systems when placed in an interview status. Typically, after the status trigger, the candidate gets an email with instructions, perhaps to download an app on their phone. In a one-way interview scenario, candidates are prompted with specific questions and are allowed to record an audio or audio/video segment answering each question. The recruiter then receives the segments in the vendor system and can even get automated system feedback on how the candidate answered. The advantage here in addition to not having to meet in person is there’s no need to work out scheduling issues and the candidate can often re-record until they are satisfied with the answer they have provided. Two-way interview automations often take the form of automated scheduling systems ending in a virtual conference call.
Will I have to work on site once I get the Job?
Depending on the position, this is probably a question on many candidates’ minds when applying to a new position, and one that recruiters should be prepared to answer with confidence. At Worklogix, we’ve helped companies flagging their positions to denote how critical being “in-person” is to the role and even denote what kind of proximity to other people or exposure risk the role may require. By expanding position objects in the SuccessFactors MDF and linking the field to the requisition, recruiters can post positions and communicate with candidates clearly about the on-site expectations of the role are.
Automated Drug Screening and Background Checks
While some companies may choose to forego drug screenings, others like those subject to DOT regulations have no choice. A recent SHRM article talks about the pros and cons and realities of drug testing during COVID. The question seems to be, are we doing more harm by not conducting screenings designed to provide a safe work environment for employees? Giving candidates options might help here. We’ve helped many customers setup automations with a variety of background check & drug screening vendors. Some of these vendors allow candidates to choose from a variety of facilities that may have different safety options candidates can choose from and feel more comfortable. In a typical automation scenario, the candidate is moved to a background screening status in SuccessFactors which triggers a call to the vendor, which in turn sends an email to the candidate to provide needed information and choose a drug screening facility. Results can also be shown directly in the SuccessFactors UI similar to assessment results.
Delaying I-9 Verification
Once a candidate is ready to hire, companies can also delay unneeded on-site attendance by delaying I-9 verification. As you may be aware, the Department of Homeland Security has delayed the need to verify employee work authorization documents. You can read the updates from DHS here. To comply for this, SAP has made updates to the existing Onboarding 1.0 process. You can read the full SAP note on the COVID-19 onboarding process here. For Onboarding 2.0, the US forms will be out as part of the H2 2020 release.
Online engagement using chatbots and email campaigns, automated assessments, virtual interviewing, flagging positions for work conditions, automated background checks, and I-9 updates are just a few examples of how company recruiting initiatives are working to make the recruiting and onboarding process both safe and efficient during COVID-19.
Are you working on any similar recruiting initiatives and need help? Email us at email@example.com!
Not surprisingly for Onboarding, most of the feature enhancements revolve around compliance. The biggest news is the release of compliance forms for the USA (I-9, E-Verify, W-4. SWF and standard forms). There were some customers in the USA hesitant to jump into Onboarding 2.0 until this happened. In addition, you can also create custom compliance forms if any happen to be missing for you country. Problem solved!
Onboarding is also now included in the platform-wide features of Data Purge, Read Audit, Change Audit, and Information Report. There was a major overhaul of the Read Audit report screen to assign specific fields as sensitive across most modules (see below screenshot), and onboarding is included in this. You can use the new screen to pick which fields you deem are sensitive instead of the system only assuming ethnicity, minority, and ssn are sensitive.
Additionally, there’s a ton of features to organize and enhance compliance usability. There’s now a way to add a compliance step to your standard workflow for the onboarding process (see below). Compliance forms can also now be categorized based on document type. Email notifications can also now be sent based on compliance-related events.
SAP has also added reporting on compliance in People Analytics that allows you to query on the status of compliance forms.
Business Rules continue to expand their usefulness in Onboarding as well. You can now directly edit the event reason in onboarding using a business rule (before you had to make a custom recruiting field for event reason).
Another neat new feature is the ability to customize the user id and employee id formats that get generated automatically. This is accomplished using a business rule and will allow administrators to organize the ids to follow helpful conventions rather than just being entirely up to the system.
Business rules can also be tied to email events for additional categories as well now too (Suite Mapping Error, Nudge Assignment, and Manage Assets Upload Categories). Attachments can also be added to email notifications as well.
All in all, there’s 16 items being changed/enhanced in this release for Onboarding and we didn’t cover every detail here. For more information, check out the What’s New Viewer here.
Writing Assistant and Coaching Advisor for Job Profile Builder
The biggest news for these modules we’ve seen is that the Job Profile builder now supports the Writing Assistant and Coaching Advisor (see below). This was a big gap that is finally being closed. We had some customers who wanted to use both the Job profile builder and the Writing Assistant and Coaching Advisor. This required creating all of the content for the Coaching Advisor and Writing Assistant in the legacy competency library config screens and then switching on the Job Profile builder and hoping everything got converted OK. If there was a mistake somewhere or something you wanted to add to the Coaching Advisor or Writing assistant…well then there wasn’t a way to fix it without turning off the Job Profile builder. Now this gap is closed and a profile job profile builder compatible maintenance screen for the Writing Assistant and Coaching Advisor exists. Woohoo!
Another significant enhancement we’ve seen is to the talent search. Now at the top of the screen there’s a checkbox to toggle between AND/OR logic when searching for background information (see below). We are wondering how this compliments / replaces the “Make All Criteria Optional” button that already existed under the settings menu. You can also add up to 6 criteria within each background element. There’s also a new competency picker in the talent search. The export feature was also enhanced to allow you to reorder and choose which fields can be exported. More fields can also be exported now under Advanced Information and Ratings & Competencies.
Calibration sessions got a neat enhancement where you can now view comments from other calibration sessions so long as they use the same template (see below)! We can see this becoming very useful to organizations that manage multiple sessions across large organizations. This was also enhanced in the Odata API where a new object, “CaibrationSubjectComment”, is available so that these comments are exposed for interfacing.
In addition, you can also use autocomplete when searching for people in calibration. Also, if you are attempting to purge a user who happens to be the only facilitator for a session you can now replace the user with an active user and then continue with the purge.
Career Worksheets and Career Explorer
Within Career Worksheets and the Career explorer we’ve seen some nice usability improvements. For example, the ability to remove recommended roles in the career explorer. Users can now remove a recommendation if they no longer wish to see it. This is a nice feature that can help encourage employees to keep looking for other roles instead of just constantly throwing something irrelevant at them. Aside from this, the career worksheet also got a security enhancement where the worksheet is only viewable if the employee is in the user’s target population. The progress bar also swapped colors as shown below. The bars will also show up now for not applicable / too new to rate competencies (they were hidden before).
But that’s not all!
Development templates and Continuous Performance Management also got another integration point. Now when a user
Matrix views (9-box) also got visual /usability updates. For example, you can now remove the “Too New to Rate” option. You can also view the people cards for employees even when you are zoomed out of their box. You can also select reporting levels in the Matrix Grid Report.
You can now also hide contingent workers in the Succession Org Chart. The “Add Successor” icon also appears now even when there is no successor exists.
Talent pool nominations can also now be approved or rejected. Nomination history for talent pools is also available via the Odata API and People Analytics Stories.
All in all, there’s over 25 items being changed/enhanced in this release and we didn’t cover every detail here. For more information, check out the What’s New Viewer here.
Lately, in a variety of customer engagements for various SAP SuccessFactors modules, I’ve had to bring up the topic of the Job Profile Builder. As a relatively new feature that touches every module, it’s really no wonder! But there’s still a lot of customers who aren’t quite familiar with it. This blog should give you an understanding of what the Job Profile builder is, why you would want to use it, and an overview of what it takes to go about setting it up.
What is the Job Profile Builder?
The Job Profile Builder is an important SuccessFactors Platform feature that enables customers to build and organize a catalog of well-formed jobs. So what exactly is a “job”? If you are familiar with position management in HRIS systems, you’ll know to traditionally think of positions as a seat. One person sites in one seat (I know there’s some exceptions, but let’t not get complicated here). Jobs are an abstraction above positions. So where there might be a Maintenance Tech I position who services a building in San Francisco, there’s also a Maintenance Tech I position in Seattle that does the same thing but is a unique instantiation of a position from the San Francisco position. The job describes the common tasks, required skills, education, & competencies, etc. for these positions. If you’d like an idea of what kinds of information companies associate with a job regardless of the system they use, Mercer has a great article here.
What Benefit Does it Provide?
Quite a few benefits are to be had with a well maintained job catalog. From a business process perspective, it will help you categorize and regulate your positions. For example, standardizing pay bands, required competency levels, government classifications, etc. On the Successfactors side, the Job Profile Builder integrates across all modules and can greatly reduce redundant data entry while helping facilitate the business process benefits. The following integrations are available with the job profile builder:
Employee Central: Direct association with positions in Position Management
Performance Management: Automatic Assignment of Competencies
Succession Management: Successor suggestions based on competency assessments
Compensation: Derive compa-ratio based on link with job grade
Recruiting: Automatic population of job posting description from job profile
Workforce Analytics: Planning based on required job Competencies
LMS: Assigning learning content based on job
In the example screenshot below, we can see how the recruiting integration automatically pulls the job description from the job profile for internal and external requisition postings. This can save your recruiters a great amount of time having to re-type job descriptions for each posting.
How does Job Profile Builder work?
There are 3 major components and corresponding configuration screens of the Job Profile builder:
Job Profile Content: Define the options (e.g. drop-downs) that show on the profile. For example what skills or competencies or education types will exist in the system that can be placed on a profile. An example of configuring what degree types will exist for selection in creating a job profile in the system is shown below. There’s also a lot of helpful pre-built content from SAP available for download from the SuccessStore that pops up as you build your content. For more info, see the link here: https://help.sap.com/viewer/70097a1a469d47a0ae08809e4a240f98/2005/en-US/99856fa2c4944001ab5991e92c9454eb.html
This still doesn’t tell us what the Job profile is….well, when you create a Job Profile you are associating it to a specific Job Role and filling in a specific template with the specific content relevant for that role. So to answer the question of what is a Job Profile?–It is the marriage of these 3 components. You can see in the screenshot below where a specific template is being filled in with the content we have setup in the system to define a particular role.
How does the Job Profile Integrate with Employee Central Position Management?
You will notice when you start creating a Job Profile, there’s a screen asking you to associate the profile with a Job Role:
When you edit roles, the system will ask you to map Job Codes. Those Job codes sit between the job Role and the Positions. Thus while there’s a 1:1 relationship between the Profile and the Role, there can be many codes associated to a role. Since there’s many codes across many positions, thus there are many positions that can be associated to one job role and profile.
This provides us with many benefits! For example, whenever you create a requisition from a position with an associated Job Profile, the requisition will automatically pull in the Job Profile as well and activate this integration seamlessly!
Furthermore, the Job Profile builder can utilize Employee Central workflows as well! This can be beneficial as you manage you job catalog as a variety of resources all using the profiles across the modules may want to make edits. In the screenshot below we can see when one of these interested parties modifies the Job Profile it will trigger a workflow.
Hopefully you now have a good understanding of the Job Profile Builder and are excited to start using it! Setting up a job catalog can be a tremendous undertaking, but hopefully now that you understand how the tool works, it can make the task a little easier. If you have an existing job catalog you’d like to import, there are also import screens available for you. As I mentioned before, there’s also a lot of helpful pre-built content available from the SuccessStore.
Do you need help with integrating or setting up the Job Profile Builder? Contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
With discrimination coming to the forefront of world news lately, many organizations are asking themselves: What can we do to actively prevent discrimination in our organization? I’ve seen a variety of options out there ranging from internal audits by 3rd party anti-discrimination consulting firms to pro-active succession planning that tracks minority status. While organizations I’ve worked with differ in these types of approaches, one solution at minimum in the United States has been clear for my entire lifetime: federal contractors must comply with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) guidelines.
Per an announcement on the Department of Labor website, a new Voluntary Self-Identification of Disability Form CC-305 was approved in May. As of today, Federal contractors must post the comply by updating the form by August 4, 2020. An example new form can be found here. I warn against simply using a search engine to look for updated forms as these may lead you to the expired form (check the expiration date at the top of the form first).
For SAP SuccessFactors customers, this typically means:
Updating your job application template to include the new form(s)
Updating your Onboarding forms to include the new forms(s)
I recommend referencing the Department of Labor website to understand the updated requirements and then working with your IT department, SAP Partner, and/or SAP to make updates to the recruiting application template and/or Onboarding forms to ensure compliance.
Hopefully this brief update has been helpful! While many people are out there working hard to come up with a variety of solutions for today’s social issues, one thing is for certain: EEO is the law.
In the past few days, SAP SuccessFactors has completed moving the H1 2020 release into production. For some well-prepared customers, users are excited about new features they are starting to enjoy. Others might be feeling some pain with critical issues that have arisen unexpectedly. Still others might not have done much preparation at all and are wondering if they missed something. In my experience consulting and providing production support services, I’ve seen all 3 types. Hopefully after reading this quick article you’ll always fall into the first category!
Note: you will need an SAP S-ID to access all of the links in this document
The preview dates and production dates are posted in the upper-right-hand corner of the blog. Preview date refers to the date the release will be put into the preview environments. You know your environment is in a preview datacenter if the url has preview in it. For example:
Historically SAP SuccessFactors and SuccessFactors prior to the merger conducted quarterly releases. However starting in 2020 SAP reduced the release time to every 6 months. While I haven’t conducted a survey, my guess is most customers and SAP are pretty happy about this as it gives much more time to properly prepare. With a quarterly release, by the time you finished your regression testing it was already time to start prepping for the next release and keeping dedicated resources onboard to only conduct regression tests was impractical. I’m sure it was a similar story on the SAP side of the house.
Step 2: Read the Documentation
SAP changed how the documentation works a bit this year. The first document you should read is the Road to Release document which is also available on the SuccessFactors Community Product Updates blog. The latest road to release document tells you how to sign up for newsletters to keep you updated and also outlines some steps similar to the ones in this blog I’m writing. The document is informative and a must read, but realistically I treat is as a pamphlet on when documentation will be released because in my opinion it focuses only on new features glosses over any regression testing and misses a few key things customers should do and know that I’ll point out in this blog.
Next, given that it’s a week or so prior to the preview release (which is when SAP releases the detailed documentation), take a look at the documentation here:
The above link lets you search the documentation for every new feature – so if you choose to turn on a new feature, this will let you know what administrator steps to take as well as some basic end user testing scenarios. You can also choose prior releases as well from the drop down above the search bar.
However, before you start searching for features to turn on, you’ll want a god’s eye view of what’s available to you. Click the link to the “What’s New Viewer” on that same page. This tool will allow you to filter by specific modules to find what’s relevant to you, providing a brief summary of each feature.
The key concept to understand when exploring this tool is the configuration type. “Universal” means that all customers will receive the feature on preview and production release dates without taking any action. “Admin Opt-In” means customers can opt to receive the feature by taking the steps outlined in the detailed documentation (search for the name of the feature in the big search bar in the first screenshot and you’ll find these steps). “Admin Opt-Out” means you’ll need to follow similar steps to not receive the feature. “Provisioning Opt-In” means you will need a partner and/or SAP to follow the steps in the detailed documentation to turn the feature on because only they have access to provisioning to do so.
There’s links to other documents on the SuccessFactors Community Product Release Blog, however if you like to jump straight to the facts and avoid the fluff, the ones I mention above will get you on your way.
Step 3: Analyze and Plan
Now that you know the dates and the scale of what’s being impacted by the release, you can setup a calendar plan and resources to execute the plan. A sample plan might roughly look like the below:
Preview Release minus 1 week – IT Team reviews release documentation
IT Team Meets with Stakeholders with abridged list of key features that may interest the business and discusses regression testing resources
Preview Release Date – Regression testing commences
IT Team reports any found defects to SAP via customer ticket
Preview Release plus 1 week – IT Team and/or stakeholders attend Q&A sessions with SAP to clarify any feature questions
Stakeholders report which opt-in features they would like to explore in preview
Once Regression testing is complete, IT turns on opt-in features and/or engages SAP/Partners to turn on any provisioning opt-in features
Stakeholders explore and test functionality in preview environment and finalize which features will be turned on in production
Communications and training are drafted as needed on any new features
Stakeholders report any production regression Issues to IT who reaches out to SAP as needed to open customer tickets
IT Team and/or Partner/SAP turn on opt-in features
Stakeholders report any production new feature Issues to IT who reaches out to SAP as needed to open customer tickets
Step 4: Regression Test
Being a cloud product, there’s a pretty high level of confidence that the system will continue to function as normal after release since both SAP and numerous customers are all collectively testing the same set of code. However, if you want to err on the side of caution, you may wish to regression test your key business processes in your preview environment prior to turning on any new features. In particular, you may also want to focus on business processes impacted by universal changes. The key advantage here is being able to report issues to SAP ahead of production release so there’s a solution before it becomes a problem! Often customers will reference their test scripts from their initial implementation and update them for any universal features.
Step 5: Explore New Features
Once you’ve explored the documentation on new features and have agreement with business stakeholders on what should be explored, it is time to start playing!
If you’ve chosen to regression test, I’d recommend executing that prior to turning on any new opt-in features to keep troubleshooting issues less confusing. For example, if you’ve turned on a feature you later decide you don’t want and later find a regression test issue, it may not be clear if that issue will occur in production or not. In fact, some customers who only have 1 preview and 1 production environment wait until after production release before exploring new features in their preview environment so that there is clarity on what production will look like and what issues might arise prior to sandboxing a bit with new features. If you have 2 preview environments at your disposal, then these activities can be done in parallel more confidently.
Step 6: Release Friday – Stay Away!
Typically, a release starts on a Friday evening up-until early Saturday morning. While you might try to access the system and be able to get in, I don’t recommend it. SAP will be loading code and restarting services. There’s no guarantee any data you save or changes you make will be there the next day. Have a nice weekend and come back on Monday and be glad you invested in a cloud product that handles this for you!
Step 6: Release Monday – Be on the Alert!
I don’t think I’ve ever turned on a new feature in the first week of a production release unless it has been a business-critical function/feature. SAP is wise enough to start production releases on Friday evening so that if things go wrong, they’ve maximized the time available to them before customers will come back Monday morning. However, just because the system is up does not mean everything is perfect. Often, SAP is very busy handling new tickets related to the release. If you are experiencing an issue, report it ASAP, but also be realistic. If it is a critical issue that lots of customers are experiencing, it will get fixed very quickly. If it is an issue unique to your organization and not business-critical, you may be waiting a couple weeks or more for resolution.
Step 7: Turn on Your Production Opt-Ins
Once you are comfortable your system is stable, it is time to turn on your opt-ins in production! You can follow the steps outlined in the detailed documentation that you followed in preview again or use instance sync depending on the particular configuration.
Step 8: Rinse and Repeat
Congratulations! You’ve made it through your release! Time to check back on the dates for the next release!
Up until now, customers have been using round-about methods of adapting SuccessFactors recruiting to handle their high-volume requisitions that are always posted – commonly known as “Evergreen Requisitions”. Recently, with the Q4 2019 release a beta version of Evergreen Requisition functionality was released. I had the opportunity recently to work with a customer to implement this new functionality and take it for a test drive! This article gives an overview of the functionality, its business need, key advantages to implementing the functionality, and some helpful hints in rolling it out to your instance.
Why do companies need Evergreen Requisitions?
Not every company needs Evergreen Requisitions. Unique to some industries are so-called “high-volume” jobs where the demand for the job constantly out-weights the supply. For example, merchandiser positions in the consumer products industry or pilots in the airline industry. For these positions, the company is always hiring. For recruiting systems, this often creates a problem because typically one requisition and one posting equals one position in the HRIS system. Having multiple requisitions and postings for a multitude of positions that are all basically the same would be confusing to people looking for jobs – not to mention for recruiters to manage. For example, one candidate could apply to essentially the same job multiple times. To avoid this, companies use evergreen requisitions to have one long-standing posting to represent a single channel for job seekers and recruiters for several open seats of the same position in the company.
How were companies handling this situation prior to the functionality?
Prior to the release of this functionality, there was no officially agreed-upon method for creating evergreen requisitions. In my experience a custom Evergreen Requisition solution looked like this:
Requisitions would be launch for each open seat (e.g. unique position number) – typically a custom field would be used to record this position number on each requisition
One requisition would be chosen to be the Evergreen and only that one requisition would be posted for candidates to apply
As candidates applied to the requisition, finalized candidates (usually those reaching a finalized offer) would be moved from the Evergreen requisition to the requisition using the late-stage application functionality
While this solution “worked” in a happy path scenario, there were still many shortfalls here.
There was no clear relationship between the Evergreen Requisition and the child requisitions – so often recruiters may get confused as to which requisition to transfer the candidates
From a compliance and reporting standpoint, it looked as if the candidates were dispositioned off of the Evergreen Requisition even though they were qualified and furthermore did not go through all of the preliminary steps a candidate normally would on the child requisition. This left many compliance officers feeling a uneasy about how to explain the situation in the event of an audit.
With no clear guidance on an official way to take care of this situation, many companies may take alternate approaches, leaving SAP and partners at a loss for how to continue to implement and support long term
How does the new functionality work?
The process flow for the new functionality is as follows.
Requisitions can be marked as “evergreen” using a new standard field that recruiters/others can see on the requisition detail screen. The Job Requisition Type field also shows if the requisition is standard, evergreen, or child:
Once an Evergreen Requisition is marked as such, child requisitions can be associated to it on the requisition details screen as well:
These associations can also be seen from the requisition overview screen with the new fields shown below:
The functionality allows for a new action from the action menu when selecting candidates called “Forward as Applicant”.
What are the key advantages with the new functionality?
There are many advantages with this new functionality!
The new functionality release gives an agreed standard way to handle Evergreen Requisitions that partners and customers can more universally follow and support going forward.
Previously there was no way to identify what was an evergreen, what was a child, and what was just a standard requisition. Now there is a field dedicated to identifying this which can help recruiters as well as those creating reports to sort out what is what.
Similarly, now that child requisitions are hard linked in the system with their parent Evergreen Requisition, recruiters can keep tabs on which requisitions they should move candidates to in the event one has accepted an offer.
The new “Forward As Applicant” has many advantages over the other forward or late-stage application action functionality.
Forward as applicant copies the entire application and only runs field checks as if the person just applied.
It also copies the current application data selected whereas other methods copy whatever the latest application is (which can get very frustrating).
Furthermore, candidates and recruiters can view the jobs applied in candidate profile when they use this action – the other actions do not do this.
Forward as applicant also now gets its own unique email trigger
Forward as applicant retains the source data (e.g. google or some career site) as well as agency ownership
Are there any helpful hints or “gotcha’s” out there I should look for?
In our implementation, we ran into a couple of common snags listed below.
For implementation partners, permissions are always the culprit – make sure the right permissions are assigned to these new fields in the requisition templates for everyone!
Change management: Make sure the recruiters are using the new “Forward as Applicant” action! It is often confusing for recruiters to understand the difference in the 3 different ways to forward and also late-stage applications.
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