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.