Going Into Detail: SAP HCM Challenges for Your SuccessFactors or Other Cloud HR migration

Following part 1, where I covered the general and methodology aspects, part 2 will look into some specific aspects on SAP HCM for implementation teams to keep in mind, when migrating to SAP SuccessFactors or a different Cloud HR solution. Let me point out some areas in particular, where awareness of the starting point is crucial. Most of the examples are leaning towards a SuccessFactors migration, which is still easier when coming from SAP HCM than other tier 1 cloud solutions.

Organisational structure

In SAP HCM, you have several ways to define structures. The most rigid one is the assignment of employees to Personnel Areas, Personnel Subareas and Payroll areas and the dependencies with the financial and legal structure. It may resemble the disciplinary structure or the Org chart in some cases, but can also be quite different. It’s primarily designed to define calculations in payroll, time and attendance (T&A), and to control master data. As the actual structures that organisations work along are moving further away from legal and physical structures such as boundaries between countries, this rigid structural data becomes less and less recognisable in the Org Chart.

Then there is organisational management, representing the actual Org Chart. In Europe, its backbone is usually a hierarchy of organisational units, not of positions, although positions are assigned too. It offers a lot of flexibility, including:

  • several people on the same position
  • several positions held by one person
  • one person being line manager for several Org Units

Coming up with a design in the cloud solution that serves the same purpose without trying to re-build it 1:1 and thus curtailing the new solution, is always one of the major challenges. This becomes particularly difficult, when you can’t just forget the old world, but have to feed back into it through an integration to support your payroll.

Effective dating / time dependency

Having a start date and end date for almost every piece of data, plus managing rigidly, whether certain sets of data can have gaps between records or records existing in parallel is almost a religion in SAP HCM. None of the major cloud solutions takes this as seriously, though SuccessFactors is more mature in that respect than Workday. Again, this becomes most critical in an integration scenario that moves data from the cloud solution back into SAP Payroll.

Data Migration

Traditionally, cloud projects left very little time and budget for data migration. Just providing spreadsheet templates and asking the customer to populate them ready for import without much explanation was not unusual.

But it’s never a simple 1:1 mapping exercise and it’s not easy for the customer to know what each field means. The last two points about org structure and effective dating make this clear already. The manual process also makes it very difficult to manage migration quality and improve it consistently from test load to test load.

It was never easy even from SAP HCM to SuccessFactors, though the Infoporter as a standard tool provided by SAP, helps a lot.

The main problem here is that data migration is underestimated far too often – again, our experience shows that’s the case even more in Workday migrations, where our team has been called in for rescue missions quite a few times. It’s certainly easier for typical 1st generation cloud customers coming from very restricted legacy solutions, which is what traditional cloud migration methodologies have been developed for.


For SAP HCM customers, who are used to a fully integrated solution between Core HR, Payroll, T&A and Finance, this will always be very important.

The complexities of migration also hit home in integration, but with much stronger impact, because it’s an ongoing process rather than an ad hoc activity. Often, a lot of data needs to flow from the cloud into SAP HCM, as it’s needed for payroll, T&A, finance or other processes.

The cloud solution needs to be designed in a way that the information needed to update SAP HCM is still available. On the other hand, there is always a risk that this requirement leads to an implementation that doesn’t use the strengths of the cloud solution and has a negative impact on user experience. Again, SuccessFactors offer better tools than the competition, including the Business Integration Builder (BIB).

The lack of integration awareness amongst traditional cloud consultants as well as sales reps is stunning. “Let’s do the basics first to optimise Time to Value and add integrations later”, is something I have heard more than once. It’s really beggars belief! Nothing illustrates more that a consultant or sales rep don’t understand the customer’s situation. 

For organisations, who already have fully automated integrations between coreHR, Payroll, T&A, Finance and other solutions, it is just completely unacceptable. Usually, it is unfeasible to go back to manual “interfaces” for a year or more to allow for a step by step cloud implementation.

In Part 3 we will be discussing Payroll, Time and Attendance and enhancements. For Part 1 click here. 

Would you like to learn more about Adessa Group?

We can help you implement, expand and support both local SAP HCM systems and SAP SuccessFactors solutions based on your needs. Please, contact our expertsvisit our website www.adessagroup.com or follow us on LinkedIn for more information.

Sven Ringling is Director at Adessa Group in Germany and Digital HR strategist by vocation. He’s been working with SAP’s HCM solutions for 23 years. As SAP Mentor Alumnus he has been on stage at several conferences, has written many blogs or expert pieces and has advised 100+ companies in their HCM Roadmaps and Implementations.

He is certified in several SuccessFactors modules and SAP HCM. Customers taught him that technology, process and human aspects are inseparably connected, and with the speed of change Digital Transformation is enforcing, organizations can afford to disconnect even less. Whatever your current situation, he’s here to help you from where you start, with the transformation Roadmap. You can connect with Sven via Linkedin, XING, Twitter or email: sven.ringling@adessa-group.com

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