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In today's complex world, HR technology options are endless, creating the opportunity for organizations to choose a “best of breed” approach to meet their business needs. The chances that one single application can satisfy all HR business process needs in one platform is unlikely, especially given the variety of possible scenarios.

Having been in the cloud technology industry for the last 15 years, and specifically within the SAP SuccessFactors ecosystem the last nine (9), we’ve assisted hundreds of organizations with integrating their HR technology stack. 

The most common scenarios from an HR integration perspective are going to be the combination of: 

  • Core HR Platform A + Talent Platform B 
  • Talent Platform A + Talent Add-on B 
  • Core HR Platform A + 3rd Party Time/Benefits B 
  • Core HR & Talent A + 3rd Party Payroll B 

While there are many other variations and scenarios, we will focus on three major scenarios in this blog. Before we can determine what integration (aka middleware) tool to use, there are three (3) questions we typically ask our clients. 

  1. Project Goal - What is the use case for the business process integrations? What are the business rules and data associated with this process? 
  2. Technical Requirements - What is the volume/frequency of data being sent between the systems? 
  3. Platform and Skillset – What are your current middleware tool (integration tool) investments, resources and skill sets that already exist within your organizations? 

The answers to these questions will help us determine what we need to build from an integration perspective, and then we can determine what tool will help us build the integration. 

What is the use case or business process challenge you’re trying to solve? 

First and foremost, you must ask yourself what are you trying to accomplish? What are your business use case scenarios? This will play a large part in what tool can accommodate your needs and how much it will cost. Here are some examples of typical use cases we’ve seen with HR business processes.

Low Complexity Use Case 

“I want to send my applicant’s data from SuccessFactors Recruiting to an add-on service (background checks, video interview, personality assessment and electronic signature) provider.” 

With recruiting as an example, most companies conduct background screenings whether it be from a compliance or risk standpoint. Some may also incorporate personality assessments and/or video interviews. And to make the candidate experience easy, there may be integration with an Adobe or DocuSign for electronic signature of an offer letter. 

File Rules Associated with Recruiting Business Process 
When you think about integrating Recruiting, you will need to send applicant data to the other system(s) so that it can identify who this person is. If you simply want to send the applicant demographic data to the background screening provider, you will need first name, last name, e-mail address, and the background screening criteria.  

The data is stored in a demographic file, a common file that is exchanged between two systems, that contains these fields. The scenario above requires basic information and does not include much personal identifying information, or PII, which includes date of birth, social security number, etc. 

Medium Complexity Use Case 

“I want to send my employee’s information from SuccessFactors Employee Central to a 3rd party time management provider.” 

File Rules Associated with Time Management Business Process  

If you consider the use case of Employee Central (Core HR), you will likely need to also send information to a time, and/or benefits provider, which requires detailed information, in addition to the demographic data file.  

For example, a Time Management integration will require the basic information as the Recruiting example (first name, last name, etc.) but you will also need the specific time entry data points, what time that person worked, what shift, what cost center, etc. With these data points, the Time Management system can process its own rules. 

High Complexity Use Case  

“I want to send my employee’s information from SuccessFactors Employee Central to a 3rd party payroll provider.”  

We consider a payroll integration from Employee Central the most complex integration as there are many components to the data file.  

File Rules Associated with Payroll Business Process  

When integrating Employee Central to a third-party payroll provider, the file will require several data points: the HR transaction (hire, fire, etc.), personal information, job information (department, cost center, etc.), compensation information (how often employee is paid, deductions, tax info, etc.). Even though all the information is related, you must setup the file to be received by the provider. The complexity increases if the integration is bi-directional vs. uni directional.  

What is the volume/frequency of data being sent between the systems?  

Once you’ve identified your use case complexity and the rules associated, you’ll want to determine how often to send data between the systems.  

For recruiting, how often are you hiring and needing to send information to the background screening vendor? Once a week? Once a month? The same goes for Payroll. If you run Payroll on a weekly basis, the integration will also need to run on a weekly basis. However, if you’re in an industry that hires daily (construction, retail, healthcare, etc.), then you’ll need to send those new hires to Payroll, and it could potentially run on an hourly basis. How often the integration will run will increase the level of complexity.   

Now that we’ve identified the use case and frequency, we can now determine what tool will be appropriate to facilitate our integration.  

Selecting an Integration Tool  

Analogy time! Building an integration is much like building a framing structure within your house. There are many tools you can use to build this house, ranging from a simple hand tool with no automation, to an intricate tool that can help with minute details.   

To build this house, you’ll need to at least cut some lumber. To cut the lumber, you need a tool (saw). Upon arriving at the hardware store, we find at least 10+ types with options for a saw. The hand saw is the cheapest option, that can help you accomplish the task of cutting wood but doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles for different cut angles, depth, and wood types. While you can’t make the most complex of cuts, you can make a simple cut, though it may take you a while to do so. When evaluating your options, you also see a reciprocating saw, and other higher end saws that can make more detailed cuts that provide the bells and whistles the handsaw doesn’t provide – but these tools come at a higher cost.  

If you’re following our analogy, the saw is a metaphor for an integration (or middleware) tool. There are a vast array of tools available in the marketplace (SAP Integration Center, SAP Cloud Platform Integration, Dell Boomi, Informatics, Microsoft BizTalk, MuleSoft, Jitterbit, etc.) that can help you accomplish your integration needs, but it all goes back to, what you are trying to accomplish, the complexity of your use case and your budget.  

Here are some examples of integration tools that can accommodate your use case(s), along with the pros and cons:  

Flat File Integration aka “Hand Saw” 

Uses of SAP SuccessFactors Integration Center

  • Integration Center is ideal for use cases that require basic automation.
  • SAP SuccessFactors offers this built-in integration tool, and it can be used to connect to third-party platforms for Core HR, Payroll, etc.
Pros Cons
  • Low-cost option
  • Minimal development effort using standard or custom reports and exporting to standard file formats (like csv or txt)
  • Quick build and deployments
  • No additional middleware technology investment required
  • Accommodate low complexity data requirements
  • Not automated, manual file transfers through sFTP or email transmission
  • Cannot handle complex rules
  • No error handling or notification on file/data failures.
  • No encryption and security on data.
  • No data transformation possible


SAP Integration Center aka “the Reciprocating Saw”

Uses of SAP SuccessFactors Integration Center

  • Integration Center is ideal for use cases that require basic automation.

  • SAP SuccessFactors offers this built-in integration tool, and it can be used to connect to third-party platforms for Core HR, Payroll, etc.

Pros Cons
  • Low-cost option
  • Standard tool for SAP SuccessFactors clients
  • Minimal development effort for file formats
  • Quick deployments
  • Can typically accommodate low to medium complexity use cases
  • Not fully automated
  • Cannot handle complex business and transformation rules
  • Limited error handling or notification on file/data failures
  • Limited encryption and security can be available at file level
  • Limited data mapping and transformation possible


SAP Cloud Platform Integration (CPI) or Dell Boomi aka “the Miter Saw”

Uses of CPI (or comparable tool)

  • The Miter Saw is ideal for high complexity use cases with specific rules that require real-time automation
  • Tools like SAP Cloud Platform or Dell Boomi is typically more costly but offer deep functionality.
Pros Cons
  • Can help to fully automate integrations along with error handling, advance monitoring and file processing capabilities.
  • Can handle complex business rules and data transformation logics.
  • Development effort varies based on file formats
  • Able to leverage Master Data Management
  • Deep encryption and security protocols are available
  • Require licenses (middleware tool) to build integrations files.
  • Can be expensive and long lead time for development and deployment.
  • Need additional resource and skills to manage the tool

Chances are you may already have some sort of saw (integration tool) laying around to cut your wood and ultimately build your house. Yes, it may take a little longer, but if your task is as simple as cutting a piece of wood, you may not need automation. Again, if you determine your use case, the rules required for your file, and survey your existing technology stack, you may find that you have a tool you can leverage which will eliminate the need for purchasing a new tool. We do recommend taking a holistic view of your overall business goals and engage IT in your decisions as they may have a strategy and tool set that you can tap into.

So, how much can I expect an integration to cost?

Complexity Estimated Hours (per integration)
Low 20-40 hrs
Medium 60-100 hrs
High 160+hrs


From our experience, low complexity flat file integrations average about 20-40 hours to setup. The requirements typically involve setting up the reporting, testing the file format and setting up the SFTP server. As we increase complexity and move to Integration Center, the effort averages 60-100 hours as you add the requirement of adding integration rules (automation). The highest complexity is typically a minimum of 160 hours. The requirements entail setting up the business rules within tools like CPI or Boomi, and testing and validating the flows.

Your integration partner will conduct a scoping call to walk you through your use case, determine the level of complexity base on your requirements and rules, identify if any existing integration tools exist and provide an estimate based on the level of effort.

The biggest gotcha we see from an integration perspective is typically on the 3rd party vendor side when it comes to coordinating tasks on their end. For example, when setting up an integration to payroll provider, it took three weeks to get a call scheduled, have the discussion and for them to make the necessary modifications on the payroll side. They also estimated 16 weeks to get the data ready and test from their side to be ready to import into SuccessFactors. All of this to say, plan accordingly for your timeline and any necessary costs associated with your 3rd party vendors.

Licensing Considerations

There are two fees associated with integration, just as you have with SuccessFactors implementations: middleware tool licensing (recurring) and services (one-time implementation). 

As an SAP SuccessFactors client, you have access to Integration Center, but you may also have Dell Boomi or Cloud Platform Integration as part of your licensing bundle. We recommend knowing the tools you have in place prior to having your integration discussions so you know what tools you must work with. 

Keep in mind that if you do not have Dell Boomi as part of your licensing agreement (some early adopters of Employee Central leveraged Dell Boomi as their middleware as that was the SAP’s go-to-market strategy at the time), it will need to be licensed separately. Similarly, if you do not currently have CPI as part of your licensing bundle, you will need to reach out to your SuccessFactors Account Executive to discuss how to add that to your agreement. With Dell Boomi and/or CPI, you will also need a resource with the knowledge and skillset to build your integrations within the tool which could result in additional cost if you do not currently have that resource in house today.

Need some guidance on integrating SAP SuccessFactors? Schedule a call with our team and we'll share best practices and our thoughts on how to leverage your existing tools (if applicable) and guidance on how to get the best outcome for your specific scenario/budget.

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