In this article, I will cover the major updates that make up the backbone of the SuccessFactors solution. Of considerable note are updates to the home page, enhancements to the newest features such as the Centre of Capabilities and Work Zone for HR, and not forgetting the introduction to some new features – Opportunity Marketplace and Digital Assistant!
Brand New Features
A breakthrough of the 2H 2021 release is the introduction of the Opportunity Marketplace. It is an opt-in feature but promises to be a great piece of functionality for enhancing the employee experience within both SuccessFactors and within your organisation itself, not to mention that it is also accessible via the mobile app too!
Opportunity Marketplace is an employee development tool. It allows users to search for what has been branded by some as ‘gigs’ to help improve their career, skill set, and knowledge. Further, it can identify prospects for employees to be involved in projects, work tasks or mentoring opportunities which they may previously have been unaware of. Opportunity Marketplace effectively opens up areas of interest to a broader audience.
The opportunities available to employees will mostly be synchronised from the Career Development and Learning modules if you have them enabled; however, ad hoc opportunities can also be publicised by those with the appropriate permissions. This means that customers could utilise this feature no matter what modules they have included in their SuccessFactors environment. Be sure to give this feature a try, as it sounds like it could be advantageous for various activities, but please note that it requires a separate license.
Figure 1 – New Opportunity Marketplace, which will allow employees to browse and apply for development opportunities
The Digital Assistant has been talked about for some time, and it is finally available! If you have not heard of it before, the Digital Assistant is a chatbot for SuccessFactors that will assist employees with their HR tasks by directing them to where they need to be. It will use natural language processing to determine the intent of what you are looking for, even if there are grammatical errors or differences in the business language used.
Again, this new feature is available on both the browser and mobile application, making it accessible to the whole workforce in any location. Note that you will need to have enabled the latest home page (which will be a mandatory update in a future release anyway), and, as this is an opt-in feature, you will need to enable the assistant through the upgrade centre.
The Digital Assistant is an important step forward in making SuccessFactors a more accessible and modern system. It has the potential to improve significantly the way that employees navigate and manage processes in the system. It is still in the early stages, but there will undoubtedly be more enhancements around what the assistant can handle in the 2022 releases.
Figure 2 – the SuccessFactors digital assistant will be accessible from the new home screen search bar and via an icon on other locations in the system.
One topic which is dividing opinion between SuccessFactors administrators is the new ‘reimagined’ home page. Whilst many appreciate the new and more personalised design, many others did not believe it was ready for release (myself included). The mandatory use of the home page has already been delayed due to these concerns, now becoming mandatory from 1H 2022. For now, it is available as an optional update and can be switched on or off via permissions.
If you have not looked at the new home page yet, it is assuredly time to do so. This release has included a lot of updates to help address concerns regarding the functionality not being ready, making it feel like the 1H 2022 cut off is now set in stone. There will almost certainly be some change management required within your business to help your employees and managers understand the coming changes.
A large focus of the home page updates is on the ‘To-Do’ task cards. SAP is clearly aiming to provide a better experience for managers. Several key tasks from the onboarding and performance modules are included directly on the home page, allowing users to see and take action as soon as they log in to the system.
One of the biggest complaints about the new home page was about the onboarding functionality. With barely any onboarding tasks compatible with the new home page, this effectively rendered the onboarding experience defunct through its exclusion. This shortfall has been addressed, and new hires can now complete their onboarding process such as data collection, seeing welcome messages, recommended links, and people, right from the home page. All the tasks you know from onboarding will be grouped together and available in different card categories such as ‘Your Onboarding Guide’ and ‘Help us to know you better’, available to the new hire before they officially start work.
Figure 3 – Onboarding cards within the new reimagined home page
Similarly, the manager experience has been enhanced, and several features have been introduced among the quick actions and to-do cards to allow managers to serve their team better. This enhancement includes reminders of teams pending tasks and approval requests, quick actions for the team such as their recent activities, changing employee and payment information, and viewing team absences.
Some more updates include:
- Many more ‘To-Do’ tasks are now available, such as workflow approval tasks, performance reviews, mentor approvals, job profile changes, complete interviews, and more.
- More quick actions for employees such as clocking time, completing payroll tasks and delegating workflows.
- Up to 16 quick actions can now be added to the home screen, and users can now find their favourite actions more easily as they have been organised alphabetically.
- The ability to update the theming for the new home page components (card, quick actions) to help you style the page to fit your company’s brand.
Overall, the large number of updates for the home page is welcome and will help ease administrators’ nerves around utilising the feature from next year (if not earlier). I feel that the updates will hugely improve the interaction elements for all types of users – new hires, employees, managers, and administrators. It will give them a more personal and more focused experience within the SuccessFactors system, whereas, with the current home page, it can be a bit hit and miss and certainly harder to navigate.
Center of Capabilities
The Center of Capabilities feature was introduced in the 1H 2021 update with a limited scope of a capabilities library consisting only of competencies. This is central to functionality such as Job Profile Builder (JPB), Recruiting Management, and Performance.
The system has now been extended to include a ‘Capabilities Portfolio’, which both employees and administrators can utilise. It will allow employees to gain an overview of the competencies and skills assigned to them through their roles in JPB and any ratings for these that have been recorded through performance forms. In addition to this, if enabled, it will link into the new Opportunity Marketplace, allowing employees to find other capabilities that they may wish to add to their portfolio.
Figure 4 – Employee view of the capabilities portfolio
This is an excellent update to the Center of Capabilities functionality, allowing employees an overview of their competencies, giving them greater control and more opportunities around their personal development. However, I am sure, like myself, customers will want to see more of the JPB and employee attributes (such as certifications, interests, etc.) migrated over to this feature to gain more beneficial use from it within the associated modules.
From an administrator perspective, they will now have an overview of how these capabilities are assigned to employees. Other updates to the Center of Capabilities also improve the administrative side, such as setting and adjusting proficiency levels and improving the way that categories and their child items are managed within the different capability libraries that can be set up.
Work Zone for HR
If you use Work Zone for HR, you will see some new elements added to extend the module’s capabilities and provide a more centralised service to your employee workforce.
A much-needed update is the introduction of multiple employment to the module, allowing employees with global assignments or concurrent employment to switch accordingly between their employments and only see workspaces and information associated with the selected role.
There are some new ‘cards’ now included in the employee’s workspace, primarily for learning functions, which is likely because these items are updated more frequently for employees and thus will increase interaction with the system. The new functions on offer will allow employees to check their learning calendar of scheduled classes, etc., see what learning is required, their due dates and status, and review learning plans they may be currently assigned to.
Figure 5 – Required learning card within SAP SuccessFactors Work Zone
Extending the learning offering is the addition of a card integrating with SAP Litmos. This addition means that, if you have a license, your employees can access SAP Litmos courses through Work Zone for HR. Note that SAP Litmos is not a SuccessFactors module per se. It is a product in its own right. It runs independently of the SuccessFactors platform but can integrate with it. It offers thousands of pre-delivered courses as well as custom made courses for your business. You can find out more from the product website – litmos.com.
In addition to the learning cards, this release also includes a report card that will give managers and administrators an overview of employees and their vaccination status, saving them a lot of time and effort with building reports and supporting the ongoing efforts against the Coronavirus pandemic.
Other Notable Updates
User Interface Updates
The page header has been made more consistent with the SAP Fiori design standards, and some previously optional changes will now be mandatory. These changes to the header include updates to the search field and removal of the home page icon; only displaying the user’s photo rather than including their name and/or proxy assignment.
There is a new format to deep-link people profile blocks that can be utilised if you use links in notification emails. For example, when directing employees that may need to review or update a specific set of information. The new enhanced links will now direct the user to the block whether they have logged in or not, whereas previously, if they were not logged in, it would simply open the people profile page.
I need to make an important note about keeping your SuccessFactors mobile application updated to the latest version. With the August 2021 app release, SAP made it so that only the latest version of the app would receive push notifications. This change will not be a problem for those of you who have automatic updates enabled. But, if your organisation controls application updates through mobile device management, this is something to consider. How will your organisation handle future releases? It has the potential to negatively affect the employee experience if they are not notified of key events.
There have been a few updates to improve the management of user data in the system. These include updates to the ‘Manage Login Accounts’ action for administrators. They can now reset a user’s password and edit their details directly from this action, making it far easier to amend user information.
Additionally, if you use the SuccessFactors Learning module, you are now able to import the learning license type for users using the ‘Import Users’ wizard, saving a lot of manual effort in syncing user data between the core and learning platform. Note that this will need a small piece of provisioning configuration by SAP or a partner.
I have only described a subset of the new functionality in this article. Still, this release is jam-packed with updates to the foundation elements of SuccessFactors as usual, which is no surprise considering it is the backbone of the system and key to most business processes. It is great to see that SAP has listened to customer and partner concerns about the new home page, as the wide range of new updates gives it a much-improved look and feel from a usability perspective. It is definitely something I would recommend looking at now to understand the changes that will likely be mandatory from the 1H 2022 release.
I also like that SAP has released some new functionality, with the introduction of the long-awaited Digital Assistant and the Opportunity Marketplace. The latter promises to be a great asset in employee development. Some might argue that they think SAP should focus on stabilising the current functionality and improving/introducing features that may be retiring from legacy systems (which I am sure they are also working on). However, I believe these two new features are a great addition and will significantly enhance the user experience for all types of users.
The Opportunity Marketplace itself is supported by the Center of Capabilities which has had its own key updates as described above. I am keen to explore this as it will be a fundamental aspect of any systems and projects that utilise the job profile builder functionality. It is a great asset to have as it integrates with many of the SuccessFactors modules (Recruiting, Performance and Goals, etc.) and provides consistency throughout the system.
Of course, if you want to learn more about Job Profile Builder, you can read more in my other articles.