EC Payroll, Don’t Overcomplicate It!

Jeroen Wielens
Global Delivery Director
SAP SuccessFactors at 1218 Global HR Solutions

EC Payroll is one of the most discussed and misunderstood modules in the SAP SuccessFactors space. I’ve seen multiple articles on Twitter and LinkedIn over the last few weeks that are about EC  Payroll SOW’s, who’s including what, glaring misses and what vendor is better than others. I even tried to listen to a podcast by a bunch of EC consultants that I had the pleasure to work with before, talking about organizing Payroll Palooza. It is a scary thought for a payroll guy to hear HR guys wanting to make payroll like a rock concert.

Some good points were made, however, and here are my 4 major considerations to think about when starting your SAP SuccessFactors journey.

Consider Payroll part of your scope.

When starting your journey on SAP SuccessFactors, I’m surprised how many customers forget to even think about payroll. Many see payroll as a necessary evil yet would rather have it run by itself in a corner of the company somewhere, and not touch it with a ten-foot pole. This approach will get you in trouble, guaranteed, as payroll has the bad habit of being very dependent on HR and Time data, which are now both being transformed as part of the project. Personally, it feels a lot like buying a new car but foregoing the engine and putting a horse in front of it instead. It makes absolutely no sense. Payroll should be considered part of the scope. It integrates and requires redesign just as much as the rest of your HR and Time processes. It also has a tendency to make for a great business case.

Payroll is in scope, what’s next?

The next important step in including payroll in your scope is choosing which technology makes sense. SAP presents customers with a plethora of payroll options, but in all honesty, it baffles me why SAP does this. Clearly the only choice right now that makes sense is Employee Central Payroll which was built with SuccessFactors Employee Central integration in mind.

Making a statement like this will most likely result in dozens of my SAP Payroll friends giving me all kinds of feedback including:

  • SAP Time Management isn’t supported. (Really? Does anybody still want to run a batch job-driven time evaluation from 1983 in 2018? You’d probably do them a favor by having them sit through a Workforce Software demo and understanding that Time Evaluation should be easier and in real time.)
  • A client has made an investment in on-premise SAP Payroll (understood, but have you ever really tried to integrate SuccessFactors EC through BIB with on-premise SAP Payroll, only to figure out that it so painful, that you wished these integrations were simple mapping tables? (oh, yes, that is called PTP for ECP.)
  • Managed Payroll, which seems such a great idea as you get only a few limited choices of vendors that do some accounting tricks to make your licenses a subscription. Once signed, they come to your office and load up your server and put it in their server farm. But, at the end of the day, that accounting trick can create a situation where you can never change vendors as they now own your hardware, your configuration and your maintenance contract.
  • Outsourced SAP Payroll platforms with one of the Payroll giants that have to somehow connect with some global connector that wants Infotypes (and no, SF portlets are not just Infotypes in the cloud), and make you transform your data to their naming format, so they can run plenty of other customers on that same box.

Payroll is in…which vendor do we pick?

Probably the most important step of all of this is to pick the right vendor. I agree with some of the Twitter Payroll gurus that SOW’s should contain the basics like PTP, PCC, PUC. Any vendor I’m sure will do this if they are somewhat active on Twitter or LinkedIn. (Oh, if you wonder what those acronyms are: Point To Point Connection, Payroll Control Center, Payroll Unified Configuration). What is a lot more important in picking the right vendor is this:

  • Any vendor that tries to convince you to do Employee Central first and Employee Central Payroll in a later phase (unless solely for budgeting reasons on the client side), is probably not your best bet. Employee Central Payroll brings some key considerations for Employee Central, that are best resolved if you add an Employee Central Payroll in the mix from the start of the project and ensure those integration considerations are taken into account. Reconfiguring Employee Central in a second phase will always be more costly and labor intensive.
  • Certification of EC resources is important, but if a vendor talks about Payroll certification, you have the wrong vendor. There is no certification for ECP.
  • A vendor proposes a small team of exceptional payroll experts with references to back it up. Cloud-based is about nimble and agile, client facing consultants that can provide solutions and can also say “no”. If you have a vendor that proposes a large team (i.e. more than 3 consultants for a country payroll) and also touts their off-shore capability to keep your costs low, you may have picked the wrong one. To be successful in EC Payroll, you need to collaborate, especially with the HR folks that provide all that data you need from Employee Central. Collaboration happens in real time, not through a lead consultant sending excel spreadsheets with proposed configuration values to folks on the other side of the world.
  • References are great, but it is even better that the references are done with disclosure of the project resource names. I’ve seen some vendors in the SF space that continue to talk up their ECP capability, yet none of the resources that delivered any of their projects are working for them anymore.
  • A vendor’s SOW includes a program manager, project manager or a fee for governance. These projects are complex. It’s impossible for a payroll or HR consultant to also play project manager, even when it sounds like a great budgetary idea. Long term, you need someone who partners and ensures that the project is governed. Don’t try to do this with an internal resource. It will be virtually impossible to get someone up to speed on a highly complex implementation for something they may do once in a lifetime. Pick an expert. It will be worth the money.
  • A vendor drops the term “parallel testing”, and can explain why it is important, and also can explain that a maximum of 2 parallel cycles is enough for any client. Hopefully, they plan it for anywhere between 6-8 weeks in total.
  • The vendor understands that you need a specific landscape strategy in your SuccessFactors environment that is very different from a Talent Management set up to successfully deploy EC Payroll. Ping me directly, if you would like to understand that in more detail and I will gladly share. I’ve learned that this can make or break your timeline.
  • The vendor has a clear strategy on how they will bring up the PTP connection. If they cannot tell you, other than they will switch it on at some point, you picked the wrong one. If you don’t believe me, wait till you see the first error log with 100,000 plus errors following that strategy.

Payroll is Live! Now what?

Once you’ve survived the project, everyone is finding their place during hyper-care, and your vendor starts rolling off, you have forgotten a major thing. So, take a couple of steps back. At the beginning of User Acceptance Testing, it is time to start figuring out your internal support model. Here are some tips to think about:

  • Who will own the transport management system, tickets, refreshes and security role set up? I’m hoping that this wasn’t done by your implementation partner during the project, as it may come back to bite you. Make sure you have clear ownership defined for this early on.
  • Who will initiate the support packs? SAP has been wise enough to leave it up to the customer to define when they want to apply compliance changes which is very different than SF in general where this is forced into the landscape. But this puts great responsibility on the client to ensure that it gets done. Make a plan, have a strategy, or have your vendor (if capable) at least give you some advice on how to address this.
  • Have you documented and understood your PTP mapping tables? Key is that your vendor has documented it, and you understand what is actually being transformed in the tables, and if the vendor builds BADis (additional programming), understand what logic is in them.
  • If you want to give your application management to a party that is specialized in this, start your support partner selection process early. Also, include other vendors in the mix as your implementation partner may not be always best suited to run your support for the longer term.

I hope these tips were helpful. Feel free to reach out to me, if you need more background, or just want to discuss a global payroll strategy.

About Jeroen Wielens

Jeroen has over 20 years of experience in SAP ERP HCM, SAP SuccessFactors, talent management, and global payroll ranging from multi-national implementations to running global support across Asia, Europe, North America, and South America. His most recent success was the program management and delivery of a North American deployment of an SAP SuccessFactors full-suite implementation for over 85,000 employees across 5 countries.

About 1218 Global HR Solutions

At 1218 Global HR Solutions, our sole focus is to assemble experienced teams with global, strategic, business operations and SAP SuccessFactors expertise in a variety of industries and HCM digital solutions. Our teams provide services to a variety of clients with differing size, complexity, diverse geographical locations, multiple dimensions of users, and organizational structure. Our SAP SuccessFactors professionals have unparalleled expertise in providing services across the spectrum of HCM from Core HR to Payroll to Talent. We are your solution finders!

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