Beginning Your Journey: Migrating from SAP On-Premise to Employee Central in the Cloud

Written by Michael White, Technology Director at Hula Partners.

As companies begin transitioning to the cloud, we are getting a lot of questions around how to migrate to Employee Central from on premise SAP system effectively. What are the key questions to address prior to making the leap to the cloud and what are the important considerations needed in the process? Throughout this blog, I will address these questions today in order to alleviate some of the mystery surrounding this process.

The first and most important question you must ask as an organization is if you plan on keeping your SAP on premise system up to date with the data from Employee Central, or will you retire it at go-live? In my experience, many customers choose to keep their legacy SAP environment due to the number of existing integrations that would need to be reproduced and signed off in Employee Central. This is a daunting task as part of the initial rollout and requires coordination with many different vendors and their individual testing requirements. Thus, the lowest risk approach is to replicate data from Employee Central back to legacy SAP and let the existing integrations and payroll processing run as they do today. You can then replace the integrations and payroll over time as separate projects, where the risk is more manageable.

Next, you must decide as an organization if you want to roll out the entire employee population in one big bang or, if you will take a phased approach.

Core Hybrid

If you plan on having everyone go live at the same time, then you are looking at a “Core Hybrid” approach to your data replication back to legacy SAP. This means that Employee Central is the system of record for all employees and the employee data only flows in one direction (EC -> SAP). This simplifies the replication process greatly as you don’t have to deal with transfers between live and non-live populations. This also means that data migration, conversion, validation, and regulatory approval must be acquired globally for go live. Switching to a phased rollout later on is not recommended as it will require a total redesign of your approach and replication process. My biggest piece of advice for this approach is to begin your mapping process as early as possible. Specifically, begin thinking through the desired future data model you want to have in EC vs. the current data model in SAP. There are a few key elements to check in this mapping and design decisions need made with conversions between the systems in mind. All of the following mappings must be able to convert seamlessly between EC and SAP. If there is ambiguity, it can cause issues later with the SAP configuration for valid dropdown values based on area/subarea and group/subgroup groupings on the SAP side:

1.   Employee Group/Subgroup to WorkAgreementAdminCategoryCode/WorkAgreementTypeCode

2.   Company Code/Personnel Area/Personnel Subarea to Company/Location

3.   Action/Reason to PersonnelEventTypeCode/ PersonnelEventReasonCode

4.   Pay component frequency in Employee Central to Payroll Area frequency in SAP

NOTE:  The payment frequency (Hourly, Bi-weekly, Monthly, etc.) coming from Employee Central is validated against the payroll area frequency used in SAP. We’ve encountered and created workarounds to this validation for customers where these could not be aligned.

These values must be able to convert in both directions if you are going to successfully perform data conversion and load for go-live as well as ongoing replication of data from EC back to legacy SAP. Be especially careful of a single EC event type/reason mapping to multiple SAP action/reasons based on other attributes or context. If a single event is mapped to hire, rehire, and job change for instance, it will cause replication issues with the SAP validation checks for existing employees and status changes.


Alternatively, if instead, you plan on a phased rollout with different waves of employees going live at different points then you are looking at a “Side-by-Side” approach to your replication process. This means that for the live population Employee Central is the system of record and will replicate employees down to legacy SAP (EC -> SAP). However, for the non-live population you will maintain SAP as the system of record and transfer the employees to Employee Central using either web service integration or file extracts (SAP -> EC). All of the mapping decision points referenced above will still apply to this process. If this is your approach, the recommendation is to split your population by company or country for the phases. The replication configuration allows you to specify which companies and countries to feed to legacy SAP. In addition, you can also configure the allowed countries as part of the SAP inbound logic to filter out countries that are not in scope. Any employee records that are in a non-live country/company will be dropped from the replication in this manner, however you still need a way to send the SAP data for those employees back to Employee Central. There are several ways to accomplish this, such as leveraging the standard SAP extraction templates or writing your own custom code to extract templates in CSV format for transfer via SFTP. Alternatively, you can leverage the web service integration delivered by SAP to transfer employee data. SAP is working on expanding the configuration capabilities of this interface to handle custom relationships and other data you may want to export by giving you the ability to write your own extract logic to map to an EC field. I have seen the demo of this and it will be a very powerful addition to the integration capabilities to get more real time data transfer. In either approach, you must filter the employees sent over by the inverse set of companies/countries as the live population to avoid any circular employee updates from the change pointers. Additionally, there is a more complex scenario addressing how to transfer employees from live to non-live or vice versa. I will cover this more in depth in another blog post.

In summary, you need to decide on your approach early as it affects the replication scope between Employee Central and SAP greatly. There are also impacts to your configuration and customization requirements to facilitate the selected approach. I referenced several critical mappings that you need to have ironed out early in your design process to avoid headaches later. These are the most common causes of replication related errors between the systems, so having a solid data model mapping up front will eliminate those issues later on. Finally, if you decide on a phased rollout, then you will need to break your population up by company or country in order to prevent employees from the non-live population from being sent. Hopefully this post has been informative and started the requirements gathering process for your organization. I will be posting a subsequent article on Side-by-Side integrations and some of the pitfalls to avoid in my next blog post. If you have questions or want to follow up with Hula Partners, please contact me at

Source: Beginning Your Journey: Migrating from SAP On-Premise to Employee Central in the Cloud

Continue reading for Part 2: Beginning Your Journey: Migrating From SAP On Premise to Employee Central in the Cloud, Part 2


5 Things to Watch Out For in Preparing For Your Employee Central Project

Written by Randy Stenberg, HCM Consultant at Hula Partners.

Now that your company has decided to implement Employee Central, it is time to prep for your implementation. Based on my personal experiences, here are 5 areas to consider focusing one during your project preparation. Focusing on these will help to smooth out your Employee Central journey.

1.     Get ready, get set; I didn’t say get comfortable.

The journey you are about to embark on takes longer and will be considerably more difficult than you first considered. Being prepared and flexible is key to your success.

Some may believe that an EC implementation is easy. A sales person’s pitch may have swayed you, or the notion of no hardware to set up, and no software to install; Easy Street, right? Beware! Don’t fall into that trap. Sure, some aspects of EC configuration are simple as compare to SAP on-premise. However, the underlying business processes remain the same. These processes can be overly complex due to piling on additional requirements over the years enabled by a customizable on-premise system. Untangling and simplifying these processes can be enticing and can certainly provide benefit but be aware of the cost; process redesign and optimization have costs in terms of project resources and project timeline. Plan accordingly and make sure the ROI will justify the additional demands on your project’s resources.

2.     Project Management Office (PMO) is very important.

Completing a proper project planning exercise is key. For example, include a detailed project plan. Your resources should be identified and freed up to work as appropriate, as soon as possible. This plan should set the expectations for your resources and should be realistic based on budget and timeline with built-in contingencies as a buffer.

Tip #1: Be certain that your partner resources are experienced and certified so that they are properly trained for your project. If not, this could affect your timeline and plan as a whole.

Tip #2: Include plenty of contingency into the project plan – you will use it.

Governance and controls are important pieces of PMO.  This includes handling scope creep. Ding ding ding! This is one of the biggest areas that can lead to a project getting off the rails. Based on my experience, scope is something that must be managed very closely and have a clearly defined escalation path determined early on during the project so that during a crisis everyone knows what to do with new items.  These items can include defects, missed requirements, and gaps in processes. Clients and partners must realize that scope creep is something that should be recognized, reported and avoided.

Your implementation partner should provide you with a project manager that is 100% dedicated to your project. This may add some cost; think of it as relatively cheap insurance. As the client, you should make sure that your internal project manager is at least 50% focused on the implementation. Your PM is critical in navigating through company bureaucracies and working with internal audit departments as needed.

3.     IT is critical.

Make sure key IT resources are fully engaged stakeholders on the project.  From what I have seen, this is sometimes not the case.  IT is generally an afterthought, but should be an equal party to the project.

4.     Change management is important throughout the entire project and after go-live.

Consider bringing on Change Management experts. Your EC partner is probably not an expert in this field, so consider someone or a team that is focused on just this.

Your communication should have consistent cadence and message to the stakeholder community during the project and after go-live. As for training, it is best to have both online and in-person classes, as well as quick reference guides for continued learning.

5.     Do NOT underestimate testing. You will always need more time, so build in contingency.

Your implementation partner should manage the initial test phases such as integration testing, end-to-end process testing and payroll parallel if required. As the project progresses through the test phases expect your participation to scale up. You should assume complete responsibility for UAT (User Acceptance Test). This is your chance to confirm that the application is working as per your business requirements.  You will most likely need some help since you are not certified professionals, as your consultants should be, in using the system. You may find it difficult to write test scripts from scratch so ask your partner to provide a library of scripts that you can pick from and customize as needed.

Tip #3:  UAT is the time where gaps in processes, defects, and new requirements may surface. Make sure that you handle these swiftly per your defined PMO process so as not to derail your project.

Preparing for a project can be a daunting task. But, if you take these considerations in to your planning, you will have a much easier and smoother implementation.

If you have any further questions or would like to discuss further, you can contact me at

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Is the Skills Gap Really a Spending Gap?

Written by David Nesper, Managing Partner at Hula Partners

The Equifax data breach is a teachable moment if ever there was one.

Equifax said the attackers entered its system in mid-May through a vulnerability in the Apache Struts application that had a patch available in March 2017. In other words, the company had more than two months to fix a problem that would have protected the personal data of over 143 million people.

This mega-breach highlights one of the key challenges companies face today: a skills gap and a hyper-competitive talent war that makes finding and retaining top talent incredibly tough.

Salesforce’s recent State of IT report surveyed 2,263 full-time IT leaders around the world and found that high-performing IT teams represent only 15 percent of the overall business landscape. Nearly a full quarter are rated “underperformers.”

Clearly, Equifax fell into that category. A high functioning team would have recognized the potential liability and acted with urgency. But in an era when even companies like Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Google often lose talent to younger tech companies like Airbnb and Lyft, how much of a fighting chance do non-tech legacy players like Equifax have for securing the kind of talent that might have been more on top of things?

What Can Be Done

Research firm L2 took a data-driven approach to honing in on the strategies that companies use to successfully lure tech talent away from tech companies. Opening an office close to a tech hub, for example, is very effective. Another strategy that works well, the firm reported, is offering executive-level titles and perks to senior players who want more than a lateral move. L’Oréal, for example, successfully recruited its chief digital officer away from Instagram by offering her a seat on its executive committee.

Wages are another area that could probably benefit from some corporate self reflection. After all, in an era when employee salaries have remained stagnant, how reasonable is it to expect employees’ skill sets to keep growing?

This extends into training too. In its 2017 What Workers Want report, recruiting firm Hays found a strong desire for more training among IT professionals — many of whom are self-taught — but also found a notable mismatch between the types of training IT professionals want and what they actually get.

The Legacy Tech Has to Go Too

Even hiring top talent and offering them all the training in the world won’t prevent another Equifax-like incident without a significant investment in technology itself.

recent survey of over a thousand IT decision makers by Riverbed Technology found the vast majority feel legacy infrastructures are holding their companies back. 93 percent of IT decision makers aid legacy networking tech causes cloud-related network problems at least once a month.

The Ponemon Institute — a think tank that focuses on data protection — found that 94 percent of enterprise IT decision makers still use a traditional network firewall and only 44 percent believe their organization has the ability to protect their network from potential attacks.

Bringing It All Home

The legacy tech problem connects up with the recruiting problem. When a prospective employee finds out an employer is using software built during the Reagan administration, how excited is she going to feel? Great tech workers want their skills to stay relevant. To attract and keep them, the technology has to be relevant too.

The general sophistication of consumer tech, of course, is a driving force here as well. Salesforce found 71 percent of employees want companies to provide the same level of technology as they use in their personal lives. The consumerization of IT trend is very real.

It says a lot that high-performing IT teams (which, again, are only 15 percent) are nearly three times more likely to make employee experience projects a priority. Airbnb, for example, recently changed the title of Chief Human Resource Officer to Chief Employee Experience Officer—a sign that the company is starting to reframe its own workforce as an audience with high expectations versus a pool of talent merely to be used.

So, in the wake of Equifax, maybe a little less talk about the “skills gap” might actually be a good thing. The skills gap is often discussed as if it’s a structural flaw in the workforce — some failure on the part of the masses to achieve full potential.

In fact, maybe the skills gap is really a spending gap. To get better performing teams and prevent more mega-breaches, maybe more companies need to start giving employees more of what they need: higher salaries, bigger investments in training, and the up-to-date technology that will let them do their jobs.

For more information, contact us at or reach out to David Nesper directly.

Source: Is the Skills Gap Really a Spending Gap? – Hula Partners