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SAP unveils SuccessFactors integration with financials

SAP has begun to harmonize HCM data from workforce analytics with operational and strategic financial planning by connecting its SuccessFactors and RealSpend platforms.

SAP introduced SuccessFactors integration with its SAP RealSpend platform, connecting its human capital management workforce planning and financial software and allowing managers to align expense controls with employee headcount.

The announcement at SAP's SuccessConnect 2017 Las Vegas user conference came as large employers are increasingly looking to merge core human resources applications with basic finance functions.

SuccessFactors' workforce planning and analytics capabilities are focused on strategic and operational head count planning for employers to plan for hiring and retaining critical employees to support mid- and long-term strategies and goals, according to the company.

Meanwhile, SAP RealSpend, which is based, as is SuccessFactors, on the SAP Cloud Platform, provides continually updated budget and spending information.

Real-time data for head counts

The company said that the SuccessFactors integration with SAP RealSpend will allow managers to access real-time financial data for workforce planning and provide better accuracy for head count forecasts, improved cost controls and better overall alignment between HR and finance.

The HR function, in order to ratchet up its perspective and be able to help the enterprise more with the business objectives, needs access to and visibility into other types of enterprise data.
Lisa Rowanresearch vice president, IDC

Lisa Rowan, research vice president, HR and talent management services at IDC who has been briefed on the new SuccessFactors integration, said SAP's move is a significant market development and represents progress toward filling the need to harmonize HR and other enterprise data, such as financial data.

"Human resources, having access only to its own HR-specific data, can only answer so many questions," Rowan said. "You can't really address that bigger picture, of bigger strategic business objectives, with just the HR data.

"The HR function, in order to ratchet up its perspective and be able to help the enterprise more with the business objectives, needs access to and visibility into other types of enterprise data," Rowan continued.

SAP's SuccessFactors integration of workforce planning with head count spend in real time achieves that goal in this arena, Rowan said. "It's very well integrated."

A step toward fuller integration

SAP looks at its latest technology move on the human capital management side as a notable but incremental step toward full integration across many departments in the enterprise, with much of that integration being achieved with machine learning, said Mark Brandau, vice president of HCM solutions at SAP SuccessFactors.

"It puts more power not only in managers' hands, but also in HR professionals' and finance hands," Brandau said. "What that power is is to look at people at the center of what's really going on in the business."

Mark BrandauMark Brandau

Brandau noted that SuccessFactors added operational, or day-to-day, head count capabilities to its strategic workforce planning functions over the past year.

The SuccessFactors integration with RealSpend is a "mile marker," Brandau said.

"In a series of things we've already done, it's a sort of foreshadowing of things that are coming," he said. "This further helps both the operational and strategic aspects."

How HCM-finance integration helps

A specific example of how the SuccessFactors integration could benefit employers is during an office relocation.

"You're taking into consideration not just the data from finance that's people-related, but also the hidden costs -- things like the actual work state allocation and the cost of the buildings," Brandau said.

"You take HR data, which includes things related to the employee like their department, background, skills and compensation," he said. "When you start to marry that to the rest of the financial data, like sales and revenue, and not just looking at it from an overhead perspective, that's when it really starts to get interesting."

HR pros must advocate

HR departments face a barrier to adopting this kind of workforce planning-finance data integration software, Rowan said, noting that it is incumbent upon HR people to advocate for the need for the technology.

"They need to ratchet up the visibility within the enterprise that they have a handle on analytics and they can actually bring something to the table to elevate the need for this," Rowan added. "Along with their financial colleagues, they need to ratchet up the attention paid to this, so they can get the investment in terms of the energy to do this."

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