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First Steps in SAP SuccessFactors - Performance and Talent Management

This book covers the fundamentals of the SAP SuccessFactors module Performance and Talent Management. You will be expertly guided through the talent management process of an entire employee cycle. Learn how to record employee profile data and track goals ...



  • Preface
  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Platform & Employee Profile
  • 3 Career development
  • 4 Goals management
  • 5 Performance management
  • 6 Calibration
  • 7 Compensation Management
  • 8 Variable pay
  • 9 Succession management
  • 10 Security structure
  • 11 Reporting
  • A The Author
  • B Disclaimer

Weitere Informationen


Pablo Stuardo


Human Resources, Cloud




2.1 Platform overview

The first step to start learning about SuccessFactors is to have access to the system. Since SuccessFactors is a cloud solution it is accessed via a web browser.

The most commonly used browsers that are compatible with SuccessFactors are:

  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Google Chrome
  • Microsoft Windows Internet Explorer
  • Microsoft Edge
  • Apple macOS Safari

SuccessFactors instance

A SuccessFactors instance is simply your SuccessFactors system.

Depending on which data center your SuccessFactors instance is hosted, you will have a different URL that you would use to access.

When SuccessFactors is implemented, your partner will let you know exactly which URL you need to access the system.

A user will enter the Company ID, which is how the system will know the company you are trying to access, and then you will enter your Username and Password like shown on Figure 2.1, just like any other cloud system you might have already used.

Data centers are assigned based on geographical location

If your company is based in the US, most likely your instance will be hosted in one of the data centers located physically in the United States. Same for Europe, Asia, etc. Normally data centers are assigned based on geographical location of the main company offices.


Figure 2.1: SuccessFactors login page sample

Notice in Figure 2.1 – a sample of the login page, how there is a background image and the SuccessFactors logo.

The majority of images in this book are taken from my personal SuccessFactors demo system, so there are several items I have “customized” to match my preferences.

Look and feel of the system

I do switch between different themes to make a point of how this affects the look and feel of the system.

The background image and logo of course will be adjusted to match your company’s brand if desired.

At this point I would like to pause to point out that the majority of companies who use SuccessFactors take advantage of Single Sign-On (SSO) capabilities, which SuccessFactors supports.

By using SSO, the SuccessFactors URL for your company would be hosted in your SSO provider, which means that users would never have to enter their SuccessFactors credentials (username/password).

They would just simple login into their computer, or their “company portal”, or into whatever SSO architecture they have, and they would get access to everything, including SuccessFactors, by just entering their “master” credentials once.

Depending on whether you are using regular access to the system by going to a specific URL and then entering your username and password, or taking advantage of SSO technology, the first page you will see (landing page) will be the SuccessFactors home page.

2.1.1 Home page

The home page will be the landing page every time any user enters the system.

Go directly to Admin Center

If you are a SuccessFactors administrator, you can configure the system so that once you log in, it will take you directly to Admin Center. More on Admin Center later on.

The home page, as pages for all modules in the system can be “themed” according to your company brand, including the logo.

As shown in Figure 2.2, you will see your company logo, then two menus, which we will discuss in detail later in this chapter.


Figure 2.2: SuccessFactors home page sample

The core items on the home page are called “tiles”. Let’s learn more about them.

2.1.2 Tiles

Tiles, as shown in Figure 2.2, are squared-shaped items that contain some type of information.

The idea behind tiles is to offer users a dashboard all on one screen in which they can see, navigate and monitor a huge range of items across the suite.

It is important to understand that the home page is quite flexible. Tiles can be dragged and dropped into different positions within the screen and their names can be changed.

Tiles can be configured in various ways:

  • Mandatory for all users (all users will see that particular tile).
  • Optional, which means that each user has the ability to hide any tile that is not mandatory.
  • Dynamic, which means that the system would only display tiles that are relevant to each user. For example, the “Manage My Team” tile would only display to users who actually have direct reports. Anyone without direct reports would never see the tile.


Figure 2.3: Manage My Team tile in the SuccessFactors home page

The majority of tiles shown in Figure 2.2 and Figure 2.3 are standard tiles, which means that they are automatically enabled when each SuccessFactors module is implemented.

SuccessFactors also supports the ability to create custom tiles. A clear example is the Goal Status tile shown in Figure 2.4.


Figure 2.4: Goal Status custom tile

This is a custom tile that was built with a SuccessFactors Dashboard coming from the basic reporting module, and showcases the status of goals in my team’s goal plan.

We will dig much deeper into SuccessFactors Dashboards later in this book; however, I want to show a bigger image of this dashboard now.

Imagine I am clicking on the tile in my home page. It will automatically increase the size for better use as shown in Figure 2.5.


Figure 2.5: Goal Status dashboard

Notice how the home page is still behind, but I can see the tile enlarged with some extra information such as which goals are on track, postponed, behind and not started in my team.

Custom tiles can become very useful, and your creativity is the limit. Some innovative custom tiles I have seen in the past include:

  • Tile that has text with a reminder to complete performance review forms. Let’s not forget that this will be displayed in the home page, so every time a user logs into the system they will see the tile.
  • Tile with an embedded video of the company’s leadership showcasing something.
  • Tile with a survey.
  • Tile with custom reports as shown in Figure 2.5

Now let’s spend the next few sections exploring some of the standard tiles offered in the system.


The “ToDo” section let’s each user knows which actions they have pending in the system. For example, as shown in Figure 2.6, the section includes tiles that need attention and action.



Figure 2.6: ToDo tiles

The purpose of each tile

After you finish this book, you will understand exactly what each tile does. Standard tiles are fully integrated with other modules in the system; therefore, once you know each module and its processes, all standard tiles become intuitive.

Still in Figure 2.6 let’s review the three tiles available:

  • Update Your Status: This tile belongs to the Performance module, particularly involving continuous performance. The tile is telling the user to update the status of the last meeting with their manager in which performance was discussed.
  • Review Performance: This one also belongs to the Performance module and tells the user there are fifteen performance evaluations still to be completed.
  • Plan Compensation: This is part of the Compensation module and it tells the user there are three employees who they are responsible for compensation planning.

Dynamic tiles

All tiles in the system are dynamic, which mean that once a user clicks on them, they are taken directly to the page in which they need to perform the action.

As you can see, most standard tiles are very intuitive. Let’s explore a few more.

My Team

The “My Team” section contains all tiles related to a user’s team. As mentioned earlier the system is smart enough to know that if a particular user does not have a team (direct reports), this section would never display.

As shown in Figure 2.7, there are several more tiles that are very useful. Let’s learn more about some of them:


Figure 2.7: My Team tile in the SuccessFactors home page

  • Org Chart: This tile allows a user to navigate directly to the company’s org chart, and see where the user is in the org chart and all their direct reports. From there the user can navigate up or down the hierarchy. More to come on the company’s org chart later in this chapter.
  • Manage My Team: This is probably one of my favorite tiles. It allows a user to click and see a summary of the team including, but not limited, to what the employee is working on (data coming from Continuous Performance) and To-Dos, in addition to basic information as seen in Figure 2.8.


Figure 2.8: My Team tile expanded

  • Team Summary: This one is very similar to Manage My Team, but a bit more robust. As shown in Figure 2.9, a user would still be able to see the team, but then on the left side of the screen, the manager in this case can navigate to other screens and see module-specific information.


Figure 2.9: Team View tile

We have reviewed tiles that remind you what to do, and those that offer information about your team, but SuccessFactors is a system for all employees; therefore, let’s explore the My Info set of tiles.

My Info

Of course every user is a key component of the system in order for SuccessFactors to add any value; and more critically, your information is very important.

The My Info section in Figure 2.10 includes all tiles relevant to the user on their home page. Let’s take a look at some of them:


Figure 2.10: My Info tile in the SuccessFactors home page

  • My Profile: This tile takes the user to the Employee Profile module (we will talk extensively about Employee Profile later in this chapter), but I always like to make the analogy of employee profile being like your “employment folder” with all kind of documents relevant to you.
  • Quick Links: This allows users to click and review any quick link the user had previously marked as either “Favorite” or “Available” for quick navigation.
    If we take a look at Figure 2.11, we see there are four quick links. Imagine I am new to the organization. Those four links can be very useful while I am “learning the ropes” in my new position.


Figure 2.11: Quick Links tile expanded

  • Careers: This allows easy navigation to any internal role that I might be applying to. If a user clicks on it, they will be taken to the Careers section within, where the person can review the status of the positions he/she has applied internally and much more.
  • Recruiting: This enables you to review the status of any open position the user might have in his/her team. The tile belongs in Recruiting.
  • Development: This allows users to easily navigate to their development plan.
  • Goals: Makes it easy to navigate to their goals plan.
  • Performance: Here users get to their performance evaluations.
  • Achievements: With this users can track their achievements. This tile belongs to Continuous Performance.

At this point, I am sure you have a very good understanding of what tiles are, and how powerful they can be.

We learned that tiles are the core of the SuccessFactors home page, and that standard tiles are associated with different modules of the suite, and that the system also allows administrators to configure custom tiles.

Let’s continue learning about the home page by understanding the different menus the page offers.

2.1.3 Menus

As mentioned earlier, the home page will be the landing page for all users. In the home page, tiles are available to navigate to different modules of the system, but there are also two very important menus to understand.

Home menu

The home menu, is located in the upper left corner of the screen as shown on Figure 2.12. This menu allows users to navigate to all available modules.


Figure 2.12: Home menu in SuccessFactors home page

The home menu is probably the menu used the most by users in the entire suite.

If we look at Figure 2.12, we can clearly see that each option represents a module on its own.

Custom Navigation

There is a feature called “Custom Navigation” that allows to add different hyperlinks to the home menu.

In my system I have implemented almost all modules available in SuccessFactors; that is why the menu has so many options.

Something to always keep in mind is the whole security concept that governs the system.

Of course security is such a huge and important item that I am dedicating a chapter on its own later in book 1; if someone does not have access to something in the system, the user would never even see the options. For example, if the general population of users do not have authorization to access Recruiting because they are not recruiters, the “Recruiting” option would not display.

If we look at Figure 2.13, we are in the same system but logged in as a different user who does not have as much authorization to access all modules as myself (main administrator), therefore, the options available in the Home Menu will be limited compared to Figure 2.12.


Figure 2.13: Home menu with limited access to certain modules

The home menu is the most popular menu among users because it allows direct access to any of the modules the user has access to; however, there is another very important menu in the home page called the name menu.

Name menu

The name menu can be found toward the upper right corner of the screen, where the user’s name and title are displayed as shown in Figure 2.14.


Figure 2.14: Name Menu in SAP SuccessFactors Home Page

This menu contains five very important items in the system for users who have the right authorizations. Let’s review all five of them:

  • Proxy now: Proxy is an extremely powerful functionality that allows a user (with proper permissions) to act on behalf of someone else in the system. For example, let’s say that I am an administrator, and a business partner calls and tells me she is not able to see the company’s org chart. I can “proxy” as this person and see exactly what she sees in efforts to recreate the issue.
    An analogy I always like to mention to explain proxy in SuccessFactors is like having IT support connect remotely to your machine. Once they get into your local computer, they are able to act just like you were the one using it.
    Because this function is so powerful, security for a proxy should always be taken very seriously. We would hate for anyone to be changing performance scores or even compensation awards of people, or accessing sensitive employee data.
  • Options: This menu option is available to every user of the system. It allows a user to perform different actions, shown in Figure 2.15, with the main ones being:
  • Change password
  • Define security questions
  • Manage email notification preferences
  • Change language
  • Accessibility settings


Figure 2.15: Options from name menu

  • Admin Center: This option allows administrators to navigate to Admin Center, which is where most of the configuration and administration of SuccessFactors happens. We will discuss more details later in this chapter.
  • Personalize homepage: This allows users to change the layout and add or hide tiles on their home page.
  • Logout: Here the user would log out of the system.


Now that we are talking about different options for users, it is critical for everyone to understand that SuccessFactors is fully capable of not only translating different languages, but also localizing the suite.

To give some background, companies are global. Employees are located in different countries, with different languages, and different item specifics to each country, such as identification number (ID) format for each country, or address format.

SuccessFactors offers full localization for different countries, which becomes very relevant in the Core HR suite and onboarding (with compliance information), but in Talent Management it is very critical too.

Just to give an example, imagine we are launching thousands of performance forms, which we will learn more about later in this book 1.

We do not want to maintain a performance template for each single country. We want to standardize the process in such a way that only one template is designed and forms are “copied” from that template automatically for everyone, regardless of where they are located at or which language they speak.

Different template structures based on different locations

It is absolutely possible to have different template structures based on different locations, which can become handy for decentralized organizations, however, always the best practice is to have as much of an standardized system and process as possible.

SuccessFactors can handle this. Anything that is standard in the system for text will automatically translate to more than 48 different languages including special characters.

At this point, imagine anything you are doing for performance, compensation, recruiting, etc. Same process, same templates, same ecosystem, but regardless of the physical location, everyone gets to collaborate in a centralized platform in their own language.

In addition to translation and localization, notifications are a huge component of SuccessFactors. Let’s learn more about them.

2.1.4 Notifications

Obviously at this point, everyone should understand that SAP SuccessFactors is a system fully driven by processes, but more important, by people.

Because of that, it is important to have a strong communication platform that can let stakeholders in the different processes know what’s happening.

SuccessFactors is a system that is very notification-driven. I would say that all modules in the system involve some type of notification.

When we talk about notifications, we mean email notifications. I can think of many potential notifications that users can get such as:

  • Welcome messages for new users
  • Password changes
  • Recruiting notifications
  • Anytime a document or form, such as performance, compensation, etc. gets generated
  • Anytime someone routes a form
  • Anytime someone completes a form
  • Anytime a goal is created
  • Anytime a status report on each goal is produced
  • Anytime an achievement is tracked
  • Anytime a report is ready to be viewed
  • Anytime someone is late to do something – remember the ToDo notifications

This list is just a very small sample of the potential hundreds of notifications available in the system, which are triggered by each module.

Something to always keep in mind is that every single notification in the system is managed independently, allowing administrators to either enable or disable the notifications in such a way that this becomes relevant to the culture and processes or the organization; in addition, the content of each notification can also be modified.

Talking about organizations, let’s jump into what SuccessFactors offers about company information among other things.

2.1.5 Company information

HR’s biggest “asset” is people. Therefore, because of the importance of this, there are some features available in the system to allow people to view certain aspects of the organization from a human capital point of view. At the end of the day, it would be a shame for this HR system to not support basic functions.

Some of these functions are taken for granted, like having a visual of the company’s org chart. In my experience it is rather surprising that some of the tools we are about to learn about are not necessarily available in every organization.

Org chart

The company org chart is such a simple and important concept. This feature allows users to look the hierarchical structure of the organization. In Figure 2.16 we can clearly see how the company org chart looks.


Figure 2.16: Company org chart

In Figure 2.16 we can see how I can see myself, Pablo Stuardo, and all my direct reports in a hierarchical image.

Notice also how my photo will always display in addition to my name, last name and title.

The SuccessFactors org chart also allows users to search for people. In Figure 2.17 I am searching for Carla Grant. Once a user starts typing, the results that match will start appearing.


Figure 2.17: Searching for someone in the company org chart

Users can actually open more than one relationship level at once. As seen in Figure 2.18, there are three levels of the hierarchy open.


Figure 2.18: Different hierarchical levels in the company org chart

One function here in the org chart that is actually very cool and handy is the ability to click on someone’s image and seen what is called the “quick card”.

The SuccessFactors quick card shows basic information about an employee, in addition to offering the ability to take some action on the employee as shown in Figure 2.19. Some of these actions include:

  • View employee details
  • Add a note
  • Give a badge
  • See employee compensation
  • See employee performance history
  • Succession status
  • and much more


Figure 2.19: SAP SuccessFactors quick card

In addition to the functions discussed, the SucessFactors org chart supports:

  • Having direct reports and matrix reports
  • Export the org chart (that has been selected) as an
    • Image
    • PDF
  • Print org chart
  • Although the SuccessFactors org chart is very often used as a directory, the system does offer a company directory. Let’s learn more about it next.


    The company directory is a rather self-explanatory concept. It is a tool that allows users to look up someone and get certain information about the person in the company. As seen in Figure 2.20, a user can enter keywords such as name or title or simply information about someone in the search fields.


    Figure 2.20: Company directory

    Before we review how the search result looks, I want to make a point about tags.

    Tags essentially allow people to associate people with different words. This can be an existing user of the system or even candidates applying to a job within Recruiting.

    You may notice in Figure 2.20 at the bottom of the screen there are words, which represent the most popular tags in this particular system.

    This becomes very handy if someone, for example, is looking to start a soccer team, or someone is looking for a CPA or a PMP. If you click on the actual word, anyone in the organization who has been “tagged” with that word will come up in the search results.

    Once a search has been executed, Figure 2.21 shows search result screen.


    Figure 2.21: Directory search result screen

    In the search result screen, users can see:

    • The number of results found
    • The actual people who the system found
    • The % match for the results based on the criteria entered earlier
    • Extra search fields
    • The ability to modify the search

    The company directory and org chart offer huge visibility for users and can be tools offering great help for a variety of reason; however, there is a third tool the system offers called resources. Let’s see next what resources are all about.


    Company resources is essentially a screen that allows administrators to technically put anything they want. In my experience I have seen companies put:

    • General information about the system
    • General information about the company
    • Videos
    • Images
    • Instructions

    As seen in Figure 2.22 for my system, I have designed a page with some introductory text and quick links to different resources.


    Figure 2.22: Company resources

    As you might be noticing already, SuccessFactors offers a really cool and robust platform with all kind of features and functionality.

    This is just the start. There is much more to be covered, including a very important item, Admin Center (OneAdmin), so let’s see what this is all about.

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