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Bolster Your Organization's HR Processes with a Flexible Technology Framework: Introducing HCM Processes and Forms

by Michael Bonrat | SAPinsider

October 1, 2006

In the face of outsourcing and offshoring, today’s HR departments must prove their bottom-line value to the organization. To do so, HR organizations need a flexible technology framework to create, change, document, and execute their specific HR master data processes. HCM Processes and Forms is that framework, enabling companies to adapt processes to their business needs and to analyze the effectiveness of those processes.

Corporate human capital management (HCM) processes vary, often dramatically, from company to company. Consider your organization's hiring process, including all of its different stages, their sequence, and who within your company they involve. In order for technology to be a strategic, time-saving player in managing HR, you need software that's flexible enough to adapt quickly to the specific workings of your company's processes — from start to finish.

Beyond supporting speed and flexibility in HCM processes, HR applications also need to enable HR teams to prove their overall value to the organization. At a time when outsourcing and external service providers are a staid reality, HR teams must be able to report their performance — how many HR processes they've executed, and in how much time — to CEOs and CFOs. To do this, HR organizations need technology that can record and trace all steps within their processes — knowing who on either the business or technical side triggered what action, and documenting improvements in response time and bottom-line results.

SAP solutions in the HR arena have evolved according to these needs — from the integration of business roles to end-to-end process integration:

  • With the first versions of SAP HR, professional roles such as HR Administrator and Payroll Clerk were integrated so that these roles could work together using a cross-role approach.

  • In release 3.1i, non-professional roles such as Employee were added, and in release 4.6, the Manager role was integrated through the portal with SAP Manager Self-Service (SAP MSS). The specific applications for these roles sometimes included integration to other roles — Employee to Manager, for example — but in most cases the role sequence and data handled in the process were fixed.

  • With SAP MSS in mySAP ERP 2004 came the first fully cross-role process framework through personnel change request (PCR) functionality.

With PCR, a manager could trigger a change request for an employee, a higher manager could approve the request, and in a final step, an HR administrator could process the transaction.

The PCR framework does a masterful job of operational process execution and the handling of data inside a process. Now, as customer needs are evolving beyond the classical area of operational process execution to the centralized delivery of services within a shared services center,1 customers need a very flexible framework that can adapt to their particular HCM processes. Through PCR, SAP delivers 12-15 specific HR processes. But it'd be unwise to think that SAP can know precisely the sequence of roles and the exact data fields that all companies need. This is where HCM Processes and Forms, delivered with mySAP ERP 2005, comes into play.

What Is HCM Processes and Forms?

HCM Processes and Forms is a cross-role process framework for any processes involving HR master data. The highly flexible framework allows SAP customers to build and execute their own specific processes, no matter what data, process flow, and roles are involved.

HCM Processes and Forms is based on three components, all of which are included standard in mySAP ERP 2005:

  • HR Table Customizing, which enables processes in this framework to be implemented without developers having to write any code

  • Adobe Interactive Forms, so that all business roles are integrated into processes through a user-
    friendly, forms-based interface

  • SAP Business Workflow, a proven workflow engine that enables improved flexibility

No matter what the HCM process — whether it's a one-step process in which an employee needs to update data, or a more complicated process where multiple roles are involved — HCM Processes and Forms provides the framework to handle it quickly and without any coding. HR practices are not restricted; anyone can start a process, and any role — not just a technical one — can be involved at any step along the way.

Considering that HCM practices change all the time, another goal of HCM Processes and Forms is to deliver an implementation environment that reduces implementation costs and allows companies to quickly adapt processes to their policies and business needs, as well as an analytics framework to analyze process effectiveness. I'll discuss these highlights in more detail later on.

But first, what do HCM Processes and Forms look like?

Functional Overview and Benefits of HCM Processes and Forms

HCM Processes and Forms includes features to support all business and IT roles in their daily HR tasks:

Feature Benefit
New portal role: HR Administrator Now all roles, including the HR Administrator, can work in the same portal environment
Start and Form applications for all standard roles and customer roles — Employee, Manager, HR Administrator, and Customer can start a process or handle process items Without any programming, roles are incorporated into the framework for any HR process; customer roles are also incorporated easily
Adobe Interactive Forms for all involved roles Forms provide a user-friendly, familiar interface that is
consistent for both occasional and professional roles
Display of involved roles/users in every process step Easier communication — In the third step of a process, a user can see who executed steps one and two
Role-specific links to process documentation and policies Role-specific support — Employee and Manager can access information from a customer's point of view, and HR Administrator from a service provider's point of view
Role-specific attachment handling — All users can attach external documents to a process Relevant business documents are incorporated directly in the process, saving time
Save draft — A user can partially fill out a form, save it, and finish it later Users can interrupt their work and fill out forms in
several sessions
Withdrawal of a process — All users can stop a request, as long as no data has changed in the back end Users do not need to contact an administrator to
withdraw requests
Automatic backend support for default values, entry helps, data validations, etc., in every process step Automation provides end users with maximum support — without programming
Save to back end is possible in every step, through every role, and at multiple times during a process HR master data is up to date, even for long-running processes
Error-tolerant step and message customizing — Message displays can be customized in a role-specific way Occasional users are not confused by messages for
professional users
Automatic update of digital personnel files — Once a process is completed, the used forms and attachments are transferred to the digital personnel file No additional activities are needed for updating
personnel files
Templates for processes — including Hiring, Transfer, Birth of a Child, Termination, and another 8-10 processes — are delivered with mySAP ERP 2005 Enhancement Package II Templates are an easy starting point within the framework

Stepping Through an Example — The Employee Transfer Process

Let's look at an example of an HR-related process that could greatly benefit from the technical framework provided by HCM Processes and Forms. Consider that an employee is being transferred from one manager to another. At a given company, three roles are involved in the administrative side of this transfer — the Current Manager, the New Manager, and the HR Administrator.

This process is only one example of what you can build with HCM Processes and Forms. With this framework, there are no restrictions on the number of process steps or the specific roles that you can include in the process.

Using HCM Processes and Forms, what would this process execution look like from an end-user perspective? What happens at every step along the way?

Step 1: The Current Manager Starts the Transfer Process

The current manager goes into mySAP ERP HCM through the enterprise portal, opens the Start application, and sees a list of the processes he can start (see Figure 1). The manager clicks on the relevant process — Transfer, in our example — and then sees the relevant form for processing.

Figure 1
What the current manager sees when starting an employee transfer with HCM Processes and Forms

The manager enters the required data in the form's fields, checks the data, and clicks the "Check and Send" button to move the form to the next phase of the process. Based on the New Manager name listed on the transfer form, the system directs the form to the manager responsible for performing the second process step.

Step 2: The New Manager Enters Pertinent Data

The new manager navigates to his inbox and selects the relevant work item. The system displays the form, which now includes the data the current manager entered in step 1, for processing. The new manager makes his entry — the new position, for example — checks it, and clicks "Check and Send" to move the form to the HR administrator. The entries from step 1 and 2 are stored in the form, and based on this data, the system determines which HR administrator is responsible for performing the third process step.

Step 3: The HR Administrator Completes the Form and Updates the Master Data

The appropriate HR administrator navigates to his inbox and selects the relevant work item. The system displays the form, together with the data from steps 1 and 2, for processing. The HR administrator makes his entry — Personnel Area, for example — checks it, and clicks "Check and Send" to move the form forward in the process.

Unlike in the previous two steps, the "Check and Send" button in this step saves the data from the form to the application database. In other words, this third step updates the employee's HR master data according to the new information from the form (see Figure 2).

Figure 2
Overview of a three-step employee transfer process using HCM Processes and Forms

Imagine, however, that your company has offices in 22 countries, and 20% of your business processes change every three months. How does HCM Processes and Forms address the implementation and maintenance aspects of frequently changing HR practices?

Quick and Easy Implementation — Without Coding

With HCM Processes and Forms, SAP development gave very high priority to delivering an easy-to-use, flexible, process-design environment that is also simple to implement and can adapt quickly to changing processes. For example:

  • Specific fields and processing logic can be defined by simple table customizing and do not require any coding (see Figure 3). If a customer wants to store additional logic, however, they can — enhancement spots (BAdIs) are available.

  • The visual design of the form is done with the Adobe Designer (included within mySAP ERP 2005), which means that anyone familiar with simple text-editing tools can define forms.

  • Process flow is defined with SAP Business Workflow and an additional library of tasks and workflow templates developed specially for HCM Processes and Forms. Using this library, even absolute beginners — without any workflow experience — can build up a process.
Figure 3
The design environment of HCM Processes and Forms enables customers to customize their design of process flows, fields, and forms — without any coding

Delivering Analytic Insight

HCM Processes and Forms also provides the groundbreaking ability to deliver analytic insight into HR operational performance. These analytics, which can link a company's investment in HCM to the department's performance outcomes, are invaluable in proving the impact an HR department has on the bottom line.

Within HCM Processes and Forms, analytic capabilities are available through an analytics framework with preconfigured BI content. When a process or service is executed — from SAP ESS or SAP MSS, for example — multiple time stamps, information about executing roles, and executed process and service types are tracked and stored (see Figure 4). This data is the basis for preconfigured KPIs, which allow HR teams to drill down into the execution results of HCM processes and analyze their performance and effectiveness, especially in the context of an HR shared services center (see sidebar).

Figure 4
HCM Processes and Forms tracks and stores time stamps and role information and presents this data through analytics, enabling HR teams to measure their performance

Examples of delivered BI content are KPIs, including:

  • Number of processes/services

  • Processing time

  • Completion time

  • Waiting time

Queries are also delivered, and include:

  • Process/service volume

  • Average completion time

  • Average processing time

HCM Processes and Forms — Integral to the HR Shared Services Center Concept

With the changing nature of HCM, in which HR services spread across multiple locations and regions are proving quite costly, comes the need to access all relevant solutions within a shared services center. By centralizing HR within one services center, companies find they can reduce transaction costs by obtaining efficiencies of scale in delivering HR services throughout the organization.

To do this, companies can integrate all their relevant HCM solutions — SAP Employee Self-Service, SAP Manager Self-Service, Employee Interaction Center,2 E-Recruiting, and Personnel Administration, as well as all the underlying HR master data — with HCM Processes and Forms, as shown in the figure below. The HCM Processes and Forms framework is a fundamental technical component of an effective shared services center.

HCM Processes and Forms as part of an HR shared services center


HCM Processes and Forms is a technical framework that supports company-specific HR processes. The flexible framework enables end users to make their HR-related workflow more efficient, and is a huge time-saver for IT teams with its code-free design and simple, cost-reducing implementation environment.

Together with SAP MSS, SAP ESS, EIC, and the new role HR Administrator, all available in mySAP ERP 2005, HCM Processes and Forms allows companies to easily tailor technology to their HR processes. The framework also comes complete with analytics to measure the performance and effectiveness of HR teams, so HR can prove its strategic and bottom-line value to the organization.

For more information, please visit > mySAP ERP HCM in Detail >Workforce Process Management > HCM Processes and Forms.

1 For more insight on the shared services concept, see "Three Steps to Gain Competitive Advantage Through HCM" by Mark Lange in this issue of SAP Insider (

2 For more information on Employee Interaction Center (EIC), part of a shared services center, see "Streamline Your HCM Service Delivery with an Employee Interaction Center" by Bianka Piehl and Lisa Tinti in this issue of SAP Insider (

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