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Implementation Tips for SuccessFactors Onboarding

by Venki Krishnamoorthy

January 30, 2017

Discover valuable tips to use during a SuccessFactors Onboarding implementation. These tips can help companies that are currently running Onboarding maintain their application. Companies that are newly implementing Onboarding can use them to more effectively and efficiently make use of Onboarding.

SuccessFactors Onboarding can be integrated with SuccessFactors Recruiting to enable transfer of data of the pre-hired candidate(s) from Recruiting Management to Onboarding. With this integration, recruiters do not have to re-enter the pre-hire candidate data (such as name, email, organization details, and offer details) that are already available in Recruiting Management.

SuccessFactors Onboarding can also be integrated with SuccessFactors Employee Central or SAP ERP HCM. With this integration, the pre-hire details such as direct deposit data, Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) data, emergency contacts, and family details can be transferred from Onboarding to Employee Central or SAP ERP HCM. When the data is transferred to Employee Central or SAP ERP HCM, the hiring action can be completed in that application.

Onboarding helps companies make the onboarding process efficient—the pre-hire can e-sign the required paperwork directly in Onboarding. In countries where Onboarding is currently available, the compliance-related paperwork can be completed directly in Onboarding.

On-boarding is a pain point in the HR administration process. During a manual onboarding process, HR administrators often have difficulty keeping track of the new-hire paperwork as it goes from department to department, and stage to stage. This includes the hiring manager for the day-one activities, to payroll (for the required paperwork to add the new employee to payroll), to ensuring that the required paperwork is submitted for compliance purposes, and, finally, to setting up the required work space for the new employee. SuccessFactors Onboarding tries to mitigate these pain points by automating the process, as well as providing integrations to SuccessFactors Recruiting, Employee Central, or any other HRIS application. 

More and more companies are implementing SuccessFactors Onboarding, including may non-SuccessFactors customers. Despite this, I have seen many Onboarding implementations put on hold due to inexperience and bad consulting practices. This article serves as a quick reference guide for companies and implementation teams about the best way to successfully manage your Onboarding implementation project. I provide a quick introduction to Onboarding and the preparations required for an Onboarding implementation, including typical timelines for local (US) and global rollouts, the pre-day1 activities, and the cut-over for a go-live. I also show how to customize and translate panels.

Panels are screens in SuccessFactors Onboarding where HR administrators and new hires enter specific data, such as first and last name, date of birth, and so forth. The panels delivered in SuccessFactors are SAP or Federal type panels. Federal panels (these are panels that have Fed as a prefix) are not available for configuration. SAP panels (panels that have SAP as a prefix) can be copied as custom panels and configured. Implementation teams can also create customer-specific panels. Panels can be created for any of the processes (for example, post-hire verification, new employee step, or orientation).

Preparing for an Onboarding Implementation

Before beginning a SuccessFactors Onboarding implementation, the implementation team needs to have access to the following:

  • Provisioning account
  • SuccessFactors BizX
  • Onboarding SuperAdmin account (the company needs an implementation partner with access to their Onboarding SuperAdmin account)
  • Onboarding instance

You are also required to understand these terminologies used in Onboarding:

  • Pre-hire: Once an applicant accepts an offer and is transferred to Onboarding, the role is referred to as pre-hire. This is the candidate who has accepted the offer, and needs to be on-boarded. The pre-hire can be transferred from Recruiting Management to Onboarding, or can be created directly in Onboarding.
  • Pre-Day1 access: Going forward, companies need to implement pre-day1 access (instead of the employee portal). With pre-day1 access, the pre-hire has access to the company’s BizX instance as a pre-day1/pre-hire to complete the on-boarding-related paperwork. Companies use the pre-day1 access to help pre-hires complete any learning items that need to be finished prior to their first day.
  • Employee portal: Some companies prefer to implement the employee portal. Typically, the employee portal contains the introduction message to the pre-hire and any other information the company wants to share with the pre-hire. (Note: SuccessFactors is no longer investing in the Onboarding employee portal functionality. Instead, it is urging companies to switch over to and use the pre-day 1 functionality [see below].)
  • Panels: There are screens in the Onboarding system that contain the fields that need to be filled. All panels that have the Federal prefix are not available for customization. Panels that start with this prefix are available for US companies only. Panels that have the SAP prefix can be copied and customized. Implementation teams can also create custom panels.
  • Wizards: These are a collection of panels. Each process (Post-Hire Verification, New Employee Step, and Orientation) are executed by wizards. Implementation teams can also create their own wizards and attach them to a process.
  • Forms: These are PDF forms that need to be e-signed by the pre-hire and/or HR administrators (or the hiring manager or recruiter). The forms are populated with data that was collected in the panels during one of the hiring processes.
  • Hiring manager activities: These are the set of activities that needs to be completed by the hiring manager. The hiring manager activities are done once the post-hire verification step is completed.
  • Advance conditions: You can use advance conditions to determine what panels or forms should be displayed to the pre-hire. For example, based on the Fair Labor Standards Act status, certain panels or forms can be displayed to the exempt pre-hires and a different set of panels or forms can be displayed to the non-exempt pre-hires. You can use advance notification to trigger emails to the different stakeholders. You can configure advance conditions for all custom panels.
  • Notifications: These are emails that are sent out by the Onboarding application.

(Note: Companies currently do not have access to Provisioning and Onboarding SuperAdmin. Only SuccessFactors partners are granted access. The implementation partner is required to open a partner ticket, requesting access to the Onboarding SuperAdmin account and to the Onboarding instance. The website to open a partner ticket has recently changed. You can now open partner tickets from the SuccessFactors HCM Cloud Operations Portal, found here:

Once you click the link above and log in to open a partner ticket, the screen shown in Figure A opens. Click the OPERATIONS REQUESTS option and then Request Forms to request access to your company’s Onboarding instances and get SuperAdmin access. To log-in to this portal, you need to be assigned an S-ID.

Figure A
Request access to the Onboarding instance and SuperAdmin via the HCM Cloud Operations portal

Typically, forms configuration takes the most time in Onboarding implementations. The more complex the forms, the longer it takes to configure them. Usually company forms require data not captured in the delivered panels — you must configure custom panels to capture the data.

If you can get a list of the form and copies of the forms that need to be configured in Onboarding, you can use them to size the project.

(Note: You need access to Adobe Acrobat Pro to edit and configure Adobe forms. This is a separate license and is not tied to any Onboarding offerings from SuccessFactors.)

If this is a US-based company, you need to implement E-Verify. Send an email requesting an E-Verify memorandum of understanding (MOU) to The MOU provides you with a client company ID number that you can configure in the Onboarding SuperAdmin.

(Note: There has been a recent change in E-Verify requirements when new MOUs are created. When there is more than one hiring location for an MOU, E-Verify requires that you list the physical hiring site address for each location. )

Your email to the team should contain a copy of the E-Verify configuration workbook. Send the configuration workbook to the company team and have it fill out the E-Verify configuration workbook. The configuration workbook contains details about the number of E-Verify MOU’s that need to be applied for.

You should open a partner ticket that requests access to the company’s Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) and the creation of an Onboarding folder in SFTP (all companies running SuccessFactors have access to SFTP). Then request that the Onboarding folder created in SFTP be mapped to the Onrding instance. If you notice an Onboarding folder already exists in SFTP, make sure that the folder is mapped to the company’s Onboarding instance.

In Figure 1, under the Onboarding (Onboarding) folder, you see the outbound and inbound sub-folders. These sub-folders are created for easy maintenance. For example, any data that needs to be consumed by Onboarding can be placed in the inbound folder. Any data generated from Onboarding and that is consumed by a third-party system (such as the SAP ERP HCM) can be placed in the outbound folder.

Figure 1
The company’s Onboarding folder

The Onboarding folder in SFTP format is used for the sync jobs (e.g., the user and permission syncs between Onboarding and BizX). If the Onboarding folder in SFTP is not mapped to the Onboarding instance, the sync jobs fail (e.g., even if the scheduled jobs [configured in Provisioning] drop the files in SFTP, the Onboarding instance is not able to consume them). Hence, the Onboarding folder in SFTP must be mapped to the Onboarding instance.

Initial Steps

During the Onboarding workshops, you should gather the following information or answer the following questions:

Question: How will pre-hires access the Onboarding application to take the new employee step?

Pre-hire applicants can access Onboarding in one of three ways. They can:

  1. Directly access the Onboarding application.
  2. Access Onboarding through the Onboarding employee portal. (The Onboarding employee portal is based on SharePoint technology. It the responsibility of the company to configure the employee portal.)
  3. Use the pre-day1 functionality to access Onboarding. With the pre-day1 functionality, the pre-hire needs access to the BizX. (When the pre-day1 functionality is activated in Provisioning, the system automatically generates a notification to pre-hire applicants giving them access to BizX. Then, when the pre-hire applicants access BizX, the BizX homepage displays that employee’s portlet. The pre-hire applicants then simply click the portlet icon to get access to the Onboarding application to complete their pre-day 1 activities.

The pre-day1 functionality is the go-forward solution from SuccessFactors. The pre-day1 process offers functionalities such as the Onboarding tour. On the Onboarding tour page the new hire sees a welcome message from the Hiring Manager, any meetings scheduled for the first day, other employees they should meet/get to know, and so forth. The only tricky part of the pre-day1 access process is that pre-hire applicants are required to remember two different passwords to complete their paperwork. The new-hire action is complete only when the Onboarding process is completed, and the record is created in HRIS or in Employee Central. The pre-hire needs to log into Onboarding to sign-off on the paperwork. When pre-day1 access is activated, the Onboarding system can be accessed only from BizX.

If you are interested in implementing the pre-day1access functionality, you are required to activate the Enable Pre-Day1 Experience for new hires option in Provisioning (Figure 2).

Figure 2
Select the Enable Pre-Day1 Experience for new hires check box

Question: Is the company planning to implement the hiring manager’s checklist? (The hiring manager’s activities are based on the metadata framework.)

If the company is planning to implement the hiring manager activities, keep in mind the following points.

  • The hiring manager’s activities can be completed only by the hiring manager and cannot be assigned to any other roles.
  • You can use the hiring manager’s activities to configure the IT and Provisioning requests (if any) for the new hire.
  • The hiring manager’s activity is a useful functionality within SuccessFactors. This is part of BizX and included in the SuccessFactors Onboarding licensing cost. In the hiring manager activity functionality, you can configure a welcome message, identify the Onboarding buddy, identify people to meet, set up first-day meetings and things to do prior to day one, and prepare a checklist of tasks for the hiring manager to complete on day one. (Note: An Onboarding buddy is an experienced employee within the organization who can answer any questions a new hire might have. For example, a new hire may have questions about how to apply for a corporate credit card; in that case, they can reach out to the Onboarding buddy and understand the process. Another example is during the annual appraisal process, a new hire may not know how to use the system or how to complete their self-assessment. In this case, they can reach out to the onboarding buddy for tips and inputs.) Figure 3 shows the hiring manager checklist that the hiring manager needs to complete on the new hire’s first day.
  • Determine how many processes need to be configured. Sometimes companies like to have different processes for different employees—for example, one for full-time employees and another for contractors.

Figure 3
The hiring manager’s activities list for the new hire’s first day

Unless the company wants to have individually defined processes, you can use the Advanced Conditions option to configure two different requirements in the same process. You could design it like this:

  • Create a picklist field to identify the worker as either a full-time employee or a contractor.
  • Use the value in the Advanced Conditions field to display the required panels, forms, and fields.

Question: How many countries will be included in the rollout?

Once you’ve decided how many countries will be included in the rollout, you should use a different process for each country, even if the Onboarding process is similar in all the different countries. This will be useful during the security set-up stage.

Question: Will different languages (and translations) be supported by the Onboarding application?

If you determine that translations are in scope, decide how many and what languages will be offered.

  • Translations are done in the XML file of the respective panel.
  • You are required to translate only for custom panels. If you have customized any of the SAP panels, then you will be required to translate the customized fields.

Question: Will there be integration between SuccessFactors Recruitment Management and Onboarding?

If the answer is yes, you need to identify the fields that need to be integrated. There are some fields that might require customization either on the Recruitment Management or the Onboarding side, so that the data from Recruitment Management correctly syncs with the fields in Onboarding. One example where this could be required is the phone number field. In the Candidate Profile in Recruitment Management, the candidate’s phone number is collected in one field (e.g., the area code and phone number are entered in one field). In Onboarding, the phone number field is split into two—one for the area code and a second field for the phone number. Hence, when the data syncs from Recruitment Management to Onboarding, the area code in Onboarding is left blank, and the Phone Number field in Onboarding captures a truncated phone number. In Onboarding, the phone number is collected as part of the pre-hire physical contacts details. This is in the Physical Address panel. For the US rollout, this panel is not available for customization. Hence, you are required to make the changes in the Recruitment Management system. In Recruitment Management, you can change the phone number fields to AC (area code) and Phone Number and map them to their respective fields in Onboarding.

Question: Will there be integration between Employee Central and Onboarding?

If you decide yes, identify which fields need to be integrated.

If the fields that need to be mapped between Recruitment Management and Onboarding or between Employee Central and Onboarding are picklist fields, make the fields in Onboarding HCM picklist fields as well. This is because HCM picklist fields use the same picklists that are used in Recruitment Management and Employee Central. (Currently only legacy picklists are supported. If the Employee Central field uses a metadata-framework-based picklist, then it is not supported.)

How to Configure an Onboarding Process

First you have to enable the Onboarding process, as shown in Figure 4. You can enable any listed process by clicking the Enable button on the right (the default is Disable — if the process button says Disable, it is enabled, as reflected by the Status column). This is a SuccessFactors-delivered process, which provides a three-step process for onboarding a new hire: the PostHire Verification Step (step 1), the New Employee Step (step 2), and the Human Resources or Orientation Step (step 3).


Figure 4
Processes in SuccessFactors Onboarding

Step 1. PostHire Verification Step: In this step the recruiter or the hiring manager creates the record of the new hire to be onboarded.

Step 2. New Employee Step: In this step, the new hire logs into the SuccessFactors Onboarding application to fill in personal details (such as home address and Social Security number) and to e-sign the required paperwork.

Step 3. Human Resources Step (orientation): In this step, on the first day the HR representative and the new hire verify the employee’s details, validate the paperwork, and e-sign any paperwork that requires each other’s presence. (There might be instances in which the company would not need step three, the orientation step. For example, in a multi-country rollout you might have a business scenario in which one country requires all three steps, and other countries require just steps one and two.)

You can rename any process step. In Onboarding SuperAdmin, click the process step you want to rename (Figure 4). This opens a pop-up window where you can rename the label in the Title field (Figure 5). In the example in the figure, the PostHire Verification step is assigned to the manager to be approved. If you want to change the name of this step—for example, to Orientation Step for Employee—enter Orientation Step for Employee in the Title field. Then click the Update button to save your new process name.

Figure 5
Rename a process step

As part of the procedure for creating a new process step name, you may want to add conditions to be displayed in an Onboarding panel. Although you cannot add conditions to panels in SuccessFactors, you can copy some panels and customize their conditions. Any panel that has SAP_ or _SAP_ in the name can be copied as a custom panel and conditions can be added to them (Figure 6). Federal-related panels cannot be modified and conditions cannot be added to them. (Federal panels are US-specific and are used for US processes only.)

Figure 6
Snapshots of panels in the Human Resources (orientation) Step

How to Create a New Process

The next step is to create a new process. In this example, I am using the three process steps mentioned previously (the PostHire Verification step, the New Employee step, and the Orientation step) as my examples.

Step 1.  The PostHire Verification Step

In SuperAdmin, click the Processes option. In the displayed page, click the individual steps (Step 1, Step 2, and Step 3) displayed in the Onboarding Process Description (Figure 7).

Figure 7
Click the step names to see (and note) their details

This action opens the screen shown in Figure 8.

Figure 8
Create a new Onboarding process

As you click each step and the details screen for that respective step opens, you can make note of the entries, which you need later. After making note of the details, click Processes at the top of the screen in Figure 8. This takes you back to Figure 7, where you click the Add Process option to create a new customer process. Enter the details that you made note of earlier (from the screen in Figure 8), click the Create button, and a new process is created.

(To differentiate the new process from the delivered process, name the new process Onboarding for <Onboarding_CountryName>.)

The new process is now displayed in the processes screen in Figure 4. Next, click the newly created process to add steps 1 and 2, and, if required step 3.

Step 2. The New Employee Step

In this scenario for creating a new process for step 2, let’s assume that the country (other than in the US) where Onboarding is being rolled out does not need all the panels available in step 1 (the New Employee Step). Since the Federal panels are not required to be displayed and conditions cannot be added to a Federal panel, you need to create a new wizard to customize step 2 that includes only the required panels.

(You create a new wizard in the Onboarding instance.)

Figure 9 shows Process Step 2 (the New Employee Step) that uses the delivered NewEmployee wizard. In this example, for Canada, the Federal panels are very US-centric; therefore, those panels should not be displayed. In this example, select an existing _SAP_ or SAP_ panel in Figure 4 and double-click it to open the wizard pop-up (Figure 9).

Figure 9
New employee with a new wizard for the newly created process

In the screen that opens, customize the wizard to reflect the Canadian requirement. (For example, the SSN — Social Security number — field should be labelled SIN for Canada). Enter the new wizard name (NewEmployeeStepCanada), in the Wizard field to create a new Process Step 2, and then click the Update button. Once done, a new wizard is created in the Onboarding instance to execute the New Employee Step (Process Step 2) for Canada (Figure 10). 

Figure 10
In the delivered process, the new employee step uses the wizard NewEmployee

In the Onboarding instance (Figure 11), click Settings in the top menu, and then select Panels in the displayed sub-menu. Then, in the left, expand the All Wizards option. The list that opens underneath shows all the wizards that are currently in the Onboarding instance. To create a custom wizard for the New Employee Step (for example, for Mexico), select the NewEmployee wizard option. This expands the screen on the right, with a display of all the panels present in the wizard. Click the Copy Wizard option (at the top) and the pop-up screen in Figure 12 opens. Here you can provide a meaningful name to the new wizard, and click the Copy button to create and save the new wizard.

Figure 11
Create a new wizard

Figure 12
Give a meaningful name to the new wizard

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Venki Krishnamoorthy

Venki Krishnamoorthy is an author, speaker, and SAP ERP HCM talent management solutions subject-matter expert. He is currently an independent SAP ERP HCM functional consultant. Venki has over 10 years of experience as a functional lead, project manager, and program manager in the HCM space. Besides implementing SAP HCM solutions, he has implemented and acted as a trusted advisor on SAP ERP HCM talent management implementations, including E-Recruiting, HCM Performance Management, Succession Planning, SAP Talent Visualization by Nakisa, Learning Solutions, and Employee Self-Service and Manager Self-Services.

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