Q and A


Q&A on troubleshooting payroll audits & process models with Mike Timm (transcript)

by Amy Thistle

I recently moderated a live Q&A on Insider Learning Network with Mike Timm of Integrated Consulting Group. Mike is a speaker at our HR 2012 event, and gave a session on “An Up-to-Date Guide to Troubleshooting the Payroll Process If and When You Encounter an Error.”

During the HR Forum’s one-hour Q&A on April 17, Mike took questions on payroll errors and best practices for auditing payroll results. For more on SAP payroll, I also invite you to our upcoming HR 2012 Europe conference in Milan, June 6-8.

To follow the discussion, review the transcript here, or view the entire Q&A in the HR Forum.

Amy Thistle: Welcome to today’s HR Forum! 

In this one-hour Forum, we invite you to ask HCM expert Mike Timm your questions about preventing and fixing payroll problems

Mike Timm is a managing partner at Integrated Consulting Group, an SAP HCM payroll expert, and a longstanding speaker at our annual SAPinsider conference. You may have seen him last month at our HR 2012 conference in Las Vegas -where he gave a great session on this topic - or listened to his recent podcast.
Today, Mike will be taking your specific payroll questions here in the HR Forum for the next hour.
 Thanks for joining us today, Mike!

Mike Timm: Thank you.  I see many questions already posted and will get started with the Q&A.  Thank you all for joining.

Kir Chern: Hello Mike, 

I have 2 questions:
1. What is your recommendation to minimize the tedious process to do regression testing every time when support packages are applied especially when there are modified/custom sub-schema, functions etc.?

2. What is the best practice to keep the up with the support packages that impact localized payroll at the same time trying to minimize the impact of the other HCM/FI modules belonging to different system owners who are not keen to upgrade because of the work to re-test?

Thank you.

Kir Chern

Mike Timm: I’ve been around a wide variety of testing methods by companies.  Some very basic with little testing to others that spend significant resourcing.  I like to find the middle road for efficiency and cost reasons when possible.  Having Basis copy back production to a test system right after a production payroll is processed, but prior to posting to accounting, third party, etc. works well.  This allows you to run a payroll simulation for the same period in QA and compare easily by looking for /56n wage types.

SAP moved to CLC’s (country legal changes) and made things much easier for scheduling and testing.  Typically, you can wait until mid-summer to get the HR Support Pack necessary to install the CLC later in the year.  The bulk of impact to HR and other areas is with the HRSP and mid to late summer doesn’t typically impact the other areas as much.  When the CLC is released in October/November, most of the impact is on payroll so less is needed from the other areas.

My preference is to put in the mid-summer HRSP, CLC, and then put in HRSPs again around March.  We keep up with HRSPs without impacting the other areas as much with this schedule.

DarcyCogdell: Hello Mike:

Regarding configuration of payroll calendars,

1. how far into the future should calendars be generated?

2. is it correct that the "current" calendar year payroll calendar should not be re-generated?

3. is there a correct time of year to create and change payroll calendars?

4. if the settings of payment models change, is re-generation of payroll calendars required?

5. do you have tips and tricks in this regard?

Kind regards,

Darcy Cogdell

Mike Timm: I typically generated calendars through 2020.  I’d like to say there is a specific reason, but it is just a nice round number.  You always want to be at least a year or two out in production, but in your QA system it is nice to be out several years.

Correct is probably not the term I would use.  You need to be extremely careful that you get all the settings during regeneration set perfectly so you don’t have period date changes that could cause you considerable problems.

I like to review the upcoming payroll calendar during HR Support Pack or CLC installation towards year end.  Typically, HR is readying the company calendar at that time so payroll can be in sync.

Regeneration of payroll calendars is not required.  When you change the payment models, you are basing it on the existing payroll calendar.  As long as you are comfortable with the payroll calendar you should have no issues.

I like to have the business review the payroll calendar and compare it against the upcoming year holiday schedule.  If regeneration is necessary we can take that step, but I’ve found more often that only a few tweaks directly in the table are necessary.  An example would be a check date falling on 7/4 would be changed to 7/3.

Rémi C. Corriveau: Hello Mike,

I would add a word of caution about generating the Calendars too far ahead.  If the procedure is not well documented and there is employee turnover, external consultants could be required when they end.  I would recommend to go through the process at least every second year (we go through it every year).

Mike: I agree and request the business look at the payroll calendar each fall when HRSPs or CLCs are installed.

Rémi C. Corriveau:  In December, the Payroll Calendars for the following year have already been generated one year ago but may require last minute changes.  That is also the time we try to generate the Payroll Calendars for the second year in the future.

As for Time Evaluation, we generate the Work Schedules at least 4 or 5 years into the future so that long term absences could be entered with accurate absence count and Quota deductions.

DarcyCogdell: Hi Mike,

Regarding infotype 0014 and 0015 and overtime premium pay:

We are required to ration across regular rate hours, non-discretionary bonus earnings which are processed using infotype 0014 and 0015 for the purpose of calculating overtime premium pay. Other than ABAP code, what would you recommend?

Thank you,

Darcy Cogdell

Mike Timm: I’m going to make the assumption that ration across means the regular hours are assigned cost elements (cost center, wbs, order) and an employee could have several cost elements during a given period.  You could process the logic through payroll rules that look for specific wage types in IT0014/0015 and then split apart the amounts based on the cost center splits.  I recently did something similar to this and it was tedious, but it is simple to follow through the payroll log if someone has a question.  You'll get to test your payroll rule abilities, which does make it fun.

The other option is to use a custom operation/function to perform the same logic.  The issue here is that it is more of a black hole because you can see what goes in and what comes out, but what is going on within the ABAP code may require a technical person to review.

DarcyCogdell: To be more specific, we are required to apportion the additional pay (IT0014 and 0015) against all work weeks that may result from the (function RGRTE) regular rate / overtime calculations when positive time entry occurs via CATS DB. In other words, an employee may transfer in the middle of the 1st week of a biweekly payroll, from an 80 hours work week, to two 40 hour work weeks.

There results 3 work weeks in the pay period rather than 1 or 2 (for which the math is simple), and depending on the day of the week, the portion per work week of the bonus will vary. This detail is needed to properly calculate bonus periodicity. It would be great to apply the bonus to the ZL.  Suggestions?

Rémi C. Corriveau: Hello Darcy,

If Time Eval can send the "Hours" information to Payroll through table ZL, than it should be possible to calculate the premiums through Payroll Personnel Calculation Rules.


Mike Timm: Time evaluation may be able to create a statistical type wage type that can help with the calculation in payroll.

I recently worked with a company that provides guaranteed payments to an employee whether they worked their normal week or not.  To get everything to work properly, we have time evaluation generating a statistical wage type that is then used in payroll as an indicator for calculation of the guaranteed payment.

DarcyCogdell: You are describing the direction we are heading. Thanks for the affirmation.

Ella: How do you handle late master data changes after payroll processed but not yet completed? Do you use PU01 to delete the results and reprocess? Are there other options?

Mike Timm: If you have processed payroll and have results, but have not posted to accounting, ran pre.dme, etc, you can just rerun the payroll and it will overwrite the results.  If you've run pre.dme or posting to accounting you'll need to undo those steps, but using pu01 shouldn't be necessary.

DarcyCogdell: Hi Mike,

Regarding staying informed and up-to-date with SAP improvements:

It seems that those attending the entry level classes, provided by SAP, learn of new solutions. What is the best way to keep up with new functionality and new solutions rolled out by SAP when not at the entry level?

Thank you,

Darcy Cogdell

Mike Timm: If you have the opportunity to attend the annual HR conference you'll have a wide variety of topics and informational levels.  If you've done some classes, I think you'll find more bang for your buck with the conference.  SAP has a large presence and have sessions specific to new functionality in the pipeline.  You'll even get hints towards things still not released to the general public.

Attending local ASUG is also useful because you'll be discussing topics with others that are in the trenches as well.

DarcyCogdell: Thank you so much. This forum has been very helpful and encouraging. Be safe and have glorious days.

Mike Timm: No problem, I've enjoyed the questions.  Please don't hesitate to contact me if more comes up in the future.

DarcyCogdell: Count on it Mike. I look forward to our discussions.

HanneNickelsen: Hi Mike.

If we run global payroll for different countries in the same system what would your recommendation be for setting up the bank keys for a new country or when upgrading with new support packages:

1. adding keys to transport and sending the transports to the productive system

2. transfer keys into each system (Developer->Quality->Production)

3. Or would it depend on differences from country to country?

Thanks in advance.


Mike Timm: I'd discuss the bank keys with FICO on how they want to handle since you are in their territory.  Option two of transferring the keys to each system is what I've seen done most.  Transports could cause delays depending your process of moving them to each system.

JayCrowley: Hi Mike, long time no see, old friend.

I see the forum topics included process models. This is something we’ve wanted to implement for some time. Currently our post-processing activities on all off-cycles are done manually. Any tips on getting such a project started? Anything that’s caused issues for customers post go-live?

Mike Timm: Glad you joined the chat Jay.

Implementing process models for off-cycles is a great place to start.  Once you see how they streamline the process, eliminates missed steps, and makes it easy to identify issues that may arise, you'll want to put in a regular payroll process model as well.

Documenting the current process will be very important.  You can mimic that process in the payroll model.  Automation of the posting, check printing, and reports can all be done.

Process models are fairly straight forward once they are up and running, but sometimes issues do arise.  You have to consider where something fails.  

An example is posting to accounting: The process model generates an incorrect document and the next step attempts to release that document.  The node that errors is the release document, but you actually need to restart the document generation node.

DarcyCogdell: Hi Mike,

Regarding wage types, rule writing, use of functions and operations:

How would you recommend we store configuration history of wage types, rules, functions and operations, that is searchable?

Thank you,

Darcy Cogdell

Mike Timm: Documentation is something I find very important.  Someone in the future is going to want to understand the thinking behind why something was done the way it was.  Microsoft SharePoint is probably what I've seen used most, but it has limitations.  SAP Solution Manager can be pretty good, but most people I've talked with find it cumbersome.  I haven't found the silver bullet yet.

DarcyCogdell: We are using solution manager and in conjunction are researching a search engine (TREX?). I have hopes here. We are also working with a product called UPerform and here I am testing search-ability as well.

JayCrowley: And one more question - have you ever seen a way to mass process on-demand regular payments? Such as if a facility is closing and you need to process final checks to several hundred workers prior to normal payroll processing. Mass processing is possible with bonuses and adjustment runs of course, but I haven't seen a way to do this on-demand regular payments, outside of processing via OCWB one employee at a time. Or releasing your entire payroll period early.

Mike Timm: It depends on how your payroll areas line up with the facility.  If you have a payroll area for that facility you could update the check and posting date configuration and then run it like a normal payroll.

I'd have to play around for a bit to see how you could go about closing a facility that is only a piece of a larger payroll area.

Vijay Jadhav: Hello Mike,

1. I have question on Payroll reversals. I reversed payroll which was already posted to GL using offcycle workbench. The system did not generate any posting document for this new payroll. How do the new payroll amounts gets posted to GL side and how do original amounts gets reversed?

2. If we void a check and reissue as new check, does anything get posted to GL side?

3. In case of void checks in which table the link between replaced check and replacement check is stored. e.g if i void check no. 10 and reissue check no 15. How can find link between check no 10 and 15?

Mike Timm: If you haven't implemented Posting of Payments, you should start there because it will generate the postings for item 1 and 2.

There are tables that will provide you the link between the voided check and the reissued check, but I can't remember off the top of my head.  I'll look after this session and post here.

Mike Timm: The table that links the original and the replacement check is PAYR.

MarilynWoods: We do not have FICO implemented.  We have been told that reversals won't post because the original payment was processed along with all other payments, so we can't reverse the payment in FI because it was part of the single posting document.  Does that make sense?

Mike Timm: I have to ask questions:

1. Are you using ALE (application link enabling) for Posting to Accounting?

2. Are you using Posting of Payments? <- this="" runs="" very="" similar="" to="" posting="" accounting="" but="" handles="" the="" payment="" portion="" p="">

Posting to accounting will debit/credit a payable account

Posting of payments will reverse the payable account posting and hit an expense account

MarilynWoods: (I had to ask our support person)

We are not using ALE.  We use posting of payments using Z version of RFFOUS_C and RFFOUS_T so that it goes on to the server and not to FI.

Mike Timm: Since you are using a Z version, we'd have to have a very detailed discussion of how it is working to see if there is a method to utilize the standard SAP functionality to help with the reveral postings.

DarcyCogdell: Hi Mike, Regarding the payroll log:

Is there a way to download and save a fully expanded payroll log for one employee, one pay period, including input and output details?

Mike: After you run with the payroll log on you can double-click the personnel number and then hit expand all.  You'll see all the detail of the payroll log and can print.  There is a ton of detail and pages that will get generated so be careful.  I'd advise to go through the log and find specific nodes you want to print.

Rémi C. Corriveau: Once you have the expanded log on screen, you can use the following Menu option:

System > List > Save > Local File

Mike: Great point, sending it to a local file allows you to search easily and save paper.

DarcyCogdell:  I am familiar with your suggestion but the details or results of the input and output tables do not expand?

Mike Timm: After you double-click the personnel number in the log, you should get a menu similar to the screenshot shown here (click here to view)  

When I click the expand all I'm seeing input, processing, and output details of the payroll log.
DarcyCogdell: I do not have the 1st, 4th or 5th icons that you have displayed. Is this a layout setting that I can change?

Mike Timm: I've tried a couple different clients and the screen comes up the same to me.  Click here to view a quick outline of this process.

DarcyCogdell: Excellent! This worked. Thank you Amy and Mike.

Mike Timm: Thank you all for joining the chat.  I hoped you found it as fun as I did and please don't hesitate to contact me:

(866) 415-0072

(720) 984-1229


Amy Thistle: Thanks to all who posted questions and followed the discussion!

A full summary of will be available here in the HR Forum - join the HR Group for ongoing information and additional resources.

While today's Q&A is now ending, you can post your  HR questions at any time here in the HR Forum.  Just select "New thread" to post your question.

I also invite you to the upcoming HR 2012 conference in Milan, June 6-8, which includes sessionon payroll including “Best practices for efficiently handling recurring changes to your SAP ERP HCM, payroll, and time data” and a case study with Cameron Italy on digitally archiving payroll documents. 

And most importantly, thank you again to Mike Timm of Integrated Consulting Group for taking the time to answer these questions today


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