What’s Ahead for SAP Payroll Solutions & Processes? Q&A with SAP Experts Advisor Steve Bogner

by Steve Bogner

September 30, 2014

Steve Bogner

With all the changes coming to HR solutions for SAP customers, what will the impact be on SAP Payroll? How can you prepare now for changes in integration, implementation? 

Steve Bogner, HR Expert advisor and HCM expert, took readers' questions in a one-hour chat on SAP Payroll and what’s ahead for payroll solutions.

Steve shared some general advice on making payroll and process improvements, and took readers' questions, including:

  • Does Employee Central Payroll host the customer's existing on-premise SAP payroll in SuccessFactor's cloud? Does this require Employee Central?
  • How do you set up and integrate complex union rules in SAP Payroll?
  • Will customers moving to Employee Central Payroll next year be on HANA, and if so,will customers have to decluster its payroll as a prerequisite?
  • What are plans for simplifying SAP Payroll?

View the chat replay, below, for the full Q&A.

Live Blog Q&A with Steve Bogner on SAP Payroll

SAPinsider: HR Expert editor M.S. Hein will kick off the Q&A in just a few minutes, when Steve will join us to take your questions. Thanks to everyone who has posted a question already - and feel free to post your question at any time!

M.S. Hein: Welcome to today’s Q&A on SAP Payroll. I’m very pleased that Steve Bogner, an HR Expert advisor, has taken some time today to answer your questions, share some of his tips and experience with SAP Payroll, and take a look at where Payroll is headed.

Steve Bogner is the Managing Partner at Insight Consulting Partners.   In addition to being an HR Expert advisor and author, he also has his own blog and is a podcast host, and is a featured speaker at SAPinsider’s annual HR conferences.

Steve Bogner: Hi there! I'm glad to be here talking about SAP Payroll.

M.S. Hein: Steve, thank you so much for joining us today. I see some questions waiting for you. We’ll let you get to those now. . . .


Comment From Alex Loh

Hi Steve,  Does Employee Central Payroll merely mean hosting the customer's existing on-premise SAP payroll in SuccessFactor's cloud? Must one also be on Employee Central for that?

Steve Bogner: Yes, that is SAP's way of providing a payroll service for EmployeeCentral. It's not so much a transfer of your existing payroll - more to it than that. The integrations there are built for EC, but you could have a number of firms host an SAP instance for you if you want.


Comment From Roscoe van Muylwyk

More interested in the Time Evaluation component of SAP as it relates to payroll in the cloud. What would a manufacturing environment look like where extensive time evaluation rules exist in a unionized environment, which are then pulled into Payroll processing?

Steve Bogner: SAP Payroll in the cloud is really geared towards an Employee Central implementation, so you could rely more on their supported integration with Kronos for time evaluation. Could also probably use your own SAP Time Eval, but would want to be careful about doing that.


Comment From Eric Sauerhoefer-Thompson

With respect to the time evaluation question asked earlier, SAP indicated at SAPPHIRE that they were putting time evaluation on the roadmap for integration with EC and EC Payroll. Are there any new developments in that roadmap?

Steve Bogner: Time Eval is on the roadmap, but I take a 'prove it to me' view on things like that. I would rather not make firm plans based on a roadmap, but use it as input to my planning process. Also, some customers don't have the risk tolerance to be first/early adopters.


Comment From Alex Loh

Is it true that customers moving to Employee Central Payroll next year will be on HANA, and if so, will customers have to decluster their payroll as a prerequisite?

Steve Bogner: The current concept of 'Payroll on HANA' means you decluster the results and load them into a HANA instance, so the two activities must go together. Declustering is only for reporting; the payroll calc remains unchanged when working with the clusters.


Comment From Ife

What are the plans for simplifying SAP Payroll?

Steve Bogner: Lots of good work being done with HR Renewal and other UX improvements to simplify and update the usability. Under the covers, it's pretty much the same - SAP Payroll is complex because payroll is complex. I don't know of anything major being done to simplify the config and maintenance process.


Comment From Guest

Do you see on-prem Payroll going away?

Steve Bogner: Not for a very long time. Software is always changing, so eventually it all changes. There are thousands of on-premise SAP payroll implementations, and that won't go away in the short term.


Comment From Guest

You've talked in the past about simplifying overly complex payroll requirements to improve payroll processing. Any suggestions on good starting points for this?

Steve Bogner: Great question! Maybe someday I'll write a book on this because it's a big topic. Start by questioning the need for the existing complexity - does it make a competitive or cost difference? If not, then simplify it.

And track your issues, what caused them, and then work with those at the root of the problem to solve it for good.


Comment From Tobias Bloch

Are you seeing a big uptake of EP Payroll (what was branded before as SAP Cloud Payroll)? I know Timken is live with it, but are you seeing major movement towards that platform by other customers (be they EC/SF or traditional SAP HCM on-prem)?

Steve Bogner: The uptake on EP Payroll will track that of Employee Central, and the move towards EP is an undeniable trend. The speed of that trend will depend on a few things - functionality is one, of course.

But also, not every company is going to be willing to scrap their investment in on-premise SAP HCM for a while. Getting such projects 'above the line' in the portfolio planning process is challenging for a lot of firms.


Comment From Dave

In what scenarios would you a recommend that a company start to look at a global/centralized Payroll approach as an option?

Steve Bogner: Global payroll makes sense if/where you have a strong Global Payroll process owner. Without that, you won't make a truly global payroll in a company. First comes the business leadership, then the software. That's the recipe for most any application of this software.


Comment From fky

You mentioned Kronos, do most SAP companies with complex union rules use Kronos to set up the rules and integrate this with SAP Payroll currently?

Steve Bogner: Some do, some use other vendors and some use SAP Time Eval for it. A few I've worked with created custom solutions. Kronos is very powerful, as is SAP Time Eval. A lot of this depends on the company's IT strategy and their relationship with SAP.


Comment From Guest

Hi Steve - what is the most frequent payroll-related question you are hearing from your clients?

Steve Bogner: For the US - a lot of it is about upgrading BSI to release 10.0. It's a fair bit of work, a different UX, a new way of updating tax tables.

In general, there’s a lot about Cloud Payroll and what it means to existing on-premise or new implementations. SAP and SuccessFactors have put a lot of info out there to help clear up the questions, but I think customers are still a bit confused.


Comment From fky

Do most US companies use BSI to calculate taxes and do reporting, or do they outsource the tax calculations and reporting?

Steve Bogner: BSI is the only supported method of calculating taxes for US payroll. You can use either SAP or third parties for reporting them to the agencies. (I tend to favor third parties for this.)


Comment From Guest

What is the future of SAP Payroll?

Steve Bogner: The future of SAP Payroll is bright! It's used by thousands of customers now, and several large partners use it to provide outsourcing services. And it's the basis of Cloud Payroll. So lots of usage. Having said that, it is getting to be old software, and I really hope SAP comes out with a more modern, true-SAAS version of it in the future.


Comment From Ife

Does SAP have any plans to develop a payroll system specific to Nigeria?

Steve Bogner: I don't know - best to ask your SAP rep about that. There is a partner solution from EPI-USE on that, might be others.


M.S. Hein: Just generally, then, Steve, what do you advise to improve payroll?

Steve Bogner: There's always room for improvement! Start by getting better employee master data - even the best payroll will fail if you give it bad data. Third-party tools are good for this - Audit & Compliance Tool by Accenture for example.

Then work with both upstream and downstream systems to get to the root of issues you're having – and update interfaces and processes to correct them.


M.S. Hein: Any specific tips that you have for improving the master data? First steps or a good starting point for that data cleanup?

Steve Bogner: Don't be satisfied with just fixing issues - find the cause and eliminate it for good. This means getting out of the payroll department and working with others.

Get an experienced consultant to review your configuration and provide tips for improving it. This sort of assessment can be done reasonably quickly, and then you can stage the changes in as time & budgets allow.


Comment From Mike Timm

Steve, thanks for the insight and always great to get your thoughts.

Steve Bogner: Thanks Mike!


M.S. Hein: Steve, thanks so much for joining us today!

Steve Bogner: Thanks Margaret! If anyone has follow-up questions or comments feel free to email me at or Tweet me at @SteveBogner

M.S. Hein: And thanks everyone for joining us for today’s Q&A.

You can read more from Steve Bogner—including a series of his very practical tips for SAP Payroll—in these HR Expert articles.


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