SAP Metadata Framework Centre (MDF)

The Metadata Framework, or MDF as it is popularly known, is SAP SuccessFactors’ solution to build custom applications and custom objects. MDF is a UI-based configuration and extension framework that provides creation, modification, maintenance, and deletion of custom objects (called Generic Objects) within the SuccessFactors BizX suite.
 
The current way of creating Generic Objects is a multi-step process and can sometimes be cumbersome, even for a seasoned consultant. The MDF Extension Centre is the latest feature that has been released in version 1608 to simplify the process of building Generic Objects. The MDF Extension Centre can be visualised as a one-stop-shop for custom objects and picklists.
 
In my blog, I’d like to compare these two methods.
 

Old way of doing things

 
The current way of creating objects is displayed below with the following images:
 

 

 

 

 

The New way

 
Before the MDF Extension Centre can be accessed the feature needs to be turned on in Provisioning. The following images show the steps involved to active MDF:
 

 

 
The UI is pretty cool and aids in searching for existing objects or creating new ones. The objects counter on the left is a great utility for developers.
 
The MDF Extension Centre UI is neatly laid out making it user friendly.
 

 
The various properties associated with an object – fields, relationships, workflows etc. – are easily accessible from a single screen (refer image above) without having to navigate multiple screens.
 

 

 
Steps 3 and 4 are common to both methods.
 

To summarise:

 

 
The new feature has the following benefits:

  • Enhanced UI
  • Reduced number of navigation steps

 
Hopefully this information gives you a better understanding of the MDF Extension Centre. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact KALTech for all of your SuccessFactors solutions.
 
Pramod
SuccessFactors Consultant

This entry was posted on November 10th, 2016.

From HCI to HCP

If you haven’t already heard, SAP has renamed Hana Cloud Integration (HCI) to Hana Cloud Platform (HCP). So it’s a good opportunity to talk about how HCP can enhance your SuccessFactors experience.
 
One of the main advantages of cloud based software, such as SuccessFactors, is the ability to access the system anytime on any device. It is likely that SuccessFactors isn’t the only system your company is running. One common example we’ve found is that companies run a separate system for their payroll. However, the number of different systems a company runs could be vast. This creates a problem – data is now segregated, residing on different systems. Some data may even still be on your on-premises systems.
 

 
This is where HCP comes into its own. HCP is designed to communicate via API’s with both 3rd party on-premises and cloud based programs to synchronise data. It is designed to work with industry standard protocols such as SOAP and SFTP. It comes with standard API’s to allow SFSF to communicate with many major 3rd party systems.
 

Designing with HCP

 
So what if no API has been created for your 3rd party system? Luckily, HCP allows the creation of integration processes specific to your scenario. These processes can be simple (like translation from OData to JSON or Atom) or much more complex processes. Furthermore both asynchronous and synchronous processes can be created.
 

(Here we see an example of content based routing)
 
For example, we could create an export file from a 3rd party payroll system every week to define the user master data and upload that file to an SFTP server. SFSF would then poll that server at certain designated times and with mappings, it would translate the payroll fields into a format that would reflect correctly in the SFSF Foundation component. The data doesn’t have to be maintained in 2 places by the payroll team, just maintained once and updated in the secondary system. Of course, we could do it the other direction as well – Translate data from a SFSF format to a layout that could then be uploaded into the 3rd party system’s native format. This newly created process integrator could then be modified in the future to keep up with dynamic company requirements.
 

Integration is the key

 
Although data may need to be stored in different systems for different reasons, the best way to leverage the power out of a cloud system is to cross-reference as much data as possible. The first step is to determine how to bring your systems together (integrate), so that they can talk to each another seamlessly.
 

 

Cost Effectiveness

 
HCP facilitates communication between systems when cost is an issue. Not every company may be able to afford all modules of SuccessFactors. Some would prefer to use specialist software for certain modules only or they may already have functionality in place. HCP caters for these scenarios with the bonus of having all the different systems communicating with each other even if this capability isn’t within the native capability of the products.
Talk to KALTech to see how we can help integrate your systems with SuccessFactors.
 
Ben
SuccessFactors Consultant

This entry was posted on August 10th, 2016.

Extending the cloud – with SAP SuccessFactors

Extending the cloud

The world has been slowly shifting away from an on-premises mindset by migrating systems and processes to the cloud. It’s a model that allows for real-time analytics and connectivity across continents. It enables KPI’s to be analysed and action to be taken faster than before. Although initial concerns around security are slowly subsiding, a cloud based model will by nature, present a different set of challenges to an on-premises environment. For example with on-premises software it will take months or even years to prepare for a go-live event. Software updates are often slow to release and often require extensive testing to ensure compatibility is maintained. However, an advantage of on-premises software is that it will be custom tailored to suit the workflows of your company. These workflows may just be an advantage your company holds over the competition.

 
Cloud based software however utilises the modern method of faster (quarterly) release cycles with less features per cycle in general. Testing is conducted by SuccessFactors rather than an internal team and all companies run the same release. The technical resource you used to create custom processes is no longer needed for a cloud based model. The cloud model is far less flexible than many companies have been used to. The solution to this lack of flexibility is extensions. Much like plugins for software, SuccessFactors enables apps written by the community to extend the functionality and give a little more control back to the user. So, you can have your cake and eat it too.
 
Cloud vs On-Premises
(On-Premises vs Cloud)
 
Before diving deeper into extension options let me explain that a limited amount of customisation is already possible with SuccessFactors. A customised login page can be utilised (not likely to be used if sso is enabled), home page tiles can be added or changed and permissioned, urls added to the navigation bar, company logo and themes applied. All these enhance the user interface and will help incorporate the existing look and feel of your company. Below is an example of a login screen that was custom built By KALTech for a customer to unify their SuccessFactors login screen to their website.
 
Standard SuccessFactors Login Page
(Standard login page)
 
Customised SuccessFactors Login Page
(Example of a custom login page)
 
Extensions, what are they?
Extensions are essentially plugins for your SuccessFactors system. They could provide surface level changes like a change to the UI that goes beyond standard SuccessFactors configurations, or add more substantial functionality. Utilising the skills of KALTech, we can assist you with a custom solution. SAP has already provided a store for partners to publish extensions. As the popularity of SuccessFactors increases, the number of extensions will increase.
 
Extensions
(SFSF extension architecture)
 
The benefits of cloud are clear to the many companies that have made the switch. That doesn’t mean that the downsides have to be a thorn in your side. Contact KALTech today to see how SuccessFactors extensions can benefit you.
 
Ben
KALTech SuccessFactors Consultant

This entry was posted on March 10th, 2016.