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Automating Employee Onboarding Processes

Business-to-Employee Scenario: Extending the SAP SuccessFactors solution using SAP Cloud Platform Integration, workflow service and business rules service for smooth employee onboarding

This blueprint provides common information, guidance, and direction for employers to extend SAP SuccessFactors with SAP Cloud Platform Integration services – such as Workflow, Business Rules and Integration services – to improve the communication and engagement between a company and its employees. Through a real customer business scenario, this guide describes a common business challenge and the proven solution the SAP Cloud Platform could provide. It includes the benefits of the solution, the main SAP Cloud Platform components for licensing considerations, and a visual architecture depicting a basic architectural pattern.

Business Scenario

Human resources are still the biggest assets in many industries. Many organizations invest significantly on recruiting the best talent and subsequently on employee onboarding. Therefore, proper resource utilization becomes imperative for any company’s success. However, employee onboarding varies across industries and countries and it takes days – or even weeks – for a new employee to become productive. Effectively incorporating new employees can be a challenging task for a company. New hires, on the other hand, have their own set of challenges of having to understand and familiarize themselves with the cultures, context and goals of the new organization. They may thus find it easy, once hired, to get some tasks contextually automated to help them perform their duties better and to avoid confusions.

Example of how employee onboarding varies slightly across industries:

Industry Employee Onboarding
High Tech New employees will need new IT equipment, phone and desk setup ready on the day they join to avoid confusion
Engineering, Construction and Operations
New employees must get their uniforms, head gear and other necessary safety apparels when they join, else it could take several days before they start working in field
Travel and Transportation
New hires may have to attend mandatory induction program abroad as part of induction. Hence if flight and hotels are not booked in time be booked to avoid additional costs
Doctors / nurses who are new hires in hospitals will require their medical equipment and and other office accessories like desk clock, radio, telephone, headset etc.

High Tech Industry Example

A hiring manager at a high tech company is expanding his team and is hiring several people. If no proper channel is defined, the new employee sometimes get confused in the new working environment, which leads to unproductive working hours. If a new employee on his first day doesn’t have the required IT equipment to start, he may become frustrated and will not get productive as fast as one would like. Also, the IT equipment assignment could vary as per employee role and you want to avoid incorrectly assigned (or purchased) equipment. If the manager has limited visibility into hiring, equipment process and the next steps, it is difficult for him to intervene if required. However, the manager typically cannot change the process in the standard HR system. 


Automating some of these industry specific onboarding processes will help the manager reduce confusion and to increase productivity. A new hire can be assigned a buddy with similar role. As soon as a buddy is assigned, an automated process identifies the IT equipment according to the new hire’s role and informs the buddy. The buddy can check the preselected IT equipment, its expected date, requested location, price etc., which is automatically sent for manager’s approval. On manager’s approval, a purchase requisition for the equipment can be placed with a procurement solution. Similarly, a service ticket can be triggered for a telephone and desk setup. The manager gets a separate task to accept the workplace for new hire. This way the infrastructure is all setup before the new hire’s start date. The manager will also be able to monitor the onboarding process end to end. Thus, his pain points are addressed. 

Solution Benefits

Automating some of the industry specific employee onboarding steps can help avoid confusion and increase productivity for the company:

Industry Benefits
High Tech The adjusted process foresees the assignment of a “buddy” to the new hire who takes over the tasks of making sure all required equipment and assets are in place for the new hire on his first day. The adjusted process makes sure that the right equipment is ordered and assigned based on the role of the new hire.
Engineering, Construction and Operations
The adjusted process makes sure that a senior member from the company is assigned as a mentor to the new hires. This mentor takes care of communicating all required “welcome” information to new employees and sees to it that all new hires get their uniforms, head gear and other necessary safety apparels immediately.
Travel and Transportation An automated process of flight and hotel booking for the new employee for mandatory training abroad might help save from early bookings. A process to book flight and hotel can be triggered in the travel and hotel booking system for the company
The adjusted process includes a “mentor” for new hires. Once doctors / nurses are assigned their hospital, this mentor can help in getting the required medical equipment like stethoscope, thermometer, etc., and the office equipment (clock, radio, telephone headset etc) in place.

The next section describes how organizations can leverage the SAP Cloud Platform and its integration services for employee onboarding with less confusion and delays.

Solution Diagrams

SAP Cloud Platform is the extension platform for SAP. It enables developers to develop loosely coupled extension applications securely, thus implementing additional workflows or modules on top of the existing solution they already have.

SAP Cloud Platform supports scenarios for consumers (B2C), for partners (B2B), and for employees (B2E). The solution provided in this blueprint is part of a company B2E scenario. It’s important to mention this because it will define certain aspects of the architecture.

Being a B2E extension application means that:

  • A standard HR onboarding process is in place. A buddy assignment to new employee is part of the standard process. An extended automated process flow allows buddy to confirm the chosen equipment, trigger for manager approvals and raise automatic service request for the equipment list and desk setup. Once every equipment/telephone/system is available, buddy can finally accept the workplace setup and confirm to end the process flow. This way the manager properly utilizes new resource within less time. New hires also don’t have struggle in the initial days in the company.
  • All tasks for a manager/buddy and confirmation/approval/rejection decision making abilities are bundled and provided a set of intuitive and easy to use User Interface. The UI allows the managers and co-workers to quickly and efficiently process new-hire related workflow tasks based on the defined decision options, which are accessible on a phone, tablet and desktop
  • Also, it is easy to setup decisions for choosing equipment’s for employees considering the available inventory and profile of the new hire, their department or position and allows easy setup of future business decision for various other solutions.

Reference Solution Diagram

The following diagram of the solution illustrates a basic architectural pattern for extending a Cloud Solutions like SAP SuccessFactors, to improve employee onboarding using the SAP Cloud Platform Workflow and Business Rules services:

Reference Solution Components 

The following list describes the main components needed to implement this scenario and the role they play in the overall solution: 

User Network

End user Desktop Browser – The manager or buddy uses a browser to log on to Fiori My Inbox.

SAP Cloud Platform on Cloud Network

Portal service, SAP Fiori lauchpad, My Inbox App – With this transactional app, you can make important decisions via mobile or desktop devices anywhere and anytime. Using this app, users can process the standard and custom workflow tasks based on the decision options defined. In this solution, this provides the assigned buddy and manager to see the tasks that needs confirmation or approval of equipment’s, desk setup etc.

SAP Cloud Platform Workflow service – This service allows to build, run and manage workflows, from simple approvals to end-to-end processes that span across different organizations and applications. An extension workflow enriches a core process running in a cloud application, like employee onboarding in SAP SuccessFactors, with industry specific best practices. In this solution, the entire onboarding extension workflow process steps are built here. Steps to get the buddy information, call to determine equipment’s, sending the equipment list to buddy for confirmation, sending it for approval to the manager, creating request for purchase requisition etc.

SAP Cloud Platform Business Rules service – This service helps automate decision making easy. It helps encapsulate business logic from application logic, enabling business and key users to change the decision logic without re-writing the application. Here decision is required to enrich the context of the extension workflow. For the new, employee onboarding workflow, the assets like mobile phone and IT equipment to be assigned to a new employee is determined by the company business policy at that period. This decision logic is represented by a business rule of decision table type and is triggered from a workflow service task.

SAP Cloud Platform Integration service – SAP Cloud Platform Integration service facilitates the integration of business processes in cloud and is used to seamlessly connect a cloud application to another cloud or an on-premise solution from SAP and other vendors. Here, this is used to facilitate the call from SAP SuccessFactors intelligent services to SAP Cloud Platform workflow service. It is also used to place an equipment procurement request on SAP S/4 HANA.

SAP SuccessFactors on Cloud Network

SAP SuccessFactors Intelligent Services – is a set of capabilities in SAP SuccessFactors HCM suite, that intelligently triggers cascading calls on a change event in the system. In this solution, this is the trigger point from SuccessFactors that indirectly calls the workflow service to carry out extended onboarding process steps, as soon there is a new hire datasetup.

Corporate Network

SAP S/4HANA System – This is the system where purchase requisition for IT equipment’s are placed.

Cloud Connector – Enables hybrid scenarios in which cloud applications access and extend on-premise systems. It establishes secure technical connectivity between SAP Cloud Platform accounts and a protected on-premise network. In this solution, the Cloud Connector is used to connect SAP Cloud Platform Integration service to SAP S/4 HANA on-premise system.

Onboarding and IT Equipment Confirmation Process

A newly recruited employee requires a smooth onboarding in order to be well integrated to the organisation and become productive as early as possible. In SuccessFactors, the hiring manger could assign a buddy to a new hire, but that is not sufficient to complete the onboarding. An employee requires appropriate IT equipment’s, work place and manager may need to create travel request as part of the new job. These additional steps as part of onboarding can be implemented using Workflow Service as an extension process to SuccessFactors Onboarding process.

SuccessFactors Onboarding allows this IT company to assign onboarding buddies to new hires, so the new talent can start building relationships and knowledge even before their first day. In addition, the SAP Cloud Platform Workflow service and Business Rules service allow the company to identify the equipment list for a particular role.

The following diagram describes how the employee onboarding is triggered and IT equipment confirmation process.

As soon as a new employee is hired in SAP SuccessFactors,

  1. New hire event triggered. A buddy is assigned as part of the standard process.
  2. This triggers the SAP Cloud Platform extension integration configured in SAP SuccessFactors Integration center.
  3. Technically SAP Cloud Integration service takes care of the X-CSRF token and the Integration center performs the needed context mapping. The SuccessFactors Intelligent service takes the mapped context of new hire to the SAP Cloud service then triggers SAP Cloud Platform Workflow service.
  4. SAP Cloud Platform Workflow service runtime makes a call to SAP SuccessFactors system to get the new employee details and a list of potential buddies from the team he will join hire and his buddy data
  5. SAP Cloud Platform Workflow service sends details of the new hire (company location, role etc…) to SAP Cloud Platform Business Rules service to get back the equipment list for this new hire
  6. Buddy logs onto the Fiori launchpad to access his tasks in the My Inbox application.
  7. He sees he has a new task in my Inbox for him to process the equipment assignment for the new hire.
  8. The buddy’s decision to confirm or change the equipment is submitted to the workflow to be further processed.

Purchase Requisition Process

Integration with SAP S/4HANA or Business Suite provides hiring managers with step-by-step guidance on how to create an outstanding onboarding experience for a new employee.

The following diagram describes the role of the SAP Cloud Platform components in the IT equipment purchase requisition:

  1. The manager logs onto his My Inbox to check for open work items and sees the workflow item corresponding to equipment procurement request.
  2. He approves the procurement request for the equipment.
    Note: The manager can optionally reject the procurement request. In this event, the workflow return the task to the buddy to be revised.
  3. The response is sent back to SAP Cloud Platform Workflow service for further processing.
  4. The workflow process triggers a SAP Cloud Integration Flow, to pass the equipment details and process the purchase requisition to an on-premise S/4HANA system. Alternatively, Workflow could call an OData API in S4/HANA to create a purchase requisition.
  5. The communication between the Cloud and On-Premise is facilitated by the Cloud Connector.

Security Considerations

The following diagram describes how the employee onboarding process has been extended using SAP Cloud Platform leveraging the SAP Cloud Platform Workflow service, SAP Cloud Platform Business Rules Service, SAP Cloud Integration Service. The user store comes from SAP SuccessFactors and the trust has setup between SAP Cloud Platform.  The procurement process has directed to the SAP S/4HANA system via SAP Cloud Connector.

Onboarding and IT Equipment Confirmation Process

The following diagram describes how the employee onboarding and IT equipment confirmation process security flow.


The following diagram describes the role of the SAP Cloud Platform components in the IT equipment confirmation process.

The SAP SuccessFactors is the Identity Provider System.

  1. Human resources requests access to SAP SuccessFactors
  2. The Intelligent Services call to Cloud Integration via service account
  3. The Cloud Integration service triggers Workflow services via service account
  4. SAP Cloud Platform Workflow service runtime makes a call to SAP SuccessFactors system via service account to get new hire and his buddy data
  5. SAP Cloud Platform Workflow service sends new hire information to SAP Cloud Platform Business Rules service via service account to get back the equipment list for this new hire
  6. Buddy requests access to My Inbox app in Portal
  7. The request redirect to SAP SuccessFactors for authentication
  8. SAP SuccessFactors perform authentication for the request
  9. Once authenticated, the request redirect to My Inbox in Portal
  10. Portal performs authorization check.  The buddy checks the workflow items assigned to him for confirmation. He confirms the equipment for the new hire.
  11. The response is sent back to Workflow service via AppToAppSSO with SAML assertion.

Purchase Requisition Process

The following diagram describes the role of the SAP Cloud Platform components in the IT equipment purchase requisition security flow:


The following diagram describes the role of the SAP Cloud Platform components in the IT equipment confirmation process.
  1. The manager requests access to My Inbox app in Portal
  2. The request redirect to SAP SuccessFactors for authentication
  3. SAP SuccessFactors perform authentication for the request
  4. Once authenticated, the request redirects to My Inbox in Portal
  5. Portal performs authorization check. The manager logs onto his My Inbox and approves the request task for equipment
  6. The response is sent back to SAP Cloud Platform Workflow service via AppToAppSSO with SAML assertion
  7. The workflow process triggers the SAP Cloud Integration Flow via service account. Note: Direct call is possible using OData APIs.
  8. The Cloud integration sends the request for IT equipment purchase requisition on SAP S/4 HANA via service account using Cloud connector to connect
  9. The SAP S/4HANA performs authentication and authorization check for the purchase requisition
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