SAP SuccessFactors HR data catalog: your main tool to exercise Data Governance and improve Data Quality

Many years ago, when I was still working as an HR specialist for Reporting & Analytics, our team was asked to build a Recruiting Dashboard for the head of Talent Acquisition. One of the things the management wanted to report on is ‘Source of Hire’. I said to myself, oh that’s easy – I can pull that up quickly. But then, as I was looking into our Recruiting System, I found that we have 3 different ‘Source of Hire’ data fields in the system, each with different but also overlapping sets of values. To confirm which is the correct data field to use, I consulted my colleagues from the Recruiting team to understand the definition and process relevance of each ‘Source of Hire’ data field, only to get different answers from each person I asked. It turned out that the Recruiting team has a different understanding of each ‘Source of Hire’ data field and therefore has been using it in different ways and purposes. It was the same scenario with many other data we needed for the dashboard. It was almost an impossible task to build the dashboard without a lot of manual work and data clean-up.

Does this sound familiar? How often does this happen in our HR organizations? Too often. Everyone in HR has different levels of knowledge about each HR data that we store in our systems. And there is no one person in the organization who knows everything about all HR data being used. How do we ensure that everyone is using the data in our HR systems correctly, based on processes and guidelines? How then, do we safeguard the quality of our data when there is no one single source of truth about all our HR data? The answer is – without an HR Data Catalog, we can’t.

An HR data catalog, which is a form of metadata, contains all relevant information about an organization’s HR data. It typically includes technical information such as element grouping and data elements, data field details, origin of data and dependencies, and in some cases even interface assignment. Aside from this, business information like data field business definition, translations, geographical use, data privacy and retention information and process relevance are also documented in the HR data catalog.

Nowadays, when SAP SuccessFactors customers come to us with challenges around their data quality, the first thing I ask is – ‘Do you have documentation for all your HR data, something like an HR data catalog or a data dictionary?’. The answer 95% of the time is: ‘No, but it would really be good to have one’. The DAMA (Global Data Management Community) Book of Knowledge (DMBok) confirms that organizations that do not manage their data well, generally do not manage metadata at all. So yes, it is more than just good to have an HR data catalog – it is critical, in order to manage your HR data as an asset.

I think we can all agree on the benefits of an HR data catalog. It acts as a reliable reference regarding the business definition, data mapping, as well as process relevance for HR data. It also improves communication between technical and business system users, and also helps ensure regulatory compliance. There is a lot of value in managing an HR data catalog which can act as a central documentation of all information about the data we use in HR.

The big question, therefore, is ‘If it is so important and beneficial, why is it that many HR organizations do not have one?’. There are two very common reasons:

1.) the task of building an HR data catalog from scratch is too daunting, and most HR organizations don’t even know where to start;

2.) most HR organizations don’t know how to effectively manage an HR data catalog.

We are excited to announce the launch of ‘Expert guidance service for SAP SuccessFactors HR data catalog’ in the SAP Store! Our new service is designed to address the needs of HR Data Governance Officers, HR Data Management teams, HR Reporting Leads, Data Protection Officers, and anyone who is involved in the management of HR data.

The ‘Expert guidance service for SAP SuccessFactors HR data catalog’ provides customers a basic HR data catalog in XLS format, encompassing standard data elements and sample data fields for SAP SuccessFactors modules. This initial framework serves as a foundation for the customer to develop their HR data catalog (HR metadata) and can be customized to align with their specific organizational requirements. To assist the customer in managing and enhancing their HR data catalog according to their organization-specific needs, SAP will also conduct one or two remote expert sessions, totaling 4 hours. During these sessions, an HR Data Architect from SAP will engage in informative discussions with the customer, covering the following topics:

  • The significance of the HR data catalog to increase data quality
  • The benefits and applications of the HR data catalog during and after the SAP SuccessFactors implementation project
  • The key milestones and evolution of the HR data catalog throughout the SAP SuccessFactors implementation journey
  • Ownership and maintenance considerations for the HR data catalog
  • The opportunity to share additional HR data catalog samples from other customers

These expert sessions aim to empower the customer with valuable insights and guidance to effectively manage and optimize their HR data catalog.

The HR data catalog is an important tool to exercise data governance and improve overall data quality. So when does it make sense to start building your HR data catalog? The answer is NOW. Visit the SAP Store!


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