Data Migration: Journey to the Cloud – Part 2


Posted by Jess Spaull, SAP SuccessFactors Consultant


Welcome back!  In Part 1, I covered what to consider when planning your data migration from SAP ERP HCM to SAP’s SuccessFactors Employee Central (EC).  If you missed it, you can find it here.  For my second installment in this series, I will give you a few tips for Importing Data into Employee Central, to help you along your Journey to the Cloud.

Importing Data into Employee Central



Extracting data from any source system is not always a simple process.  As mentioned in my previous blog, having the right tools can save an incredible amount of time and effort during your data migration.  There are four options available when migrating from the SAP HCM module to Employee Central, each with their own benefits that may or may not suit your business needs.

·       Infoporter Data Migration Tool : – is an SAP add-on software component for EC / ERP integrations and designed for the initial data load into EC to support a smooth replication back to ERP  HCM

·       SAP Data Services : – is SAP’s Rapid Deployment Solution (RDS) for migrating to SAP SuccessFactors

·       Third-party tools : – which are available from a number of vendors, including Accenture’s Data Comparison Manager and BackOffice Associates’ SAP Advanced Data Migration

·       Manual data migration : – can be performed many different ways, such as exporting directly from the database or building custom programs to extract data


Once you have extracted your data it will need to be transformed into a format that is ready to be loaded into EC.  Every object in EC has its own load template that can be downloaded from the system and is generated based on your system’s configuration.  These load templates are used to make mass updates and purge or overwrite existing records.  Each template is a comma-separated values (CSV) file containing two header rows – the first row has the technical name of each HRIS field and the second row has the label.  These headers must not be edited once downloaded and will need to be updated in the data model if, for example, changes to the label need to be made.  Knowing how to format the data in each template will take a few iterations to perfect, so here are a few tips to speed up the process:

·       You will probably have to create a mapping document for each EC data object.  The Data Dictionary in EC’s API center can be used to look up the attributes of any field in any object.  This is especially useful when confirming which picklist ID to use for a field.

·       Dates are key!

o   The start date value of a Foundation Object will define the date in which each object can be assigned to an employee.  Depending on the object, commonly 01/01/1900 is used here.

o   The start date value for some Employee Objects is very important.  Ensure the start-date that you provide for Job History, Personal Information and Compensation Info matches the start-date with the Employment Details of the user stored in the system.

·       Look out for leading zeros!  Missing leading zeros can be a common cause for load errors.  They usually go missing while performing pre-load validations on exported CSV data files.  For example, if user-ids are stored in EC like “00123456”, when this file is opened in Excel it will display as “123456”.  When you resave the file and go to import it in EC, you will receive a “user-id does not exist error.”  Tools such as Notepad or Notepad++ can be used to validate as they retain formatting. Importing the CSV file into Excel as Text will also work.

·       You may have fields that are configured to propagate data when a user takes action on the user interface (UI) – these fields still need to be extracted into the load template and imported into EC.  These fields will not auto populate when data is loaded via the import tool as they do on the UI.

Step 3: LOAD

Now that you have extracted and transformed your data, there are two ways to import the data in EC:

·       Import CSV files

o   This is a 2-step process where the files have to be downloaded and then imported manually via the Admin Center

·       Web service-based data transfer

o   Less manual effort involved

o   Delta data transfer is possible

Foundation Object data must be imported before any Employee Object data. Loading the import files in the correct sequence is essential.  Use the SAP Implementation handbook to guide you through the process and help with troubleshooting any load errors.  Warning: Sometimes these error messages can be a bit cryptic! You can reach out for assistance to a few places:

·       Direct to SAP Support –

o   The SAP ONE Support Launchpad can be accessed via the support tab on the right-hand side of every webpage when you log in to your SuccessFactors instance or at this URL

o   WhatsApp – SAP has rolled out an alternative communication channel if you need any additional help.  After downloading the WhatsApp application to your mobile device, enter the contact details below.

·       Fellow consultants within your network and places like SAP Community.


The process of moving all required HR data accurately to EC is an effort that must not be underestimated.  Make a plan and don’t skip any steps!

Stay tuned for part three: “Exporting Data out of Employee Central”.