Posted by Vivian Reynecke, Sr. Consultant at Hula Partners
Changing the source of your Benefits demographic file mid-year can present challenges that if not well managed, can impact your timeline and the success of your project. Here are some lessons from a recent implementation to keep in mind as you are building integration files between SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central and BENEFITFOCUS®.
The following diagram from the SuccessFactors Employee Central and the BENEFITFOCUS® Integration Guide stresses that this blog covers only the area highlighted in red – the Demographics File. It is important to note that it does not cover the Benefit Deduction File.
Our client implemented Employee Central and wanted to move their BENEFITFOCUS® interface to run from SuccessFactors Employee Central and no longer from their old HRIS system. They chose Dell Boomi as the middleware to map information from Employee Central to BENEFITFOCUS®. For efficiency, we leveraged the available Boomi extension, so we didn’t have to build the interface from scratch; we just configured the extension.
The specifications document from BENEFITFOCUS® includes the fields that are needed for the interface and the data definitions associated with each field. There may be different requirements on the Boomi side that contradict the data definitions on the BENEFITFOCUS® side.
What you need to know
1. Field Definitions
There are 15 custom category fields defined in the interface. BENEFITFOCUS® field definitions for all custom category fields are alphanumeric. As a result, the client created the file usinq sequential custom categories with alphanumeric data. Yet the interface failed – not all fields in Boomi are alphanumeric. Custom categories 13, 14 and 15 are defined as date fields. Ensure that when mapping the Boomi fields, definitions are taken into consideration as well.
The client had both US and Canadian employees with data that needed to be sent to BENEFITFOCUS®, but the Canadian employees were not loading into BENEFITFOCUS®. The Social Security Number or SSN for US employees has a format of 999-99-9999. The Social Insurance Number or SIN for Canada has a format of 999-999-999. When importing the SIN into the SSN field, the record errors out on the BENEFITFOCUS® side. In the “Integration Guide” listed below as Reference #1, it clearly states: “This integration only works for country US since BENEFITFOCUS® does not support other countries yet”.
3. Field Values
Make sure that the values defined in Employee Central correspond to the values defined in BENEFITFOCUS®. If they don’t, make sure that you have a plan in place to align or map the values. This could mean that you need to do one of the following (keep in mind that not all options are relevant to all tables):
a) Align table entries between Employee Central and BENEFITFOCUS®.
b) Where existing, do the mapping in the tables provided by Boomi (e.g. EEOC – use cross-reference table ECBF-BENEFITFOCUS EEO Categories. This is an extension table in Boomi and must be completed by the client based on the picklist and BENEFITFOCUS® values).
c) Have BENEFITFOCUS® do the mapping on their side. This could require additional implementation fees and extension of the timeline.
d) Open a ticket with SAP if the entries you need are required for legal reasons, but the table in Boomi does not accept the changes.
4. Project Team
The task is simple – implement the integration between SuccessFactors Employee Central and BENEFITFOCUS®. To demonstrate the potential complexity that can be added to this project, I have drawn a team chart:
a) Working with offshore resources is great if you have a lot of time on your hands. If you are at a crunch for time, you need access to resources that can turn your request around in hours and not days. One small change can take up to 48-hours if you are using offshore resources that are not working your project’s hours. You can turn this into a positive if you have corresponding local resources that know exactly what the offshore team is doing and can provide around-the-clock coverage. This requires constant communication between the teams and a hand-over meeting at the beginning and end of each “shift”.
b) BENEFITFOCUS® uses a third-party company to serve as the middleman between the consulting company and BENEFITFOCUS® – no direct communication. This adds an additional team member, who may not necessarily have answers to your questions and will need to go back to BENEFITFOCUS®. Again, this takes time that you potentially don’t have. The benefit of the third party is that they work with BENEFITFOCUS® on a regular basis and have direct access to people that can answer questions faster than you going-it-alone. Set the ground rules at the beginning of the project to make sure everyone knows what an acceptable timeframe is to get questions answered – no matter where they fit into the diagram above.
c) Having a direct line between the client and BENEFITFOCUS® could be beneficial but it could also mean that either party can assume that their decisions have been communicated to the consulting team and the third-party company when they have not. This can be avoided by stressing the importance of a representative from all parties being in attendance when the client meets with BENEFITFOCUS® directly.
5. Ongoing Support
Ongoing support for the benefits integration is necessary. Ensure that the resource has the right skills & knowledge in place to support this interface; it may be different from the support of the legacy HRIS. A resource does not have to be hired; support can be from resources supporting other Employee Central interfaces, or it can be as easy as having a pay-as-you-go support contract in place so that when you need help, you have the means to get it. It will be as simple as opening a ticket and you have a team of experienced consultants ready to assist you.
Make sure that you read the Implementation Guides for both parties involved in the integration and identify and address any discrepancies before you start work on the interface(s). This will reduce your risks and ensure that you complete the project on time, on budget, and with no surprises.
Remember, adding additional resources to a project does not always mean that you are going to complete it faster. It can add complexity that could prolong the project.
Have a plan in place to support the Employee Central and BENEFITFOCUS® integration once it goes live.
If you want to follow up or have any questions, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.