SuccessFactors Position Management evaluated

Everyone working with SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central at organizations above 500 employees encounter the topic of Position Management. With the growing adoption of Intelligent Services and a tighter process integration between the different HCM modules in the suite, position management is an increasingly a hot topic. In most engagements that we at GP Strategies are occupied with, we hear the question "is position management relevant for us?" and "what do other companies do?". In short, our advice is most often:

There is significant value in structure and data integrity by using position management in SAP SuccessFactors.

Read on to understand why.
Some companies are certain & confident it is mandatory or required for them - others are more hesitant . SAP provides recommendations on how to best utilize position management, in what is called leading practices (in the SuccessFactors Customer Community search for EC Position Management Leading Practices, that will give you the materials for position management).  I guess Leading Practices is the new orange for Best Practices, which is a quite overused term these days.
Anyway, the leading practices process diagrams for position management look rather complex from an initial view; but actually Position Management is not that complicated; the diagrams and process descriptions are just quite detailed.
If you read the available recommendations from SAP in these leading practice guides, as well as the administration guides (and for implementation consultants the implementation guides) it is not the question if you should have position management but rather what elements you should enable and how.
So the situation is still that SAP specifies when position management is to be used and when not. The final call comes down to the individual consultants ability to analyze organizational processes and characteristics and provide guidance based on that.

So what is under the hood?
Organizationally, many US-based SAP customers are used to leveraging position-to-position reporting relationships, as opposed to organizational unit-based reporting relationships that are more common in Europe and APAC. Typically this makes sense as many employees tend to think about their organization based on who they and their colleagues report to. Position Management enables this to be managed in a structured manner.
Using Position Management allows your organization to adopt a more structured process of staffing, budgeting, managing, controlling - as well as achieving higher data quality
The flexibility of using either implicit position management versus a more fluid position management is a benefit, as firms with a different perspective on Position Management can use the system as needed to suit their philosophy. We at GP Strategies have come across different philosophies of Position Management, but typically we tend to see the following 2 main flavors:


  1. incumbents change positions and the positions rarely changes
  2. incumbents stay in the same position and the position changes

Companies can choose to use mass positions (multiple incumbents in one position) or limit this to one incumbent per position. Companies can freely choose which attributes should constitute a position, and which of these propagate to the employee level and which of the propagated fields are read only and which are editable. Position Management works fine with Global Assignment as well as Concurrent Employment, although you do have to consider some business rules to manage the employee lifecycle events (start of global assignment, end of global assignment). Last, but not least, it is possible to have different position types which is useful in case you manage different types of employees (e.g. part timers vs. full timers, internals vs. externals).

Key benefits
These are some of the key benefits of using Position Management:

  • Store and track position category (regular, part-time, intern, and so on), job description and related organizational entities, current incumbents and previous employee in that position.
  • Configure headcount management to suit your needs (strict position control vs. non-budget-driven process)
  • For to-be-hired positions, you can open requisitions in Recruitment, with the required position information.
  • Integrate Succession Management with positions so that the successors are planned based on the position hierarchy.
  • Makes it easier for managers to participate in new hire workflow, simply select the right position

Decision criteria

The use of Position Management should revolve around benefits and control of:

  • Size of organisation (position management is mostly used in companies with 5000 employees and higher)
  • Which other organisational structures do you have (positions are just one area of organisational structures, SuccessFactors has several more)
  • How important is data quality (specifically which attributes should reside on the position level vs. individual level)
  • How do you manage workforce planning and budgets (including the all new operational headcount planning, tied with Strategic Workforce Planning in the Workforce Analytics module)
  • How is recruitment and vacancy managed, and are you looking to manage vacancies to positions
  • Are you using position management today; why or why not; what are the benefits you believe it will bring you in SuccessFactors (note: Position Management as a term means different things across different solutions)

Key outcomes
When SuccessFactors position management is implemented and used correctly the following outcomes are likely:

  • Improved data integrity and reduction of data entry errors
  • Facilitates FTE budgeting and planning
  • Accurate tracking of vacancies and the reduction of risks within the recruitment process
  • Simplification and reduction of manual data entry during the hire process
  • Support and association with talent and learning attributes used in performance management, career and succession planning, including Job Profiles, Career Path and Competency framework
  • Improved integration capability with IT security and credentialing

To us, there is significant value in structure and data integrity by using position management in SAP SuccessFactors. The decision to use Position management always depends on a case by case evaluation. A few words of cation:

  • If you have employees holding multiple positions you also need to use concurrent employment
  • If you intend to use Global Assignment this is also affected by position management, and requires a couple of business rules to be configured
  • Positions must be permissioned through RBP and it adds extra complexity to RBP to have positions
  • If you need to manage and report on budgeted positions vs. actual headcount, position management is required (including the operational workforce planning functionality)
  • SuccessFactors delivers standard reports for managing positions and comparing with line manager hierarchy to enable effective administration
  • If you use Compensation Planner hierarchy for compensation, then this is typically still maintained separately from the Position Hierarchy although it could be linked to the position hierarchy if needed

If you would like SAP SuccessFactors Position Management advice based on a solid understanding of solution architecture backed with real life experiences, feel free to reach out to us.