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Implementing the New Payroll Control Center – a consultant's view

At last there has been modernisation of the way we run payroll in SAP with the release of HR Renewal FP3&4.  This is exciting news for those of us who work in this space.  Here is a brief summary of the steps to implement it and of my view having built a solution with it.

I have not covered “Test Payrolls” here.  I’m just concentrating on the Payroll Cockpit and Control Center in this post.

Basic Principles

The Payroll Cockpit

Provides a framework to create checks (not the American spelling of cheques, but rather validation of employee’s pay) and exception reporting for use during the payroll run. Note – these checks are not reports you download (there is not export to excel button), but rather each is a means to establish whether there is some exception that needs to be looked into.  Examples of such checks are; Net pay over a certain amount, missing master data, incorrect data, large retros etc.

These exception checks enable the business user to be guided directly to the employee(s) who need to be investigated to establish whether they are incorrect, or whether the exception is valid.  If they are incorrect then they can be corrected and re-run, if the exception is valid the user can mark it as such and it drops off the error list.

The Payroll Cockpit is accessed via URL:

http://<sap ecc server details>:<port>/sap/bc/ui5_ui5/sap/hrpy_cockpit/index.html?sap-client=010&sap...

The Payroll Control Center (Feature Pack 3 onwards)

The Payroll Control Center had some limitations in FP1/2, and the version in FP3&4 is re-vamped and far more viable for a customer to use.  If you are considering implementing a payroll control center, I recommend you jump straight to FP3 as a minimum.

There are 2 business roles catered for in the Payroll Control Center (FP3&4); The Payroll Manager (FP3), and The Payroll Administrator(s) (FP4)

The Payroll Manager accesses the PCC via URL:

https://<sap ecc server details>:<port>/sap/bc/ui5_ui5/sap/hrpy_pcc_proc_2/index.html?sap-client=010...

The Payroll Administrator(s) accesses the PCC via URL:

https://<sap ecc server details>:<port>/sap/bc/ui5_ui5/sap/hrpy_pcc_errm/index.html?sap-client=010&s...

Note – there wasn’t any SAP documentation (that I could find) telling us the payroll administrator URL when we were building the control center (unlike the cockpit and payroll manager's control center view), so we had to work it out ourselves.

However, once worked out and a process built, the solution really came together.

The Payroll Manager view

From here the payroll manager can physically run payroll, for example the process can be setup as:

  1. Release control record for payroll
  2. Run payroll driver (in parallel if required)
  3. Run Posting Simulation
  4. Run ‘Policies’ – i.e. run the checks described in the Payroll Cockpit section above
  5. Run ‘Monitoring’ – i.e. assign out the checks to the various payroll administrators for processing / actioning.  This step also allows the Payroll Manager to track what items have or have not been actioned
  6. Exit Payroll control record
  7. Run Production Posting

Each step can be re-run as necessary, i.e. once your payroll administrators have actioned their checks, you can, for example, simply select the “Run Payroll” item again and re-run pay.The most exciting part of the toolset (to me at least) isn’t actually that you can physically run RPCALCX0 from a UI5 browser, it’s the check and validation process (i.e. Policies and Monitoring in the above screen).  You can setup the Payroll Control Center to just perform the checking process (i.e. Policies and Monitoring steps) if you wish, and keep the payroll processing in the back end.As a payroll manager, in the monitoring step you see a summary of the issues identified:

and get to assign out the various items to be actioned by the payroll administrators of that area:

Then the (once the payroll manager clicks on “Start” in the monitoring screen) above the payroll administrator (Joe Bloggs in this example) can see those checks on their error management screen of the payroll control center (below):

One of the big, additional aspects available as part of FP4 is the extra detail you get within these checks / validations.  If you click on one of the items above (Net Pay > $4000 in my example) you get some additional information:

The “Solutions” link “Check employee pay details” here is actually a hyper link and will take you into SAP (GUI via your browser) to look at the employee.But even better than that is, if you click on the row you can go to the detail screen where you can set up the check to give you additional information for the employee like a wagetype reporter style output for them, their Payslip, and other important information.  This can all be customised to what you want for your customer:

As far as relevant information presented in one place for a payroll administrator to review and action, this is excellent!

What you need in order to implement

This solution is a significant change / addition to the normal ECC back end only functionality many consultants / customers may be familiar with.  Therefore, I recommend you take a 2 step process to getting it up and running.

Step 1 – Get the payroll cockpit working. This is significantly helped by the RDS solution SAP provide, and is less complex and better documented than the FP3&4 control center

Step 2 – Get the FP3/4 Payroll Control Center working

Additionally, the below skillsets are necessary to be able to implement (and change) the toolset effectively to be of value for businesses:

  1. ABAP (Object Oriented) programming skills (sorry functional only people, it doesn’t mean you need to be able to code yourself, though it is an advantage, but you need access to someone who can to implement what changes you want, and it’s all ABAP OO code)
  2. Gateway (limited knowledge required)
  3. SQL (if you’re using declustered payroll results, which you need to really be to be able to run payroll checks in a practical timeframe)
  4. Payroll result structures
  5. Master data structures
  6. Payroll Processes
  7. Perseverance – this stuff is not intuitive (to start with at least) and will require your problem solving skills to get it running

Step 1 – Get the payroll cockpit working

Firstly, get the technical base items installed:

  1. Get on to the required HRSP / FP level (and associated dependencies like SAP_UI)
  2. If you’re installing the control center (i.e. not just the cockpit) then make sure you get as up to date as you can.  There were a lot (approx. 20 or so) notes released in July / August 2015 to fix issues, before I had those notes in the Control Center wasn’t working well for me
  3. Install the RDS solution (http://scn.sap.com/community/erp/hcm/blog/2014/11/24/a-best-practice-to-implement-sap-payroll-contro...)

Then on to activating items:

  1. Get familiar with the (200 page L ) document on the payroll cockpit and control center available in OSS note 2053309Note – for the control center, this document provides information on the original control center (i.e. pre-FP3).  Though it’s good to read this for background knowledge, the FP3 one is reasonably different so don’t use this as the bible for FP3. The install info is from page 157 of this document
  2. Someone (normally basis) who can setup the gateway components in section 7.4 (you don’t need a standalone gateway box, the gateway items can be done on a normal ECC box)
  3. The test item in section 7.6 of this document will not do much, it’s just a test to see if you can see the object from the payroll cockpit link.  If you can’t see anything from your URL then it’s likely an auth issue. Basis can run an auth trace to see what objects your ID is failing on, it’s likely it’s those in section 6.6.1. Talk to your security team about getting your role updated to include these objects
  4. If you can see the test object then chances are (if you’ve installed the RDS) that you’ll also be able to see those tiles, click on them and you should be able to see the details of the RDS provided checks (provided you’ve run program PYD_EXECUTE_INSTANCES)

Once you’ve got to this point you’re up and running.  Now it’s a question of using the templates SAP provide in the RDS, and playing with them to understand how they work and how to alter them for your business.

Step 2 – Get the Payroll Control Center working

  1. Read the document provided in OSS note 1995698
  2. Create 2 users, one being the payroll administrator, one the payroll manager
  3. Ensure both are setup in table T526 as administrators for your payroll (the large 200 page document talks about this)
  4. Run program PYC_ADM_TRANSACTION to get the various background jobs required to support the payroll control center going
  5. Get a basic payroll process up and running (i.e. use process template PYP_V2_PRODUCTIVE_PAYROLL as a start).  Don’t worry about your checks (i.e. policies and monitoring step) for now.  Again, you may hit auth issues here, so use a trace to find out the objects you’re hitting and failing on
  6. Once you have the payroll process working, get a FP3 check up and running, use data source type PYD_CHK_FP4_SAMPLE, data source class PAYROLL_POLICY_EXAMPLE_3 as your base. Note – the class and methods for the FP4 checks are reasonably different from the ones the payroll cockpit uses, so don’t worry about using any payroll cockpit ones for now, just use the SAP provided FP4 one.  Note – this SAP provided FP4 check reads declustered payroll results, so if you don’t have declustered results you’ll need to copy this class to something else and change the check to return information from master data just for the purpose of ensuring you get a result from the check
  7. Once you have one working, you can now start to copy across the payroll cockpit checks you have from the RDS solution into the FP4 version of the data source classes to give yourself a suite of checks
  8. Then you can really get to grips with the additional items you get in FP4 with the various subscreens of the swim lanes in the payroll administrator’s UI5 view (i.e. the solution suggestions, Key Values, Generic overview etc) that enable the payroll administrator to be given more information about the employee that has come up in the check

Areas for improvement

     1. No RDS available for the FP3/4 Control Center yet

If you want to get the Control Center in FP3/4 going, it will require effort to do so, but effort that I believe is certainly worthwhile

     2. Automatic assignment of items to be investigated / resolved

Most clients I have (particularly large ones) distribute their payroll by personnel area, employee group (or something similar).  The payroll control center does not yet have functionality that will automatically assign all errors associated with personnel area 1234 to payroll administrator A, etc.  The payroll manager has to do this manually

     3. Position based access

Currently a user has to be assigned to the administrator group directly in table T526 in order to appear in the UI5 screen as a user to assign checks to in the control center (as well as have the relevant auth objects assigned). Given people move in and out of positions, it would be best (in my opinion) if this access to the control center was provided based on an attribute against a position.  Having T526 drive it makes things very manual

     4. Auditing who did what

The payroll administrators can flag employees who have come up in a check as being ‘correct’ and their exception ‘resolved’.  However, there isn’t a report (or screen) at this stage that a payroll manager can use to establish who has set an employee to being OK. This kind of functionality would be of additional benefit should there be an overpayment (or worse still underpayment) to an employee which an administrator had looked at and decided was OK to pass.

     5. Scheduled processing

Currently the payroll control center requires someone to trigger it, i.e. you can't set it to run overnight.  This may impair some customers from taking it up as they like (for obvious reasons) to get the payroll processing and locking down of employees done out of business hours

Key mindset changes

The payroll control center (and to a lesser but similar extent the payroll cockpit) is about running the pay, establishing exceptions, and correcting those exceptions in order to complete the payroll efficiently and correctly.  It doesn’t cover ‘reporting’ or reconciling the pay in the way we are used to via WT reporter, etc (currently at least).

In Summary

FP3 brings SAP payroll processing into the modern age.  It gives the payroll manager and administrator the ability to interact directly in their processing, leveraging payroll and master data validation checks, parallel processing performance, and declustered payroll results to give a faster, more efficient and more effective process.

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