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The Q4 2017 (1711) release of SuccessFactors Employee Central brought much awaited functionality of creating custom workflow email notifications. This is an admin opt-in feature which requires some level of configurations and good understanding of document generation tool.    This blog explains the steps of the configurations to effectively leverage the newly released functionality.


Before elaborating on the functionality, Let us discuss the workflow notification related pain points observed during employee central workflow implementations

  • Few standard templates: There were only few delivered templates which were auto selected by the system based on workflow actions.  For example ‘Workflow Action Pending Notification ‘ which was sent during initiation of any event  , ‘Workflow Action Approval Notification’  which was sent on completion of workflow.  Since same template was selected for all initiations or approvals, not considering the type of event or nature of data change, the information given in notification to the user was limited and generic.  Business always wanted information in the notification specific to the event such as leave of absence versus name or job change.

  • Limitation of tags / variables: There was a finite list of tags or variable which could be used as a part of content in the notification.  The only way different tags could be used was in language specific templates, such as French template could use different content than English template.

  • Lack of flexibility to switch off standard notifications - There was a system restriction that at all times standard workflow notifications were always on and there was no choice to turn them off. This lead to the information overload and unwanted messages in inbox to the managers.  There was not a single project where this limitation was not discussed.


Successfactors now provides an optimized workflow notifications solution and an option to utilize Document Generation tool to prepare and customize workflow email notification content. There is a vast choice of data fields for dynamic content generation i.e., all current and future Employee Data field values which are saved in the system from various portlets.  Businesses have now flexibility to use either standard or custom notification, or even no notification for each workflow step through newly delivered workflow email notification configuration tool.

Custom notification template creation is indeed a huge leap in the area of workflow configurations.  This way the intended audience receives relevant rather than the generic information and can take informed decisions. The added ability to switch the standard notification off saves the unnecessary clogging of mail boxes of approvers and contributors.


For the demonstrations, lets pick up a simplest example of a workflow - Name Change of an Employee where approver receives a custom workflow email notification while CC role receives standard workflow email notification.

For our example, we will configure A Custom workflow notification template and assign this template to the step 1 Approver (to get notified) when a workflow (Name Change) is initiated.

Pre-requisites: Enable Document Generation tool  using provisioning access and maintain the role based permissions to manage document templates and manage document template mapping.

STEP I Prepare custom template and template group using Document Generation tool

To complete a custom template , following actions are required

  1. Create Document generation template group

  2. Create custom Template for Workflow notification in Document Generation tool

  3. Map dynamic text fields to actual employee data fields or workflow tags using Document Generation Mapping tool

Each of these actions are explained in detail below
1. Create Document generation template group

  • Go to Manage Document Template using action search  or from Admin Centre ->            employee files open document generation : Manage document template.

  • Create a document template group (choose category workflow)

  • Give a meaningful name to the group to identify group more easily when assigning this group in workflow email notification configurations.

  • For our example, we will name it WF_ApproverNotifcation_Group as we will assign templates related to approver notification in a workflow step to this group.

  • Ensure the Category is “Workflow”

2. Create custom Template for Workflow notification in Document Generation tool

  • Go to Manage Document Template using action search or from Admin Centre ->                Employee Files -> Document Generation : Manage document template.

  • Give template a meaningful name and description

  • Choose Category "Workflow"

  • You can choose country(optional) if this document should be available for a specific country.

  • Choose Language (You can copy template and and modify in additional languages. Remember to to do variables mapping(Next Step 3.) each time a document copy is created, as mapping is not automatically updated.

  • Assign document group created in previous step( Step 1. Create Document generation template group)

  • Email Header : Define Email subject, you can add dynamic content by using [[ ]] square brackets in email subject.

  • Type Email body text content, any dynamic content (content which will be picked from Subject user’s master data or workflow tags)  should be typed inside square brackets.

  • We will map dynamic content (inside square brackets) to actual fields in the next step 3.Map dynamic text fields to actual employee data fields or workflow tags using Document Generation Mapping tool)

  • Save the template :

3. Map dynamic text fields to actual employee data fields or workflow tags using Document Generation Mapping tool

  • Go to Manage Document Template using action search or from admin centre ->                Employee files open document generation : Manage document template mapping.

  • Select the template created in the step above (2.Create custom Template for Workflow notification in Document Generation tool)and map the fields/content in square brackets from the template

  • Note that there are five types of mappings available, explained below:



  1. Direct – Subject User Master Data (Only approved/saved data is supported)

  2. Rule – Data populated with a rule definition

  3. Past Direct – Historical data value (not pending approval )

  4. Future Direct – Future data value (not pending approval)

  5. Reference – All Existing Workflow Tags are supported

Note : - Add at least one type of mapping as “Reference” otherwise custom notification fails.

Mapping of example template



STEP II Assign the Custom email template group to workflow action

The assignment of newly created email template group (created in step 1)  is done during the creation of workflow notification configuration.

  • Access Manage Workflow Email Configuration from action search or Admin Center->Employee Files -> Manage Workflow Email Configuration

  • Create a new workflow email configuration  and give a meaningful code and name,  in our example lets name it as “WF'_NameChange_Initiated".  This workflow email configuration will be assigned to the workflow in next step .

  • To the workflow action “workflow initiated” assign the  custom email template group  as shown in the screen shot below.

  • Save workflow email configuration.

Note that rest of the workflow will follow standard templates. You can also turn off some templates if no notification should be mailed out.

STEP III  Assign workflow email configuration to the  workflow

  • Goto Manage Organization, Pay and Job Structures-> Workflow and access the workflow to which the custom email template is to be assigned.  You can also choose to create a new workflow in this step.

  • For our example we have picked the existing Workflow “data change” from my demo system. This workflow triggers when First or Last Name is changed of an employee. In this case we assign Email Configuration Template to Approver Step 1, as we want this template to go out when a workflow is submitted, as shown in the screen shot.

Since For CC role, a standard email template should go out ,  we  have  not made any selection.

Please note that  For CC roles we do not need Step 2. (Assign the Custom email template group to workflow action) to have a custom workflow email template. CC roles can be assigned a Custom Template group directly in the current step. “No Selection” in “Email Template Group” will send standard template to the CC role recipients.



Ok then, we are done with our configuration.  Lets test our custom notification,

Perform an action to trigger the workflow where custom notification is used .  Remember Approver step 1  will receive custom email notification and the CC role will receive standard email notification

Access Employee File -> Personal Information-> Edit/Correct First Name and submit the change.

Some names for you-

Employee : John Parker

Approver Step 1 : Tessa Walker

CC Role : Manager – Joanne Pawlucky


On Submission  following Custom Notification is received by the Approver of step 1, Tessa Walker,  in her email . Review the content of your custom notification.

Note that content highlighted is the  dynamic content in the square brackets inside Email Template and these values are  picked up by the notification automatically.


To approve the workflow, Proxy as Approver Step 1, in the use case Tessa Walker.  Go to Home Page-Approve Requests

Approve the request for Name Change for John Parker


On Approval ,  A notification is  Received by CC roles (Manager Joanne Pawlucky). This will be a standard notification since during configuration we chose to make no selection under email configuration .

Note that approved change has reflected in CC role’s notification, New First name “Brad”  of subject user (John Parker) is reflected as it has been approved.



Custom Workflow Email notifications can now be created by using document generation tool in SuccessFactors. This is an admin opt-in feature and requires configuration and basic knowledge of document generation tool. This enhancement was long awaited and is very well received by business users. Since workflows are an integral part of all business processes, referential information for approvals was very minimal in existing functionality. Workflow email notification can now contain a wide collection of User Data fields. Flexibility to pick and choose notification for each workflow action, or even turning it off at a workflow step has definitely exceeded expectations with this enhancement.

Thanks for taking time to read the blog. Please leave your feedback in the comment section.


About Author

Navjot Sandhu  is an experienced SAP SuccessFactors Consultant and HR domain expert,  certified  in SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central, Compensation Management, Performance and Goals Management.  She has extensive experience in SF implementations across North America and Europe region including multi country Employee Central Implementations with a vast scope on a complex landscape. 
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