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Approvals… Approvals… you may be hearing it for each activity in an organisation and it has become a common factor in this modern era...

What is an Approval?

When an employee in an organisation want to request for any activity/task/change in his profile, this must be reviewed and agreed by his immediate boss or relevant


For Example, an employee required to complete his task and need a laptop.  This must be approved by Immediate Manager, Finance Department, HR Department and finally IT department.

And for every request, a notification also gets triggered for approval to next approver and final notification to employee stating the request is approved in all respect or declined.

Employee can view the process and understand where the process stands….?

In SuccessFactors, this has been configured for global HR process with unique features by using workflow approvals at each level and notifications for both sender and receiver.  SuccessFactors provides a robust framework for working with workflows and managing them in an easy-to-use user interface (UI)

In recent implementation project of SuccessFactors Employee Central for large industry, I came across unique features of workflow approval process.

SuccessFactors Employee Central enables you to add workflows whenever there are important changes in Personal Information, Job Information, Address etc. of an employee.  There are standard workflows defined by SuccessFactors for approvals or notification in Employee & Organizational Data. Workflow triggers when there is any change of values in following portlets

  1. Personal Information

  2. Job Information

  3. Compensation Information

  4. Address

  5. National ID

  6. Employment Details

Workflows can be triggered in two ways

  1. Change of field values in any portlet through “Take Action”-> Job and Compensation Information

  2. Changes of field values through Event & Event Reason for Job and Compensation Information. It can be processed through  “Take Action”-> Job and Compensation Information-> Event (Position Change) -> Event Reason (Position Status Change)

Majority of orgnizations prefer the second method of workflow trigger which is based on event occurrence.  These settings will be configured in provisioning that allows  administrator to decide on the method for portlet changes.

A user can access workflow in four different ways in Employee Central

  • E-mail notifications

  • “To Do” Tile on home page

  • Pending request from public profile

  • Mobile application

Three ways to approve a workflow

  1. Approve Single Workflow - User can select a workflow of an employee and approve it independently.

  2. Access Workflow details using the link in the workflow name – User can click on Workflow name and get the details of changes made to the Employee Data. User now able to Approve/Decline or Delegate the workflow.

Here, Approver can see new value with previous values (stroke out) and details of Workflow Participants on right hand side.

So, Approver can add any document proof, provide his/her comments and Approve, Send Back, Update or Delegate the workflow for further process.


Delegate – Delegate is the new functionality provided in Employee Central where approver can delete the workflow for approval to any other user. The Delegated approver (NEW Approver) will be notified through E-mail and it gets displayed under To Do on New Approver (Delegated) for further action.

3.    Mass Approval of Workflows An user can do multiple approvals at the same time.  This is         unique feature of Employee Central. User need to click on Go to Workflow Request at the               bottom of workflow screen and click on Go to Workflow Requests – User will have an option           to Select multiple employees and Approve at the same time.

SuccessFactors also allows sort and filter feature during mass approval of workflows.

Major Advantage for the approver is that user can approve multiple workflow request at the same time.

Limitation - please note that user cannot reject multiple workflows at the same time.  User must open each workflow details and Send back/Decline the workflow with comments if any.

Some of Important features of workflow are:

  • An approval process can be defined for each customer defined event

  • An approval process can have more than one approval steps and it triggers to next step only when it approved

  • Each approval step can be defined in detail with approver and approver may be a group (dynamic), role (dynamic), Manager etc.

  • Initiator or Administrator with permissions can make adjustment to an approval process in progress through Admin Center->Manage Workflow Requests

How to create a New Workflow

SuccessFactors Employee Central workflow is fully configurable and it routes the approval process to desired employee or group of employees.

Following section describes in detail on how to create workflow in SuccessFactors for data change.

New workflow can be created through Admin Center->Employee Files-> Manage Organization, Pay and Job Structure and create New

Each field in workflow screen defines certain value to be entered.  Some of the important field structure which are valuable for any workflow are described below.

  • Is Delegate Supported? – This defines a facility to an approver to delegate the authorization to approve/reject this workflow. If YES, it provides delegate option.

  • Alternate Workflow – This alternate workflow can be used for future dated records and it allows to route only those transactions that may need exception handling and using Edit without Route Change, make necessary adjustments to the transactions. If there is no future-dated records or this has an invalid value, the main workflow is used

  • Redirect CC Users to Workflow Approval Page – this enable CC users to act as approver and it redirects to workflow approval page.

  • Approver Type – It may be any role, Dynamic Role, Dynamic Group, Position, Position Relationship

  • Approver Role – It may be Self, Manager, Manager’s Manager, Employee HR, Matrix Manager, Custom Manager and Additional Manager

  • Edit Transaction – It defines whether workflow approver can edit the submitted workflow. Options are

    • No Edit – The approver cannot Edit and already submitted workflow (Standard Option)

    • Edit with Route Change – The approver can edit an already submitted workflow. The edited workflow will then go through the approval process from the beginning

    • Edit without Route Change – The approver can edit an already submitted workflow. The edited workflow will then continue with the next step approver

    • Edit Attachment Only – The approver can edit/upload/delete attachments only

  • Context – This defines Target or Source Manager as per manager change (For Ex., Transfer)

    • Source (the initial manager)

    • Target (the new manager)

  • No Approver Behaviour – Defines how the system reacts when there is an empty position or dynamic group

    • Stop the Workflow – Workflow step is considered as Mandatory Step

    • Skip this Step – Workflow step is skipped. This is the default system behaviour

  • Respect Permission – This is an RBP check for the approver. An approver can see and maintain content where access is granted.  Approvers can now be restricted to see and edit only fields in which they have permissions.

Approver Types required for creating workflow

Approval Chain (Steps) can be combination of different roles defined in RBP and groups in Manage Workflow Groups

  • Role - Role can be either standard or custom role as per customer requirement.  For Ex., Employee, Employee Manager, Employee HR, Employee 2nd Level Manager. While creating workflows, there are two types of permissions can be given.

    • Initiator - This can be defined where approval chain depends on Initiator.  For Ex., Initiator Manager etc.

    • Employee – The approval chain can be defined based on Employee

  • Dynamic Role - approver is determined based on data of the employee for which workflow is triggered

  • Dynamic Group: group of users

  • Position: a specific position defined in Position Management


Workflows can also contain a CONTRIBUTOR and/or CC Role-  These roles receive alerts/notifications

  • Contributor can be – A Role, Dynamic Role, Dynamic Group, Position or given Person

  • CC Role can be - Dynamic Role, Dynamic Group, Position or Given Person or an External Mail

The best ways to maintain a workflow 

  • Limit workflows to not more than 3 approver steps

  • Use Mobile and encourage everyone to use valuable tool to ensure timely approvals

  • Never SET “Edit with Route Change” for first step in approval or it will resend the approval to the same person

  • Always assign an Administrator to monitor and audit Admin Alerts to ensure follow-up on Stalled Workflows

  • Always leverage Auto Delegate and train managers on the use of this feature to avoid bottlenecks of approval when possible

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