Human Capital Management Blogs by SAP
Get insider info on SAP SuccessFactors HCM suite for core HR and payroll, time and attendance, talent management, employee experience management, and more in this SAP blog.
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Product and Topic Expert
Product and Topic Expert
It's no coincidence that my blog title resembles one of my beloved book series by C.S. Lewis. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe movie is one of the three Karthik household favorites that our entire family can watch multiple times! (If you were wondering about the other two: Marvel movies and Tom&Jerry). The concept of SAP's Intelligent Enterprise Suite is indeed magical like Narnia; there aren't any talking animals or mythical creatures, but there are powerful, intelligent automated technologies, processes, and tools to help our customers in their transformation journey to the Cloud.

From various recent interactions with our HXM customers, ex-colleagues/peers, and newer HXM consultants, I realized that, although everyone is aware of SAP's Intelligent Enterprise Suite and understands the high-level concepts, there are many apprehensions and misconceptions. This blog is my attempt to explain the SAP Intelligent Enterprise concept, specifically the Recruit to Retire Process and help our HXM eco-system dwellers.

The four siblings (Lucy, Peter, Edmund, & Susan) traverse the mystical world of Narnia, working together, driving Narnia to its freedom. Likewise, the four key processes (Lead to Cash, Recruit to Retire, Source to Pay, Design to Operate) are the key drivers of the Intelligent Enterprise, traversing multiple SAP systems, unified with SAP One domain model, Seamlessly Integrated, leading the customer to its Cloud transformation.

Along the way, the siblings took guidance from the mighty & astute Aslan, shepherding the kids with every step. RISE with SAP offering is our steering Aslan that accelerates cloud adoption and guides you in your journey to SAP S/4HANA Cloud, providing all the support in bundled SAP assets (solutions, tools, and services).

And the enchanted Wardrobe, which provides a path to travel between diverse multiverse, the Business Technology Platform (BTP) provides out-of-the-box end-to-end business process integration, connecting multiple cloud & hybrid solutions across the SAP value chain, leveraging the Intelligent Enterprise -Suite Qualities.

Finally, unlike the White Witch, we don't have an antagonist in our story. Still, the Recruit to Retire process reigns as the core of SAP's Intelligent Enterprise Suite, connecting everything else by its crucial protagonist, essential for every business, its 'People'!

Prologue: The evolution of SAP's Intelligent Enterprise Suite (IES)

SAP Leadership team announced their evolved vision of the Intelligent Enterprise in the 2020 SAPPHIRE NOW.

The SAP Intelligent Enterprise Suite provides next-generation customer experience by delivering intelligent and innovative solutions for every line of business; these are end-to-end business processes that are modular, integrated, and span across different business solutions.

People often get overwhelmed by the mention of 'Intelligent Enterprise' even in today's digital world. As if AI-powered robots are swarming the workplace a la Will Smith's I, Robot. The concern is genuine; after all, the mechanical assembly lines replaced people in the early 20th century. It's a sobering thought; however, SAP's 'Intelligent Enterprise' places 'People' in the center and enables you to become an intelligent but sustainable enterprise.

What is SAP Intelligent Enterprise Suite? Is SAP Intelligent Enterprise a new SAP product? No, SAP Intelligent Enterprise is not a new SAP product! SAP's Intelligent Enterprise is a mindset & an experience powered by an integrated intelligent suite of applications that consistently applies advanced technologies and best practices to support end-to-end business processes.


Intelligent Enterprises are integrated enterprises that help our customers run at their best by applying:

  • advanced technologies - Machine Learning, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotics Process Automation (RPA)

  • and best practices within agile, integrated business processes.

  • by integrating data and processes,

  • innovating with industry best practices,

  • and growing more resilient, more profitable, and become more sustainable

Fig 1: SAP Intelligent Enterprise Suite

There's plentiful information about Intelligent Enterprise in SAP-managed sites, blogs, and webinars; I will recap a few necessary details about IES and dive into the Recruit to Retire Process, specifically the Architecture, Implementation Tools, and Innovations associated with the R2R Process.

Chapter I: Story of the Recruit to Retire Process

- Best-of-Breed meets Best-of-Suite

Recruit to Retire (R2R) is one of the critical business scenarios needed by every customer, regardless of country, industry, or size. A company's workforce provides the human energy to achieve its objectives. Employees need to be hired, trained correctly, assigned the correct tasks, kept healthy, and paid correctly.
I highly recommend taking the openSAP course Hire to Retire – Strategy, Implementation, and Operations put together by some of the best minds at SAP. Also, the following two immensely informative blogs by Neetin Datar are a must-read.

HR business process of Hire to Retire in SAP's Integrated Intelligent Enterprise just got a triple s...

SAP Reimagines HR Business Process of Recruit to Retire for its Intelligent Enterprise Suite | SAP B...

Fig 2:The Intelligent Enterprise: Recruit to Retire Process is at the heart of it

Recruit to Retire business process (also known as Total Workforce Management) is clearly at the heart of SAP's Intelligent Enterprise Suite.

SAP's holistic HR Strategy for CHROs combines Best-of-Breed applications: SAP SuccessFactors, SAP S/4HANA, SAP Fieldglass, and SAP Concur with SAP Intelligent Suite, to anchor the LoB innovations onto a common platform for maximum interoperability and removing the silos.


The R2R Process manages and optimizes all aspects of the workforce (employees and external workers). There are three sub-processes within Recruit to Retire :

  1. Hire to Retire- The hire-to-retire subprocess focuses on the employee's lifecycle in the company. It begins with workforce planning and continues hiring, onboarding, and workforce management such as employee data, time recording, and payroll, and ends with employee offboarding.

This includes out-of-the-box integration between SAP SuccessFactors, SAP GRC, and SAP S/4HANA solutions.

  1. Travel to Reimburse- The travel-to-reimburse subprocess spans from the employee's travel request to the expense report over to the final payout.

This includes out-of-the-box integration between SAP SuccessFactors, SAP Concur, and SAP S/4HANA solutions.

  1. External Workforce- The external workforce subprocess ensures total visibility and management of the external workforce.

This includes out-of-the-box integration between SAP Fieldglass, SAP Ariba, SAP SuccessFactors, SAP Concur, and SAP S/4HANA solutions.

Fig 3: The Recruit to Retire Process

- Innovations with Recruit to Retire Strategy

There are three critical innovations within SAP's Recruit to Retire strategy :

SAP SuccessFactors Work Zone provides a digital workplace experience for employees with consistent, contextual, and personalized access to the information they need. I would recommend the Architecture Leading Practice: SAP SuccessFactors Work Zone Strategy to learn more about the solution.

People Analytics in the Hire to Retire Process provides the tools and capabilities to understand your workforce. I would recommend the Architecture Leading Practice: People Analytics Strategy to learn more about this innovation and architecture considerations.

Identity Access Management provides Identity Authentication and Identity Provisioning services to achieve an integrated working system combining various SAP cloud solutions. The Implementation Design Principle - Identity and Access Management offers a detailed look.

- Architecture and Solution Variants of the Recruit to Retire Process

If you are wondering how to implement Recruit to Retire Process? And if it's different than implementing different HXM modules? Let's find out.

There are six solution variants of the R2R process, and based on your current system landscape and upcoming roadmap, you could deploy the R2R sub-processes with one of these variants :

  1. Hire to Retire for Cloud Deployment

  2. Hire to Retire for Hybrid Deployment

  3. Travel to Reimburse for Cloud Deployment

  4. Travel to Reimburse for Hybrid Deployment

  5. External Workforce for Cloud Deployment

  6. Hire to Retire with SAP Cloud Identity Access Governance for Cloud deployment

Note: My focus is on the Hire to Retire sub-process in this blog. In my upcoming blogs of this series, I will discuss the Travel to Reimburse, External Workforce processes

1. Hire to Retire (H2R) Process

The Hire to Retire process focuses on the employee's lifecycle in the organization. It begins with workforce planning and continues on to hiring and onboarding, workforce management such as employee and employment data, time recording, and payroll, and ends with employee offboarding.

The following image demonstrates a high-level architecture view of the different SAP cloud product solutions in this sub-process and their available integration via SAP Master Data Integration (MDI) service leveraging the SAP One Domain model.

Fig 4: One Domain Model, Master Data Integration, Identity & Access Management Enables a Smoothly Running of H2R

The 'Workforce Person' (employee & contingent worker) is a crucial object maintained in Employee Central and sent via an upstream integration to SAP Cloud Platform Master Data Integration (MDI), from which S/4HANA and other applications can leverage the data for their own purposes.

SAP Cloud Platform Master Data Integration (MDI) is the data hub for master data. It serves as the mid-point of the integration process that replicates the Cost Center created in SAP S/4HANA Finance to Employee Central.

(In my upcoming blog of this series, we will dig deeper into SAP MDI in the context of Cost Center, Job classification, and Org Units integration)

1.1 Hire to Retire for Cloud Deployment - Architecture

The Architecture view describes all Solution Component required to implement the Hire to Retire for Cloud Deployment variant. The Hire to Retire process spans across SAP SuccessFactors as the HR system and SAP S/4HANA Cloud as the finance system. In this variant, planning, staffing, onboarding, time management, and payroll processes are carried out in SAP SuccessFactors, while other processes are covered in SAP S/4HANA Cloud. Here's a breakdown of various H2R processes and relevant SAP cloud solutions:

Fig 5: H2R Cloud Deployment: Processes -Solutions

The H2R Cloud deployment sub-process provides out-of-the-box integration while ensuring the security of HR data transfers according to security governance protocols.

If a customer has already integrated SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central and SAP S/4HANA Cloud, you need to include SAP Master Data Integration to leverage the Intelligent Enterprise Suite delivered packaged integrations.


This Best Practice Document SAP Best Practices Explorer provides further details of Core HR with SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central Integration with SAP S/4HANA Cloud (JB1).

Fig 6: H2R Cloud Deployment - Architecture

Data Flow:

  • In the H2R Cloud Deployment, critical Financial data: Company Code (Legal Entity), Cost Center, Chart of Accounts, Bank Repository, Payment Methods are maintained in SAP S/4HANA Cloud and replicated to SAP SuccessFactors EC and EC Payroll with SAP Master Data Integration service.

  • Person and Employment data are maintained in SAP SuccessFactors EC and sent to SAP MDI to create the 'Workforce Person' object, replicating to SAP S/4HANA Cloud to create the Business Partner and Work Assignment.

  • User/User Account is created in HXM Core Identity and replicated via Identity Management and Identity Authentication service to S/4HANA Cloud to create a User account in S/4 Identity.

1.2 Hire to Retire for Hybrid Deployment - Architecture 

In the Hire to Retire hybrid variant, all HR processes remain within SAP SuccessFactors, while the On-Premise SAP S/4HANA system acts as the core for Finance data. SAP Identity Management service is not utilized in this variant. Another critical difference is the absence of SAP Analytics Cloud for workforce planning.

Fig 7:H2R Hybrid Deployment - Architecture

1.3 Hire to Retire for Cloud Deployment with SAP Cloud Identity Access Governance - Architecture

In the Hire to Retire Cloud deployment with SAP Cloud Identity Access Governance variant, in addition to the default Identity Provisioning Service (IPS), this variant also uses SAP Cloud Identity Access Governance to create access requests, analyze risks, and design roles across the landscape.

In this variant, User & User Account is created in HXM Core Identity, and Available Business Roles are assigned. These data are replicated via Identity Management and Identity Authentication service to S/4HANA Cloud to create a User account in S/4 Identity with the Available Business Roles.

Fig 8: H2R Cloud with SAP Identity Access Governance

Additional Resources

You can find more information on implementation and integration in the Recruit-to-Retire Business Process ( help site.

Chapter II: Story of Business Technology Platform (BTP)

- Intelligent Enterprises are Integrated Enterprises

With IES, SAP is going away from the traditional point-to-point integration of the solutions involved in a process and replacing them with out-of-the-box end-to-end business process integration accompanied by the Intelligent Enterprise- Suite Qualities.

The Recruit to Retire Process utilizes all the suite qualities from SAP's Suite solutions. They are integrated out-of-the-box and span multiple applications and cover end-to-end business processes. There are seven Suite Qualities at the moment (Fig 2 & Fig 9) :

                    Fig 9: Our Intelligent suite enables more profound and broader integration

The Intelligent Suite Integrations may not be enchanted like the Wardrobe. Still, with its harmonized Suite Qualities, Aligned Data models, and centralized data distribution, the business processes are seamlessly carried out moving between multiple solutions, just like a walk from the Professor's living room Wardrobe to the winter-fantasy world of Narnia!

The SAP One Domain model, Identity Management, and embedded analytics, in particular, play a significant role in the Recruit to Retire Process.

- BTP: Platform-as-a-Service

SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP) brings together intelligent enterprise applications with database and data management, analytics, integration, and extension capabilities into one platform for both cloud and hybrid environments, including hundreds of pre-built integrations for SAP and third-party applications.

Fig 10: SAP BTP: Delivering Human Experience Management for the Intelligent Enterprise

Apart from the Suite Qualities, SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP) helps our HXM customers Integrate and Connect SAP and third-party on-premises, cloud, and hybrid applications with SAP Integration Suite. HR and People data is at the center of all business processes. To be efficient, HR and People data must be connected to every other process in the company.

Extend and Create business processes and new people-centric experiences with SAP Extension Suite. Customers can simplify complex processes to reduce errors and mitigate multi-step manual processes with easy-to-follow workflows.

Customers can Analyze and Improve decision-making with actionable insights across data sources and applications with SAP Analytics.

Chapter III: Story of RISE with SAP

Now that you are familiar with the Recruit to Retire process, Intelligent Enterprise, and the Best-of-Breed Solutions associated with R2R, how do you start that Transformation journey to Intelligent Enterprise?

You need a guide, a mentor, you need your Aslan; with the RISE with an SAP offering, SAP is shepherding customers' transformation journey from legacy business models to newer intelligent technologies accompanied by a change in culture, aiming to make the customers more sustainable.

RISE with SAP is a package of SAP Solutions, Tools & Services providing customers with Business-Transformation-as-a-Service. It's a flexible framework that provides business transformation service for all SAP customers regardless of starting point: SAP ECC Customers, SAP S/4HANA On-Premise customers, and New customers. 

RISE with SAP is not a system upgrade or a product, but a method of thinking, to utilize the bundle of SAP services and software you bought to take you to your end-goal. When you buy a package of SAP products/software, you also get the associated services to guide you on implementing it and getting the most out of it.

- RISE with SAP for HXM

In the words of Meg Bear, Business transformation is no longer an option; it's an imperative. Refer to more details on the RISE with HXM news. Simplifying the HR Journey to the Cloud | SAP News Center

Fig 11: RISE with SAP for HXM intelligent Enterprise

Note: The RISE with SAP bundles have a few variations based on the Public vs. Private cloud edition, and I suggest you work with your SAP contact to get more details on cost, licenses, and other commercials.

Here are the packages, tools, and services associated with RISE with SAP for HXM :

Core Package:

  1. SAP S/4HANA Cloud choice of deployment: You have the options to select Public Cloud or Private Cloud

  2. Infrastructure provider of choice*: Hyperscaler data center, SAP data center, and customer data center. You can select the infrastructure of choice for the Private Cloud, but for the Public cloud edition, the data lives in SAP data centers.

  3. Business Process Intelligence (BPI) and Signavio: To understand business processes, build new processes, model, and collaborate.

  4. Tools and Services: You have these tools and services: SAP Cloud Application Lifecycle Management (ALM), Custom Code Migration*, SAP Readiness Check*, SAP Enable Now, SAP Learning Hub**, SAP Launchpad Service, and Mobile start app

  5. SAP Business Network Starter Pack combination of Ariba network for sourcing and procurement, Asset management network for tracking your assets, logistics network to track the movement goods from one place to the other.

  6. SAP Business Technology Platform: Lastly, CPEA credit to consume the Business Technology Platform. You could set up a few custom integrations on top of the available pre-built integrations.

  • * Private cloud edition only

  • ** Requires an additional license

Transformation Package:

The transformation package always takes all elements of the Core package first and augments it by adding more packages.

  1. Industry Packages: Customers can also select an industry-specific package on top of the core offerings.

  2. LoB package: SuccessFactors Human Experience Management (HXM) Suite, SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central, SAP Analytics Cloud, SAP Identity Access Governance, Procurement- Guided Buying, and SAP SuccessFactors Workzone

Learning Journeys for RISE with SAP

You can find more information about RISE with SAP for HXM here. I also recommend going through the RISE with SAP S/4HANA Cloud-Project Management learning journey for project managers. You can keyword search in the primary learning journey tab. There is another variation of the learning journey for RISE with S/4HANA Cloud, the Private Edition. There are many courses and learning journeys for Partners and Customers for specific LoB, grouped by Roles for both Public vs. Private Cloud; you could do a keyword search with RISE with SAP S/4HANA to access everything.


A comprehensive, integrated Recruit to Retire process connects people across the Intelligent Enterprise and enables the use of people data and insights in all downstream systems and processes. HR is no longer siloed. I hope you are ready for your next adventure!


Additional Resources


Related SAP TechEd sessions:

  • Session IIS106: Power the Recruit-to-Retire Business Process with an Aligned Data Model

  • Session ISP104: Learn a New Way to Get Work Done More Simply in the External Workforce

Road maps for intelligent enterprises: SAP Road Map Explorer










1 Comment