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How SAP Enables You to Create Reference Letters for Your Employees

Writing reference letters is by no means the highlight of the week for HR departments. In this blog post, we show you how to better organize the creation of job references based on SAP.

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It is a thankless job: the coordination effort is high, legal requirements make the preparation of references complex, and in the end only very few employees are satisfied with their reference. At the same time, in times of digitalization and the “war for talent,” there are important strategic tasks on the HR agenda for which there is supposedly never enough time.

In this blog post, we will show you how to better organize the creation of job references based on SAP. With a simpler and faster process that is integrated into your SAP system, you reduce the coordination effort and improve the result of your HR work. At the same time, your employees no longer have to wait long for their job references and can look forward to meaningful and high-quality references.

No easy task: Creating certificates quickly and legally compliant

We know from discussions with numerous SAP users: The number of references produced each year amounts to around 10% of the number of employees. This means that a company with 5,000 employees produces around 500 references every year for promotions, transfers and employees leaving the company. If we assume a processing time of three hours for each certificate, we end up with an annual time expenditure of 1,500 hours in our example company. This corresponds to almost one full-time employee, whose capacity HR managers would much rather use for value-adding tasks such as personnel development.

For HR employees, certificate creation can degenerate into a real stress factor because coordination with all parties involved rarely goes smoothly.

However, the time involved is only one of the challenges associated with job references. In many companies, reference preparation can degenerate into a real stressor because coordination with all parties involved rarely runs smoothly. In a paper-based process, difficulties in coordination and the limited availability of process participants result in “layovers” that unnecessarily drag out the process and lead to processing times of three to six months. Because of the following stumbling blocks, job references can quickly become a real productivity killer:

  • Complex coordination process: In addition to the HR department, supervisors, colleagues and occasionally the legal department are involved in the process. The coordination between all those involved can be quite complex.
  • Media disruptions in communication: During the coordination process, the parties involved often communicate using a wide variety of communication tools. The interplay of e-mails, telephone calls and meetings causes numerous media breaks.
  • Poor process transparency: If no one knows on which desk the current version of the report is currently lying, chaos is perfect. Manual processes are one of the main causes of a lack of process transparency.
  • Lack of legal certainty: Legal requirements play a major role in the preparation of certificates. Every wording has to be right. This poses a considerable challenge, especially for internationally operating companies.
  • Unsatisfactory results: In the end, a qualified reference should primarily serve employees as support for their personal careers. However, not all employees are always satisfied with the end result.

If you’re an HR manager and some of these challenges sound familiar, you’ve come to the right place. In the following sections, you will learn how to eliminate many of these stumbling blocks.

With employee and manager self-service to HR 4.0

How to successfully develop your human resources in digitization. With employee and manager self-service to HR 4.0. ESS and MSS Are an Important Building Block for HR Digitalization and for the Human Resources of the Future.

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Efficient standard process: How a professional job reference is created

As is the case with most business processes, the lack of standards is usually the reason for the lack of efficiency in the preparation of references. Yet the issuing of certificates is a straightforward process that is virtually predestined for standardization. Especially with stringent process control that is seamlessly integrated into the SAP landscape, the process time can be significantly reduced. This makes the following process much leaner and faster:

  • Request for a job reference by employee or supervisor.
  • Description of the employee’s tasks by the HR department
  • Evaluation of the employee by superiors and colleagues
  • Composition of the reference draft by the personnel department
  • Legal examination of the formulations in the reference by the legal department
  • Examination of the reference by the work council
  • Approval of the reference by the superior
  • Signing of the reference by the superior and the personnel department
  • Handing over of the reference to the coworker
  • Filing of the reference by the personnel department

While the conventional manual preparation of a reference takes up to three hours of working time, the process can be shortened to an average of 36 minutes by introducing a digital system for preparing references. This value is based on project data collected by easy in cooperation with numerous well-known customers over the past years. In the example of the 5,000-employee company, the workload for certificate creation of a full-time HR employee would be reduced from nearly 100% to just under 10% – a gigantic time gain that HR departments can use for strategic tasks.

In addition, a standard process with proven reference templates minimizes uncertainties in wording issues that HR employees often struggle with. At the same time, text modules reduce legal risks because the respective standard formulations can be checked in advance for legal compliance. How can this process now be integrated into SAP?

Automated and integrated: In just a few steps to the job reference in SAP

In order to achieve optimal process support, certificate creation should be based on your SAP system. On the one hand, all master data required for a certificate is stored in SAP. On the other hand, all process participants are familiar with SAP, which promotes acceptance of a digital certificate process. However, certificate creation is not integrated as an end-to-end process in HR systems such as SAP HCM and SAP SuccessFactors. This gap is closed by add-on solutions such as easy’s software for certificate creation.

  • If an employee wants to request a reference, he or she starts the process with SAP Employee Self Services (ESS) or in the SAP SuccessFactors employee portal.
  • The HR department receives notification of the employee’s request for a certificate via the SAP system.
  • The HR employee first decides on a suitable template and then selects the appropriate text modules with a mouse click.
  • The data available in the SAP HCM or SAP SuccessFactors HR master data, such as name, date of birth, and length of employment, can be transferred directly to the certificate template.
  • The supervisor uses a numerical evaluation system to specify the evaluation for the employee, and the conversion to text modules runs automatically in the background.
  • In the next step, the system automatically informs superiors, other employees and the works council according to predefined release rules.
  • Once the certificate has been created, the employee can view and confirm the certificate via SAP. The certificate is then archived securely and automatically.

The days when employees had to wait a long time for their certificate are thus over, and HR departments benefit from lean, largely automated business processes.

Thanks to SAP integration, HR departments benefit from the legally compliant creation of certificates based on a standard process and certificate templates.

  • Managers can easily and intuitively evaluate their employees during the certificate creation process and approve or reject draft certificates via SAP MSS.
  • Employees who are entitled to an individual reference can start the process and find out about the processing status at any time.

This makes certificate creation in SAP a win-win situation for everyone involved. The easy solution for creating letters of reference optimizes the cooperation between the HR department and managers in creating references in SAP® HCM®. Text modules that you adapt to your compliance guidelines, as well as an intuitive user interface that is available on any end device, provide the necessary security as well as speed in the creation of job references – and all this with full integration into your SAP system.

With employee and manager self-service to HR 4.0

How to successfully develop your human resources in digitization. With employee and manager self-service to HR 4.0. ESS and MSS Are an Important Building Block for HR Digitalization and for the Human Resources of the Future.

free whitepaper

Benefits and advantages of certificate creation in SAP

  • Automated process for creating letters of reference integrated into in HCM®
  • Available on any device (SAP Fiori / HTML5)
  • Simplified evaluation thanks to a grading and text module system
  • Premade, customizable text modules for standardized certificate creation
  • Adherence to compliance: authorizations for creating letters of reference, digital signature control, reviewed company data
  • Adherence to the corporate design for letters of reference
  • Reporting on the letter of reference process
  • Significantly reduces complexity and processing time
  • Fast cycle times for the entire creation process
  • Coordinated cooperation between HR, managers, and employees
  • Managers can feel secure in formulations
  • Maximum transparency, because open tasks and deadlines are always in view
  • Space and capacities for strategic tasks in HR management
  • Increase in internal service quality and support for the employer brand

Create legally compliant certificates in the blink of an eye

Convenient process start for employees: If an employee would like to request a letter of reference – whether it is an interim assessment, an internship reference, or a leaving reference – they start the process quite simply in the Fiori® Launchpad via integrated employee self-services (ESS), even via a mobile device. As things proceed, the employee can always view the current status and knows where the reference is at the moment.

Letter of reference creation with a few clicks: The HR department receives a notification of a request for the creation of a letter of reference. First, a template is chosen, and then the appropriate text modules are determined by mouse click. Here, the processor is dynamically guided through appropriate options/alternatives based on their selection. Data in the personnel master record from SAP® HCM® are entered directly into the reference template (name, length of employment, etc.).

Legally compliant job references: Letters of reference hold risks when the formulations are not legally compliant. Typically, managers assess their employees, but don’t have the knowledge for the legally correct formulation. The easy letter of reference creation software solves the problem by delivering ready-made text modules that you can adapt to your compliance guidelines and store in the system. This way, you always maintain control over standardized and legally compliant certificate creation.

Maximum speed in creating the letter of reference: If already existing approval strategies or mechanisms for supervisor location are implemented, the supervisor is automatically informed in the next step. The manager can now award grades via an evaluation system. These grades are automatically converted into the legally approved text modules in the background.

Digital signature control: Digital signature control via SAP® HCM® saves time and prevents media disruptions. The letter of reference doesn’t get “stuck” somewhere because an approval is missing. By the way, managers can also handle all approvals and assessments mobile by smartphone or tablet using SAP® Fiori® or HTML5.

Corporate Design bei der Zeugniserstellung: Die Dokumentenvorlagen enthalten nur die Corporate Design-Vorgaben sowie den Aufbau des Dokuments (z. B. Firmierung und Logo) und werden in Microsoft Word erstellt. Die Textbausteine und Textvariablen sowie Regeln werden als eigenständige Objekte in SAP HCM gepflegt und können vom Fachbereich ohne tiefgehendes SAP-Knowhow eigenständig geändert werden.

Corporate design in letter of reference creation: The document templates include only the corporate design specifications and the structure of the document (e.g. company name and logo) and are created in Microsoft Word. The text modules and text variables and the rules are maintained as independent objects in SAP® HCM  and can be changed independently by the department without extensive understanding of SAP®. After the letter of reference is complete, the employee can view and approve it. Then the letter of reference is automatically stored in the correct personnel file.

Purchase-to-Pay in SAP

Creating processes, forms and documents in SAP

Whether it’s work contracts, job references, or certifications – human resources employees spend up to half of their working day creating documents. When doing so, not only must they frequently access a variety of data sources, they also often overwrite existing templates. That increases the risk of using outdated data or overlooking updates. The corporate design is not guaranteed when incorrect or obsolete templates are used. In addition, coordination and approval processes across several departments are drawn-out and not transparent.

Document creation in easy saves a lot of time. Defined text modules, access to SAP® master data and info types, and electronic workflows ensure that consistent and error-free documents are created in no time.

  • Ensuring the corporate design of your company
  • Adherence to internal compliance guidelines
  • High quality of service to employees and managers

With easy, documents can be created in just a few steps via role-dependent menus and electronic forms for data entry. The department can conveniently and flexibly maintain all the text modules, so that the valid version is always available.

  • Self Services: You can involve management and employees in the creation and approval process via employee and manager self-services. The SAP® authorization system ensures that the employees effortlessly comply with all approval requirements. The current status and open tasks are viewable any time and with mobile devices via the SAP® Fiori® Launchpad.
  • Automatic readout of data from SAP: Thanks to the solutions from easy for human resources processes, you can automatically read any SAP® info types from HCM®. They also use the SAP® organization management for digital signature control in document creation.
  • Text creation in next to no time: Pre-formulated text modules and an intelligent set of rules automate the creation of texts and simplify your work. Additional information can be added via web forms – even directly from managers or employees via self-service.
  • Fast, transparent, and intuitive: The cycle times of HR processes are shortened significantly thanks to integrated forms and workflows. Real time access to all process data increases transparency. The intuitive user interface allows quick implementation in HR management.
  • SAP-integrated: Thanks to 100% integration of our digital add-ons in the SAP® system, you avoid interfaces and media disruptions. They use the workflow, security concepts, authorizations, ESS/MSS scenarios. Thus, easy supports the IT platform strategy for a homogeneous IT and process landscape. Any other HR and company processes can be implemented with our solution. The same platform can be used for process automation in the area of finance and SAP® Logistics.
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